The Undertones (album)

The Undertones is the 1979 debut album by the Undertones. The album was recorded at Eden Studios in Acton, West London in January 1979 and was released in May that year.[4] The original release included just one single release: "Jimmy Jimmy" and an album version of "Here Comes the Summer", which was never released as a single.

The Undertones
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1979
Recorded22 January – 14 February 1979
StudioEden Studios, London;[1] Mrs. Simms Shed, 23 Creggan Street, Derry ("Casbah Rock" 1977)[2]
GenrePunk rock, pop punk[3]
ProducerRoger Bechirian
The Undertones chronology
The Undertones
Alternative cover
October 1979 re-release

A re-released version of the album (housed in an alternate sleeve), was issued in October 1979. The re-released album also included the Undertones' first two singles: "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You" alongside both "Jimmy Jimmy" and a single version of "Here Comes the Summer", which had been released in July. In addition, the song "Casbah Rock" was included as the final track on both releases of the album.

Recording edit

The Undertones' eponymous debut album was recorded at Eden Studios in January 1979. The album was produced by Roger Bechirian, with whom the band had worked for the first time the previous month, when Bechirian had produced the band's second single, "Get Over You". Much of the material on this album had been performed at the Casbah, a venue in Derry where the band had regularly performed since 1977, with some songs having only been written towards the end of 1978.[1] The album itself was recorded in the space of less than four weeks, with mixing concluding on 14 February.[5][n 1]

Cover photography edit

The photographs of the band which adorn the front and rear cover of the initial release of The Undertones were taken in Bull Park, Derry, in late January 1979 following the completion of the Eden Studios recording sessions of the LP. The photography was taken by Derry Journal photographer Larry Doherty. The band themselves insisted on the photography being black and white, with them depicted sitting on a wall in Derry, as the band wished to replicate the cover photography of the Ramones' first album—albeit only to a degree.[7]

The front and rear cover photography of the re-released version of the album was taken by Jill Furmanovsky. The band's skyward-looking pose on the front cover of this version was inspired by the artwork of another debut album, The Who's My Generation.[8]

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [9]
Blender     [10]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[11]
Mojo     [12]
Q     [13]
Record Collector     [14]
Rolling Stone     [15]
Sounds     [17]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[18]

According to lead guitarist Damian O'Neill, although delighted with the critical reception of their debut album, the band were unprepared for the wave of appraisal from music journalists such as Paul Morley. In 2000, O'Neill recollected their debut album as being the best they released, stating the album "summed us up. It still sounds fresh. No, I don't think we should have split up at that point."[19]

In 2019, O'Neill also reflected: "I think it took about a month altogether: a couple of weeks recording, and then mixing. The drums and bass are mostly live, I would say, then we probably would have redone the guitars. If anything was good then we left it. We didn't have to rearrange anything. The exuberance, the excitement, we were all still teenagers, more or less: I'd just turned 18 in January '79. There's a youthfulness for that album alone. I think, by the next album, Hypnotised, we'd kind of grown up a little bit more. It's probably my favourite record still, the first album, because it's got that freshness, which is wonderful."[20]

Contemporary reviews edit

In May 1979, Paul Morley of NME proclaimed that the group "make the great, elusive, valuable new pop of our time, along with Blondie, Elvis Costello, the Ramones and Buzzcocks. Each song makes its point and then ceases. [The] rhythm guitar sets up a staggered change of lucid authority, lead guitar offsets with deft and versatile detail, the rhythm seamlessly steers, the juicy harmonies soar and counterpoint, and the consummate, matter-of-fact genius phrasing of warbling singer Feargal Sharkey conclusively makes each song perfect and breathtaking."[21]

Harry Doherty of Melody Maker declared the album to be "an album that is as disposable as it is essential, depending on the mood of the moment. Not an album to discard carelessly, but one to leave on permanent stand-by." Doherty also references "hooks [that] are hypnotic" and declared "True Confessions" as the album's most fascinating track."[22]

Dave McCullough of Sounds declared the Undertones as a "wee band of pure, straight ahead magic", stating the album was "real-life depicted by real people with stunning precision. It's the Undertones' quite remarkable panache for using all the clipped songspace to elastic proportions, bulging and burgeoning the strict, fruitfully disciplined allocation to produce fire and brimstone rock and roll thunder."[17]

A review of the album by Robert Christgau in his 1981 music reference book Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies states: "Nice lads, nice lads—suddenly the world is teeming with nice lads. I like their punky speed and adolescent authenticity, but I'd prefer the reverse—among adolescents these days the speed takes care of itself, while finding something besides teendom to write about is a problem."[11]

Accolades edit

Numerous polls conducted since 1979 have placed The Undertones as one of the greatest albums to be released in the 1970s and one of the Top 40 punk/new wave albums of all time,[23] with the single "Teenage Kicks" being listed by BBC Radio 2 as the 51st best song ever released.[24]

  • A 1979 end of year critics' list published by Melody Maker placed The Undertones as the sixth best album to be released that year.[25]
  • The album was ranked at No. 17 among the top "Albums of the Year" for 1979 by NME, with "Get Over You" ranked at No. 32 among the year's top tracks.[26] A 1993 poll by NME placed The Undertones as the 50th greatest album to be released in the 1970s.[27]
  • In a 2000 poll conducted by Q magazine, to find the '100 Greatest British Albums Ever' as voted by the British public, the Undertones' eponymous debut LP was voted the 90th greatest album ever written by British artists.
  • A 2006 poll by UK-based rock music magazine Kerrang! lists The Undertones as the 19th greatest punk album ever to be released.[28]
  • The Undertones' debut LP was also listed in "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die:" a poll selected and written by 90 leading international music critics.[29]

Track listing edit

Original May 1979 release edit

Side one
No.TitleWritten byLength
1."Family Entertainment"Damian O'Neill2:37
2."Girls Don't Like It"J. J. O'Neill2:19
3."Male Model"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill1:54
4."I Gotta Getta"J. J. O'Neill1:53
5."Wrong Way"Billy Doherty1:23
6."Jump Boys"J. J. O'Neill2:40
7."Here Comes The Summer"J. J. O'Neill1:42
Side two
No.TitleWritten byLength
1."Billy's Third"Billy Doherty1:57
2."Jimmy Jimmy"J. J. O'Neill2:41
3."True Confessions"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill1:52
4."(She's A) Runaround"J. J. O'Neill1:49
5."I Know a Girl"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill2:35
6."Listening In"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill2:24
7."Casbah Rock"J. J. O'Neill0:47
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–14 on CD and download reissues.

