More Songs About Chocolate and Girls

Like John Peel I can remember my first earful of The Undertones ‘Teenage Kicks’. I was off school on a not-strictly-legit’ ‘sickie’ – and applying my trusty ‘convalesence’ technique of staying firmly tucked up in bed until middayish with a pile of comics (Whizzer and Chips, Krazy and anything Marvel or DC), a packet of chocolate digestives and my trusty tranny radio (with mono earplug).

It was during one of these recovery bed-ins that Paul Burnett cranked ‘Teenage Kicks’. Burnett, or his producer, always had healthily punky playlist – Sham 69, The Strangers, Ian Dury album tracks and the Sex Pistols/Tenpole Tudor ‘Rock Around The Clock’ (with it’s discreet effing and jeffing) were all fed to his lunchtime listeners.

However the first Undertones single I paid a few pocket money pence for was the Power-Pop meets Parka-Punk ‘You’ve Got My Number’, heard by way of Radio Luxembourg’s Thursday night New Wave chart rundown.. It’s a sizzling piece of guitar riffery that I still clonk out on my SG today -so after picking up the recent Undertones Anthology (loaded with one full disc of rarities and demos), being the cheeky blogger I am, thought I’d get in touch and fire off a few questions, and Tone me I only got a reply didn’t I ….from Mr Damian O’Neill himself….

Was there one song, album or artist that made you pick up a guitar and go from passive listener to active learner?
Quite a few actually…Van Morrison and Them doing Bob Dylan’s ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’, John Foggerty’s solo on ‘I Put A Spell On You’, Keith Richards piercing guitars on Beggars Banquet, Johnny Thunders on ‘Babylon’, Wilco Johnson.

How did you first become aware of the growing punk scene, and if being Undertone hadn’t worked out, where would you have ended up?
I remember reading Neil Spencer’s review of the Sex Pistols at the Marquee in the NME in early ‘76. People forget how provocative it was then to call your group ‘The Sex Pistols’. We then heard the brilliant ‘New Rose’ by the Damned, followed by Anarchy in the U.K and I also remember cutting out an Observer article from Dec. ‘76 which talked about the English punk scene.

Was there a long term plan with the band – and did you expect to still be going in 2008?
Are you kidding! You couldn’t plan anything in the Undertones as usually someone would quit every couple of weeks/months (except me of course)

No and neither do I expect to be going in 2058

Are you listening to any albums or artists in 2008 that you wouldn’t have expected to (or admitted to) back in the seventies?
Plenty! Joni Mitchell, Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, Faust, Can, Brian Eno, Free (are all these people hairy enough for you?)

I can hear The Undertones influence in a ton of other bands from seventies new wavers to noughties US punks – is there anyone you’ve ever heard and recognised an echo of The Undertones tone in?
Supergrass, Blur, Ash, Sigur Ros (only joking)

Any plans for a complete album gig?

Excepting That Petrol Emotion, have you ever been tempted to do an album or selection of acoustic tracks, covers or dance tunes?

What’s the breakdown of an Undertones audience?
Supermodels, wags, A-list celebs and fat baldy old fellas with beer bellies slam dancing at the front.

The first Undertones single I bought was ‘You’ve Got My Number’ which features a blistering riff (and great cover on the B-side too) – do you feel other ‘Tones tunes get overshadowed by ‘Teenage Kicks’?
Absolutely and it’s all John Peel’s fault!

Do you know how often ‘Teenage kicks’ gets aired per day on radio or TV, and if so what’s an average day’s play?
No, maybe you should ask my brother’s accountant!

Given a second chance is there anything you’d do differently – or any advice you’d give to aspiring groups or songwriters?
Well, I wish that I gave my tuppence worth in all those dreaded group meetings I’ve had over the years instead of nodding my head in silent agreement.

What’s your most pinch-yourself rock ‘n’ roll moment?
Just recently, playing on stage again with That Petrol Emotion at the Electric Picnic festival in Ireland….amazing cos I never thought it would happen again.

