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Mary of the 4th Form

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Why did the Rats become so unpopular in the early 1980s? Why do I still love them? 

I'm a new member so forgive me starting a new thread straight away, I'm a lifelong fan of the band who only recently read Bobs autobiography I am ashamed to say! Incredibly, I just didn't buy it at the time and always resisted since then. I think when Bob got involved with the band aid project then live aid it just wasn't the same for me, I was the only Rats fan in my teenage group of friends and I felt proudly defiant of that but then he became 'Saint Bob' and I felt cheated.

When Bob became public property back in 1986 and the band didn't record and tour quite so much it felt like being jilted to me, all these people praising Geldof all of a sudden and others picking up on their back catalogue pretending they were fans all along just peeved me too much. It felt like Bob and the band had sort of sold out after all. The Boomtown Rats were seemingly mine exclusively and then suddenly, they weren't! Or maybe I'd just grown up and stopped being a teenage fan boy obsessive.

I first saw them in late 1979 at Liverpool Empire as a wide-eyed naive 14 year old, my elder sister and her boyfriend (now husband, still) took me as it was my first live gig and I was totally mesmerised. I saw them a few times after that but nothing could ever compare to that first time, I've attended hundreds of gigs since then but no-one ever came too close to that. Stiff Little Fingers were also a big favourite of mine and I've seen them more times than the Rats but that very first gig was just 'it' for me for some reason, everything that came after is incomparable. 

I think they have always been a ridiculously underrated band, their albums stand the test of time and their live performances, especially at their peak (76-81 imo) were just as stunning. Maybe Bob was just too outspoken for most people? I enjoyed his biog immensely (32 years later) but as it got to late 1984 I seemed to 'lose' him yet again, but thats my problem only. Every few years I go on a Boomtown Bender where I just listen to all their music incessantly, it usually lasts for weeks on end, I am on one now actually and its great! There's always something you missed at the time, although they must have been smoking something whilst recording Mondo Bongo surely? Great album all the same, just a bit different! 

My favourite band ever, my desert island discs and the soundtrack to my youth. 

 

 

 

 



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V Deep

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I totally agree harry I was & still am a rats fan when in 1983everyone else was listening to New Romantics I was fervently listening to rats saw them at aston university (doing low key college circuit)I was buying retrospective import lip and jap versions of singles. Same as uk but some different covers(in plastic bag lyric sheets etc ) still collecting their stuff now and will be a rats fan till they carry me out in a box long live the rats

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Loudmouth

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Harry Hooper wrote:

Why did the Rats become so unpopular in the early 1980s? Why do I still love them? 

I'm a new member so forgive me starting a new thread straight away, I'm a lifelong fan of the band who only recently read Bobs autobiography I am ashamed to say! Incredibly, I just didn't buy it at the time and always resisted since then. I think when Bob got involved with the band aid project then live aid it just wasn't the same for me, I was the only Rats fan in my teenage group of friends and I felt proudly defiant of that but then he became 'Saint Bob' and I felt cheated.

When Bob became public property back in 1986 and the band didn't record and tour quite so much it felt like being jilted to me, all these people praising Geldof all of a sudden and others picking up on their back catalogue pretending they were fans all along just peeved me too much. It felt like Bob and the band had sort of sold out after all. The Boomtown Rats were seemingly mine exclusively and then suddenly, they weren't! Or maybe I'd just grown up and stopped being a teenage fan boy obsessive.

I first saw them in late 1979 at Liverpool Empire as a wide-eyed naive 14 year old, my elder sister and her boyfriend (now husband, still) took me as it was my first live gig and I was totally mesmerised. I saw them a few times after that but nothing could ever compare to that first time, I've attended hundreds of gigs since then but no-one ever came too close to that. Stiff Little Fingers were also a big favourite of mine and I've seen them more times than the Rats but that very first gig was just 'it' for me for some reason, everything that came after is incomparable. 

I think they have always been a ridiculously underrated band, their albums stand the test of time and their live performances, especially at their peak (76-81 imo) were just as stunning. Maybe Bob was just too outspoken for most people? I enjoyed his biog immensely (32 years later) but as it got to late 1984 I seemed to 'lose' him yet again, but thats my problem only. Every few years I go on a Boomtown Bender where I just listen to all their music incessantly, it usually lasts for weeks on end, I am on one now actually and its great! There's always something you missed at the time, although they must have been smoking something whilst recording Mondo Bongo surely? Great album all the same, just a bit different! 

My favourite band ever, my desert island discs and the soundtrack to my youth. 

 

 

 

 


 

Great first post. I can identify with so many of the thoughts and sentiments expressed within it. The Rats first split in 86 so any tours after that were Geldof and the solo band orientated, with Pete as part of that, until 2013 when the original group reunited minus Fingers (and Gerry Cott who left in 81).

Welcome!



