The Undertones

Supporters of the IRA

(as a personal investment vehicle)

*special introductory paragraph
*The Undertones
*Positive Touch
*Listening In: Radio Sessions 1978-1982
*The Sin Of Pride
*Teenage Kicks DVD
*Get What You Need
*Dig Yourself Deep

The Undertones were four gentle laddies from Ireland way who viciously, brutally changed their sound slightly on each album. One thing that never metamorphosed, however, was their love for a distinctive melody. So if you're looking for something to hum to yourself (a guitar or vocal line generally, though a few were heavily bass-driven as well), the Undertones can provide that. For a fee.

Reader Comments (Liam Mailey)
Supporters of the IRA (as a personal investment vehicle)??? Seriously that is about as stupid a joke as you could have thought off. I take it you are American?

The Undertones - Earmark 1979/Castle-Sanctuary 2000
Rating = 8


If music were a rainbow, this album would be also a rainbow. In fact, if music were a truncated human body, this album would still be a rainbow, floating high and colorful above the lifeless bloody lump of crap. Unfortunately, music is neither a rainbow nor a truncated human body, but in fact an aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds. On this scale, therefore, this album is nothing but a bow or arch exhibiting, in concentric bands, the several colors of the spectrum, and formed in the part of the hemisphere opposite to the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of falling rain. In other words, a colorful bowtie worn by a man in Antarctica.

The Undertones began their career as a Ramones-loving pop-punk band -- and this was back when the Descendents were still in diapers! (they suffered from incontinence) Apparently life was so miserable and repressive in their horrible Ireland town at this time that their super-happy music was a sort of rebellion against it. And take it from my face, the sprightliness and smiley-faced gusto of their approach on this debut LP is so fuzzy and friendly that it doesn't even matter that quite a few of the chord sequences were considered "old school" in 1957. These are all basic chord sequences (some midtempo, some speedy), but the melodic vocal lines, Feargal Sharkey's magnificent "a prettier Jello Biafra" tenor warble, the energy, the occasional lead guitar accompaniment, the dopey background shouts, the warm frazz of the distortion, the Ramones drumbeats and the near-sickening HAPPINESS of the whole thing totally make up for any lack of creative ingenuity. Who cares if half the songs sound like "Rockaway Beach"? It's so CheerFul!

I'm really not making a very good case for this album, am I.... Hmm. Well, look - would you personally be able to enjoy a Ramones album filled with nothing but "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"s and "Suzy Is A Headbanger"s? (In other words -- a Ramones album WITHOUT the anger and edge?) Well, this is like THAT. But wait, hang on! Don't leave! Not EVERY song is the proverbial "three chords and the truck". "I Know A Girl," for example, is an outstandingly bouncy Romantics/Tom Petty hop-and-skip notey sugarball. And "Listening In" is driven by a bright, shiny arpeggio! "True Confessions" could even be mistaken for a different band, with its tribal rhythm, Wire-esque doom/wave bass and non-Feargal lead vocals. Still, you have to love a chipper uptempo chord sequence to dig an album this irrationally optimistic-sounding.

It's important to me that you understand something -- as a rule, I HATE pop-punk. And power-pop. And pop-ANYTHING-pop (including your father, the asshole). But everything about this release is so perfectly designed to bring a sense of peace and troublefree rapture to the listener, my serotonin levels cannot resist. It doesn't hurt that the drummer contributes a couple of sensational semi-angry-emotional rock tracks to break up the 13 or so expressions of positive human spirit (I'll leave "Jimmy Jimmy" out of that number, since the title character commits suicide during the Ramonesy chorus). But more than anything, it's Feargal Sharkey's voice that cements my love for the record. The same way that Paul Weller's ugly drab rasp physically repels me from the Jam and Pete Shelley's overly screechy super-British schoolboy vocals annoy me away from loving the otherwise heart-stirring Buzzcocks, Feargal's smooth, welcoming, lovely light-warble makes me want to hug the little ragamuffin and his little Irish combo too. I love you, Feargal! Keep putting the "Fear" of God into every "Gal" you meet, Charles Manson!

