Unlike many of the bands that came out of the New Wave era releasing only one or two albums and then calling it quits, The Undertones released a large body of work based on six albums and close to twenty singles. The Undertones original lineup consisted of Feargal Sharkey on lead vocals, Vincent O’Neill on lead guitar, John O’Neill on rhythm guitar, Michael Bradley on bass guitar, and Billy Doherty on drums. Damian O’Neill who joined the band in 1976 continues to play lead guitar in the current band’s lineup. Paul McLoone replaced Feargal Sharkey on lead vocals when the band reformed in 1999.
Undertones songs seemed to be inspired by a mixture of all genres of 1970s rock and roll. And that’s a good thing. There are many Undertones songs to pick from in presenting an essential list. So if we missed your favorites let us know. In the end, all we are trying to do is turn people on to some great music. The Undertones are often referred to as a punk band, but that’s a mistake. The Undertones sounded closer to the Dave Clark Five than any of the punk bands that came out of the mid to late 1970s punk era. This was a great band
# 10 – Here Comes The Summer
There is nothing better than a great summer song, and this one is a knockout. There is something about Feargal Sharkey that is reminiscent of early 1970’s teen idol Bobby Sherman but in a much darker rocked out, British style, easy come, easy go, bitter-sweet way. If You know what I mean?
# 9 – Bye Bye Baby Blue
Yeah I know, you hear the Smoke on the Water guitar lick at the beginning too. But after that, it becomes all Undertones. Not one of their most popular songs, but we dig this one. We also like the Fifth Dimension harmony tribute at the end. The Undertones were inspired by everyone.
# 8 – It’s Going To Happen
The great song, ” It’s Going To Happen,” was released as a single on April 21, 1981. The song was issued as a stand alone single between the band’s second and third albums. It reached the top 20 on the U.K. singles charts.
# 7 – Wednesday Week
“Wednesday Week,” is the perfect song to utilize in the argument against The Undertones being defined as a punk band. “Wednesday Week,” is perfect pop. It has that 1960s vibe, yet the song defines an originality that separates it from the 1960s era British Invasion as its production and musicality are pure late 1970’s. The song “Wednesday Week,” was released on the band’s second album Hypnotised in 1980.
# 6 – Thrill Me
One of the great Undertones songs of all time was a pleasant surprise for fans of the band. The song was released on the band’s 2003 album, Get What You Need. It was the band’s first record to feature Paul McLoone who had replaced Feargal Sharkey on lead vocals in 1999. It’s pretty rare in rock and roll when bands change lead singers and continue on successfully. It usually always divides the fan base into two camps that support the opposing singers. Can anyone say Van Halen? However, Paul McLoone and the Undertones recorded a great album of material in 2003, and “Thrill Me,” represents one of the album’s great tracks,
# 5 – Jimmy Jimmy
The song “Jimmy Jimmy,” was the band’s second single of their debut album and their first top 20 U.K. charting song. The song was released on the band’s first album, The Undertones in 1979. The song was written by John O’Neil. The flip side of the single contained the popular Undertones song “Mars Bars.”
# 4 – Get Over You
The Undertones first single from their debut album was the great track “Get Over You.” There was a distinct Dave Edmonds feel to the song, especially in the verses. 1979 was such a great year for music with bands like Rockpile releasing some of the most enjoyable pop rock music in years. Both the year 1979 and bands like The Undertones have often been overshadowed by the big name bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses, and all the other dinosaurs of rock and roll that came before and after the year 1979. It’s a shame, but we aim to really explore and promote the great bands of the late 1970s who have often been forgotten.
# 3 – Teenage Kicks
“Teenage Kick,”s is the song that got the Undertones their record deal. John Peels loved the song and heavily promoted the band. It was the band’s first single before they had a major label recording contract. The song was originally released on the Belfast independent label Good Vibrations, in 1978. It was left off their first album but was placed on their debut’s albums subsequent reissue.
# 2 – My Perfect Cousin
If you have never heard of The Undertones, we know by the time you get to the song “My Perfect Cousin,” you will have been won over by this amazing band. And if you haven’t, then this unbelievable pop gem “My Perfect Cousin,” should seal the deal. Labeled as one of the greatest Undertones songs by fans of the band, the song was originally released on the band’s second LP entitled Hypnotized. The album was released in 1980. The song “My Perfect Cousin,” hit the No. 9 spot on the U.K. music charts in 1980 making it the band’s only top 10 single.
# 1 – You Got My Number
This is simply great rock and roll. The spirit of The Beatles and Stones blast through the infectious guitar riffs and perfect vocals. It’s like The Beatles and Stones meet the B-52s and The Knack. Easily one of the best songs of the new wave era and probably the most underrated and unknown.
Updated October 31, 2023
Top 10 Undertones Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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