The Undertones – ‘You’ve Got My Number’

The B-side of ‘Number’ was ‘Lets Talk About Girls’ – a cover of a Chocolate Watch Band tune featured on Lenny Kaye’s legendary Nuggets comp’

The Chocolate Watch Band – Lets Talk About Girls

And it’s against the law do an Undertones post without….

Teenage Kicks (1978 Demo)

A big thank you is due to Ian Peel and Damian O’Neill for their help in putting this together


20 Responses to “More Songs About Chocolate and Girls”

  1. sorry – you had a cross dressing radio ?

  2. Brilliant post PM – I’m lovin it today…

  3. planet mondo Says:

    Ally Didn’t Sham do a song about you ”urry Up Ally’? we had a TV in the front room too.

    Thanks Lil bit bonkers isn’t it who’d’ve thought all this would be a’going on when we were at college?

  4. marmiteboy Says:

    Top stuff PM. A real coup.

    My favourite has to be ‘Get Over You’. It’s a blistering bit of power pop.

    ‘Teenage Kicks’ was a song that I danced my youth away to in sweaty Essex nightclubs (you know where I mean).

    Mind you That Petrol Emotion weren’t half bad either.

  5. Roman Empress Says:

    When You Tube stops playing silly buggers, I’m looking forward to watching that footage.
    …Ulster boys gettin’ it awn. Will.

  6. Why Control Says:

    Nice one PM, yep 77 energy and real music.

    Bombsite Fanzine

  7. Great post. I’ll be honest that I don’t really know this band. I learn something new every day. I’m definitely interested now. Thanks.

  8. Planet Mondo Says:

    MB – you should start doing this on your blog – Get Over You’s a peach (have you get the BBC sessions CD great version on there) and Hard Luck Again’s a belter too.

    RE – It’s great riff sort of Proto Sid Presley Experience/Godfathers type riffery.

    Thanks Martin don’t forget to dig round for more punky nugg’s on the blog.

    The Undertones are like a fun-sized version of The Ramones Keith, it’s worth checking the first two albums out and That Petrol Emotion for some funkier numbers

  9. Cocktails Says:

    Thanks Mr Mondo. Until this evening, I never, ever registered the connection between the Undertones and That Petrol Emotion. You learn something new everyday!

  10. was always a big Undertones and That Petrol Emotion fan in the day. Great stuff.

    If I remember rightly, wasn’t Damian on bass for half the time in TPE, and then got an upgrade to guitarist for the other half??

    Big Decision was one of the best singles ever, and a guarenteed floor filler at those ‘Essex niteclubs’ that marmite talks of!

    Top work Mondo


  11. Planet Mondo Says:

    P – Cocktails
    Don’t remember Big Decision, may do if I heard it though – I’m all fired up now so watch out for a TPE post next week.

  12. I like the Ramones so I’ll definitely like them. Plus I like what was posted here. I’ll have to check them out.

  13. Top stuff! Who are you going to be emailing questions to next? How about trying Macca?

  14. Cocktails Says:

    By some strange co-incidence, 23Daves has just posted Big Decision on his website if you’re curious –

    It’s well worth checking out.

  15. Planet Mondo Says:

    Davey – well it definitely won’t be Bongo he seems to have become a full time crosspatch.

    Great Tune Cocktails I do know it after all – belter. I must get some more TPE.

  16. That Bongo stuff was marvellous wasn’t it ? ‘Anything you send me after 20th October will be binned! Peace and love!’

  17. Planet Mondo Says:

    I may post him a few of his solo albums with a message “don’t open until 20th October – thanks, saves me the job of feeding ’em through the shredder”

  18. rockmother Says:

    Absolutely Splendido Mondo! My first purchased Undertones single was Jimmy Jimmy. I still have it. Bloody brilliant it is too.

  19. Love some of The Undertones, but absolutely adored The Petrols. They were absolutely cracking live too, really shit hot.

  20. nice one

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: