The songs – on a superficial level – are catchy. And then we aren’t sorta Bay City Rollers clones-we write all our own songs – so I can see what they mean about a perfect pop group in a way. What was always wrong with The Monkees was that they didn’t write their songs and they didn’t play on them. And also a journalist’s idea of pop is always different from other people’s idea. They say The Ramones are a perfect pop group too – but if you play The Ramones to somebody out on the street they’d say ‘Jeeesus – what’s this? Give me Abba.’ Pop’s what sells. [John O’ Neill, NME 28 April 1980]
The omnipresent Teenage Kicks has somewhat overshadowed the remainder of the Undertones’ achievements. Their third single, Jimmy Jimmy (FF 1979 #31), for example, is a fine story of the descent into madness of the title protagonist. It is driven by a powerful tune and thundering drums that are just a shade reminiscent of the Ramones, the band the boys modelled their early style on, and the single managed to crack the UK top 20 for them. It was notable for Feargal’s quavering vocal style, which would pay the bills quite nicely through the middle of the 80s, and for the stellar classic Mars Bars on the b-side. Here they are on the Old Grey Whistle Test:
No less ear-tickling is You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?) (FF 1979 #29), which I can still remember buying in Woolworths in Chichester, with its stark cover containing the catalogue number and nothing else. It’s an ode to teenage frustration that moved less to pop and nearer to the Stranglers’ style as evinced on No More Heroes, right down to the sudden cold finish. The band were struggling to find a direction, eventually settling on a kind of ‘power pop’. Not available on an album at the time, it made the CD reissue of Hypnotised, the ‘difficult’ second album. Both songs encapsulate the dying decade that was the seventies in all its confused, ‘what-comes-next’ uncertainty.
FF Trainspotting: Neither track appeared in any other chart. There was a considerable gap (18 years) between Festive Fifty appearances for the band: no songs were present between the All-Time Charts in 1982 and 2000 (both times with that song).