Album Review: The Undertones


The Undertones -‘An Introduction To The Undertones’ (Salvo Sound)

There have been no shortage of compilations of The Undertones’ five year recording career in the thirty years since they split. But if we put this to one side, this is a fine compilation of singles and album tracks from one of the punk era’s finest bands and one of the greatest bands from the Emerald Isle.*

And there’s so much excellent stuff on offer here. Whilst it’s hard to believe that there might be people who haven’t heard ‘My Perfect Cousin’ ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ ‘Here Comes The Summer’ there remains in common with their US labelmates The Ramones a delight in the pop song, and so much on offer here remains so fresh over a quarter of a century later.

Had they not split in 1983 (though the reformed band has issued two new albums Get What You Need and Dig Yourself Deep, minus original singer Feargal Sharkey) it would have been interesting to see what became of them, ‘Julie Ocean’ is heartbreaking and sublime and ‘It’s Gonna Happen’ a sign that Paul Weller and Elvis Costello weren’t the only ones from the punk scene getting interested in soul.

Not only awesome tunes but the attached DVD includes a wealth of bonus visual material, including the (rightly) acclaimed John Peel-narrated documentary Teenage Kicks as well as performances from The Tube and The Old Grey Whistle Test.

As for ‘Teenage Kicks?’ Well, it’s here, and sounds as brilliant as ever. It’s six tracks in -and yet as this compilation reminds you, there was far more to The Undertones than just that one track.


An Introduction To The Undertones is out now on Salvo

*NOTE: this should not be taken to be a comment on the politics of either Northern Ireland or The Republic of Ireland, or the land of Ireland as a whole, rather a wish not to comment!

The Undertones ‘It’s Gonna Happen’

The Undertones -‘My Perfect Cousin’

The Undertones -‘Teenage Kicks’

Thank you for these, John


Seven years since John Peel died (as I pointed out yesterday).

A handful of tracks from acts that he championed. If you like them, do go and investigate further.

His favourite band…my favourite place to live:

The Fall -‘Edinburgh Man.’ mp3

There was stuff before Punk, y’know…

Led Zeppelin -‘Whole Lotta Love.’ mp3

He knew that there was stuff further than just England…

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Upside Down.’ mp3

Stuff from further afield than Europe and America:

Bhundu Boys -‘My Foolish Heart.’ mp3

Bob Marley & The Wailers -‘Waiting In Vain.’ mp3

Some stuff shoulda had a much wider profile:

Matching Mole -‘O Caroline.’ mp3

Some utter classics:

The Smiths -‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’ mp3

…later covered in radical style:

Schneider TM -‘The Light 3000.’ mp3

He certainly knew that it wasn’t just about guitars:

Aphex Twin-‘Girl/Boy Song.’ mp3

…and I don’t think anymore needs to be said about this, other than…ENJOY:

The Undertones -‘Teenage Kicks.’ mp3

What was it about Peel? This was my contribution to Fresh Air’s special:

To me, John Peel was the radio DJ that all others were measured by. His sense of humour and passion for music – ‘I just want to hear something I haven’t heard before’ was infectious. Right up to the day he died, here was a man who cared about music.

The list of bands he championed from early beginnings who went on to have a massive impact – even if only for a while – is very long but would include artists as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Kelis, Captain Beefheart, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Nirvana, The Cure, White Stripes, Happy Mondays, Queen, PJ Harvey, David Bowie…He took flack from the far right for playing reggae. He played the Sex Pistols when no-one else would touch them. He championed styles from Prog-rock to Dubstep to ‘world’; happy hardcore to folk to death metal. As a teenager I would listen under the bedclothes trying to stay awake until the end of the show (in 1992, if you missed a radio show, that was it, there was nowhere to go to listen again, unless someone happened to have taped it).

I’ve only done a handful of shows on the radio but when people say to me that they can hear the Peel influence, I’m flattered. It is not over-exaggerating to say that without John Peel the musical landscape of the last forty years in the UK (and indeed further afield) would have been vastly different were it not for him, and all the poorer for it.
I missed the night he read my name out on there, but fortunately by this stage the internet had come along).

