Universal [Release date 21.10.13]
The latest record company wheeze to squeeze the last vestiges of profit out of dusty back catalogues seems to be the ‘reasonably priced’ box set. Which can be very good news for the discerning punter, but less so if your collection already includes some of the albums.
Perhaps most miffed by this rather nice Boomtown Rats collection will be those who, interest piqued by the band’s reformation this year (minus Johnnie Fingers and guitarist Gerry Cott), shelled out for the single CD Back To Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits. Only to find that had they held fire for a month they could have got the whole of the Rats studio output for only a nominal extra outlay. Ouch!
What you get with The Classic Album Selection are the band’s six albums released between 1977 and 1984 in individual gatefold ‘mini album’ sleeves housed in a nice slip case. All the Rats you will ever need, although perhaps not definitive.
Anoraks will, however, complain that these repackaged 2005 remasters (complete with bonus tracks) don’t consistently mirror the original release running orders. Most of us won’t care. Secondly they’ll probably point out that most weren’t originally issued in gatefold sleeves so the artwork isn’t ‘authentic’. Again a minor detail. But the absence of songwriting credits, lyrics and the like – all of which were included with the remastered releases – is something of an omission. But hey, what do you expect from a ‘reasonably priced’ box set?
Frankly, it’s great value for money and a timely reminder of just how good the Rats were. OK, they may have been overshadowed in the annals of history by the celebrity of Sir Bob, but between 1977 and 1979 they could do no wrong as they dominated the charts with a string of top 20 hits.
Yes, they may have gone a little off the boil after The Fine Art Of Surfacing, but there’s plenty of meat on the bones of Mongo Bondo, V Deep and In The Long Grass to make this collection a must have for anyone who thrilled to the likes of Lookin’ After No. 1, Mary of the 4th Form, Neon Heart, She’s So Modern, Like Clockwork, Rat Trap, I Don’t Like Mondays, Diamond Smiles, Someone’s Looking at You, and Banana Republic.
Add it to your Christmas list while there’s still time. ****1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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