Friday, October 29, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-The Undertones
The Undertones were one of the better bands of the late 70s punk/new wave era. They didn't catch on in North America but did well in England. Jimmy Jimmy was their first top 20 hit in 1979. Things went south in the early 80s when they changed record labels and musical direction. But their debut album is a must for punk fans. The Undertones formed in 1975 in Derry, Northern Ireland by brothers John and Damian O'Neill. They both played guitar and John wrote most of the group's songs. Their influences included The Beatles, The Small Faces and the underrated folk rock group Lindisfarne. The O'Neill brothers started playing local gigs and they met lead singer Feargal Sharkey at a scout hut. He was a scout leader. Drummer Billy Doherty got the name The Undertones out of a history book. After listening to other punk bands but especially The Ramones, The Undertones took on a harder edged sound. Bass player Michael Bradley joined. So they're playing gigs and sending out demos. And one of those demos got the attention ogf legendary BBC DJ John Peel. And he liked them enough to pay for a recording session in Belfast. The 1978 EP Teenage Kicks became a hit in England when Peel played it. Sire Records president Seymour Stein heard it when he was in England on business and The Undertones signed a contract. The Undertones debut album was released in 1979. Jimmy Jimmy reached #16 on the British singles chart. The album was released in the US and The Undertones opened for The Clash in the US. But it didn't sell. Follow up albums continued to do well in England but the group's dissatisfaction with Sire's efforts to market them in the US caused them to leave Sire for EMI in 1981. It didn't seem to help as they even tried to reflect soul influences and The Undertones split up in 1983. This 2CD edition of their debut album is a must for punk fans. Feargal Sharkey went on to a reasonably successful solo career and and is still in the management end of the music business today. He no longer performs. John and Damian O'Neill formed That Petrol Emotion and they had a good run until 1994. The Undertones were reformed with a new vocalist in 1999 and they last recorded in 2007. Here are The Undertones performing Jimm Jimmy on The Old Grey Whistle Test 1979.