Friday, December 02, 1977

Cambridge Corn Exchange

Friday 2nd December 1977: Cambridge Corn Exchange.
Support act: The Yachts
Admission Fee: £2.00

The Boomtown Rats played for an hour, doing Joey, Do the rat, Mary of the fourth form, and encore of Looking after no. 1.

Sunday, November 20, 1977

Mary of the Fourth Form

  • ENY9 Mary of the 4th Form/Do The Rat (NL Mercury 6008 513)
  • 19-Nov-1977
  • 15
  • 44-23-20-{15}-15-16-16-21-36
  • 9 weeks
The second single from the Boomtown Rats was all about Mary Preece the object of Geldof's teenage affections....

"Her name was actually Mary Preece. We used to hang out in a coffee bar and record shop in Dun Laoghaire called Murray's. After school, she'd come down and she'd have rolled up her skirt and she had legs for days. She was drop dead beautiful and I just wanted her so much and knew that I'd never be able to get her. Actually, I did "get off with her" - to use the parlance of the day - at the Killiney Tennis Club Dance. It was deeply passionate in a grabby, feely way. Anyway, Mary subsequently became the personal assistant to the Irish Prime Minister and lives beside my father, bizarrely enough. She's got two or three kids. But God, she was a major babe." - Geldof

Did he get off with her? Methinks not!

"Yeah, she became the PR to the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern. Us Dun Laoghaire kids go far! We played in Vicar Street in Dublin a couple of years ago, and there she was: still gorgeous and still wouldn't shag me. She's married, but I didn't feel that should be an impediment. I mean, I'm an international rock star, for fuck's sake!" - Geldof

Poor Mary, no matter what she does she'll always be known as a teenage temptress...

And yet another Mary was living it up last week, namely Mary Preece, a senior civil servant in the Department of the Taoiseach.
Magnificent Mary did the opening honours at the special retirement bash in Dublin Castle last Friday for Walter Kirwan - deputy secretary of the Department of the Taoiseach for the last 30 years.
Six hundred people turned up to wish Walter well, among them Bertie, Garret, John Hume and the aforementioned sex-bomb Mary.
For those of you too old to remember, Mary was, of course, the inspiration behind Bob Geldof's famous Mary of the Fourth Form hit for the Boomtown Rats in 1977 - Irish Independent - Sunday July 18th 2004

Sittin' in the front row
Mary of the fourth form
Turnin' all the boys down
She's turnin' all their heads around
Hitchin' up her short skirt
Stretchin' out her long legs
Pullin' up her stockings
She's combing out her black hair
Starin' at the teacher
Openin' her lips wide
Shiftin' in her seat. Yeah,
She slowly moves her hips aside

But in the middle of the night
She wakes her Mom to turn out the light
Her make-up's on and her jeans are skin tight
And she's heading to the Pillar Bar

Johnnie looks alright tonight she thinks
He gives her a smoke and he buys her a drink
He shoots a frame and they head off into the night.

Teacher's losing control
Thankfully the bell rings
Mary's left all alone
With no one but the teacher
She quickly drops her pencil
And slowly bends to get it
Teacher is a natural man
His hand moves out to touch her
She straightens and looks around, yeah
She laughs and leaves the room, yeah
Heartbreak for the teacher
Sweet dreams for young Mary

But in the middle of the night
She wakes her Dad to turn out the light
Her make-up's on and her jeans are skin tight
And she's headed to the Pillar Bar

Johnnie looks great tonight, she thinks
He gives her a smoke and he buys her a drink
Shoots a frame and they head off into the night.

Sunday, October 02, 1977

Saturday, September 17, 1977

The Boomtown Rats - The Debut Album

Do you remember the first time?

