Saturday, March 22, 2014

Album by Album # 5 The Undertones

The band that surely capture the feeling of what it feels like to be a gawky, awkward tenager better than any other. Four great albums and they were gone.
1. The Undertones
They understood, like The Who and The Ramones before them the appeal of just having a shot of the band on the cover of their first album. The one most people would go for. Has all the early hits including John Peel's favourite song. The hit singles frame the album and frankly overshadow most of the other songs on here. How could they not? Has any group had a better starting spurt than Teenage Kicks, Get Over You, Jimmy Jimmy and Here Comes the Summer? Here's a pretty good track though.
2. Hypnotised
Not such a great album cover perhaps! The thing about The Undertones was that you always got a lot of tracks on an album side. Value for money. They had three songwriters so they were constantly coming from different directions. The writing and playing is getting more polished and comfortable. Plus the warbling tonsils of Feargal Sharkey. One of the truly great singers. Good from start to finish although perhaps the cover of Under the Boardwalk wasn't necessary.
3. Positive Touch
My own favourite. For the beautiful packaging if nothing else. Great hieroglyphics on the cover. There's a beautiful indented version which is worth having. Also has a great inner sleeve with lined up pictures of a cake slice, a bar of soap, a furry muff on a stick and an ice lolly. CD's, huh!
The album again is chock a block with great sings. One of the band's best singles It's Going to Happen and this amongst many others. One of the few songs they wrote about the troubles.
4. The Sin of Pride
This very unfairly undersold when it came out. It's a great album showing them becoming something of a Soul band. With Beach Boys harmonies. Great lyrics too and they knew it, printing them on the back sleeve of the album. Everything is much more textured and assured but perhaps they had outgrown their audience. By now they were a band out of time in the age of New Pop. Most of the great punk bands had fallen by the wayside by this time. The Undertones were amongst the last. This is their adult album with a lot more peachy, sophisticated pop songs. I can see no good reason why The Love Parade wasn't a big hit. They split soon afterwards due to the albums lack of success and it seems that they'd split into two camps, the rest of the group and Sharkey. He went on to have some big hit singles and become a record executive. The O'Neill brothers formed That Petrol Emotion who I saw a few times playing wonderful fuelled gigs in the Eighties. Then The Undertones regrouped, without Sharkey sadly. He said he didn't want to be standing in a field singing  Teenage Kicks in his fifties. Perhaps he had a point. Track down this record if you haven't got it. I'm listening to it now and it's full of wonderful moments. Valentine's Treatment, Love Before Romance, Untouchable, Bye Bye Baby Blue, Chain of Love, Soul Seven, Save Me, The Sin of Pride  and this. A lost classic!

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