“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

That would seemed to have been the thinking behind the decision to record a cover version for the next single, released in March 1983.  Pop music with a bit of soul was what was beginning to dominate the charts – Culture Club and ABC had been two of the big breakthrough UK acts in 1982 while Paul Weller was also following the well-trodden path with his new band The Style Council.  Perhaps writing something original was just too difficult, so why not test the waters by taking a song by The Isley Brothers and giving it a go?

mp3 : The Undertones – Got To Have You Back

You can tell that a great deal of energy and hard work went into this 45 with Feargal Sharkey delivering a strong vocal performance while the rest of the band willingly gave up the sound that they had become best known for in an effort to appease the record label and to re-engage with the record buying public.

It didn’t work as the single stalled outside the main charts at #82.

Looking back, this is not that bad a record, but nobody could take it seriously as an Undertones record; indeed it seemed that unless they were prepared to go back and come up with a variation on Teenage Kicks then nobody was going to give the band the time of day.  The writing really was on the wall….

This was the b-side:-

mp3 : The Undertones – