The Boomtown Rats are probably known more for Live Aid and Pink Floyd The Wall in the U.S. than they are for the music they created. The reason (if you haven’t guessed yet) is for Bob Geldof’s work with African famine relief and portraying the character of “Pink” in the movie version of “The Wall.”
However, despite all that, the band had some success in the UK with punkish/new wavy songs that hit the charts in 1977 and peaked around 1982. Their sound is kind of tough to classify since their style ranged from snotty punk pop, to Bruce Springsteen wannabe, to lifting bass lines from Elvis Costello, to a kind of half-time ska sound. Geldof’s vocals, while not very remarkable, did have shades of Bob Dylan.
“She’s So Modern” shows a side of Geldof that most in the U.S. probably didn’t know existed: the punk pop brat. The song also has the added bonus of referencing the album (“A Tonic for the Troops”) in a bit of commercial cross promotion.
By 1982, The Rats were exploring reggae flavors with “House on Fire.” I had heard their most popular single “I Don’t Like Mondays” when Mike Douglas featured The Boomtown Rats on his show in 1979. But it wasn’t until MTV started playing “House on Fire” in 1983 that I really started to take notice of the band. I bought the record later (i.e., when I had money), and it’s been in my record collection ever since. I’m not sure which song has aged better with time, but perhaps you can have a listen and let me know.
See you in the comments section!
(Download) “She’s So Modern”
(Download) “House on Fire”