Sunday, 29 November 2015

7 inch singles collection: The Boomtown Rats - Diamond Smiles

Bringing us the glamorous side of suicide..


A-Side: Diamond Smiles
B-Side: Late Last Night
(Ensign 1979)      

Back to The Boomtown Rats then, and I'm not sure that I've got anything more to add to what I said about them last time they cropped up, which is probably just as well, as I wrote more than intended to about the Beach Boys in my last entry. So I'll gloss over any more preamble and get down to the business of this blog. 

Diamond Smiles is record that I really liked when I first got it. I played it a lot, it's got a staccato feel, Bob's voice goes from a sneer that is distant and disapproving commentary on events, to become something more involved and passionate over the progression of the song. It was only after many. many listens that it actually clicked what the subject matter of the song was. It is, if you didn't know, about a young woman who, seemingly fed up with life commits suicide. Is this a good choice for a catchy pop song? Well why not - taboos are made to be broken, and highlighting the issue of suicide amongst the disaffected youth by singing about it is as good a way to bring the issues under a mainstream spotlight as any other. On the other hand much of the rest of the lyrics seem to be about the style over substance of the burgeoning yuppie culture - a perfectly acceptable target. What this means, though is that this song is neither an in depth look at either subject, and so fails to have the necessary depth to make it hard-hitting on either issue. This is entirely fair enough - it is just a piece of pop music after all - but I get the feeling that Geldolf is wanting us to sit up and notice the objects of his anger. It doesn't quite work, yet, but, as we all know, he does eventually channel his righteous fury into something that millions of people take notice of.

The flipside, Late Last Night, is as generic a Boomtown Rats b-side as you could expect. If you know what the band sounds like, you can probably guess what this song is like. It's an upbeat piece of power punk pop. The words are about a nightmare, although any scares that could be put in the song are undercut by a line about "something I ate". It sounds like they're going for creepy but failing to get there. There's nothing else particularly distinctive about this song.

I still enjoy this record and still think that Diamond Smiles is a good song, but maybe I don't love it as much as I did once. Suicide is a complex and important issue that needs to discussed more openly, however this blog whic is meant to be trivial and lighthearted is probably not the place to that. Nevertheless, as an act of public service I'd like to say that if you are reading this blog and having been having suicidal feelings please, please, please go and talk to some one about it - it's the first step in a long and difficult journey, but it's a step in the right direction and less irrevocable than the alternative.

Next time something Scandinavian...

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