If I’d ever been in a band that had got beyond the gigging and demo stage, given the choice between a Peel session and Top Of The Pops I would have chosen the Peel session.

Would I have been begging him to play 17 Seconds Records’ acts on his show? D’uh!

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day…


Stiff Little Fingers -‘Suspect Device.’

U2 -‘With Or Without You.’

Thin Lizzy -‘Whisky In the Jar.’

Clannad -‘Theme From Harry’s Game.’ (Yes, I’m serious. grow up, fashion nazi)

Sultans of Ping FC -‘Where’s Me Jumper?’

Undertones -‘Jimmy Jimmy.’

It’s not just about Belfast or Dublin, y’know! Mind you, it was depressing how many pictures of leprechauns turned up when I googled St. Patrick’s Day…

Peel – more very hard to get hold of stuff!


I have built up an ever more complete collection of Peel Festive Fifties, I have now completed 1990 thanks to two readers, david and Andy, who helped me track down Bastro. So tonight’s post from this very cold and snowy part of Scotland (not sufficiently hideous enough that we didn’t have to get the day off work though!) focuses firstly on 1990, a year when much of the stuff has proved difficult to get hold of. Thanks to everyone who has helped out with these over the years!

The Orb -‘Loving You.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.10)

The Would-Be’s -‘I’m Hardly Ever Wrong.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.12)

Lemonheads -‘Different Drum.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.13)

Babes In Toyland -‘House.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.38)

Bastro -‘Nothing Special.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.45)

Now skipping forward a bit, to this deacde, for some reason many of the tracks featured by Mr. Peel have proved rather hard to get hold of. Thank God for the net and readers!

Burning Love Jumpsuit -‘Cheerleader.’ mp3 (2002 Festive Fifty no.41)

The Undertones -‘Thrill Me.’ mp3 (2003 Festive Fifty no.4)

The Undertones -‘Oh Please.’ mp3 (2003 Festive Fifty no.22)

these two tracks are takes, rather than remixes I would say, of tracks that in their original versions were massive pop hits. this was the john Peel show, and we got something a bit special (and impossible to get hold of!)

The Darkness Vs SFB -‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love.’ mp3 (2003 Festive Fifty no.20)

The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror -‘3AM Eternal.’ mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty no.44)

As ever, if you want good Peel-related sites there are many out there, but Teenage Kicks, Sexy Loser and Fades in Slowly are three I check prettty regularly.

Now, if anyone can help with these I would be grateful, eternally:

Dreadzone -‘Maximum’
Zion Train -‘dance Of Life’
Dreadzone -‘Fight the Power’
Spare Snare -‘Bugs’
Stereolab -‘Pop Quiz’
Soolar Race-‘Not Here’
Dave Clarke -‘Red Three’
Orbital -‘Out Three Somewhere’
Soul Bossa -‘Sore Loser’
Forces & Stars -‘Fireworks’
Quickspace -‘Friend’
Sweeney -‘Why?’
Zion Train -‘Babylon’s Burning’

And yes, of course I have tried eMusic and iTunes, that’s why I’m asking!


Thank the Lord

(Bet Che wouldn’t have taken any crap from people purporting to represent artists and exploiting folk!)

A couple of days ago, I was deeply concerend when Steve at Teenage Kicks was going to pull the plug on his excellent John Peel-inspired blog.

To my intense relief, he has announced he will continue.

So in honour of Steve, and his immaculately researched blog, this is the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks, (yes, John Peel’s favourite ever song, I think we all know that now!)

This is not a long post from me, I’ve spent an hour and a half marking…

Undertones – ‘Teenage Kicks.’ mp3

By the way, this has appeared at Condemned to rock roll which makes for great reading.

More Festive Fifty delights

My 399th post, and I’m pleased that people are still reading.

So, ten more tracks for today and I’ll do a special post tomorrow…watch this space…

First up, the first UK punk record.

