Picks and Pans Review: Mondo Bongo
The best word for the Rats is "perplexing." Talent they obviously have. Likewise bristling energy, offbeat melodies and unusual structures. So why were their previous three albums so disappointing and unfocused? Perhaps because lead singer-songwriter Bob Geldof is such a chameleon. Their first LP was derived heavily from the Rolling Stones; the next two were all over the map. Now, on Mondo Bongo, Geldof is still going off in a few hundred directions at once, but maybe the Rats grow on you; they do sound pretty interesting here. Mood Mambo, the opener, is built around bongos, congas and Caribbean vocal accents. Up All Night may set a record for maximum danceable deliciousness at the slowest possible tempo. There's also a wild, woolly cover version of Jagger and Richards' Under My Thumb, with new lyrics by Geldof. Will the real Boomtown Rats ever stand up? Maybe they don't have to; not having one identifiable style is a kind of style in itself.