Here Comes The Summer

Jump boys are crazy they don't have no sense   Never getting lost in coincidence   Never lost for words they always shoot from the moon   To make it with the girls who can't come to their rooms
Jump boys are crazy they don’t have no sense
Never getting lost in coincidence

I’m feeling happy and the weather is good so I’ve reached for The Undertones, well-being the king vinyl nerd I am* I reached for both my copies – the original May 1979 version and the amended October 1979 version; I know, I know, I’m not proud.  Bursting out of Derry in Northern Ireland in 78/79, the Undertones dealt with the sectarian violence on their streets in a diametrically opposite way to fellow NI punks Stiff Little Fingers; they sought escapism in songs about girls, laughs and good times.

The original version of the The Undertones, the one with by far the best cover, is a straight 13 track blast of fun with one foot in the Ramones’ punky rhythms and the other in a cornucopia of happy 50’s and 60’s sounds.  In fact that’s a poor comparison since the Undertones, more than any other band I can think of who were influenced by the Ramones, picked up on the way the Ramones refracted those surfing, 60’s pop influences themselves – in a nutshell this is far more Rocket to Russia than Ramones.

The October version of The Undertones LP is augmented by ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘Get Over You’ and a particularly crap cover.  Adding ‘Teenage Kicks’, simply the best pop/punk track ever written, to the LP is quite simply the equivalent of the Beatles re-releasing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with ‘Strawberry Fields’ on it in November 1967; proof that you can gild the lily.  That cover though, it offends me.

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But anyway the Undertones stock-in-trade was always a wonderful, slightly provincial, teenage innocence** – I’m guessing put on to an extent, but still damn appealing.  I don’t mean to say that they were amateurish in any way, far from it they certainly had the required chops, but they also had the nous not to seem like they did.  The icing on top of the naive pie being Feargal Sharkey’s vibrato, a weapon of mass seduction as yet unequalled in the annals of human culture.  True story.

There’s not a duff second on either version of the LP, there really isn’t.  Particular favourites of mine are the faux-girl group punk stylings of ‘Girl’s Don’t Like It’, complete with a spoken all-girl intro straight off something by The Shangri-Las, ‘Hey wasn’t Eddie driving that car ? / Yeah I don’t go for him do you ?’.  I’d also put ‘Male Model’ up there too, take a good look at the cover and smell the irony folks! It’s a storming slice of prime Undertones and if ever forced to perform at a punk karaoke contest at gunpoint with the freedom of the world at stake, is the tune I’d choose.  I’d also save a special mention for ‘Jump Boys’, the best hotrodding of the Beach Boys I can think of.

Every tune here has great pop sensibility, even ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ with it’s tale of domestic violence/suicide and the wonderfully, joyous 1:45 thrash of ‘Here Comes the Summer’, I’ve wrecked dancefloors and several of my fellow dancers to that track – collateral damage as far as I’m concerned, if they didn’t want me to have accidentally poked them in the eye/stood on their foot/fallen on them after attempting a particularly taxing spinning manoeuvre, then they should have stayed at home.

Oh baby baby what can I do
You know you drive me crazy when I’m looking at you
The summer’s really here and it’s time to come out
Time to discover what fun is about

Here comes the summer
Here comes the summer
Here comes the summer

Keep looking for the girls with their faces all tanned
Lying on the beaches all covered in sand
Stretching out their long legs lying in the sun
They know they’re beautiful they’re having fun

Here comes the summer

It’s perfect and that’s only the second best track on the LP.  The best is, of course, ‘Teenage Kicks’ a perfectly written song, with simply the best guitar sound I have ever heard on a record.  I love the story that John Peel had to pull his car over the first time he heard this song on the radio because the perfection of it made him cry – his grave stone carries the line from it, ‘Teenage dreams so hard to beat’.  If this track doesn’t throw you back to the good, hormonal bits of being an older teenager then you’ve got ice in your veins, ‘Teenage Kicks’ just nails everything that’s right and good in the world.

What a blast! I reach for it every time that old elusive sun hangs about long enough to galvanize me into action.  It makes me happy, which is the name of the game as far as I am concerned.

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205 Down.

P.S – the first time I added this LP via Spotify, it worked perfectly and showed up in a cool player and everything, but after a bit of fiddling around with the post it won’t any more – any idea what I’m doing wrong?

*possibly even being the long-lost boy emperor of Nerdilvania.

**just check out the original sleeve, 5 scruffy lads sat on a wall, wearing exactly what they would have been wearing even if the photographer employed by Sire records hadn’t come to immortalize them that day.  I mean come on, a lot of their contemporaries (bandwise at least) in 1979 were strutting around dressed up in bin liners and being as self-consciously outrageous as they dared.

7 thoughts on “Here Comes The Summer

  1. Fergal made my jumper cool. The one my mum got from a jumble sale. For that alone, The Undertones are my second fav N.I. band. Of course you can guess who number one is, but a great album all the same. Teenage Kicks still makes me wanna jump up, pogo, dance, stumble around drunk. I’m not quite sure how to appreciate it properly on the dance floor… usually, I just strut with my chin at a jaunty angle, strumming imaginary guitar and leaping into the air every now and then. I think that’s fine, even when you’re pushing 50. I can’t help it.

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    1. I was saving the jumpers for a later review, but you’re dead right their man at C & A chic was simply awesome – Male Model being the only song I know that mentions Freemans catalogue.

      You can’t beat a good pogo I always say, dignity be damned.

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