The Boomtown Rats: Bob Geldof (vocals); Gerry Cott, Garry Roberts (guitar); Johnnie Fingers (keyboards); Pete Briquette (bass guitar); Simon Crowe (drums).
As the very stylized album cover indicates, 1981's MONDO BONGO presents the Boomtown Rats in the throes of New Wave. Here the Irish band amps up the bass and the keyboards, and the era's requisite production sheen abounds. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, since it allows for vibrant tunes such as the surging "Straight Up," the reggae-tinged "Banana Republic," and the buoyant, Elvis Costello-like "Elephants Graveyard."
Although frontman Bob Geldof's streetwise narratives and the group's brash punk attitude had largely given way to a bigger, more streamlined sound by this point, MONDO BONGO still has plenty of charms, and even includes an inventive cover: a ska-like take on the Stones' "Under My Thumb" (here retitled "Under Their Thumb Is Under My Thumb"). Though this outing, recorded before Geldof's leading role in Pink Floyd's THE WALL, is overshadowed by the Rats' preceding albums, it's an underrated gem that deserves further recognition.