The Undertones - The Undertones (Cover Artwork)

The Undertones

The Undertones (1978)


When one thinks of late seventies Northern Ireland, images of random violence, battling guerillas, the innocents caught in the middle, or generally anything from a Discharge song may come to mind. The soundtrack might be U2, SLF, or the Radiators, all important bands from that region. You probably won't think of songs about candy bars and girls.

Nonetheless, that's what the best band from Northern Ireland at that time did, and the Undertones' combination of 60s pop music with the raw edge of punk was certainly controversial among the ranks of the punk scene. It didn't help that they were all just kids.

Their first offering, "the Undertones", shows them at their rawest. Double guitars, simple beats supported by a bass, and a singer with a quavery, high pitched voice. Throughout this distorted frenzy, though, the Undertones manage to compose some very catchy riffs, remniscent of the Ramones at times, the Beach Boys at others, and never too complicated. They also employ gang vocals in their choruses quite succesfully, and on their blatantly Ramones-influenced "Male Model" have a guitar riff that sounds like it could have been an Oi! song.

The lyrics are excellent for what they are trying for, story-songs exposing the tension underneath the innocent surface of teenage life, most succesfully on their hit "Teenage Kicks". You won't find anything like "Suspect Device" on here, though, and that is why they were shunned. These kids saw rock music as an escape, and I can more than see how. The most anger exhibited by the singer here is on a song called "Mars Bars", as he spites Twix eaters in defence of his favorite candy.

This reissue adds 10 bonus tracks to the albums original 16, making for an hours worth of great music... For anyone who is a fan of punk, or rock in general and doesn't think lyrics have to be "socially aware" 100% of the time, order this or whatever.

Note: Blah blah blah score doesn't matter, whatever.