Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Undertones- S/T (1979) / Hypnotized (1980) MP3 & FLAC

"I'm a little intellectual, someone who knows it all. I could be your summer special, you could be my New York Doll."

The back-story of The Undertones is the kind of thing that makes rock music so endlessly intriguing and endearing: five teenage friends (including two brothers) from Derry, Northern Ireland form a band in the mid-seventies to play Beatles and Lindisfarne covers,  but in the wake of the Ramones' legendary July, '76 British tour and its aftermath, everything changes- the Punk revolution arrives, and a few short years later, after sending a demo to John Peel requesting he play their music on his BBC radio show, the band, now called The Undertones, has a hit single called "Teenage Kicks." However, being a Punk band in Northern Ireland in 1978 was a difficult proposition, as lead guitarist Damian O'Neill recalls: "We were out on a limb [....] We felt stranded in Derry. There was a bit of a scene in Belfast, but there was nothing going on where we lived. And we were getting a lot of crap and abuse on the street for doing the music that we did [....] We wouldn't dress the way that punks did in London, but just wearing straight jeans could get your head kicked in. And having short hair [....] We were singled out a lot just for being punk rockers. On the back of the Teenage Kicks EP, there's a photo: 'The Undertones Are Shit.' That's genuine. That's the kind of feeling we got from people.'" Much like fellow early punkers the Buzzcocks, The Undertones were as deeply influenced by mid-sixties pop and Garage-Rock as they were by the vanguard of the burgeoning Punk scene, such as The Damned and The Sex Pistols. Their sound, which has been described as "punk-pop," followed, at least on their first two albums, a very similar approach to the Ramones, in the sense of marrying sixties-style pop hooks to a more aggressive style and a faster beat. However, hailing from Northern Ireland, which at the time was rife with political violence, this got them into trouble because their music refused to make overt references to the political situation. Damian O'Neill: "We loved fifties and sixties rock and roll, and girl groups like The Shirelles, and then of course The New York Dolls and MC5. We wanted to write about love and girls nor bombs and bullets." What also set The Undertones apart was their lead singer Feargal Sharkey, whose quavering vocals were equally adept at snotty sarcasm and wide-eyed vulnerability, a voice whose unconventionality in the context of the Punk scene helped give the band its unique sound.

Thanks to John Peel's tireless efforts to gain the band some radio exposure, they were signed by Sire (which made them label-mates of their idols the Ramones), and soon thereafter made their first trip to London to commence working on their debut LP, The Undertones. O'Neill: "The first time you're ever in London, your eyes are wide open. It was a great atmosphere, and the camaraderie was great. It was probably the best time, you know? The best time in the band." The album itself is a peerless piece of simple yet enduring stripped down pop that, coupled with the band's punk sensibilities, presents them as something like Northern Ireland's version of the early Kinks. A perfect example is the brilliant opening track, "Family Entertainment," which, while brimming with Punk energy, also demonstrates wry lyrics and a keen melodic sense- neither of which were exactly hallmarks of the early U.K. Punk scene. While for the most part, The Undertones, on their debut, are content to crank out unforgettable teenage anthems such as "Here Comes the Summer" and the iconic single "Teenage Kicks," they do occasionally tread upon darker territory, such as the suicide lament "Jimmy Jimmy," which has the influence of the Ramones written all over it. Despite their popularity, The Undertones were not a well-loved band in many quarters due to a perceived lack of Punk credibility, part of which was due to Sharkey's vocal style, but also the band's resistance to politicizing their work (something which led to a minor feud with fellow Irish punkers, Stiff Little Fingers from Belfast). The band would famously reference this lack of respect as well as the pressures of trying to come up with a second act after their debut in the mockingly brilliant title of the lead track from their equally accomplished second album, Hypnotised. "More Songs About Chocolate and Girls" instantly demonstrates The Undertones' growing ability as song-writers, which, throughout the album, pushes them beyond the limitations of the Punk aesthetic that defined the first album. Songs such as "My Perfect Cousin," and the Jangle-Pop masterpiece "Wednesday Week," are indicative of the artistic growth the band would continue to undergo over the course of their next two albums, though sadly, it would also spell their end, as an eroding fan-base (hugely undeserved) and internal strife led to Sharkey's exit in 1983. Sharkey: "One of the reasons I left when I did was that I wanted to preserve The Undertones for people as something special. Listening to people saying, 'I was in a bad part of my life and listening to your album helped me through it' is a great feeling. That's the biggest achievement I've ever had, to affect people's lives [....] No matter what you do, your life will eventually fall into a certain routine and its good to get released from that for three and a half minutes."