  • UK Highest Chart Position: 18
  • Total number of weeks on UK chart : 11
  • Entry (ENVY1/ENCAS1) : 17th September 1977
  • UK Run: 53-31-18-23-23-19-27-41-46-49-58


Side A

  1. Lookin after No. 1
  2. Neon Heart
  3. Joey's on the street again
  4. Never bite the hand that feeds
  5. Mary of the 4th form

Side B

  1. (She's Gonna) Do You In
  2. Close as You'll Ever Be
  3. I can make it if you can
  4. Kicks


  1. Looking After No. 1
  2. Mary Of The 4th Form
  3. Close As You'll Ever Be
  4. Neon Heart
  5. Joey's On The Streets Again
  6. I Can Make It If You Can
  7. Never Bite The Hand That Feeds
  8. (She's Gonna) Do You In
  9. Kicks
  10. Oh Yeah a.k.a. Doin' It Right
  11. My Blues Away
  12. Sad Boys a.k.a. A Second Time
  13. Fanzine Hero
  14. Bare Footin'
  15. Mary Of The 4th Form (Single Version)

Back in 1977, a group I’d never heard of released an album that I was to hear a lot of. It wasn’t until late 1978 that I bought and heard The Boomtown Rats first LP. Maybe it was just as well, as it was the sort of album that would appeal to a fourteen year old schoolboy aspiring to a life of driving a second-hand Capri, and spending his nights on the tiles! I knew some of the songs from seeing the Rats live and hearing the first couple of singles, so it wasn’t entirely virgin territory.

Looking After No. 1 was the Boomtown Rats debut single, and ultimately proved to be the antithesis of its writer. A manifesto of selfish youth, claiming the dole and grabbing all you can. Still perhaps the most urgent song the Rats ever made from the opening drum roll to the "I’m gonna be like ME! " sign off, there is precious little time to catch breath, and the only respite from the selfishness is to put down the listener with a sneering "I don’t wanna be like YOU, at all!!" . There’s also a fabulous seamless guitar solo in the midst of a four chord romp. So now, who was it that said "Don’t give me charity!"?

Mary of the Fourth Form was the second single but differs on the album. This bluesier track centres on the teenage temptress Mary, pre-empting Don't Stand So Close to Me’s pupil-teacher affair. She also toys with the boys in the pool hall, picking her flame to keep her burning through the night. Given my experience of fourth form, this was predominately wild fantasy on the part of Geldof! A track that sleazes along like early Feelgood, it still stands out as one of the best singles of the seventies.

Joey's on the Street Again is Rat Trap mark one, a big ballad like epic, tracing Joey's life from a lad around town, through marriage, his tragic death and aftermath, whose rising crescendo leads into one of the greatest sax solos/fade outs ever captured on record. There are obvious Springsteen comparisons, but this is probably the number one record that the Rats didn't have, preferring to not follow up Rat Trap with it.

Death, or more precisely attempted suicide, rears its ugly head again in Neon Heart. Lyrically, it's all over the place, like a drunken night on the town, but has a great riff throughout and some typically Rattish answering of the verses. There was also some great guitar work by Gerry Cott, a sign of things to come.

Heavily influenced by Dr. Feelgood, (She's Gonna) Do You In is a great track which was a live favourite, when the Rats were touring with Tonic For The Troops. The comedown to near silence followed by the eruption of noise, loses a lot on record and does not have the same impact as hearing it live. Nevertheless, the sneering disrespectful attitude and Geldof's harmonica skills really make this work and its many changes of pace make it a stand out.

Close As You'll Ever Be also follows the suicidal theme, but is lightened by the thought of a perving Geldof being chased by a jealous boyfriend. Similar to (She's Gonna) Do You In, with its changes in pace and loud rocking guitars, this is another track that sounded far better live, especially when Pete Briquette's driving bass kicks in That is not to detract from the fact that this is still a great track on vinyl. A live version was captured on the B-side of Dave many years later.

Never Bite the Hand That Feeds goes off to the Dublin suburbs, not unlike (Watch Out For) The Normal People. A father's lament on his daughter growing up, but who turns out just like anyone one else. The song features another great guitar break from Cott. A more up and at them song, than many of the others on the album.

Unusually personal for Geldof, I Can Make It If You Can, is something very heartfelt. Shades of Angie by the Stones, this is one of the Rats greatest moments where you can really feel the emotion coming through. Fingers' tinkling piano comes to the fore, as does the lingering guitar solo. Only Fall Down of their later work would compare in terms of emotional exposure.

From a personal point of view, Kicks was probably the stand out track when I got the album, expressing the frustrations of a sixteen year old, finding it hard to score, wanting to be a movie, rock or soccer star, and not being able to buy smokes or drinks. Not entirely unlike my own life then! Crashing chords and a real wig-out at the end make this a fine conclusion to a great album.

There are many dark themes in this album, and although you can hear the influences such as the Stones and Dr. Feelgood, it is unmistakably the Boomtown Rats. Lacking some of the lightness of touch of Tonic for the Troops, the general rawness lends itself to a more night time and urban feel. Rat Trap and possibly (Watch Out For) The Normal People would be the only later songs that would have worked with this collection, even Living on an Island would be considered too lightweight to be on here!

This album has stood the test of time better than practically everything from the Boomtown Rats post-I Don't Like Mondays, due to it having a more classic garage rock, R'n'B feel. It certainly stands side-by-side with Tonic for the Troops as essential listening, and as far as debut albums are concerned, very few compare to this in terms of quality.

Personally, I think it’s a close second to Tonic for the Troops as greatest album of the 1970s. So much for objectivity!

CD Review

Unquestionably of all the re-releases this is the most essential. The album was never released on CD until now. Though some tracks have appeared elsewhere, it is the first time stand outs like Kicks and (She's Gonna) Do You In have made it to the silver disc. There are also previously unreleased demo tracks from 1975, and two tracks from single releases. The only notable omission from the era is Born To Burn which was the second b-side on both Lookin' After No. 1 and the 1994 re-release of Mondays.

The extras from the demos unashamedly show some key influences.

Oh Yeah starts with a guitar from Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell, and then turns into something the early Stones would have been proud of. That very distinct lyrical guitar solo from Gerry Cott is there as well.

Kicking in with a Wilco Johnson-like guitar riff and harmonica, My Blues Away echoes early Dr. Feelgood. Ultimately it comes out as a fast paced (She’s Gonna) Do You In even down to the Harmonica break in the middle of the song and the obligatory R’n’B guitar solo.

Another prototype here in the shape of Sad Boys which sounds like I Can Make it if you Can, more influence from the Stones this time from the Exile on Main Street/Goats Head Soup era in the early seventies. Piano and Hammond to the fore, and a great guitar solo. Plenty of nice harmonies off the lead vocal.

As urgent as Lookin’ After No. 1, Fanzine Hero launches off immediately at a breakneck speed. And then suddenly, the song comes down a honky tonk piano solo, straight out of the Jools Holland repertoire before it starts off again with an almost country-like guitar solo and then back to the relentless drive of the song.

It is extraordinary that such good tracks never saw the light of day back in 1977, though the material on the debut album is so strong, that is understandable, especially as there was no more than about 40 minutes to play with on a conventional vinyl LP.

The single version of Mary of the Fourth Form is longer than the LP version. The most notable difference is the drum roll intro, and the shortened guitar solo. There are some other subtle production differences, and if push comes to shove, it does sound better than the LP version.

Finally, there’s Bare Footin’ which was one of the B-sides of Lookin’ After No. 1. It takes the Robert Parker track and pushes it as fast as it can go. The break implores everyone to get on their feet, and it’s a great cover.

The extras combine make this an indispensable CD. Five tracks showcase the origins of the Rats sounds and the other completes the story of the Rats prior to Tonic for the Troops. Well, except for Born To Burn that is! Given that it is about twenty years since CDs became freely available, it has been a long wait. This release does justify the wait.

Friday, September 16, 1977


The First TV Appearance from the Boomtown Rats, though sadly one of the last from the late great Marc Bolan, who died as a passenger in a Mini driven by his wife Gloria. The car struck a tree after spinning out of control near Gypsy Lane on Queens Ride, Barnes, London. Ironically, Bolan never drove a car nor learned to drive, as he feared he would die driving, though he owned a number of cars.

Marc essentially created Glam Rock, and his hit singles included masterpieces such as Ride A White Swan, Hot Love and Get It On.

The Rats performed Looking After No. 1 Live, complete with dancing girls. The performance was catured on the Someone's Looking At You DVD.