Reader Comments
Sharkey's voice, "Teenage kicks" and "here comes the summer" make this one for me. The former song is one of the best uses of that riff (heard elsewhere on "i just wanna have something to do" and a half dozen other Ramones tunes, "some kinda hate" by the Misfits and later slowed down for Danzigs "mother", not to mention the Scorpions 2 80's hits... ok those last 3 were slightly different) around. "Here comes the summer" is the Ramones "slug" with different words. But those songs are classics to me. This is the least edgy vintage punk album that I am aware of, it's no more threatening than Meet the Beatles. The Buzzcocks were always good for an occasional obnoxious song, and as harmless as Generation X was there was at least the pose of rebelliousness. Even musically this seems like a mild updating of Brittish invasion stuff, its lacking that certain '77 punk menace (probably cuz this came out in '78).For this reason the Undertones were, to me, the touchtone pop punk band, laying out the blueprint for such heavyweights as the Ataris. I never understood the credit Descendents get for being pioneers, as unlike Undertones, they had that Ramones quality of alternating between edgy and pure pop. Pop hardcore I guess. The Undertones were definitely not hardcore... (Jay Banerjee)
Ah, Prindle, I can always count on you for a laugh, if not necessarily good taste. The Jam and (especially) The Buzzcocks are two favorites of mine. I like Weller's voice, and c'mon Prindle it wasn't even remotely raspy after "In the City". And I love Pete Shelley's voice 'cause it gives whiny nasal guys like me hope for pop immortality. Feargal Sharkey, however, has the unquestionably the best set of tonsils in all of punkdom, with that beautiful quavering tenor. He really injects feeling and passion into even the least of these songs, which makes for one of punk's classic albums and, indeed, a rock and roll essential in my opinion.

It certainly didn't hurt to have one of the most gifted pop songwriters of his era, John O'Neill, consistently feeding Sharkey top-flight material. A lot of the rebel punk stuff, I mean it's exciting and all, but all but the very best of it (like The Clash) loses its impact once the sheer shock value wears off. John O'Neill and the other 'Tones were these goofy-looking kids, almost painfully average and unassuming, and yet they were writing and performing these pop classics that have aged better than pretty much every other LP in the punk canon. They were making enough of a statement to get up on stage and sing about girls and summer and then go back home again.

Yes, the debts to The Buzzcocks and The Ramones are obvious, but O'Neill & co. were also doing completely their own wistful '60s teen pop thing, just sped up and made a little tougher to fit with the times and, crucially, keep them from aging. No one but The Undertones could have done "Teenage Kicks", my all time favorite song. It's just so blatantly simple it's almost offensive when you hear it the first time, since you're pissed off that you didn't write it and get famous. But it would never occur to anyone but John O'Neill to write that. And it's only later when you hear that simple song with those simple lyrics that you find yourself getting all teary-eyed for reasons you don't entirely understand.

"Get Over You" and "Here Comes the Summer" are nearly as good. "You've Got My Number", on some of the issues (alas, not my treasured '90s Rykodisc release) is really just as good as "Teenage Kicks". Just killer stuff. A few of the other songs are silly rave-up things, but even at their snottiest they're still endearing, and Feargal makes even the weakest songs exciting. Not that they're all weak..."Billy's Third", "Male Model", "Mars Bars", "Family Entertainment", "Girls Don't Like It" and the gorgeous organ-driven "I Gotta Getta" are classics! And I swear "Family Entertainment" is about incest but no one believes me.

The only knocks against this record are (a) the inconsistent songwriting, which especially comes to light with the droves of re-issue bonus track B-sides, but again it's always at least good and Feargal always makes it at least great, and (b) the awful re-mix of "True Confessions", which you allude to. I fucking hate that. Thankfully my Ryko release jettisoned it for the original punk rock single version (have you heard that one, Prindle?) which has Feargal singing and bouncy Motown bass. Yeah! But Castle resurrected the new wave drum-machine atrocity, for some stupid reason. But really, either issue deserves at least 9.5/10. Teenage dreams, so hard to beat. (James Mohr)
Great fun influential punk record, a high 9 but you can bump it up to a 10 if you don't have a problem giving that score to an album with absolutely zero substance to speak of. In his own weird way Feargal Sharkey is a very gifted vocalist: If you listen for example to how he sings the "boys" in "Jump Boys", I can hardly think of a voice in music harder to imitate than Feargal's wacky warble.

