The Undertones – True Confessions: Singles = A’s + B’s (1999): Forgotten Series

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Established in the mid-’70s out of Derry, Northern Ireland, the Undertones released a stack of sensational singles covering the years 1978-83 that complete this collection.

Organized in chronological order, True Confessions: Singles = A’s + B’s (Castle Music Ltd) follows the audio adventures of a band brandishing a nice blend of pop and punk sensibilities, granting them a balance of commercial appeal and street credibility.

Burning with youthful lust, the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks” comes off as a cracking cross between the Ramones and Raspberries, resulting in the epitome of power-pop cool. Marked by crunching chords, snappy breaks and tight and exciting instrumentation, the sparkling song signaled the start of a promising career.

Although the Undertones proceeded to produce outstanding offerings, they unfortunately never netted enough sales to acquire widespread success and remained a cult favorite. Yet the band was highly influential, and are still regularly name checked by select artists.

Existing on a diet of a certain famous candy bar is the subject matter on the silly and bouncy “Mars Bars,” and the jittery rhythms of “Here Comes the Summer” sounds like the Beach Boys on a new wave jag. Envy and jealousy are addressed in sniveling form on the racing and rolling “My Perfect Cousin,” while obsessive love is the theme of “Get Over You,” which buzzes swiftly to a peppy and pulsating beat.

Piloted by nervous energy and nagging hooks, the Undertones’ “Wednesday Week,” “True Confessions,” “Window Shopping for New Clothes,” “It’s Going to Happen” and “You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)” arrive as further spiffy sentiments included on the double disc.

Not a one trick pony, the Undertones boldly dipped their fingers and toes in other musical realms. For instance, there’s the slow and moody mannerisms of “Julie Ocean,” where “The Love Parade” nails hip-swinging soul aspirations to a creaky psychedelic current.

The Undertones were clever songwriters, penning lyrics that were equal parts funny and observant. Potent melodies, set in all the proper places, aided by bubbly harmonies also furnished the band’s material with a solid brass pop rock factor.

Summing things up, the Undertones were perhaps Ireland’s answer to the Kinks. Flush with smart and saucy ditties, True Confessions: Singles = A’s + B’s is a worthy overview of a band that delivered the goods on their own terms.


Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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