Saturday, August 27, 1977

Looking After No. 1

  • ENY4 Looking After No.1/Born To Burn/Barefootin' (live) (NL Mercury 6008 507)
  • 27-Aug-1977
  • 11
  • 47-28-17-13-{11}-14-15-34-25
  • 9 weeks
  • The first single release from the Boomtown Rats back in 1977, was a misleading statement of intent. Though it sounds personal, it truly isn't.

    "'Number One' was more general. It was a quintessential seventies song - for the 'me' decade... It was not a personal song..... It was a manifesto in one sense and it was about the pervasive selfishness of the time which was beginning to tire me." - Geldof

    Fuelled by Geldof's experiences of growing up in a pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland, there is an anger and kicking back against the situation Geldof found himself in back in 1976. Geldof rarely expressed his inner feelings (except possibly on later recordings such as Sex Age & Death) and in this song he takes on an opinionated guise. Some of the sentiments are Geldof's, some ain't. You just need to read between the lines. Geldof writes this song as the anti-Lennon, no peace, no love, no brotherhood of man. He sticks two fingers to the world, and claims he's gonna take it all. Especially the cash. So obviously some elements of truth in there!

    The world owes me a living
    I've waited on this dole queue too long
    I've been standin' in the rain for fifteen minutes
    That's a quarter of an hour too long.

    "Twelve months after picking up my dole, going home and writing that song, it was in the Top 20.Weird life. The boy behind me in the queue was called Johnny Fingers. I started talking to him cos he was wearing pyjamas in the rain. He became the piano player." - Geldof

    A romantic notion, yet untrue. If the song had been written 12 months earlier, then he would not have been talking to Fingers (who would have been Johnny Moylett at the time) just because he was wearing pyjamas, he'd have been talking to him because they were in the same band and they named him Fingers!

    "Soon after I got back from Canada I went down to Fitzgeradld's bar and met Gary Roberts... He was drinking with Johnnie Moylett." - Geldof

    Don't believe what you read ? Geldof may well have been in a dole queue at some point, but his life pre-Rats suggest he was well travelled and quite active, working on the roads in London, teaching in Spain, moving to Canada to be a journalist, setting up a free-ad news sheet and working in an abattoir in Dublin. Some lovely word play in the verse condensing the phrase"An Hour Is Sixty Minutes Too Long" into a mere fifteen minutes to highlight the urgency and impatience.

    I'll take all they can give me
    And then I'm gonna ask for more
    Cos the money's buried deep in the bank of England
    And I want the key to the vault
    I'm gonna take your money
    Count your loss when I'm gone.
    I'm alright, Jack,
    I'm lookin' after number one.
    If I want something I get it
    Don't matter what I have to do
    I'll step on your face, on your mother's grave
    Never underestimate me I'm nobody's fool

    "Most people get into bands for three very simple rock and roll reasons: to get laid, to get fame, and to get rich." - Geldof

    Here Geldof does state his intent. He is on the make and on the take. He's had enough, and he wants your fucking money!

    Don't wanna be like you.
    Don't wanna live like you.
    Don't wanna talk like you, at all.

    "It was all punk bravado, but it was a statement of intent. It was my way of saying, I'm going to be me. I'm not a wanker, you cunts." - Geldof

    Geldof shows he despises the common herd and wants no part of it. Rather than while away hours in the Dublin bars discussing the problems of the world but not actually doing anything about it, Geldof wants to get going and do something. Time to not be like anyone else. At all.

    Don't give me love thy neighbour
    Don't give me charity
    Don't give me peace and love or the good lord above
    You only get in my way with your stupid ideas

    "Intellectually I resisted, but though logic stripped away the cant and ceremony I still could not rid myself of the voodoo." - Geldof

    Geldof here bashes Catholicism. Seeing the church as the oppressor, he dismisses its stupid ideas. Yet still they get in the way, Catholic guilt no doubt.

    I am an island
    Entire of myself
    And when I get old, older than today
    I'll never need anybody's help in any way.
    I'm gonna be like
    I'm gonna be like
    I'm gonna be like ME!

