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Friday 22 September 2017

Album review: Bob Geldof
How to Compose Popular Songs that Will Sell
(Mercury)

John Meagher

John Meagher

Anyone who caught Sir Bobby Gandalf (copyright Russell Brand) on the Late Late last week will have been reassured that much of the old anger and indignation burns as brightly as ever.

Geldof once again nailed the country for what it is, just as he did so effectively as the young scamp fronting the Boomtown Rats. The scabrous sentiments of Banana Republic -- a song released more than 30 years ago -- have felt especially relevant to a more recent Ireland riddled with corrupt politicians and egocentric "builders".

But Geldof can also be very funny. Just look at this album title. Here is a man who hasn't troubled the zeitgeist as a songwriter since Live Aid. It's hard to see this -- his first album in nine years -- changing that.

Yet, there's much to appreciate on an album that's often joyful and optimistic where his last (Age, Sex & Death) was melancholic and frequently gut-wrenching in its naked honesty. Paula Yates's death loomed large.

The new album is, in the man's own words, about "that almost wild surprise, the corny realisation that someone loves you and you love them". The subject of his elation? Long-term French partner Jeanne Marine. To Live in Love, patently, is about the contentment he feels with her, while Systematic 6-Pack, in which he displays a large dose of self-deprecation, revels in the joy of sex.

There are fleeting moments where you sense he hasn't quite exorcised the darkness of a decade ago -- as in Blow and She's a Lover -- but, for the most part, his genre-hopping collection feels like a labour of love that somehow avoids self-indulgence.

Burn it: To Live in Love; She's a Lover

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