October 1979 reissue edit

Side one
No.TitleWritten byLength
1."Family Entertainment"Damian O'Neill2:37
2."Girls Don't Like It"J. J. O'Neill2:19
3."Male Model"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill1:54
4."I Gotta Getta"J. J. O'Neill1:53
5."Teenage Kicks"J. J. O'Neill2:28
6."Wrong Way"Billy Doherty1:23
7."Jump Boys"J. J. O'Neill2:40
8."Here Comes The Summer"J. J. O'Neill1:45
Side two
No.TitleWritten byLength
1."Get Over You"J. J. O'Neill2:46
2."Billy's Third"Billy Doherty1:57
3."Jimmy Jimmy"J. J. O'Neill2:41
4."True Confessions"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill1:52
5."(She's A) Runaround"J. J. O'Neill1:49
6."I Know a Girl"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill2:35
7."Listening In"J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill2:24
8."Casbah Rock"J. J. O'Neill0:47
Bonus tracks (issued on CD and download releases only)
No.TitleWritten byLength
15."Teenage Kicks"J. J. O'Neill2:28
16."True Confessions" (single version)J. J. O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Damian O'Neill1:56
17."Emergency Cases"J. J. O'Neill1:59
18."Smarter Than You"Damian O'Neill, Michael Bradley, Billy Doherty1:38
19."Get Over You"J. J. O'Neill2:46
20."Really Really"Billy Doherty1:52
21."She Can Only Say No"J. J. O'Neill0:54
22."Here Comes The Summer" (single version)J. J. O'Neill1:46
23."One Way Love"J. J. O'Neill2:16
24."Top Twenty"J. J. O'Neill2:14
25."Mars Bars"Damian O'Neill, Michael Bradley2:10
26."You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)"J. J. O'Neill2:41
27."Let's Talk About Girls"Manny Freiser3:40
28."Top Twenty" (Peel session)J. J. O'Neill2:03
29."Nine Times Out of Ten" (Peel session)J. J. O'Neill, Billy Doherty2:33
30."The Way Girls Talk" (Peel session)J. J. O'Neill2:40
31."Whizz Kids" (Peel session)Damian O'Neill2:23


Personnel edit

The Undertones

Notes edit

  1. ^ The Undertones would record their second Peel Session with John Peel while in London to record their debut album. This second recording of a Peel Session for the band—which saw them perform four songs from this forthcoming LP—was broadcast on BBC Radio on 5 February, and was recorded at Maida Vale Studios.[6]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone p. 114
  2. ^ Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone ISBN 978-1-78558-180-9 p. 25
  3. ^ Christopher R. Weingarten; Leor Galil; Hank Shteamer; Brittany Spanos; Suzy Exposito; Maria Sherman; Kory Grow; Dan Epstein; Jason Diamond; Pilot Viruet (15 November 2017). "The 50 Greatest Pop-Punk Albums". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 75 - Official Charts Company". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  5. ^ 2008 Union Square Music The Undertones: An Anthology CD release sleeve notes
  6. ^ Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone pp. 114-115
  7. ^ Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone ISBN 978-1-78558-180-9 p. 121
  8. ^ "The Who - My Generation". Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  9. ^ Mason, Stewart. "The Undertones – The Undertones". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  10. ^ Du Noyer, Paul. "The Undertones: (various reissues)". Blender. Archived from the original on 20 April 2004. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "U". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 17 March 2019 – via
  12. ^ Cameron, Keith (November 2016). "The Undertones: The Undertones". Mojo. No. 276. p. 108.
  13. ^ Gilbert, Pat (October 2016). "The Undertones: The Undertones". Q. No. 364. p. 115.
  14. ^ Baldwin, Shane (November 2016). "The Undertones – The Undertones, Hypnotised". Record Collector. No. 459. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  15. ^ Miles, Milo (30 October 2003). "The Undertones: The Undertones". Rolling Stone. No. 934. p. 94.
  16. ^ Cusack, Elaine (July 1994). "The Undertones: The Undertones / Hypnotised / Positive Touch / The Sin of Pride". Select. No. 49. p. 90.
  17. ^ a b McCullough 1979.
  18. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (1995). "Undertones". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 419–20. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  19. ^ 2000 Castle Music The Undertones CD release sleeve notes
  20. ^ "The Undertones: 'At That Time We Were So Sick of The Troubles We Didn't Want to Sing About It'". The Yorkshire Post. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  21. ^ Morley 1979.
  22. ^ Doherty 1979.
  23. ^ Top 100 punk albums of all time. Archived 28 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "BBC Radio 2 top 100". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  25. ^ " Maker Lists The '70's & '80's ..." Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  27. ^ " Greates Albums Of 60's 70's & 80's". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Kerrang posts list of top 50 punk albums of all time". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  29. ^ " Parker...1001 Albums." Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  30. ^ "On the Flip Side". 18 August 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2021.

Sources edit

External links edit