Damned -‘New Rose.’ mp3 (Deep breath: 1978 Festive Fifty no.13, 1979 Festive Fifty no.10, 1980 Festive Fifty no.8, 1981 Festive fifty no.12, 1982 all-time Festive Fifty no.13)

Northern Ireland’s top two bands of the punk-era (there seems to be quite a political tone to today’s post BTW)

Stiff Little Fingers -‘Alternative Ulster.’ mp3 (Another deep breath: 1978 Festive Fifty no.11, 1979 Festive Fifty no.6, 1980 Festive Fifty no.9, 1981 Festive fifty no.16, 1982 all-time Festive Fifty no.16)

Undertones -‘ You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?).’ mp3 (1979 Festive Fifty no.29)

I know next to nothing about this band, again, info etc.. etc..

Red Guitars -‘Good Technology.’ mp3 (1983 Festive Fifty no.11)

With the emphasis on Red (very much the colour of their politics) things were not getting any better in 1984.

Redskins -‘Keep On Keeping On.’ mp3(1984 Festive Fifty no.10)

By 1986, Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the USA (ha, bloody ha) lead to commenting in two tracks that year about this being the 51st state of America. This was one of them, can you name the other? (Not in the Festive fifty, but by a band hat Peel did champion)

The The -‘Heartland.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.32)

My all-time favourite song:

Joy Division -‘Atmosphere.’ mp3 (1980 Festive Fifty no.2, 1981 Festive Fifty no.1, 1982 All-time festive Fifty no.2, 2000 Millennium Chart no.1)

Mr. Peel’s favourite band EVER. This wasn’t political per se, though the Pharmacist in question may not have been dealing in over the counter medicine…

Fall -‘Mr. Pharmacist.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.3)

Two Peel favoured artists I’m just discovering and loving:

Nina Nastasia -‘You, Her and Me.’ mp3 (2003 Festive Fifty no.13)

Laura Cantrell -‘Queen Of The Coast.’ mp3 (2000 Festive fifty no.42)

There will be more music tomorrow.

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey?

John Peel in 1976

OK, slightly rubbish heading but I’m running out of funny original titles.

Anyway, it’s been a few days since I did a post resting on John Peel’s Festive Fifties, so here we go:

In recent years, it is increasingly being considered that John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten)’s post Sex Pistols band, Public Image Ltd (PiL) may, in fact, have been far more groundbreaking than the Sex Pistols. No kidding.

Public Image Ltd.- ‘Public Image.’ mp3 (1978 Festive Fifty no.9, 1979 Festive Fifty no.9, 1980 Festive Fifty no.11, 1981 Festive Fifty no.26, 1982 All-time Festive Fifty no.20)

Famously, John Peel’s favourite ever song was this, the opening lines of which are now on his gravestone:

Undertones -‘Teenage Kicks.’ mp3 (1978 Festive Fifty no.10, 1979 Festive Fifty no.2, 1980 Festive Fifty no.7, 1981 Festive Fifty no.6, 1982 Alltime Festive fifty no.8, Millennium no.2)

There seems to be a bit of a link between teaching and rock’n’roll, despite the fact that the two might seem to be diametrically opposed. Step forward, in this case, Gordon MacIntyre and Katie Griffiths from Ballboy.

Ballboy -‘All The Records On the Radio Are Shite.’ mp3 (2002 Festive Fifty no.10)

There have been a number of cover versions making the Festive Fifty over the years, including this one (a fair bit of ‘goth’ made it onto the FF over the years):

Bauhaus -‘Ziggy Stardust.’ mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.14)

…and despite the accusations, it wasn’t all white boys with guitars in the Festive fifty over the years either

Broadcast -‘Echoes Answer.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.36)

Though some of those white boys with guitars did make some excellent records, though:

Pavement -‘Range Life.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.14)

‘At least once a week I drive a nail through my foot for not seeing them while I had the chance’ said Peel of Big Black. Maybe I’m just afraid of pain. Main man Steve Albini went on to produce Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Low and the Wedding Present.

Big Black -‘Colombian Necktie.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.18)

Finally, many thanks to Steve at Teenage Kicks for posting these, without whom I wouldn’t be able to post these here:

Sabres Of Paradise -‘Wilmot.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.

Ministry -‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod.’ mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty no.3)

Very Things -‘The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes.’ mp3 (1984 Festive fifty no.27)

Will be more music here over the weekend. Keep it tuned, so to speak. X