This week sees the release of The Undertones ‘West Bank Songs 1978-1983 – A Best Of’, featuring 30 tracks from their original recording period, 1978-1983. Compiled by the band. 

Available as a double LP with 2x140g coloured vinyl discs with gatefold sleeve, the release features 7 top 40 hits (including 4 top 20s): ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘My Perfect Cousin’, ‘Here Comes the Summer’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It!)’, ‘Wednesday Week’, ‘It’s Going to Happen!’ plus the Kevin Shields 2016 remix of ‘Get Over You’.

Mastered from HD master sources under the supervision of Undertones guitarist Damian O’Neill, the tracks are taken from the band’s 4 critically acclaimed original studio LP’s; ‘The Undertones’ (1979), ‘Hypnotised’ (1980), ‘Positive Touch’ (1981) and ‘The Sin of Pride’ (1983). With LP artwork inspired the Rolling Stones’ ‘Aftermath’ – an important influence on the band, ‘West Bank Songs’ also features a 12-page booklet, including rare and previously unseen photos, with new notes written by Undertones bassist Michael Bradley. The gatefold sleeve includes excerpts from the Faber & Faber book ‘Fried & Justified: Hits, Myths, Break-Ups and Breakdowns in the Record Business 1978-98’ by Mick Houghton.

The Undertones emerged from Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974, the result of five friends learning how to play basic rock and roll. Even by the standards of that decade, Derry was not the rock and roll capital of anywhere and with no live bands worth watching, they learned their trade by listening to mail order records, reading one of the few copies of NME that made it to Derry but most of all from listening to John Peel’s show on BBC Radio One. Practicing in their bedrooms eventually led to the band recording ‘Teenage Kicks’ in 1978 on Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations label in Belfast. A copy was sent to the legendary DJ John Peel and he liked the track so much he played it twice in a row on his radio show! 

Eventually signing to Sire Records, ‘Teenage Kicks’ was re-released, resulting in the band’s first appearance on Top of the Pops.  Over the next five years, John O’Neill, his younger brother Damian, Feargal Sharkey, Billy Doherty and Michael Bradley crafted numerous punkpop gems and would go on to release 13 singles and 4 studio LP’s, before disbanding in May 1983.

The Undertones ‘West Bank Songs 1978-1983 – A Best Of’ is out now.