Page last updated at 06:39 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 07:39 UK

30 years of 'Teenage Kicks'

The Undertones
The band on the inside sleeve of 'Teenage Kicks'. From left, Billy Doherty, Mickey Bradley, Damian O'Neill, Feargal Sharkey, John O'Neill. Pic Paddy Simms.

Thirty years after the release of Teenage Kicks, Undertones bassist Mickey Bradley recalls the birth of the iconic single.

"The idea of The Undertones making a record for [record shop owner and music producer] Terri Hooley began with something close to jealousy.

We had been playing in Derry every weekend since January 1977 - listening to John Peel every night, reading NME every week, and sending off for mail order punk singles every time we had money.

Then in the spring of 1978 we discovered that someone in Belfast was getting punk bands in to make records!

And John Peel was playing them!

What about us?

We didn't know Terri and we barely knew Belfast. We certainly never thought of playing there.

But through a circuitous process, which involved the brother of someone who worked in Radio Rentals with lead singer Feargal Sharkey, a cassette of a demo tape made its way to Terri.

Terri Hooley
Terri Hooley of Good Vibrations in his Belfast record shop

The offer was relayed back, through the same channel, that we too could join the Good Vibrations stable of recording artists.

As usual, we were in the middle of a personnel crisis - Feargal wanted to leave.

This happened regularly with all of us. (I remember wanting to leave after our first LP, for no particular reason other than it was something to do.)

He may have thought the band was going nowhere, or maybe he thought TV aerial installation was the career he wanted, but I was delegated by the rest of the band to talk to him.

I phoned him, from John and Damian O'Neill's house, which was the centre of operations for the band.

'OK, you're leaving , but why not wait till we make the record?'

It was never spoken of again. By Feargal, anyway. I, on the other hand, repeat it early and often.

The Undertones
The band in Liverpool in 1979. Pic Tom Sheehan

The night before we made the record, we played at the Battle Of The Bands in McMordie Hall at Queen's.

We were second last on, and if I say so myself, we were the best band on that night.

We stayed in my sister's boyfriend's student house in Tate's Avenue that night, and next morning we were taken in a white van to Wizard Studios somewhere in Belfast.

To this day I still don't know where Wizard actually was.

As I said, Belfast was unknown territory to us.

Our only previous experience of a recording studio was making a demo at Magee University in Derry, in a room which was only used for recording language tapes.

It had cardboard egg cartons on the wall for sound insulation.

Wizard was a proper studio. It was Abbey Road, as far as we knew.

We recorded four songs. We thought this was the only record we'd ever make, so we thought we may as well do an EP.

The Good Vibrations record label didn't have a sleeve-making department.

In fact, it didn't have any departments, it was just Terri in his shop.

So when he rang us a few weeks later to say the records had arrived, he really meant we had to go up to his shop and help with the sleeves.

That process involved folding a printed A4 sheet around the record.

I still have memories of us on our knees in the back of Terri's shop, with a pile of singles and a pile of unfolded sleeves.

We then had to run up Great Victoria Street to Shaftesbury Square Post Office and post a copy to Radio One's John Peel.

"I hope he plays it," said Terri as we went out the door..."

'Teenage Kicks' is re-released this week to mark the single's 30th anniversary.


SEE ALSO
Pioneering punk label makes return
23 Jul 08 |  Foyle and West
Summer of teenage dreams remembered
15 Mar 08 |  Northern Ireland
Clinton's tribute to punk pioneer
25 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
The legacy of punk
20 Jan 04 |  Magazine

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