I was 18 when Boomy Tella first came out. It felt important then, it is still important now. There are a limited number of great pop albums and this is one of them. None of the songs extend beyond 4 minutes, many are under three. There are no guitar solos, there is no ‘stretching out’, no noodling, no filler. These things are important. Say what you want and then stop. Think ‘I just can’t stop it’, ‘I am a wallet’, ‘Two sevens clash’, ‘Meat is murder’, ‘Born this way’ and ‘Ping pong’.
Great albums always have a great opening song and ‘Not so simple Sharon says’ is just that. It sets the tone and you want to hear what comes next. Great songs always have a great opening line and ‘Being wayward and cynical never left a lasting impression on her lonely heart’ is up there with some of the best: “Hand in glove, the sun shines out of our behinds”; “When this old world starts getting me down and people are just too much for me to face…”; “You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel I’m dirt and I’m hurt.”
Nothing is deliberately obscure or difficult but there is an air of mystery and surprise. I still don’t know if ‘Love letter’ is sung from a spurned male or female point of view, the trombone and laughter in ‘Beneath the reach’ suddenly appear but just seem to fit and the party which starts in the background of ‘Las Regas El Resoto’ is like an abrupt left turn down a tiny side street. But it works. The words are clear and articulate but leave gaps for you to fill in. These are no themes, and nothing is in your face. ‘Mrs Shepherd’ seems to be about a pompous and high-handed moralist whose daughter turns out to be a lesbian, ‘Down by the chimney’ perhaps about someone’s loss of innocence. The music is angular and yet melodic. ‘Not so simple Sharon says’ has a hook so catchy it is one of those tunes you would recognise within a second or two if it ever happened to be on the radio. It’s familiar but you can’t pin it down. As John Peel said of someone more famous – it’s not immediately possible to tell what they have been listening to. Labelling this as ‘mod’ or using the term ‘mod band’ feels reductive and dismissive. For me, this is an album that deserves more than that.
1988 was a long time ago and the past is a country I don’t much want to visit. But this is a great record and it is nice to have it back.
Buy the reissued ‘Boomy Tella’ on vinyl, CD or download via Bandcamp