Top critical review
Great early stuff but standard nosedives after 'fine art of surfacing'
on 25 July 2016
This collection reminds you not only how good the first 8 singles were, but also how the standard fell off a cliff thereafter, with inevitable commercial consequences. Up to the fine art of surfacing album all went well, and although the new wave beginnings were less in evidence by then, there was still enough emotion around to produce 'Mondays' and 'Someone's looking at you'. Other new wave bands also ran ou tof energy and ideas, the Undertones produced the ballad 'Julie Ocean' and were never heard of again, the skids released 'the absolute game' (ditto) and while Golden Brown was a minor classic by the time the Stranglers started producing singles in French most of their fans had had enough too. The Rats' malaise first manifested itself in a trip down the dead end that was reggae, It was very popular with white groups for 6 months back in 1980, the Police and UB40 were at number one, and other new wave contemporaries such as the Clash and the Ruts were doing it too. However Geldof's alternately sneery and whiny delivery, so effective on up tempo or angry tracks, is not particularly suited to reggae. And by the time the white reggae fad was played out, their mojo had gone and we got the awful 'elephant's graveyard' the instantly forgettable 'Dave' and the rest was deserved obscurity, until Bob's star (at least) suddenly rose again wth 'Live Aid'.
All the same, how good those early singles were. The power of the first 3, the hypnotic Like Clockwork, rat trap knocking John Travolta and Olivia Newton John off the top of the charts, 'Mondays' being number one for a month, the slight dip with the merely quite good 'Diamond Smiles' and then the brilliant 'someone's looking at you.' And as a bonus for buyers of this CD, we are also treated to the wonderful '(I never loved) Eva Braun' from Tonic for the troops, surely another potential number 1 had it ever been a single.
By the way , the version of 'I don't like Mondays' included here is not the single version. It's still good, but just not what you are expecting.