The Boomtown Rats

Best of the Boomtown Rats

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Since the breakup of the Boomtown Rats, there have been two prior compilations of their work. The first, released in the U.S. shortly after the band's formal demise, was Columbia Records' 1987 The Greatest Hits, which contained ten tracks and was a reasonable singles collection for the LP era. It is out of print. The second, released in 1994 in the U.K. on Vertigo Records, was Loudmouth: The Best of the Boomtown Rats and Bob Geldof, a 17-track CD containing 11 Boomtown Rats tracks and six solo songs by Geldof, the group's former lead singer. (In 1997, Columbia/Legacy reissued this album under the title Great Songs of Indifference: The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, trimming one of the Geldof tracks.) So, this set, which contains 19 selections, all by the band, is necessarily the most comprehensive compilation so far. The tracks were chosen by an Internet fan poll, subject to Geldof's approval (it's not clear whether he vetoed anything). It's hard to criticize the fans' taste, although, unlike the previous compilers, they chose to leave out "House on Fire," a U.K. Top 40 hit. Had Geldof or the band chosen the tracks, you can be sure the selection would have been more balanced over the group's six albums, and since their work deteriorated over time, that would not have been for the best. Instead, the fans have properly concentrated on the early work; only three tracks come from after 1980, and of those, two are notable to American fans, since "Fall Down" was left off the U.S. release of 1981's Mondo Bongo and "Dave" was deleted from the stateside version of 1984's In the Long Grass. (The only other rarity is a live take of "I Can Make It (If You Can.") Presumably, the fans did not choose the sequencing, and that aspect of the album is questionable. Artists and compilation producers have been heard to complain about the preference by purists for chronological sequencing on the ground that it creates awkward segues. But the Boomtown Rats were a band that evolved musically, and the best way to demonstrate their development from their punk beginnings (with those glaring Springsteen and Thin Lizzy influences) to a more individual pop sound would be to adopt at least a roughly chronological running order. Instead, this collection jumps back and forth, which makes the band sound highly eclectic and somewhat chaotic. Of course, the Boomtown Rats' fan is free to re-sequence the CD player, and that would improve things greatly.

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