Thursday, 2 April 2009

“The Undertones” by THE UNDERTONES. 2009 30th Anniversary 32-Track CD Reissue Of Their Explosive 1979 Debut Album.


This review is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

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"Let's Talk About Girls..."


Salvo’s 2009 enhanced CD reissue of The Undertones wonderful debut album differs from last year’s Sanctuary reissue of the same in a few ways worth pointing out.

Here’s a detailed breakdown (67:38 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 14 make up the 1st pressing of their debut LP “The Undertones” on Sire Records SRK 6071 initially released in May 1979 in the UK - January 1980 on Sire Records SRK-6081 in the USA. (The 14th track, the 50-second long “Casbah Rock” at the end of Side 2 is listed on the label, but not on the album sleeve). The original sleeve is a black and white photo (as above) with a distinctive red die-cut inner sleeve – the reissue (see below) is a colour sleeve with a black non die-cut inner sleeve. The album was recorded at Eden Studios in Acton in London in January 1979 and produced by ROGER BECHIRIAN.

Cashing in on the huge renewed response to their anthem “Teenage Kicks” - the album was reissued a second time in the UK as Sire Records SRK 6081 in November 1979 with a different front and inner sleeve and 2 added singles (pictured above). “Teenage Kicks” was slipped in as Track 5 on Side 1 inbetween “I Gotta Get” and “Wrong Way”, while the 2nd single “Get Over You” was added on as the 1st Track on Side 2 – making a 16-song version of the LP. The Sanctuary issue of 2008 uses the 16-track line-up rather than the original 14. Of course with a little bit of number programming, the new Salvo issue allows you to program either.

Tracks 15 to 18 are the full 4 songs of their debut “Teenage Kicks” EP issued on the privately pressed Good Vibrations Label (GOT 4) in September 1978 – none of the songs turned up on the debut LP and it has remained a highly sought-after and collectable vinyl piece ever since. (This CD mistakes the track order – it should read - A1 is “Teenage Kicks”, A2 is “Smarter Than You’, B1 is “True Confessions”, B2 is “Emergency Cases”)

Tracks 19 to 21 are the 3 tracks of their 2nd maxi single “Get Over You” issued on Sire Records SIR 4010 in January 1979 in the UK. “Really Really” and “She Can Only Say No” are the B-sides and again all 3 songs were non-album.

Tracks 22 to 24 are their 4th UK single “Here Comes The Summer” b/w “One Way Love” and “Top Twenty”. It was another maxi release, however, the 'single version’ on the A-side differs to the version than ended Side 1 of the LP - while the 2 B-sides were again non-album.

Track 25, “Mars Bars”, is the non-album B-side to their 3rd UK 7” single “Jimmy Jimmy” issued on Sire Records SIR 4015 in April 1979 (on lime green vinyl).

Tracks 26 and 27, “You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)” b/w “Let’s Talk About Girls”, are also non-album tracks - their 5th UK 7” single on Sire Records SIR 4024 issued in September 1979 in the UK.

Tracks 29 to 31 are live John Peel Sessions recorded for the BBC at the Phoenix Studios on 7 May 1979

Track 32 is a video track from 1978 of “Teenage Kicks” (filmed in Primrose Hill in London)

As you can see, this new Salvo issue (SalvoCD017) has 31 audio tracks plus 1 video track tagged on at the end - the 2008 Sanctuary issue of last year has only 26 audio tracks. There’s also a new card wrap outside the jewel case using the original LP artwork, a 20-page booklet which pictures ticket stubs, buttons, 7” sleeves and band photos - and there’s detailed and witty liner notes by their bass player MICHAEL BRADLEY. The remastering has been done by ANDY PIERCE at Masterpiece and is fantastically clear, really clean and in your face. As a downside, it would have been nice to hear more from either their great frontman and singer FEARGAL SHARKEY or especially JOHN O’NEILL – the band’s principal songwriter.

While the album itself is a blast, what puts this issue into the stellar is the truly brilliant 17 extra tracks – stunning power-pop B-sides like “One Way Love” and “Let’s Talk About Girls”. And the four rare Peel Sessions also allow you to hear just how piss’n’vinegar they really were as a live act (I wish I’d seen them).

And then of course there’s 'that’ song - every time I hear The Undertones blistering debut 45 “Teenage Kicks”, I can’t help but think of the much-loved and sadly missed champion of Punk and New Wave music – the British DJ and Presenter JOHN PEEL. He adored the band with a passion and the hand-written lyrics to “Teenage Kicks” are framed in his home and literally etched above his final resting place (he was the first to air the song in September 1978). Ten seconds into its thrashing riff it’s easy to know why – it’s thrilling - it’s ballsy – it’s life itself – and it’s as fresh now as is was back then – a full 30 years ago.

Derry's finest are held in huge affection by so many music lovers and not without reason. I loved returning to this album, I really did.

“I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight…get teenage kicks right through the night...” Too Goddamn right!

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