on 20 June 2013
Do we need another Undertones `best of' or compilation? Well, Teenage Kicks is 35 years old, so maybe that's good enough reason. However, this latest `Sound & Vision' CD & DVD offering from Salvo is worth the admission price for the packaging and DVD content alone. For the Undertones newcomer, you get a CD containing all the key singles along with album tracks from the band's first two albums. As a previous reviewer noted, the band's third album, The Positive Touch (represented here by It's Going to Happen, Julie Ocean & When Saturday Comes), and fourth album, The Sin of Pride (The Love Parade being its sole representative) are fairly overlooked by this introduction. However, the DVD does give the newcomer or Sin of Pride fan a better airing - three tracks in the form of the band's appearance on The Tube from March 1983.
The packaging comes in fold out digi-pack form, complete with rare photos and memorabilia. There's also a booklet containing more of the same, along with sleeve notes by Michael Bradley. They're not your usual, run of the mill intensely serious `liner notes' either. Michael has an endearing manner with the pen, which fits perfectly with the band's music. The Undertones never came across as a band that took themselves too seriously (which sometimes may have worked against them), and the sleeve notes make a refreshing change from the usual self-congratulatory nonsense that other artists seem prepared to indulge in. The DVD offers up the excellent, previously released John Peel based Teenage Kicks - Story of The Undertones documentary along with seven promo clips. The real trainspotter drooling begins with two 1978 live clips from the Shellshock Rock film, two December 1978 live tracks from the Lyceum (originally broadcast on the OGWT), eight live tracks from the French Chorus TV show in October 1980 plus the aforementioned appearance on The Tube from St Patrick's Day 1983. All the footage illustrates what a great live band The Undertones were (and still are). Their publicist, Mick Houghton, once remarked that they could've raised the dead in their day! The real rarity is the Chorus show from 1980 - a great document of the band betwixt albums (Hypnotised & The Positive Touch). Spot the stand-in drummer and how little John O'Neill appears on camera! In some ways, it's hard to believe it's the same band in the grainy Shellshock Rock 1978 footage to five years later in soul-inspired Channel 4 Tube appearance. It was once said that The Undertones grew up too quickly. Whatever the case, the sheer volume of Undertones compilations over the years demonstrates how well they've stood the test of time. Thankfully, there seems to be quality control in place over their releases and we're not deluged with a plethora of shoddy live albums. There is so much one can say about The Undertones but, in a nutshell, I love them dearly!