The Undertones

The Singles Box Set

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In 1983, Ardeck/EMI compiled the final epitaph on the Undertones' career with the release of the aptly titled All Wrapped Up double album. The set indeed bundled up all the band's singles, with the first disc dedicated to the A-sides and the flip sides consigned to the second disc. Needless to say, used copies that turn up today invariably contain one very scratchy disc and one barely played. The band deserved better, and finally got it with this set. The Singles Box Set presents Belfast's favorite sons' 45s in chronological order, the A-side immediately followed by the B-side(s), beginning with 1978's "Teenage Kicks," to this day the best dissection of teen life ever placed on wax. Over the next five years the Undertones released a stream of equally memorable singles, the biggest of the batch being the vicious and vivacious "My Perfect Cousin," a 1980 U.K. Top Ten hit. But the group never quite connected with the pop kids, and the following year's lovely "Julie Ocean" stalled just outside the Top 40, the band's final single to reach the charts. Straying toward psychedelia and falling further into the '60s, the Undertones' music was becoming more complex, taking them ever further from their punk roots, at least on their A-sides, even if their B-sides remained another story entirely, as the bandmembers took the opportunity to explore their love of R&B, early rock & roll, and rockabilly. Regardless of style, the Undertones never lost their pop sensibilities nor their enthusiasm, as a trio of live numbers inserted near the end of this set well illustrates. A nice bonus, those, but it comes at the expense of the band's final single -- April 1983's "Chain of Love"/"Window Shopping for New Clothes" -- a gap that will inevitably leave completists infuriated. And so what could have been a perfect album ends up wanting...just a little bit more.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
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blue highlight denotes track pick