Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wake Up To Your MakeUp

The Undertones : True Confessions

In May of 1979, The Undertones released their eponymous debut album, a collection of short and catchy songs about classic teenage concerns (girls, summers, weekends), by a band growing up in Northern Ireland in the midst of The Troubles. "True Confessions" (It's hard to wake up to your makeup) is a boy confronting a girl about whether she's been faithful. 

Part of the charm of this performance on The Old Grey Whistle Stop , a month after the album's release,  is that the boys didn't dress up. They didn't care about fashion and they didn't share their politics. The result is a timeless batch of songs, most written by rhythm guitarist John O'Neill who would later for That Petrol Emotion with his brother and Undertones lead guitarist Damian.

The debut album offers 14 songs in 29 and a half minutes. Small wonder they were called The Irish Ramones. In September they would tour the US with The Clash.

The album came in #17 in the 1979 NME Best Album Poll, #6 in Melody Maker and #9 in Sounds. 
Smash Hits critic Red Starr wrote 

"Unimpressive on first hearing, further plays reveal an album full of little gems of sharp, bouncy pop songs. Very distinctive in style, especially with Feargal Sharkey's unique trembly voice".

The album was finally released the the United States in January of 1980. The dean of rock critics, Robert Christgau, gave The Undertones a B+ writing

Nice lads, nice lads--suddenly the world is teeming with nice lads. I like their punky speed and adolescent authenticity, but I'd prefer the reverse--among adolescents these days the speed takes care of itself, while finding something besides teendom to write about is a problem.

It is included in the book 1001Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

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