Northern Ireland - Full Moon 155 - 05/09/09
Following up our retroscope series of 2006 and 2007 - here's the New Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves/vaults of rock. This moonth I'd like to put the Lunar spotlight on a 30 year old - another dear old favourite. Yes, it is a 30-year-old, but with the mind, spirit and stamina like a grinning, kicking teenager. Still.
May 1979: The Undertones put out their debut. And, what a debut! Teenage kicks for sure!
"Are teenage dreams so hard to beat...". Well, the phenomenal "Teenage Kicks" - of THE BEST SONGS E.V.E.R. MADE - was released the year before, in September 1978, as the Teenage Kicks EP, with "True Confessions" along on the double a-side, "Smarter Than U" and "Emergency Cases" on the b-side. The Derry quintet formed in 1976. Based around the high-pitched and powerful voice of Feargal Sharkey, the song-writing team of Brothers John (who wrote the most) and Damian O'Neill and bassist Michael Bradley, along with drummer Billy Doherty. The young lads almost gave in until, a local record shop owner financed their EP. Then the world changed, well almost. John Peel was so excited he played "Teenage Kicks" twice in a row. And, the Undertones were signed to a major label, Sire, and their classic self-titled debut album saw the light of day 30 years ago. WITHOUT "Teenage Kicks"...
Leaving out the new anthem of the new rock was quite... brave, but nevertheless, the album is a milestone debut of blistering power-pop-punk, without blanks. From the opening "Family Entertainment" to the closing "Casbah Rock", a shed demo, the steam is to boiling point, the energy is glowing. This was the power of youth, the teen spirit from the ebb of the 1970s. At the time (of the album launch) Sharkey was 20, the O'Neil's 21 (John) and 18 (Damian), Bradley 19, and Doherty 18. Their bunch of songs came straight from the teen fountain, like "Girls Don't Like It", "Male Model", "I Gotta Getta" and "I Know A Girl". The smashing
"Here Comes The Summer" and "Jimmy Jimmy" are as good. It's amazing to listen to this album again and again, as years go by, and it sounds as vital and fresh as ever.
Some months after the release of The Undertones, the album was pulled back and replaced with a new version, with a new sleeve. And, with "Teenage Kicks" added on side one, along with "Get Over You", as the opening track of side two. There is also a new replacement version of "Here Comes The Summer". Of course this made it an even better record. Pure pop energy with all the songs clocking in at less than 2 minutes 44 seconds!
Funny last detail: Advertisements in the music press at the time declared: "Only £4. Maximum price until 31st December 79."
Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen