Review: The Undertones – Singles 1978 – 1983


The Undertones celebrate 40 years since the release of classic single ‘Teenage Kicks with a 13 single vinyl box set release for record store day.

With record store day impending, vinyl fans will soon be queing outside their local record stores, waiting for a chance to spend their hard-earned cash on many a reissue, rarity, new artist or even… a Dr Who spoken-word record. Record Store Day is more popular now than it’s ever been, and with this growing interest, the releases are getting bigger and better. And what better band than the punk/pop legends The Undertones to lead the way this year?

The Undertones, like many bands, can thank English DJ, John Peel for giving them the exposure they needed through his wonderful radio show. This allowed the band to really take off and share with the world their full on pop-punk loveliness. Where would we be without the three-chord wonder of Teenage Kicks, the thrashing warm beats of Here Comes the Summer, or the thumping raucousness of Jimmy Jimmy? And although this box set features all these beautiful tracks, for people not so familiar with their other stuff, it’s a chance to hear the progression of a band to their more soul and Motown vibe of 4th album The Sin of Pride.


Teenage Kicks is obviously first and foremost with no introduction needed – the raw emotion and angst-ridden energy makes it one of the finest punk songs ever, and John Peel’s favourite song to boot. My Perfect Cousin is an often forgotten slice of excellence; written during the summer of 1979 and inspired by an actual cousin of one of the band members, it’s lightness and ability to get your foot tapping as you listen to a day in the life of a late 70s teenager means it’s up there with the best. As the singles head through the years, the songs become more crafted and well-toned. Some may say the raw power was lost, but like any band, it’s just a natural progression in musicianship. Chain Love from The Sin of Pride is testament to this, with its warbling vocals, harmonica opening and focus on melody rather than raucous guitars. It’s more fine-tuned and layered than previous tracks, and an underestimated classic.

The box set itself is well worth a queuing session at your local record store for RSD 2018. All 13 7” singles  are housed in a rigid card slipcase, with each vinyl in its own paper sleeve and featuring the original artwork. On top of this they’ve thrown in an additional poster with photos, notes and track comments by bassist Michael Bradley. The music itself has been cut from original analogue tape transfers, making the sound warm, crisp and really bringing out the low-end. Perfect for summers day listening and joining in with the youth revolt sound.

Record Store Day for me is about reminding everyone what vinyl is about and why we love it. This box set performs that duty admirably; it’s a beautiful box set, features beautiful music, and reminds everyone about a beautiful band.

By Jamie Parmenter

Categories Review

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