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Hypnotised - Dojo 1980/Castle-Sanctuary 2000
Rating = 8


I get why they're called Undertones now. On this album, you have to listen UNDER the tones to hear what's really going on. That's the appeal. The actual songs are not fast or punky enough to grab you, nor are the riffs (for the most part) sufficiently "leading edge" to smell your fancy. But if you listen in front of your stereo speakers like a good doggy, you'll hear some expertly hellacious playing. This entrancing lead guitar playing and musical interplay is what makes Hypnotized so hypnotizing in its hypnotism. In fact, you might even remember being molested as a little kid, it's so hypnotizing. But it might be a false memory, even though the False Memory Foundation is composed of pedophiles. Also, David Koresh fucked little kids, so quit pretending he was a mere innocent targeted by the FBI. He was a real piece of shit. Also, What the Punk!? That's what the DVD in front of me says. Not in English though. I had to translate from the native Hindu tongue (Shit Language). I'm listening to Brian Eno right now, so if my description of The Undertones starts to resemble the music of Brian Eno, that's why. It probably won't happen though, because I've always been a master at separating fact from fantasy. For example, when I first saw E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, I thought it was true, but after a few weeks, I realized that Drew Barrymore is a topless whore, not a little girl. This album is more pop, less punk than the debut Ramones album, with too few factually masterful moments, but ooooh la la, the lead guitar work makes me say, "Ooooooooooh la la!" in reference to both the state of Louisiana and the city of Los Angeles, Poland. Or at least it SHOULD be in Poland because everyone in L.A. except the two people I know there rake leaves by going up in a tree, and they jump off a magical cliff and shout "Shit!" and turn into it. Man, I've said "shit" too many times in this review. People will begin to wonder whether or not I might be repetitive. Let's nip that in the bud right now.

20 G0T0 10

Ha ha! All you Tandy users are in for some hilarity now! These songs feature PROFOUNDLY underwritten and disappointing vocal melodies compared to the debut, but Feargal Sharkey's voice is flawless and ravishing, I feel awful that I'm straight and not wanting to give him a handy. Because they're not dashing across the room at a breakneck rate, the chord sequences too often resemble comparable songs from yesterdays before. However, the playing is APPLEJACK. The way the guitars are played and the inventive networking between them and the bass - THAT's what's paradisacicial (and well-endowed -- like a guy with a big cock, but musically) about this album. Listen to the tremelo parts, the high-pitched parts, the 60s flashback parts; these guitarists (and they're BROTHERS!) are LITERALLY, in all LITERALNESS, the "cat's pajamas."

So album A was the punk, energy, glee club album, and album B is the instrumental give-and-take album. But both are very good! Buy them both! Undertones? More like "Undertones," if you ask the band what the actual name of their band was! Feargal, oh why? Why did you have to die?

He's not actually dead, but eventually he will be, and at that time I will be heralded as a genius soothsayer.

Reader Comments (Jay Banerjee)
This one is strange. It's like they developed a split personality. Whereas on the debut they were able to meld punk excitement with depth and sensitivity ("Teenage Kicks", "Get Over You" being the best examples), everything on this album except maybe the title track is either goofy rave-up stuff or slower, more sensitive balladry that isn't really too punk at all. Be that as it may, I sure like most everything from either camp.

I also love how certain releases of this album (yay Ryko!) feature all three of "The Way Girls Talk", "Girls That Don't Talk", and "Let's Talk About Girls". Now c'mon, that's just genius.

There is a dip in the songwriting, for sure. But "Hypnotised" is great stuff, as is "The Way Girls Talk", maybe the best song on the album...Prindle you bastard how could you diss "The Way Girls Talk" in your Listening In review? It's the closest they'd ever get to recapturing the feel of "Teenage Kicks", and even though it's much slower, it's got those great rough guitars. "I never kissed a girl before/To shy to go outside the door," no other punk rocker would be caught DEAD saying that! God save The Undertones! Of course some issues (yay Ryko!) have "You've Got My Number", which is just their best ever aside from "Teenage Kicks". "If you wanna wanna wanna wanna have someone to talk to..." "Tearproof" is another ace, even if I don't have a clue what they're talking about, typical of bassist Mickey Bradley's lyrics (cf "It's Going to Happen!").

