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The Undertones

The Undertones slam-bang punk-pop drew its strength from one simple fact: you didn't need a secret handshake to enjoy it. John and Damian O'Neill mated infectious guitar hooks to '60s garage, '70s glam rock, and Feargal Sharkey's signature vocal quaver. Those qualities came together on their breakout hit "Teenage Kicks," whose simplicity harked back to '60s ideals of when the song was king.

The Undertones formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1975. However, they avoided references to their hometown's sectarian strife for "more songs about chocolate and girls," as their second album phrased it. But gigs were scarce in a scene dominated by show bands, and the boys felt sufficiently discouraged to consider quitting -- until Belfast record shop owner Terry Hooley released the Teenage Kicks EP on his Good Vibrations label in September 1978.

The song captivated Britain's top DJ, John Peel; suddenly, as Damian O'Neill recalled, people were asking for autographs at the job. The frenzy attracted a deal from Sire Records, which released the band's rough-and-ready debut in April 1979. That fall, the Undertones earned kudos as a support act on the Clash's American tour. So did Hypnotised, which showed a band already straining against the Ramonesy thrust of earlier singles like "Jimmy Jimmy" and "My Perfect Cousin."

However, the Undertones entertained some notions of growing up, which started when they switched to EMI. Positive Touch (1981) unveiled exotic instrumental flourishes like horns, slide guitars, tack pianos, and even xylophones; its brief residency in the U.K. Top 50 provided the first inklings of trouble.

The band returned after a lengthy lay-off with The Sin of Pride (1983), which flirted with '60s soul and psychedelia. But its singles -- including a slick remake of the Isley Brothers' "Got to Have You Back" and the grungy "Love Parade" -- made little impression, and the album peaked at number 46 on the U.K. charts. Sensing a thankless competition with their younger, cheekier selves, the Undertones split up in the summer of 1983 after a series of summer festival gigs.

Sharkey launched a short-lived solo career, while John and Damian O'Neill won critical plaudits -- but little sales -- for their tough-minded political band, That Petrol Emotion. Hopes of re-forming the original lineup for John Peel's 50th birthday fell apart after the O'Neills' father died. The band mulled an offer for five gigs in 1994, but blamed Sharkey's skittishness for scuttling the deal.

The boys skirted their former frontman's reluctance by recruiting Derry's Paul McLoone for two hometown gigs in 1999, and haven't looked back. The reissues kept coming, while the Teenage Kicks (2001) documentary gave fans a fond review of the band's history. Get What You Need, the first new album in 20 years, earned a thumbs-up from fans on its September 2003 release. Twenty-five years after "Teenage Kicks" put the Undertones on the map, the pride of Derry seem more ubiquitous than ever. ~ Ralph Heibutzki
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Listening In - Radio Sessions 1978-1982

1. Get Over You

2. Top 20

3. She Can Only Say No

4. Male Model

5. Listening In

6. Family Entertainment

7. Billy's Third

8. Here Comes Summer

9. Nine Times Out Of Ten

10. The Way Girls Talk

11. Whiz Kids

12. Top Twenty

13. Girls That Don't Talk

15. What's With Terry

17. The Positive Touch

18. You're Welcome

19. When Saturday Comes

21. Bye Bye Baby Blue

22. Beautiful Friend

24. Untouchable

25. The Love Parade

26. Luxury

27. The Sin Of Pride

x

Track List: Get What You Need

1. Thrill Me

2. I Need Your Love The Way It Used To Be

3. Everything But You

4. Ride The Rough Escalator

5. You Can't Say That

6. Enough

7. Touch

8. Girl Like You

9. The Cruellest Thing

10. Oh Please

11. Winter Sun

12. Joyland

13. Shut Down

x

Track List: True Confessions (A's+B's)

