Sleeve Notes from the remastered CD release
THE BOOMTOWN RATS by CHARLES SHAAR MURRAY
Boomtown Rats: the band's name says it all. Parasites amid prosperity, rodents on the make in the sewers of power, a great band name from an era of great band names. As much as Clash or Damned or Sex Pistols - or Stranglers, Buzzcocks and Lurkers - the name forever tags the band as part of the class of '77, when the barbarians finally arrived at the gates of an increasingly stratified and stultifying Rock City.
Freshly arrived from Ireland and ready to make some noise and cause some trouble, like they had back home, the Rats didn't conform precisely to the notional orthodoxies of punk, but then neither did many other bands at the forefront of what those who were scared of the uncompromising term 'punk' later bowdlerised to New Wave. You weren't allowed to have long hair! The Ramones did. Guitar solos verboten! The defence calls Television. Facial hair a capital offence! Two members of The Stranglers are in mortal danger. Age police on the prowl for wrinklies on the run! Cells await Ian Dury, Knox from The Vibrators and most of The Stranglers. Pedal steel guitars and country music too inextricably linked with Laurel Canyon coke-hippies and snooze-inducing Mellow Mafia singer/songwriterismo. Elvis Costello, you're busted.
Go back and check out photos and film clips of the early days of punk, and you find a broad church: a startling variety of look and sound which was only retrospectively flattened into the two-dimensional stereotype of leather jacket, mohican, bondage pants and ramalamadolequeue lyrics.
When the Rats were first hitting the club circuit attempting to carve out their very own rat-shaped niche, there was still plenty of room for an Irish sextet who (a) included a keyboard player, (b) trumpeted their desire to 'get rich, get famous and get laid' and (c) featured a hyperactive, aggressively literate vocalist who delighted in using interviews as a platform for extended verbal savagings of their peers.