Today Bob Geldof is known for his many humanitarian efforts and causes. His first claim to fame was as the leader of one of the seminal punk groups of the mid-1970s and early 1980s. The Boomtown Rats were formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1975 and for a decade played their own defiant brand of rock and roll. Now their six original studio albums have been re-released as a six-CD box set titled Classic Album Selection: Six Albums 1977-1984. Also included are a number of bonus tracks including outtakes and live performances.
The Boomtown Rats (1977), A Tonic For The Troops, (1978), The Fine Art Of Surfacing (1979), Mondo Bongo (1980). V Deep (1982), and In The Long Grass (1984) take the listener through the career of one of the more important rock bands of their era.
The best way to approach the set is to play the albums in chronological order. Their self-titled debut and A Tonic For The Troops find the band in the forefront of the punk movement. They rage, rant, and rock their way through two albums of frenetic music. If you want to know what the punk music is all about, these albums are a fine introduction as their take no prisoner’s type of rock and roll helped change the perceptions of rock music.
The Fine Art Of Surfacing finds the group veering more toward the mainstream yet retaining some of their anger and fire. Their ability to make their punk sound acceptable to a broader audience enabled them to become huge stars, especially in their home country and the U.K.
Mondo Bongo is an album of dark thoughts and topics, yet the music is explosive and melodic. V Deep is much the same yet a little lighter in its textures and context. By the time they released In The Long Grass, their sound had matured and while elements of their past were still apparent, they were now moving away from their anti-establishment days toward more mainstream rock and roll.
The box set is basic with each disc having its own fold-out sleeve with archival photos. The lack of liner notes is missed. The sound is fine and presents the message and energy of the band well.
Classic Album Selection: Six Albums 1977-1984 is probably the best overview of the Boomtown Rats career available and a must for anyone interested in their career or the development of rock music circa 1980.