Friday, April 18, 2008

The Undertones - The Undertones - 1979

The best band ever to come from Northern Ireland, the Undertones took youthful adoration for glam-rock and gave it the stripped-down simplicity and energy of punk to create truly wonderful albums of pop/rock (and, toward the end, soul) with a difference. The band's body of work reveals rapid creative growth; each album clearly shows a different stage in its development. The quintet's 1983 demise, as unavoidable as it was disappointing, resulted from a lack of sustained commercial success and the inability to shake the public's first impression of them as an Irish Ramones.

The Undertones — guitar-playing brothers Damian and John O'Neill, bassist Mickey Bradley, drummer Billy Doherty and singer Feargal Sharkey — started out writing simple, fetching melodies with lyrics about teenagehood and playing them fast and raw on basic guitars, bass and drums. With Sharkey's piercing, quivering Irish tenor out front, songs on the first album ("Jimmy Jimmy," "Here Comes the Summer," "Girls Don't Like It") are spare and efficient pop gems that are as infectious as measles, suggesting a bridge between teenybop and punk. (The original US edition, wrapped in completely different color Xerox artwork, adds the crucial "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You" from the band's first two 7-inches; a limited-edition English 10-inch released at the same time combined those two tracks plus a pair from the LP. The 1994 reissue adds seven bonus cuts — mostly contemporaneous B-sides — to the original album. The 2003 edition musters six of those and four more non-LP singles sides, including the classic "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)."-[Ira Robbins] Trouser Press

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The Undertones - The Undertones - 1979

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