And the rave-up stuff is fun, to be sure, especially "There Goes Norman", "My Perfect Cousin", and (especially especially) "Girls That Don't Talk"! Rocking! Some of the songs just seem sort of pointless, though, the glam pastiche "Hard Luck" I don't really get, and the weird "See That Girl" doesn't fit either. The lushest song, the gentle "Wednesday Week", is a bit irritating, but it sort of grows on you, though. On the other hand you miss the days when they showcase their sensitivity while hammering the fuck out of their guitars. The bonus tracks are weak, especially the most pointless song in the whole Undertones catalog, an instrumental version of "Hard Luck" for crying out loud! Arghh! But all in all the album's strong enough to merit an 8, maybe even an 8.5/10. Damn great if not quite nine times out of ten.

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* Positive Touch - EMI 1981/Castle-Sanctuary 2000 *
Rating = 10


Apparently the Irish lads from Underpool had been listening to Nuggets quite a bit around this time, in the process developing an utterly four-leaf-clovered leprechaun potato famine fondness for the infectiable melodies and note-built guitar hooks of such once-forgotten '60s masterworks as "Open My Eyes," "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" and "Lies." The result is a non-punk, non-power, all-CATCHY pop spectacle of clever guitar teamwork, bewitching arpeggios, devilish hooks and even some Satanic'60s organ vibes here and near! But this isn't retro by any means; instead, The Undertones have brought straightforward guitar-hook-driven songwriting out of retirement and into 1981 -- where it BELONGS! (*kicks good music in ass; puts on Puddle of Mudd CD*)

The Undertones have virtually crafted their very own Nuggets: Undertones Edition here -- 14 potential hit singles of discrete moods, styles and approaches. From the tribal drumming and rollicking piano of "Fascination" to the oddball guitar intermeshing of "Julie Ocean" to the thub-a-dub twangin' of "Life's Too Easy" to the "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?"-style riffer "Crisis Of Mine" to the various individual quirks and wonders of the next ten songs (some of which might include tough 60s riffage, shadowy piano psych, unexpected harmonics, hair-trigger bass notes, a pennywhistle, a ska beat, Zombies/Electric Prunes-style beguiling wile, C/W (crackers/webbed feet) slide guitar and just unheard-ofly good melodies from who the hell knows where). This album is a goddamned pop masterpiece up there with nearly anything the Kinks ever did. And you MUST OWN IT!

Oh, you don't? Well, I was wrong then. Have you considered buying it? I should stress that it's NOT garage rock of the "Dirty Water" variety. The guitar tones are soft and undistorted, the instrumental interplay is some of the most thoughtful I've ever heard in pop music, and Feargal's tenor is as light and fluffy as the world's largest man. My only complaint is that a couple of songs have some fake (real?) horn bits that fail to bring any soulfulness to this all-white production.

If you have a chalkboard, do me a favor and "chalk" this album "up" as yet another criminally underappreciated magnum (opus) P.I. of pop music -- right up there with The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina and Pauly Shore's Pink Diggily Diggily.

Although I have to admit that I'm also quite fond of his hilarious 1992 debut Scraps From The Future. Certainly some fans consider Future Of America to be the high-water mark of the Stony Weasel's career, but I have to wonder if they've ever actually sat down and done a side-by-side comparison between it and his 2000 comeback Hollywood We've Got A Problem. If they did, I'm sure they'd agree that F.O.A. is essentially the "Lisa Lisa (The One I Adore)" single blown up onto a larger canvas. As for me, I'll stick with P.D.D.. After all, who can find fault with such rip-roaring routines as "Purple Veiny Dong Guy," "Dildos And Stuff" and "Farting On A Date"?

If the day ever comes when I am able to pen the preceding paragraph with no hint of irony, that is the day you must turn off my respirator.

Reader Comments
I would give it an 8, nothing more.

The Zombies and The Left Banke's music are much more subtle than the undertones in my opinion.

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Listening In: Radio Sessions 1978-1982 - Sanctuary 2004
Rating = 9


In yet another fib of miscommunication, this CD claims to trace the band's radio sessions through 1982, but that's as true as so many peanut butter sandwiches claiming that they have no intention of making you thirsty. The final -- FINAL -- (as in "test at the end of the school year") session on this disc dates from December 7, 1981. And you know as well as I that December 7, 1981 took place a full decade before 1982. So who's lying now? That's right - the goddamned Pope! Actually, he might not be lying -- he is, after all, a POLACK! He's probably crossing the road because he accidentally tied his shoe to the chicken!

