Slacker Logo


The Undertones

The Undertones slam-bang punk-pop drew its strength from one simple fact: you didn't need a secret handshake to enjoy it. John and Damian O'Neill mated infectious guitar hooks to '60s garage, '70s glam rock, and Feargal Sharkey's signature vocal quaver. Those qualities came together on their breakout hit "Teenage Kicks," whose simplicity harked back to '60s ideals of when the song was king. The Undertones formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1975. However, they avoided references to their hometown's sectarian strife for "more songs about chocolate and girls," as their second album phrased it. But gigs were scarce in a scene dominated by show bands, and the boys felt sufficiently discouraged to consider quitting -- until Belfast record shop owner Terry Hooley released the Teenage Kicks EP on his Good Vibrations label in September 1978. The song captivated Britain's top DJ, John Peel; suddenly, as Damian O'Neill recalled, people were asking for autographs at the job. The frenzy attracted a deal from Sire Records, which released the band's rough-and-ready debut in April 1979. That fall, the Undertones earned kudos as a support act on the Clash's American tour. So did Hypnotised, which showed a band already straining against the Ramonesy thrust of earlier singles like "Jimmy Jimmy" and "My Perfect Cousin." However, the Undertones entertained some notions of growing up, which started when they switched to EMI. Positive Touch (1981) unveiled exotic instrumental flourishes like horns, slide guitars, tack pianos, and even xylophones; its brief residency in the U.K. Top 50 provided the first inklings of trouble. The band returned after a lengthy lay-off with The Sin of Pride (1983), which flirted with '60s soul and psychedelia. But its singles -- including a slick remake of the Isley Brothers' "Got to Have You Back" and the grungy "Love Parade" -- made little impression, and the album peaked at number 46 on the U.K. charts. Sensing a thankless competition with their younger, cheekier selves, the Undertones split up in the summer of 1983 after a series of summer festival gigs. Sharkey launched a short-lived solo career, while John and Damian O'Neill won critical plaudits -- but little sales -- for their tough-minded political band, That Petrol Emotion. Hopes of re-forming the original lineup for John Peel's 50th birthday fell apart after the O'Neills' father died. The band mulled an offer for five gigs in 1994, but blamed Sharkey's skittishness for scuttling the deal. The boys skirted their former frontman's reluctance by recruiting Derry's Paul McLoone for two hometown gigs in 1999, and haven't looked back. The reissues kept coming, while the Teenage Kicks (2001) documentary gave fans a fond review of the band's history. Get What You Need, the first new album in 20 years, earned a thumbs-up from fans on its September 2003 release. Twenty-five years after "Teenage Kicks" put the Undertones on the map, the pride of Derry seem more ubiquitous than ever. ~ Ralph Heibutzki
Read More Read Less

Stations Featuring
The Undertones

    Classic Punk

    Classic Punk
    1 song

    Punk U

    Punk U
    1 song

Albums by
The Undertones

Top Songs by
The Undertones

  1.   Song
  2.   Teenage Kicks
  3.   You've Got My Number
  4.   Get Over You
  5.   Wednesday Week
  6.   Hypnotised
  7.   Julie Ocean
  8.   Smarter Than You
  9.   Really Really
  10.   Top Twenty
  11.   Emergency Cases
  12.   Smarter Than U
  13.   (She's A) Runaround
  14.   Wrong Way
  15.   I Gotta Getta
  16.   I Don't Know
  17.   Sigh & Explode
  18.   His Good Looking Girlfriend
  19.   Forever Paradise
  20.   You're Welcome
  21.   See That Girl
  22.   Jump Boys
  23.   I Know a Girl
  24.   Jimmy Jimmy
  25.   Listening In
  26.   Conscious
  27.   Love Before Romance
  28.   Valentine's Treatment
  29.   Save Me
  30.   Chain of Love
  31.   Bye Bye Baby Blue
  32.   One Way Love
  33.   She Can Only Say No
  34.   Fairly in the Money Now
  35.   Beautiful Friend
  36.   Kiss in the Dark
  37.   Boy Wonder
  38.   Hannah Doot
  39.   Crisis of Mine
  40.   Life's Too Easy
  41.   Fascination
  42.   True Confessions
  43.   Nine Times Out of Ten
  44.   Hard Luck
  45.   Under the Boardwalk
  46.   Whizz Kids
  47.   Casbah Rock
  48.   Soul Seven
  49.   When Saturday Comes
  50.   It's Going to Happen
  51.   The Positive Touch
  52.   Family Entertainment
  53.   Billy's Third
  54.   Here Comes the Summer
  55.   Girls That Don't Talk
  56.   Tearproof
  57.   What's With Terry
  58.   Untouchable
  59.   The Love Parade
  60.   Luxury
  61.   The Sin of Pride
  62.   Girls Don't Like It
  63.   Male Model
  64.   Mars Bars
  65.   Let's Talk About Girls
  66.   My Perfect Cousin
  67.   The Way Girls Talk
  68.   I Told You So
  69.   Turning Blue
  70.   Got to Have You Back
  71.   I Don't Wanna See You Again
  72.   There Goes Norman
  73.   Window Shopping for New Clothes
  74.   Twenty
  75.   More Songs About Chocolate and Girls
  76.   Boys Will Be Boys
  77.   Way Love

Artists Related to The Undertones

Loading Sliders...
  1. + -



Casting to |