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Entries in Classic Album Selection (2)

Friday
Sep272013

Boomtoon Rats - Classic Album Selection to be released on 21 October

Album reissues: Boomtown Rats, Classic Album Selection
Label: Universal
Release Date: 21 October 2013

1977 in England and six intelligent gobshites over from Ireland, laying waste to punk’s sacred creeds as the lead singer announced “I want to get rich, get famous and get laid”. It wasn’t the first of the fellow’s pronouncements. He went on to save the world for a while, thus effectively wrecking his music career forever. But that’s another story, not fit for these polluted paragraphs.

Geldof was the singer’s name, Bob Geldof. People called him Geldorf and, in America, Bawb. He was always writing great songs, playing ‘em badly on a left-handed acoustic guitar for the band. And he was a gangling fashion mess of red trousers held up with string and an oversize chequered jacket that would’ve been better served for noughts and crosses rather than daywear. And Geldof’s gob – the girls liked his Jaggeresque lips and the girls, they understand – his rubber mouth flapped like someone versed in cunning lyrics, announcements, pronouncements, opinions, let’s do this, let’s do that. With him it was always “Why the fuck not?”, which seemed a reasonable response to anything. Of course he got up a lot of people’s noses, people who thought this Geldof geezer was a jumped-up self-opinionated self-promoting Paddy git. But like some things that get up people’s noses, Geldof and the group he fronted – the group he drove – became extremely popular. Thatcher’s repressive drab Britain was being assaulted by rebel music and the youth was revolting and these guys, ahead of the Pistols or the Clash or the Damned, they scored the first No 1 hit from the punk rock melee. They rocked like fuck and even did ballads, used saxophones and strings when they wanted or looped into reggae. They became Rock Stars. Wham bam thank you ma’am.

They were called the Boomtown Rats, after the new gang in town in the Woody Guthrie book Bound For Glory. In Dublin, for the briefest of moments, they’d called themselves The Nightlife Thugs but knocked that on the head. Geldof would jump onstage by ripping through a cheap screen that beamed a Rentokill promo film they’d blagged from somewhere – all about killing rats, real tasty stuff – and he and the Boomtown Rats would be all cranked up breaking the speed limit into Bobby Parker’s Barefootin’ or the Coasters’ ‘Riot In Cell Block #9’ and bits of raw liver would be flying about like airborne corpse-cold jellyfish, landing on people, splat! Charming. And people went nuts of course, just loved it.

And this mighty band: Garry Roberts, leather jacket and Dee Dee Ramone hair which morphed backwards into an evil flat quaff, pushing madly on guitar, dangerous. The shaded Gerry Cott who looked almost like a mod and seemed like the sort of sensible chap who’d end up in music publishing, Gerry twanged derangedly too.

Pete Briquette, the only rock star named after a compressed lump of turf, as solid a guy as the bass he was playing, a country boy from Cavan while his cohorts were wellish-bred city boys from near Dublin. Thrashing the drums, Simon Crowe, the straight blonde motorbike boy handsome like a World War II flying ace…

And on straight-to-the-point keyboards was Johnnie Fingers, a fine carefree chap who wore his stage gear all day long and thus ended up sporting pyjamas for years.

In England the band were signed by go-getters Nigel Grainge and Chris Hill for their brand new label Ensign. Doreen Loader in the Ensign office was almost like everybody’s mum.

These adventurers newly over from Ireland were a a self-contained combat team, suitably quartered near Chessington Zoo in a house built by Henry VIII for one of his mistresses.

Polygram Records released a sampler LP called New Wave ’77. Tucked in among Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Ramones, Patti Smith doing Piss Factory, The New York Dolls, The Runaways, The Dead Boys with Stiv Bators and Sonic Reducer…there was the Boomtown Rats and Geldof’s clarion call ‘Lookin’ After Number One’, an explosion of drums and guitars and the singer screaming “World owes me a living!” right from the off. No messing, here I am, don’t fuck with me. “I’m going to be like me!” That was it.

Charles Shaar Murray in the NME went bonkers for the track. It became The Rats’ first single and the first Rats hit. The Rats got on British television on Marc Bolan’s afternoon extravaganza Marc and as that was being screened they were doing Top Of The Pops. Wham bam thank you man.

The Boomtown Rats were the first modern Irish rock’n’roll group. Rory Gallagher plumbed the blues, Phil Lynott hoovered up Irish mythology, Van Morrison breathed the Celtic mist. And the Rats….who gives a toss that they were 6 middle-class fellows from the sorta- affluent Dublin adjunct of Dun Laoghaire. We’ve all got our own pain and they loved rock’n’roll and hated the moribund cesspit of not only the Irish music scene but the whole damn country itself. These upstarts had their own agenda.

Bono talks about as a kid being electrically energized by the liberating sight of this scruffy Geldof on Ireland’s Late Late Show, this unafraid young Boomtown Rat verbal pugilist lashing out at the stultifying apathy of the Catholic Church, the overall crushing gray mundaneness of Ireland as the country’s leaders wallowed in some cod-50s “Ah sure it’ll be grand, it could be worse” complacency. Geldof’s song ‘Banana Republic’ was to become a kidney punch.

The Irish music business was sewn up. Second-rate shysters managing showbands, these lame human jukeboxes peddling tired Jim Reeves tear-jerkers bubbled up with a dose of Simon Says. The showband managers and the politicians seemed interchangeable: one becoming a senator and another a man who ran ballrooms became the head of the country while making dog food. It was all the same racket.

Suddenly half the population in Ireland was under 25 and suddenly with this Geldof guy they had a voice. The Boomtown Rats were banned, prohibited by law from playing live. They were denounced from the pulpit. It was Don’t Knock The Rock all over again; it was Would You Let Your Daughter Marry A Boomtown Rat. It was perfect.

Back in England in London at the Music Machine just before the Rats rocked into ‘Lookin’ After Number One’, some mentally-derailled geezer leapt up from the audience and before fleeing whacked Geldof a ferocious punch on the gob. Bloood everywhere and a stroke of good fortune. The outraged photos of the bloodied but unbowed Geldof adorned the next week’s music papers in grand style. Punk rock.

The first Boomtown Rats tour in Britain found them playing with two hot new groups from New York. 6 Paddies, 8 Yanks. Talking Heads would go on first, then the Rats, then the Ramones would finish the delirious audience off. Some of the shows were in the afternoon, in school, in the gym, for kids in mullets, flares and shock. Goodbye Mud. So long Showadafuckingwaddy. Hello New Age. That was perfect too.

That’s how the Boomtown Rats began. Fucking brilliant. No messing.

The rest is here.

BP Fallon

Classic Album Selection: six albums, 1977-84 

The Boomtown Rats (1977)
A Tonic For The Troops (1978) 
The Fine Art Of Surfacing (1979) 
Mondo Bongo (1980) 
V Deep (1982) 
The Fine Art Of Surfacing (1984)
Friday
Jun082012

Elton John: Classic Album Selection (1970-73) box set released July 2 

Elton John

Box set: Elton John, Classic Album Selection (1970-73)
Release date: 2 July 2012
Label: Universal
Comprises: Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player 

Universal Music will be releasing a limited edition Elton John box set, Classic Album Selection (1970-73), on July 2nd comprising five classic Elton John albums recorded between 1970 and 1973.

It contains five of Elton John’s quintessential and most acclaimed albums from 1970-1973; Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. These albums provided the backbone of Elton’s early career and were the source of a series of breakthrough hits which would propel him to become one of the most successful British artists of all time, recognised initially in America where Madman Across The Water made him the first artist since The Beatles to have four albums simultaneously in the top twenty.

Elton John was Elton’s second album, released in 1970, and it confirmed the special relationship between Elton and Bernie Taupin. It was also the first to feature the team of producer Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster and contained the songs Border Town and Your Song, the latter becoming Elton’s first UK hit, reaching no. 7 in the charts. It set the US charts alight, the album eventually hitting no. 4.

Tumbleweed Connectionwith its American Old West themes in songs such as Country Comfort and Ballad of a Well-Known Gunmaintained the momentum in Elton’s career and even featured Dusty Springfield on some backing vocals. It included Elton’s wonderful rendition of Lesley Duncan’s Love Song.

Madman Across The Water followed quickly and introduced guitarist Davey Johnstone from Magna Carter as another key member of Elton’s band, alongside bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson. A wonderfully considered work featuring the song Tiny Dancer, it is blessed with lush melodramatic arrangements which perfectly compliment Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s flourishing songwriting partnership. In May of that year, Elton John formally changed his name by deed poll.

Honky Chateau, 1972, a reference to the French recording studios in Chateau Herouville, was Elton’s sixth consecutive album produced by Gus Dudgeon. It returned Elton to the UK charts where the hits Rocket Man (a UK No. 2) and Honky Cat fully established Elton’s critical and popular appeal on both sides of the Atlantic; this was the result of the combination of his flamboyant showmanship, romantic sensibilities and songcraft.

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, released in early 1973, came in the wake of one of Elton’s signature hits, Crocodile Rock; also included on the album is the contrasting ballad Daniel (both top five entries). The album was soon to be the no. 1 one album in both Britain and America (where it was the first of seven consecutive no. 1 albums; in Britain it was the first of four consecutive no. 1s).  Although his albums continued to be released by DJM in the UK for the next few years, this was the year in which Elton John launched Rocket Records at a village railway station in the English countryside. At the same time, in 1973 there was no doubting that Elton John had become a global superstar.

Elton Vs Pnau

The box set follows the release of hotly anticipated Elton Vs Pnau single Good Morning to the Night on July 2nd. Australian duo Pnau are best known for their side-project album Empire Of The Sun; Elton John signed the pair after hearing their record, and now with his blessing, a selection of his old masters will be re-imagined into an album featuring their recreations of his classic songs between 1970 and 1976.

The songs on the Elton vs Pnau album draw from six different early Elton tracks, with Pnau adding loops, samples and their own material. Elton’s summer tour of Europe will include an appearance with Pnau in Ibiza on July 2nd to promote the album, which includes the single Good Morning to the Night.

Elton remains committed to his music and to touring, becoming more rather than less busy as time passes. In 2011 Elton returned to The Coliseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas with his all-new show, The Million Dollar Piano; in 2012 he re-entered to the recording studio with producer T Bone Burnett. He has recently toured North, Central and South America and Europe. 

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