But enough rib-ticklers about the U.S.'s number one enemy in the world right now. Let's try to twist this whole topic around to some Truth In Advertising (or "T.I.A." -- and I don't mean "Tits In Ass"! However, I usually mean just that). This CD features 27 songs from John Peel Radio Sessions ranging from pre-pre-debut album through pre-pre-The Sin Of Pride (which we haven't gotten to yet, so hang tight. And hang loose, blood!). Actually, Richard "Mule" Skinner "Blues" handled one of the seven sessions, but only because John Peel had genital warts. As a full inventory of what you receive when you purchase this shining masculine disc, it includes -- ALL ALTERNATE STUDIO VERSIONS, YOU REALIZE -- six tracks each from The Undertones and Hypnotized, three from Positive Touch, five early recordings of tracks that would later show up on The Sin Of Pride (which we just discussed, so you should be totally clear on exactly how that album sounds), and then one non-album A-side, four non-album B-sides (actually only three, but one is played twice in radically different styles) and covers of Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll" and The Reflection's "(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet."

The coolest thing about the release is that a good godly portion of these tracks were recorded before they were fully written, arranged and recorded for album release -- so they sound different than you and I have come to know them over all these years of being fans, you and I! For example, the version of "Bye Bye Baby Blue" on here makes much more compositional sense than the too-fast-and-all-over-the-blasted-place version that finally wound up on The Sin Of Pride, the early take of "You're Welcome" is much less opium-drenched than the struggling-against-the-ocean-current version that wound up on Positive Touch and, as you will some day learn, the other Sin Of Pride tracks sound much, MUCH better without all that godawful '80s production that we'll discuss at some point either on this page or some other.

As for these single tracks ----- "Top 20" is fun catchy "hey hey hey!" punk, "Top Twenty" is a re-recording with a jaunty new lead guitar riff, "Beautiful Friend" is an engaging piece of gentility built upon ringing arpeggios, "She Can Only Say No" is a tiny blast of thick-headed punk with some non-Feargal scrapper schlapping the words down, "Like That (Song No One)" is a pulchritudinous (? maybe I need a new thesaurus - this one just told me to take a crap!) guitar/keyboard duet with crisp drumming, minor chords and an elated chorus, the Gary Glitter cover is an absolute gas and the Reflections cover is an absolute pile of intestinal gas -- for the first time in himstory, the Undertones have managed to suck all the energy and fun OUT of a song!

Still, even if you've been an Undertones fam for years, there's a lot of edutainment to be found here. The very first session is rough as dirt in both application and production, but the others are as clear and dainty as Feargal Sharkey's silk underboxers. The only real stinkers are "Nine Times Out Of Ten" and "The Way Girls Talk," a pair of cliched pop cavities that sucked on Hypnotized and blow on here. Say! Maybe they're performing CPR?

After all, you can't spell "CPR" without "CRaP"!!!!!

Actually, yes you can. For example, you don't even need the "a."

And that's my review of The Sin Of Pride. There's some data error of jibberish directly below this review, so scroll past that really quickly to get to my review of the Teenage Kicks DVD. Thanks!

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The Sin Of Pride - EMI 1983/Castle-Sanctuary 2000
Rating = 8


THIS IS NOT A SOUL ALBUM. The 1980s production makes the drums sound big, reverbed, and fake. But once you get past that, the songs are really good. My wife says that it reminds her of a cross between the Go-Gos and The Birthday Party. I say that some of it resembles early Cure material, and the voice is like a Jello Biafra WHO LIKES YOU. In fact, I like their voice, attitude, everything but the production.

Excellent guitarlines! Lots of new instruments. ???Violins, Chimes??? Harpsichord? What is all this? Corny, horrible 80s drum sounds. Loud, clean bass. Guitar is mixed down, but still there. Female backup vocals, cheesy keyboards; with just a few soul songs -- the rest is just a pop album (with poor production). And whatever song this one is SUCKS.

Hey: if you eat meat you should go to -- horrifying.

