He always beat me at Subbuteo....
I have to confess that at the time I was not a huge fan of The Undertones. There were many punk groups I preferred. I found their teenage naivête a bit irritating. I was pretty much on my own, as everyone seemed to think they were great. To me, they were plastic punks - smirking, callow youths trying to play with the big boys. There was always something unconvincing about them. Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Paul Weller, Steve Jones, Jean-Jacques Burnel, Patti Smith, Dee Dee Ramone, Siouxsie Sioux and....the O'Neill brothers and Feargal Sharkey. Incongruous? Not half.
Of course, "Teenage Kicks" was a great track - great riff, great lyrics. Superb song. I'll give them that. The others have their appeal too - two/three minute breakneck teenage angst anthems with killer guitar riffs and a surprisingly deep, rumbling bass sound. "Get Over You" is a good one, as is "Emergency Cases". Feargal Sharkey's nasal, Northern Irish voice has a quirky appeal as do the O'Neill brothers' rock 'n' all-style harmonies too. The other hit singles all have their attractions as well - "Jimmy Jimmy", the amusing but silly "My Perfect Cousin", the singalong "Here Comes The Summer" and "It's Going To Happen", from the later period, when they tried to show that they were more of a "serious" band.
"Really Really" is so redolent of the Dave Clark Five it was hardly something one expected of a so-called "punk" band and tracks like the incredibly short "She Can Only Say No" are a waste of time, however wryly amusing they are supposed to be. "Top Twenty" appropriated T. Rex's "Solid Gold Easy Action". "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It)" is an enjoyable Dr. Feelgood-esque bluesy rocker, however. "Let's Talk About Girls" is another lively one, with Sharkey trying to sound clumsily and bleatingly like Lee Brilleaux. I do quite like it though, particularly its guitar/bass interplay bit at the end. "Hard Luck" has a big, thumping drum sound too. "I Don't Want See You Again" is 47 seconds of Ramones imitation.
Let's be honest, The Undertones were certainly no punks, despite the riffs and fast pace. To me, they just seemed like a bunch of silly lads in parkas having a laugh. I wanted to hear Stiff Little Fingers ranting about life in Belfast, The Clash barking about being a garage band, The Ramones talking about being sedated or The Jam going down in the tube station at midnight, not The Undertones singing about Mars Bars and Twix. Hardly something to pump my fist to. If I wanted "perfect pop" I chose Blondie. Sorry to all the many Undertones fans out there, of who there are still lots. It's just me, they just never did it for me. I still own this double CD though! To be fair, stick it on for half an hour and you will enjoy it. Far more enjoyable, though, is their thoroughly enjoyable debut album, "The Undertones", which is far better than this, I have to admit. No short waste of time "b" sides on it.