Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof, Tom Osborne and Me - The Fine Art of Surfacing

"I’ll give it an 85 because you can dance to it and I like the beat". Such was the line oft-repeated on Dick Clark's American Bandstand during the disco phase of the 70s. Disco was always the same, same beat, same pre-arranged crap, complete with polyester and wide collars. Wretched, wretched times for music.

"The Fine Art of Surfacing" was the third album released by the Boomtown Rats. Like everyone else coming out of England in the late 70s/early 80s, they were labelled punk mostly because radio stations and the music powers that be didn’t know what else to do with them. Punk evolved into "New Wave" to separate the hard-edged punk, plus the New Wave bands used synthesizers. Punk bands would have smashed them.

"Fine Art" was more poppy than the Rats’ original release, "A Tonic For the Troops" which was an excellent LP. "Tonic" contained the song "Rat Trap" which reminded me of how much I wanted to get out of the small town I’d grown up in.….

Billy don't like it living here in this town
He says "Traps have been sprung long before we was born"
He says "Hope bites the dust behind all the closed doors
And puss and grime ooze from it's scab-crusted sores."

Ahh.… at least it was different than thump thump thump that was disco and that’s all that mattered to me at the time.

"Fine Art" was still good stuff, not as good as "Tonic" but it contained "Always Looking At You", a hit in the UK about paranoia, my favorite song on the album "Diamond Smiles" about a debutante that commits suicide and the only thing people remember is her clothes and her smile, which is not entirely her fault:

Nobody saw her go,
They said they should have noticed
'cos her dress was cut so low.
Well it only goes to show
Ha, ha, how many real men any of us know.

"Surfacing" also includes the Rats' most famous song, "I Don’t Like Mondays", a song about a 16-year old  British schoolgirl that shot a bunch of kids at school. She killed two adults, injured eight children and one police officer. When asked why she did it, she just said "I don’t like Mondays". The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Listening to music takes you back to where you first heard it. If it’s old enough you typically recall it with a certain amount of fondness, otherwise you wouldn’t chose to listen.

"Tonic" was released in 1977, "Fine Art" in 1979.

In 1977, Tom Osborne’s Cornhusker team lost two Big Eight teams, Iowa State 24-21 in Lincoln, and later to Oklahoma 38-7. It was Osborne’s fifth-straight loss to the Sooners and had people wondering if he was the right coach for the job. Osborne would entertain thoughts of taking the head job at Colorado. The Huskers finished the season beating Memphis 21-17 in the Liberty Bowl. They ended the season ranked 10th in the UPI, 12th in the Associated Press (AP) poll.

After beating Oklahoma in the regular season in 1978, then losing to them in a rematch (screw job) in the Orange Bowl, the Huskers would lose to the Sooners again in 1979, 17-14 in Norman. They went on to lose to Houston in the Cotton Bowl, 17-14, and finish the season ranked seventh in the UPI, ninth in the AP.

The Boomtown Rats would release one more album after "Fine Art" called "Mondo Bongo".  I remember little about it other than I didn’t like it. The Rats’ lead man, Bob Geldof, would become famous (despite his apparent hatred of attention) as the founder of Live Aid. Tom Osborne would go on to win five national titles and become a coaching legend. Neither possibility, Geldof’s fame nor Osborne’s legend, seemed remotely possible at the time.



I’ve nearly dug out from being buried the past couple of weeks, so hopefully I’ll pick up on some things that have happened lately in the world of college football that have been bugging me, despite the fact that the headlines have passed. Some issues never die for collegiate sports. I haven't complained (or defended) Title IX in quite a while. Maybe it's due!

We have big changes coming to CN in the next week. Stay Tuned.

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