If you're over 30, you'll like this CD. If not -- YOU'RE FUCKING SCREWED, MOTHERFUCKER!!!

(*the next day*)

Hi. My name is Mark Prindle. Don't keep swallowing huge mouthfuls of vodka "just to see what will happen." What will happen is that you will become too sluggish to write a decent Sin Of Pride review, your insecurities will skyrocket, you will threaten suicide several times, you will cower in the corner of the kitchen while your wife forcefeeds you Boca Burgers, you will punch a big dent into your metal trash can (and not remember doing so), you will not even notice that your wife ordered a tasty Domino's pizza for you, and finally you will wake up with an empty stomach, a hammering headache and the messiest apartment in America.

That's just you though. When I did it, I got laid and won 40 million dollars!

As for The Sin Of Pride, the big reverbed drums, occasional horns and gross female backup vocals make it kinda hard to listen to, but the actual songwriting is still as champion as a spark plug. Yeah, there are a few blue-eyed soul numbers, but most of it is straightforward guitar/keyboard pop. Some of it sounds like the Cure, one is surf-spyish, one is Gang of Foury, some of the guitar playing is very Fall-esque in its plain note-touch simplicity, one of the tunes is kinda Roxy Musicish, one has a Caribbean rhythm, one is a regal '60s-style ballad, and one even sounds like the Doors! Interestingly, its title is "Love Parade" ("Love Street" + "Soft Parade," perhaps?).

So you see, my Children of God, the songwriting - though irritating in parts - is actually pretty consistent with what they were doing on the last record. They've even brought in lots of outside instruments to further their artistic reach. However, the disposable bullshit '80s production is repulsive, so you'll have to get past that to enjoy the cherry delights that await you within the chocolate veneer.

After this album, Feargal said, "Bite it you scum" and the O'Neills joined That Petrol Emotion.

Reader Comments
Would have given a 7 or 7,5 to this one.

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The Story Of The Undertones-Teenage Kicks DVD - Sanctuary 2003
Rating = 8


I wrote this review long before the others - it was originally on my "zines" page. But why go back and change it? In fact, why put any effort into anything at all? Here is the original review:

If you spent your whole life dreaming that U2 is the only great band to have ever come out of Ireland, now is the time to think once more about the People's Republic of Ireland! In fact, everything is further from the truth. The Undertones come from the poor, hate-filled, angry, bomb-blasted town of Derry, Ireland, with a hotcha pop happy sound packed like a firecracker with youthful desire, Ramones devotion and (eventually) R'n'B soulfulness. This 65-minute movie is comprised of a series of recent interviews with the band members and ex-members (they originally broke up in 1983, but 4 of the 5 have reunited with a new singer), intercut with comments from important figures in their history (e.g. famed DJ John Peel, Sire Records' Seymour Stein) and lots of footage from promo clips and television appearances. It's even an interesting movie if you're not the world's most familiar person with the band, because they go into some interesting detail regarding the social conformity expectations, political violence and angry jealous sons-of-bitches that the band members had to deal with every day in Derry. In fact, I intended to review it after watching only half of it, but the motherducking thing lured me in and trapped me! I HAD to know how audiences reacted to their shift over to soul music! I HAD to know why Feargal Sharkey left the band and refused to return! And most of all, I HAD to know why fifty-year-old guitarist John O'Neill has the sides of his head shaved like a wrinkly old skater punk! And so will you have to know these many varied things from the moment you see this DVD box in your store.

DVD extras include bonus interviews, exclusive live footage and seven old-timey promo videos in their entirety. If you like Dead Kennedys' guitarist East Bay Ray, take his word for it: "The Undertones are one of my all-time favorite bands!" he declared in a recent interview with famed music journalist Mark Prindle. Then he called Mark an asshole.

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Get What You Need - Sanctuary 2003
Rating = 8


Why is cheese such an asshole? Here I am eating pizza every day and thinking I'm the healthiest man in four states, and all the while cheese is clogging up my colon, sucking out my energy and filling my throat with unseemly mucus. And for what? What does cheese hope to achieve? Does it WANT me to die of heart disease at age 32? What an asshole you are, cheese!