Disc 1

1. Teenage Kicks

2. True Confessions

4. Emergency Cases

5. Get Over You

6. Really Really

7. She Can Only Say No

8. Jimmy Jimmy

9. Mars Bars

10. Here Comes The Summer

11. One Way Love

12. Top Twenty

13. You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It!)

14. Let's Talk About Girls

15. My Perfect Cousin

16. Hard Luck

17. I Don't Wanna See You Again

Disc 2

1. Wednesday Week

2. I Told You So

3. It's Going To Happen

4. Fairly In The Money Now

5. Julie Ocean

6. Kiss In The Dark

7. Beautiful Friend

8. Life's Too Easy

9. The Love Parade

10. Like That

11. Got To Have You Back

12. Turning Blue

13. Bye Bye Baby Blue

14. Chain Of Love

15. Window Shopping For New Clothes

x

Track List: The Best Of The Undertones: Teenage Kicks

1. Teenage Kicks

2. My Perfect Cousin

3. Jimmy Jimmy

4. Here Comes The Summer

5. Wednesday Week

6. You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)

7. There Goes Norman

8. It's Going To Happen

9. Get Over You

10. When Saturday Comes

11. Male Model

12. Julie Ocean

13. True Confessions

14. (She's A) Runaround

15. Mars Bars

16. Crisis Of Mine

17. Let's Talk About Girls

18. The Love Parade

19. Girls That Don't Talk

20. Bittersweet

x

Track List: The Sin Of Pride

1. Got To Have You Back

2. Valentine's Treatment

3. Luxury

4. Love Before Romance

5. Untouchable

6. Bye Bye Baby Blue

7. Conscious

8. Chain Of Love

9. Soul Seven

10. The Love Parade

11. Save Me

12. The Sin Of Pride

x

Track List: Positive Touch

1. Fascination

2. Julie Ocean

3. Life's Too Easy

4. Crisis Of Mine

5. You're Welcome

7. The Positive Touch

8. When Saturday Comes

9. It's Going To Happen

10. Sigh And Explode

11. I Don't Know

12. Hannah Doot

13. Boy Wonder

14. Forever Paradise

15. Fairly In The Money Now

16. Julie Ocean

17. Kiss In The Dark

18. Beautiful Friend

19. Life's Too Easy

x

Track List: Hypnotised

1. More Songs About Chocolate And Girls

2. There Goes Norman

3. Hypnotised

4. See That Girl

5. Whizz Kids

7. The Way Girls Talk

8. Hard Luck

9. My Perfect Cousin

10. Boys Will Be Boys

11. Tearproof

12. Wednesday Week

13. Nine Times Out Of Ten

14. Girls That Don't Talk

15. What's With Terry

16. Hard Luck (Again)

17. I Don't Wanna See (You Again)

18. I Told You So

x

Track List: The Undertones

1. Fascination

2. Julie Ocean

3. Life's Too Easy

4. Crisis Of Mine

5. You're Welcome

7. The Positive Touch

8. When Saturday Comes

9. It's Going To Happen!

10. Sigh & Explode

11. I Don't Know

12. Hannah Doot

13. Boy Wonder

14. Forever Paradise

15. Kiss In The Dark

16. Beautiful Friend

17. Life's Too Easy

18. Fairly In The Money Now

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Yep
Report as inappropriate
The reviewer is likening the punk culture to an exclusive club. He just means that you don't have to be "punk" to enjoy The Undertones. Stupid analogy, but there ya go.
Report as inappropriate
What the hell does that even mean, 'You don't need a secret handshake to enjoy it'?!? What?
Report as inappropriate
hohenshellm
Not too many bands can hold a candle to the Undertones! I won't ever get over them!



































































u
Report as inappropriate
mattmattoram a 1
One of the most underrated bands ever, punk or otherwise-th e hooks, the cleverness, the unpretentiou s n e s s . . . g e n i u s !
Report as inappropriate
bijhan.rever e n d
PETULA CLARK HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE UNDERTONES

This page is crap.
Report as inappropriate
Ummm . . . nice bio?
Report as inappropriate
This is a great band !
Report as inappropriate
Good, good s**t. Hello where are people listening to the good music?

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