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Mary of the 4th Form

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Cheers guys, bit of a wordy first post but I could talk about them all night so here I go again! I have very little vinyl left nowadays, too many house moves and a younger sister with a penchant for the car boot sale craze in the late 80s put paid to most of it. I bought all the remastered cd's a few years ago and there's always youtube but surprisingly not too much Rats stuff on there. As I said, they are ridiculously underrated purely as a band. My elder sister and her husband went to see them at Manchester Academy a few years ago and said they were great, I do regret missing that because it was over 30 years since we first saw them live and would have been very nostalgic for me. Unfortunately I was already committed to another gig the same night.

Part of me doesn't regret going to see them however, maybe its better to remember them as they were in their prime? I return to the crux of the thread and just why the band wasn't so much more popular than they could or perhaps should have been. Bobs outspoken views and arrogance were certainly a part of it in my opinion but as he alluded to several times in his biography, the music press had a very dim view of him and the band seemingly from the start. That created a sense of snobbery in some music fans of the time (I recall being ridiculed by most of my friends for being a fan) especially amongst the younger generation. It simply wasn't cool at the time to be a Rats fan for most of us but I didn't care, I still don't! 

Bob reveals some of the reasons for much of the animosity toward the band and himself in his book and over 30 years later it was very interesting to read. Record company incompetence, changing producers, spiteful music press etc all contributed. I think some of it was down to how the band naturally evolved though; none of the albums followed the path of their previous ones stylistically (except maybe Tonic For The Troops to a degree) and some people like to stick with the same musical style when they follow a band. Listen to an early Rolling Stones album and then a much later one and aside from the early rawness its pretty much the same style. The Fine Art Of Surfacing was classic 'Grit Pop' to me whereas the first two albums were classic post-punk New Wave in their defiance and angst. 

Mondo Bongo was a complete departure and when I first listened to it I was totally bewildered, it just didn't sound like the Rats to me. This album eventually grew on me and still sounds great today but I can appreciate why some fervent Rats fans at the time were dismayed by it. V Deep was clearly the band enjoying themselves and experimenting still but apart from Bobs unique vocal delivery it was incongruous with their early recordings and some people just couldn't cope with that. I felt that In The Long Grass took the band back closer to their roots and seemed to follow on more closely to the Fine Art Of Surfacing's gritty pop sound. The evolution of the band and their sound was probably completely natural and they didn't try to resist that which is commendable, it would have been easier to keep churning out the new wave type of stuff with a reliance on fast guitar and thumping drum beats until people eventually got bored with it.

They did it their own way and there is a uniqueness about each of their albums that is rare to find in other bands works, a kind of "take it or leave it" attitude so typical of Geldof. That is what I think makes them so different from any other band in history, there's no indifference, you're either a fan or you're not.  

 



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The Fine Art of Surfacing

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i've got BG's autobiography but can't get into it
it's a real shame cos i really want to but it gives me a headache
i read John Lydon's Anger Is An Energy easily. then i actually met john at an event and he told me to **** off
what is it about men telling me to **** off
i still love him though
in fact my mate has designed a tshirt for me saying John Lydon Told Me To **** Off! which i will wear to PiL gigs at rebellion and camden rocks this year
am i setting myself up to be fcuked over by a bunch of snobby punks. do i have any credibility at all to my name anymore. did i ever have any anyway.
who cares. i'm just a nobody anyway.

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^^^^^Cool post as always Joan^^^^^^^^


The Fine Art of Surfacing

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uhuh



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^^^^^Cool post as always Joan^^^^^^^^


Mary of the 4th Form

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Hey Joan, everybody is a somebody ya know! And there always was snobbery in music fans of all genres.

As I said, I liked Bobs biog a lot until it got to the Band Aid/Live Aid stuff then it spiralled away from me, I skimmed through the rest of the book from there to be honest but up until that point it was a great read I thought. 

 



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V Deep

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I have read bobs bio and quite enjoyed it very frank about things hope he does a later one as he has had a lot of life experience since that book was written so it wou!LD be great read

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V Deep

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The rats were still greatin 84/85 itlg was fab the public in general missed out on a great album other acts at time released quite a lot of dross all the rats LPs are bril and still relevant today

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Loudmouth

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Mike menzies wrote:

The rats were still greatin 84/85 itlg was fab the public in general missed out on a great album other acts at time released quite a lot of dross all the rats LPs are bril and still relevant today


 Hear hear. Drag me Down was definitely the hit that got away in 1984 



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V Deep

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I still believe V Deep was the wrong album at the wrong time. To many Super bands were coming such as U2, Depeche Mode as well as the likes of Duran Duran, Simple Minds etc. By the time ITLG came along with its poor first single in Tonight the masses were no longer interested.

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V Deep

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I quite liked v deep I thought it was quite relevant at that time problem was they were being overlooked as a lot of other groups were coming into the spot light but thinkwith airplay and media it might have faired better (a lot of fair weather fans who only like when in charts ) I knew I was better than them and followed my fave band throughout their career incidentally there is a lot of music that is excellent that does not chart but still gets played a lot I wonder how stuff would fair nowadays,! that was around then sorry rant over just a diehard rats fan and asi said before when I slip this mortal coil I want rats music to see me off

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