As for Get What You Need, it's probably the greatest reunion album in the history of these Untied Starch. Well, I shouldn't just blurt something out like that. Let's first "speak to" every other reunion album ever made. Beau Brummels - bully! Jefferson Airplane - stinking. Byrds - mundane. Pretty Things - well, they had like 15 of them. Some were okay. Jane's Addiction - the jury in my head is still out on this one, deadlocked and getting free food in the hotel. Monkees - detestable. Okay, that covers every single reunion album ever made. And Get What You Need defeats them all!

The first thing to know is that Feargal Sharkey declined the invitation to reunite with his old pals that never really liked him anyway. But the other four members -- guitarist John O'Neill, bassist Damian O'Neill (no relation to former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill), drummer Billy Doherty and guitarist Mickey Bradley -- kidnapped a man named Paul McLoone to replace him, and all is TIPTOP as a FLIPFLOP! They are here to R.O.C.K. in the E.U.! I mean, this is Rock Music. Look up "Rock Music" in your Funk & Wagnalls and you will find a photo of my penis taped in there. The guitars are gratifyingly loud and distorted, the tempos range from uptempo to punk-speedy (with only ONE slow song), the melodic hooks are omnipresent, a surprising feeling of youthful abandon and elation is present throughout (thanks to a staggering mix that's all full of neat guitar effects, occasional piano/keys and blasts of noise) and the new singer guy sounds good! He doesn't have the cuddly quality of Feargal Sharkey's Machine starring Burt Reynolds, but his tougher (but still fairly high) voice suits this tougher Undertones sound, and he hits all the notes quite handily, with lungs to spare!

It's so interesting that it took a 20-year break for the Undertones to realize that it's no crime to play fun fast hard rock. By The Sin Of Pride, it seemed like they felt it was beneath them or something. But they're so great at it! I don't know if I mentioned this, but Feargal Sharkey never wrote any of the material. It was always the other guys. So this new record was never going to suffer in that sense. It was just a matter of age not clogging the pop tune arteries. And it hasn't. These songs roar with life and smiles, with influences ranging from Ramones punk rock to AC/DC hard riffing to rockabilly to early '60s r'n'b to bubblegum pop. I can say without hesitation that it is as good as (or better than) every previous Undertones album aside from Positive Touch. Even when the riffs seem more like two-chord shuffles than full-fledged compositions, they never suffer from the "same old Rockaway Beach riff" syndrome of The Undertones, the plodding tempos of Hypnotized or the unsympathetic production of The Sin Of Pride. This is a tight, tuneful, tick-ridden release rarely resting under Uncle Underwear's gun girl's gum gutter. I wonder if Feargal's heard it?

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Dig Yourself Deep - Cooking Vinyl 2007
Rating = 6


After the barnstorming smash rocker Get What You Need, The Undertones have raised the "ire" of my "land" with this poofy, cliche'd follow-up. It sounds like they're trying to recreate the midtempo pop-punk sound of their earliest records, but the chord changes, guitar riffs and vocal melodies are so predictable and unnecessary that you sort of wonder why they bothered.

Most of the tunes are sufficiently inoffensive (bland smiley little '60sy/"Teenage Kicks" things) and brief (only 3 of the 14 songs exceed 2:30, and NONE reach 3:00!), but who needs inoffensive briefs when you've got a gigantic dick of a record collection? I'm not sure that metaphor worked, but at least I got the phrase 'gigantic dick' in there, which qualifies me for many awards.

Things I noticed:
- You can sing "Teenage Kicks" to the tune of the title track
- "So Close" sounds like a Brix-era Fall song
- "Here Comes The Rain" is a terrific song, but that opening riff is still a total Beatles rip
- One can't help but sing "The Girl Can't Help It" during "Fight My Corner." 30 seconds in, my wife shouted "Clinic ripoff!" but she may have just been asking me to steal some drugs for her.
- The jangly "Tomorrow's Tears" reminds me of late-period Dead Milkmen. I'm almost certain this was unintentional.
- "Easy Way Out" is either a tribute to the New York Dolls or a godawful song
- "Happy Valley" might as well be called "I Hope The Easybeats Don't Hear This Song Because We Stole The Guitar Riff From 'Good Times' And They'd Probably Consider Legal Action Regardless Of Their Later Success With AC/DC"
- If Brian Wilson heard "Move Right In," he'd go "Hey, come on"
- The chorus of the 14th song is identical to 1/3rd of the chorus of the 13th song

Only four of these songs approach the melodic genius of their past catalog -- driving fuzzy Beatles update "Here Comes The Rain," marvelously hooky "Everything You Say Is Right," tough ringing Ramones-speed anthem "We All Talked About You" and adorable punk-popper "She's So Sweet." Most of the others have their moments, but are inevitably dragged down by weak chorus or hackneyed verse.

