MAMA’S BOYS – Runaway Dreams: 1980-1992 [HNE / Cherry Red 5-CD Box Set remastered] (2024) *HQ*

MAMA'S BOYS - Runaway Dreams: 1980-1992 [HNE / Cherry Red 5-CD Box Set remastered] (2024) *HQ* - full

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal of the late 1970s and early ’80s gave us many influential and enduring rockers; Northern Ireland gave us MAMA’S BOYS, featuring the McManus brothers; Pat on guitar, John on bass & vocals and Tommy on drums.
The young trio had come from a musical family steeped in traditional Irish music, but the McManus brothers developed a more hard rock-orientated direction. When a DJ jokingly referred to the young group as a bunch of “Mama’s Boys”, the name stuck.
Now Hear No Evil / Cherry Red Records are releasing “Runaway Dreams: 1980-1992“, a 5-disc set focused on Mama’s Boys hardest to find early albums, also their last from 1992, plus a bonus disc of standalone singles, B-sides, and rarities.
After these firsts LP’s Mama’s Boys were then snapped up by Jive Records, recording a number of commercially successful albums during the 1980s, and gaining all important exposure in the United States through rotation on MTV. “Runaway Dreams: 1980-1992” rescue the less heard records from this underrated rock machine.

An independent band in the truest sense of the word, they released a number of now very collectable 45s, plus the self-financed ‘Official Bootleg’ (CD1) in 1980 – it was essentially their demo, pressed up on vinyl to sell at gigs.
Gaining attention across the water, they were invited to play a number of important support slots, including Hawkwind in 1982, Thin Lizzy’s 1983 farewell tour, opening for Wishbone Ash, and eventually a prestigious appearance at the 1983 Reading Rock festival.

‘Official Bootleg’ is rough it captured the band’s magic. This album was recorded in four hours so there is no way you could hope for pristine sound and despite the dodgy sound it got people noticing the band. The three brothers were incredible musicians which shone through on songs like “Belfast City Blues”, the Thin Lizzy steeped “Highland Rock”, “Record Machine and a seriously trippy, jazzed up cover of “Summertime”.
This was an album that was driven by guitars, sheer talent and about £3.50 worth of production but it put the boys on the map and I am glad that this has been rereleased in its original form for all to hear and own.

On the follow up “Plug it In” (CD2) the dials were turned up. The difference in sound is night and day and the songs are far fuller, the guitars tighter and the vocals now sounded like they were not done underwater.
The opening number “In the Heat of the Night” slotted right into that NWoBHM sound. I loved this album when it came out in 1982. I was 100% immersed in that movement and as much as bands would come along and do better the quality of Mama’s Boys was far superior.
This was another self released album so it did not get a lot of travel but media powerhouses of the time in Sounds and Kerrang noticed the band and picked up just how good they were.
With tracks like “Burnin’ Up” taking on a 70s Ted Nugent feel to single “Needle in the Groove” which is probably the song that lead to most peoples discovery of Mama’s Boys” and it still stands up today.
They hit us with AC/DC riffage on “Reach for the Top”, they rocked it up to 11 with “Silence is out of Fashion” and “In the Heat of the Night”. They also re-recorded a few numbers from the debut.

Every album was showing progression and the press really jumped on board with third LP 1984’s “Turn It Up” and they even got some MTV exposure and although it did not catapult the boys like other bands were seeing it opened new doors and you really felt the band were going to take off.
Opener “Midnight Promises” slotted into the Melodic Rock genre, they slowed it down on “Too Little of you to Love”. The real rockers were still there with “Late Night Rendezvous”, the strangely titled “Crazy Daisy’s House of Dreams” and “Face to Face” which for me is one of their strongest tracks.
They went full on blues for “Lonely Soul” which is a stunning track and if this came out today I would still buy it.

MAMA'S BOYS - Runaway Dreams: 1980-1992 [HNE / Cherry Red 5-CD Box Set remastered] box back

With the success of ”Turn it Up” the band finally got picked up by an American label in Jive records and in 1992 they released “Relativity” but with grunge being king and far too long between albums it was a little and too late.
This was such a shame as this is a killer album but if you have to bow out you can do far worse than leaving us with an album this good.
“Relativity” (CD4) saw a new vocalist in Mike Wilson and if this record had been released just 5 years earlier they would have been huge. Opener “Judgment Day” would have received heavy rotation on MTV as it is a killer track. Mike gave the band a new dimension and his powerful pipes would have been a dream in the ’80s.

“Relativity” is packed with pure bangers, “What You See is What You Get” is a powerhouse, “Cry Salvation” is a blues rock monster. It ticks every box for inclusion on all those 90s compilation CDs that flooded the market. “Rescue Me” is a stunning ballad that I will hold up as one of the best there is.
This CD has a host of bonus tracks with live versions and it rounds out this wonderful album with the excellent “Fallin’” being the highlight. This album was the jewel in the crown for Mama’s Boys and you wonder what the band could have produced if they had not hung up the guitars after the sad and untimely death of Tommy McManus.

The final disc (CD5) is all manner of B-sides, rarities, etc and it rounds out the collection with the highlight a live cover version of Slade’s “Mama We’re All Crazee Now” which gives you a little hint of how good the band were on a stage.

This five CD box set is a great compilation off the band’s early career. This is a beautiful homage to the brothers McManus and a marker in time to the amazing rocking music they made. Whether you were there in the ’80s or never heard of the band, get this box set, you will not be disappointed.
Highly Recommended


DISC ONE – Official Bootleg (1980)
1 I’m Leaving Town
2 Down And Out
3 Belfast City Blues
4 Highland Rock
5 Record Machine
6 Rock ‘N’ Roll Craze
7 Summertime
8 Big Bad City
9 Without You
10 Demon


DISC TWO – Plug It In (1982)
1 In The Heat Of The Night (Short Version)
2 Burnin’ Up
3 Needle In The Groove
4 Reach For The Top
5 Record Machine
6 Silence Is Out Of Fashion
7 Straight Forward
8 Runaway Dreams
9 Getting Out
10 Belfast City Blues (Alternate Version)
11 Hard Headed Ways
12 In The Heat Of The Night (Long Version)


DISC THREE – Turn It Up (1984)
1 Midnight Promises
2 Loose Living
3 Too Little Of You To Love
4 Late Night Rendezvous
5 Crazy Daisy’s House Of Dreams
6 Face To Face
7 Gentleman Rogues
8 Lonely Soul
9 Shake My Bones
10 Freedom Fighters


DISC FOUR – Relativity (1992)
1 Judgement Day
2 What You See Is What You Get
3 Laugh About It
4 Don’t Look Back In Anger
5 Left And Right
6 Rescue Me
7 My Way Home
8 Don’t Back Down
9 Left And Right
10 Cardboard City
11 Walk All Over Me
12 Fallin’
13 Moorlough Shore
14 Walk All Over Me (Live 1990)
15 Rescue Me (Live 1990)
16 My Way Home (Live 1990)
17 Fallin’ (Live 1990)
18 The Beast (Live 1990)


1 Rollin’ On
2 Demon
3 High Energy Weekend
4 Hitch Hike
5 Belfast City Blues
6 Telephone Teaser
7 Shake My Bones
8 Demon
9 Too Little of You to Love
10 Record Machine
11 This Flight Tonight
12 Time Warp (Instrumental)
13 Mama Weer All Crazee Now (Live)



You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. AOR Fan says:

    Do you have the best versions of the missing albums : Power And Passion (1985) & Growing Up The Hard Way (1987).

  2. AOR Fan says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.