Album #438 – The Undertones

Album #438

The Undertones are one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, band to come out of Northern Ireland. Feargal Sharkey and the boys decided to not focus the majority of their songs on the political strife of their homeland. Instead, The Undertones wrote about being a teenager, love, heartbreak and angst. The songs on their debut are fun and upbeat. The Undertones are clearly influenced by glam rock and 60’s garage rock along with punk. That comes across in many of the songs and is also evident in John and Damian O’Neill’s guitar playing. Sharkey’s quivering vocals adds to the sound. I can see now why influential British DJ John Peel could not get enough of these guys, especially the song Teenage Kicks. Peel actually played it three times in a row, something unheard of on British Radio at the time. Teenage Kicks became his favorite song for the rest of his life and, a line from the song is on his tombstone. To me, the song is perfection: writing about life as a teenager combined with pop sensibilities within punk music. It’s bloody brilliant. But, to the band, it was probably no big deal.  The Undertones are different than many of the punk bands I have listened to so far. Maybe, it’s because they are not political. Mostly, it’s because all the songs on this album are good and could have been released as singles. But yet, they were never that type of band. The band broke up in 1983 but have reformed and continue to tour minus Sharkey, who retired from singing in the early 90’s. Teenage Kicks became their signature song, thanks to Peel. But, after listening to their debut, they are so much more. Other highlights include: Family Entertainment, Girls Don’t Like It, Male Model (a song that is STILL relevant today), Wrong Way, Jump Boys, Here Comes The Summer, Get Over You, Jimmy Jimmy, (She’s A) Runaround and I Know A Girl. Overall, I give The Undertones’ debut album, 5 out of 5.

Next: London Calling by The Clash!!!

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