The Undertones  
(Salvo ~ 2009/1979 ~ Remastered & Expanded Edition)

 1. Family Entertainment  (2:41)
 2. Girls Don't Like It  (2:19)
 3. Male Model  (1:59)
 4. I Gotta Getta  (1:56)
 5. Wrong Way  (1:28)
 6. Jump Boys  (2:41)
 7. Here Comes the Summer  (1:39)
 8. Billy's Third  (1:59)
 9. Jimmy Jimmy  (2:34)
10. True Confessions  (2:23)
11. (She's a) Runaround  (1:50)
12. I Know a Girl  (2:39)
13. Listening In  (2:27)
14. Casbah Rock  (0:51)
-Bonus Tracks-
15. Teenage Kicks  (2:28)
16. True Confessions  (1:56)
17. Emergency Cases  (1:59)
18. Smarter Than You  (1:39)
19. Get Over You  (2:46)
20. Really Really  (1:52)
21. She Can Only Say No  (0:55)
22. Here Comes the Summer  (1:46)
23. One Way Love  (2:16)
24. Top Twenty  (2:14)
25. Mars Bars  (2:33)
26. You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It!)  (2:41)
27. Let's Talk About Girls  (3:40)
28. Top Twenty  (2:03)
29. Nine Times Out of Ten  (2:33)
30. The Way Girls Talk  (2:40)
31. Whiz Kids  (2:24)

The Undertones- "Teenage Kicks" (1978) "Live" on Top of the Pops

(Salvo ~ 2009/1980 ~ Remastered & Expanded Edition)

 1. More Songs About Chocolate and Girls  (2:44)
 2. There Goes Norman  (2:28)
 3. Hypnotised  (2:31)
 4. See That Girl  (2:25)
 5. Whizz Kids  (2:20)
 6. Under the Boardwalk  (2:27)
 7. The Way Girls Talk  (2:31)
 8. Hard Luck  (3:42)
 9. My Perfect Cousin  (2:36)
10. Boys Will Be Boys  (1:27)
11. Tearproof  (2:21)
12. Wednesday Week  (2:17)
13. Nine Times Out of Ten  (2:38)
14. Girls That Don't Talk  (2:37)
15. What's with Terry  (3:19)
-Bonus Tracks-
16. Hard Luck Again  (4:11)
17. I Don't Wanna See (You Again)  (0:48)
18. I Told You So  (2:10)
19. The Positive Touch  (1:56)
20. You're Welcome  (2:11)
21. When Saturday Comes  (2:44)

The Undertones- "My Perfect Cousin" (1980) "Live" on Top of the Pops


  1. Arthur Treacher's Fish & ChipsSeptember 10, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Youse have any Fugs?

  2. Arthur, indeed I do, expanded editions no less. I'll get those posted for you soon!

  3. I thought, at the time, that the lead singer sounded very much like the singer in Family. I didn't have this first album so thanks for posting it!

  4. What a great band! I love Hypnotysed.
    Thank you Voixautre

  5. scurfie, you're welcome. I'll post their third and fourth albums in the coming weeks

  6. Anon., my pleasure. I love this band too

  7. Thanks, Voixautre. Great post!
    (...and, take a look at my [poor little] blog:

  8. BABIS, thank you! I really enjoyed working on this post- a very interesting band. Your blog looks very intriguing. I will add you to the luna and PPP blog rolls :)

  9. any chance of a reupload on something other than megaupload?

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