Boomtown Rats - Tonic For The Troops
Is it punk? Rock and roll? New wave? Tonic For The Troops was a blast whatever it was labelled as. Perhaps some of the questions come from the diversity of the tracks on there. For sure it’s a broad mix of some fantastic tunes.
The Rats stormed the UK charts in 1977. Riding the punk wave they grabbed our attention and made us listen. A ploy that Bob Geldof kept using. Tonic For The Troops was their second album, released in June 1978. The critics were mixed in their reviews and the album only reached number eight on the UK charts and barely registered at 112 on the US Billboard 200. That’s definitely underrated in my view given the step up this album made from their first record.
We were all still ready for fast-paced punk, but the album gave us much more than that. “She’s So Modern”, the first single from the album, gave us that frenzy and pace in absolute bucket loads. Follow-up singles “Like Clockwork” and then “Rat Trap” had something different. Especially “Rat Trap” with its underlying story of life on the streets, a sax solo, and great keyboards from pyjama-wearing Johnny Fingers. It had much greater musicality than a typical chord thrash punk song.
Other tracks showed the band and Geldof’s (as the main songwriter) musical growth. The quirky fun track "(I Never Loved) Eva Braun", about Hitler’s relationship with his wife contrasts with the suicide topic of “Living On An Island”. An acerbic and punchy “Don’t Believe What You Read” could have been Geldof forecasting his future life.
The whole album is buzzing with variety and adds some polish to the rawness of their debut album. It's another gem you should play soon.