    "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..." - John Donne

    Geldof cleverly inverts the John Donne poem to cast himself adrift of the masses for the final pay off that he's going to help himself and no one else.....

    ...and famously ends up totally contradicting this whole song within ten years.

    Geldof normally casts himself as an observer and critic in his songwriting, yet here he adopts another persona fearful of revealing his true self. Kicks sees Geldof revisit teenage frustrations, so he was to do this again.

    Still the last word from Geldof on the inspiration behind one of the Rats' finest moments....

    "Dr Feelgood were absolutely central to the Rats. When I heard "Down By The Jetty", it just fucking Blew. Me. Away. I still have it in the car. The Feelgoods and R&B were it for me. Our early live set used to be their entire first album and that was pretty well it. So "Looking After No 1" was my attempt to write a Feelgood's song at about 90 miles an hour." - Geldof

    Sunday, August 21, 1977

    Dalymount Park, Dublin.

    To celebrate Phil Lynott's birthday, Ireland's first ever major outdoor rock event featuring Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker and The Rumour, The Boomtown Rats, Fairport Convention, Stepaside, The Radiators and Stagalee.

    Thursday, August 11, 1977

    Lodestar Hotel, Ribchester

    Support from Demolition, and Disco Punk Chris Graham (surely not the webmeister!)

    Thursday, July 07, 1977

    Friday, June 17, 1977

    Cardiff University

    Support for Tom Petty

    Tom Petty

    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers toured the UK in 1977, with a little known Irish band in tow, who blew them off the stage!

    Terminal Romance UK Tour

    June 16, 1977 Birmingham Town Hall
    June 17, 1977 Cardiff University
    June 18, 1977 Aylesbury Friars Club
    June 19, 1977 Rainbow Theatre, London
    June 20, 1977 Club Lafayette, Wolverhampton

    The Boomtown Rats arrived in punk-drunk Britain in early 1977, self-aggrandizing Dubliners with a serious taste for classic rock, but dripping such vehemently snot-nosed arrogance that it was hard to hold that against them. Certainly their first major London show, opening for the newly ascendant Tom Petty, gave the passive onlooker plenty to think about -- graffiti that insisted "Rats Eat Heartbreakers" appeared all across town and, on-stage, they did. ~ Dave Thompson, All Music Guide,,3161715,00.html

    Friday, June 03, 1977

    Marquee, Wardour Street, London

    The Rats first gig in London supported by Sidewinder.

    They returned on 15th July (support Tools), 3rd August (support The Darts), 18th August (support Bernie Torme), and 14th September (support Bernie Torme).

    Saturday, May 07, 1977

    Rats come across Irish Sea and invade Ribchester

    Everybody screamed and roared for more
    Lodestar Angels shouting "Encore"
    Time was the enemy, we had to kill it dead
    The clock kept creeping round so we went to bed instead.
    Neon Heart

    Back in 1977, the Boomtown Rats played their first ever U.K. gig at the Lodestar at Ribchester.

    Apparently Geldof, and presumably the rest of the band, stayed at the Victoria Hotel in Clitheroe and charmed the locals in his inimatible manner!

    A very little known fact about the Vic is probably the most famous person to stay the night there is no other than 'Sir' Bob Geldof. From the stage 'Sir' Bob gave Clitheroe a right slagging calling it 'a right shithole'.

    Friday, May 06, 1977

    The First UK Gig?

    10 Great Newport Street, London

    Having just been signed to their first major recording contract, Dublin's Boomtown Rats, lead by vocalist Bob Geldof, performed for a group of record company employees at Studio 51 in London.

    This is where the Ken Coyler Jazz Club (also called Studio 51) used to be - a jazz club that turned R&B and rock & roll through the sixties. The Rolling Stones were regulars at the basement club, and it's where Lennon & McCartney spotted the Stones manager walking outside and asked him for an introduction.

    They there and then offered the Stones I Wanna Be Your Man, and it became their first British hit.

    Monday, April 04, 1977

    Barwell Court - The Rats' House!

    Barwell Court has achieved fame and immortality in the well-documented annals of pop history, the Boomtown Rats lived here for a year prior to releasing their first single