Formed in Derry in 1974, The Undertones consisted of the O’Neill brothers – John and Damian on guitars, Michael Bradley on bass, Billy Doherty on drums and Feargal Sharkey on vocals. Combining Sharkey’s (Shakey’s?) wobbly, shaky, vibrato with the energetic garage passion, this was a band that grabbed you within their punk hooks and threatened never to let you go. Released for Record Store Day, this 7” box set, covers Undertones singles from 1978-1983. The music has been cut from original analogue tape transfers while fans will be happy to hear that the original single artwork has been replicated too. So, for example, the iconic Teenage Kicks comes with the original fold-out poster cover.
John Peel once wrote in the Guardian newspaper, “Maybe once a fortnight, after a few days of listening to sizzling new releases and worrying that the music is merging into angst but otherwise characterless soup, I play Teenage Kicks to remind myself exactly how a great record should sound. ‘But what’s so great about it?’ people, from my own children to complete strangers in wine bars, have asked. I’ve never yet come up with an answer that pleased me much, falling back each time on: ‘There’s nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it.’”
That single comes complete with the friendly photograph of a damaged door on the rear with the cheery message painted messily upon it, “The Undertones Are Shit’ What a way to start a career. Other well known ditties in this set include Jimmy Jimmy, Here Comes The Summer and My Perfect Cousin. Accompanying the vinyl is a fold-out, black & white poster. On the rear of that is a series of track by track comments from bassist Michael Bradley
Mastering is as good as you’re going to get on a 7” single which means fair to middlin’. You’re limited by the format, to be honest. That said, the reissue does its best and fans will be happy with the result.
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