Ahhh! A hacked-up nurse!

Heh heh. Little 'dead nurse' joke for you. Which reminds me:
Why did the dead nurse cross the road?
She had a SPECK in her eye!

Dig Yourself Deep isn't a bad record in the grand scheme of things. It just doesn't have a ton of new musical ideas to offer. Plus, it's a complete regression to their early sound - the first time they've ever stylistically regressed. What's next - an album where they're all crying in a crib??!? HUH!?? IS THAT WHAT'S NEXT??? I BET YOU A DOLLAR THAT'S WHAT'S NEXT!!! THEY'RE ALL GONNA MOVE INTO CRIBS AND WEE THEIR DIAPERS AND SCREAM ALL NIGHT AND EXPECT YOU AND ME TO PROVIDE THEM WITH NOURISHMENT FROM OUR BREASTS!!!!! NO GODDAMNED WAY AM I GIVING UP MY SEXY FIGURE JUST SO PAUL MCLOONE WON'T GROW UP NEUROTIC!!! HERE!! HERE'S A GODDAMNED BOTTLE OF FORMULA, PAUL MCLOONE! YOU CAN SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS FOR ALL I CARE, YA PIECE A SHIT!!!

Speaking up shoving pieces a shit up your ass, here's a "Sex Survey" I completed on MySpace last night. I'm told that it was actually intended for women.

The one with the vagina

The one with the tighter vagina

Thongs allow one to view the buttock cheeks more visibly, but they also make you think about how there's probably poop all over the fabric between them.

I've never been in Fredricks. But if it's a masculine version of the former, then Fredricks. I could use some frilly briefs.

nice spelling of 'heroine' there. My answer is vodka.

i'd really have to see the corpses before deciding which one to 'ride out of town on a rail,' if you know what i mean

i guess spanked because i'm running out of hairs to pull


loving marriage

I don't know what the second one is, but I hate sausage so unless bracciole is a vegetable, I'll go with bracciole.

Oh please please please let me be hated

If either of these men's penis ever winds up in my anus, I'll know that my life has taken an unfortunate turn.

depends on whether I'm repainting the house or going fishing. HA HA! HILARIOUS!!!


If it's a woman, give.

If it's a man,

wait no hang on

The actual female vagina

keep mouth closed entirely

was this flown in from some other quiz? Or am I actually supposed to fuck hamburgers now?

Mmmm-mmm; you are TEMPTING me! This is going to be the seXXXiest Presidential ERECTION ever!

is it possible to have one without the other?

does the Brazilian have a big bush?

Catgirl, but not dressed up like a fucking cat

I lucked into rich AND sexy - huzzah for me!

actually, neither work as an effective prophylactic

Somebody named a food "scungili"!? What is it, shaped like a big pussy?

dominator, but not if you purposely try to scare me. that makes me anxious and i can't perform.

did you say "GENITAL Hospital"?! Ha ha! HA HA HA ! No. No, you didn't.

Bob The Penis. Steve The Ball. Jim The Other Ball. Dave The Anus. Jenkins The Taint.

I love doggies. But if you're talking about sex, I'd rather ball the missionary.

fuck in the cereal aisle

exhibitionist - of very brief one-act plays

Licker. Preferably vodka.

is the pillow made of cheese?

Preferably strobe, for some hottt 'Seizure SeXXX'

I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Go Heels!


of their HOLES with my PUD, that is!!!!!!


i don't know what a rusty trombone is. i DO know what a dirty sanchez is though, which makes me think that i probably don't want to know what a rusty trombone is.

dump the first names and the choice becomes much clearer

chainsaws and a taser

oh! and a gigantic crocodile.

anything less than eight is not true love

Reader Comments

Paul McLoone of The Undertones
The Undertones are five gentle laddies. And call me a piece of shit again, and I will come over there and ram a bottle up your ass. One with petrol and a rag in it, you lame-ass motherfucker.

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