When I was about 13, my maths teacher played our class his two favourite songs of all time: the first was Bigmouth Strikes Again, the second Teenage Kicks. To my shame, I was unmoved by either at the time. One an odd, rambling lament about a bizarre apology, and the other a repetetive song with very basic lyrics about girls and misbehaviour, that seemed too distant for a prepubescent boys-school pupil. I didn't connect to them. It took me far too long, in fact, to appreciate either song, and it was about five years more until I owned a Smiths record. Now, another year after that, I finally own an Undertones record. I can't believe it's taken me till now. The Undertones are not only the finest band ever to come out of Northern Ireland (beating Stiff Little Fingers, Ash and Snow Patrol hands-down) but the finest purveyors of post-punk pop music of the late 1970s/early 1980s. Everyone will know their first single, the legendary Teenage Kicks (especially with the passing of John Peel, the song's most fervent cheerleader) and it derservedly kicks off the album, but the Undertones were far more than this one song. My Perfect Cousin, probably the only song to sing about sheepskin jackets, Subbuteo and University Challenge, is a pure delight, as are the anthemic When Saturday Comes and You've Got My Number, which features possibly the best guitar riff on the album. Feargal Sharkey's unmistakeable voice drives the songs forwards, as does the frantic teenage energy and the seemingly endless supply of pop hooks. The general air of this collection is boundlessly optimistic without ever sounding hackneyed. There is a measure of angst and frustration in the songs, but delivered without any of the self-pity or pretension that too-frequently characterises such emotions. Instead it's the energy and the sense of fun, as displayed in songs like Here Comes Summer, that is always at the forefront, the Undertones effortlessly achieving the carefree sentiments that so few before or since have been able to match (a notable exception being the Kinks, who bear a fair resemblance to the Undertones in certain songs, including the aformentioned Here Comes the Summer and Teenage Kicks). Whatever their (considerable) influences on the present generation of musicians, this collection stands on its own merits. The standard in the second half is possibly not as stratospheric as in the first, but that is a small complaint. For the sheer quality on offer, and the generous notes in the album sleeve, this album should be a compulsory purchase for all pop fans of the past 40 years.
Having heard the most well known of their tracks such as Jimmy Jimmy, My Perfect Cousin and the classic punk anthem Teenage Kicks, i thought id buy this album -and subsequently i wasnt disapointed. Its got a great collection of songs which i think would appeal to someone new to the undertones like me, yet it has all the favourites which old fans would approve of. Definatly worth investigating
The best songs on this CD are Jimmy Jimmy, My Perfect Cousin and the superb Teenage Kicks, which as the late John Peel said is probably the best pop song ever written. The Undertones showed that punk wasn't just about thrashing and spitting - they wrote and played good tunes and knew how long a song should last and how to finish it with a flourish.