Sleeve Notes from the remastered CD release
In The Long Grass - Peter Paphides

I didn't know much in 1984, but even I knew that it wasn't a great time to be a Boomtown Rats fan. No-one thought I was cool for scrawling the band's name on my burgundy Adidas holdall, less still for the fact that I had used a rather poofy Rotring metallic gold pen to do it. But by this time, I was hardcore, my love of The Boomtown Rats was weatherproof. As far back as 1978, I had already pronounced them my favourite punk band. On my ninth birthday, I marched down to Easy Listening records in the Birmingham suburb of Acocks Green and handed over something like 80p for She's So Modern. Being a Pistols fan, my elder brother was appalled, he took it upon himself to explain to me how Bob Geldof wasn't a real punk. He ran upstairs to his room and returned seconds later with a copy of Never Mind The Bollocks. The Boomtown Rats, he gravely intoned, would never dare make a record with the word 'bollocks' in it. But in 1979, my understanding of what constituted a punk sentiment was nebulous. The facts, as I understood them, were plain enough. I knew that if myself, Keith Smith, Jaspal Singh and Brian Taylor were to have formed a band, we would have probably called them something like The Boomtown Rats. It was so, well, so gangy. And Bob, well, he looked like such a great gang leader. When they did Rat Trap on Top Of The Pops, my adoration went through the roof. Until that point, no-one in the history of pop had thought to perform a sax solo into a lit candelabrum (I bet Health & Safety would have something to say about that now). And needless to say, when they followed it up with a song about someone who didn't want to go to school on Monday, I knew that my love for this band would be long haul.


And so it came to be. My copy of Diamond Smiles has 'P.P. 2A' scrawled on the picture sleeve - which tells me that I would have taken it to the 1981 Christmas disco at Yardleys Secondary School, forlornly hopeful that Mr Stretton the maths-teacher cum-DJ might play it; the Dun Laoghaire flexi that came free with Flexipop is now smooth on both sides; and my copy of Never In A Million Years doesn't play too well either, partially a result of the cover 'concept', which had the titular dots die-cut into the sleeve. However, by 1984, even I could see that Bob Geldof's role as the cool youth club leader of my record box may not be enough to sustain his band as a viable commercial concern. Two years had passed since the superb V Deep, and that album had failed to yield any Top 20 singles. That said, the augurs for the new album were more promising. Released in January that year, the punchy sado-pop of Tonight was a strong return. And tellywise, it was everywhere: The Oxford Road Show, Saturday Superstore and - perhaps not surprisingly - The Tube. Radio One called it a return to form. I shook my head and piously tutted. Return to form? Hadn't they heard V Deep? Bob Geldof must have been stunned when Tonight stalled at 73, but the next single Drag Me Down wielded a hook so huge, you could have raised the Titanic with it. Surely that would steer them back on course? Um, not quite. Peaking at number 50, The Boomtown Rats were faced with the unenviable challenge of putting out an album on the back of two singles that had failed to crack the Top 40. In The Long Grass appeared to mixed reviews. Some critics couldn't get their heads around the band's continued existence in the mid-80s. But it featured some great music - free of the complacency that afflicts cooler bands. Inspired by the break-up of Johnnie Fingers' relationship, Another Sad Story pitched Geldof's poetic fatalism against a succession of keening sax intrusions.

 

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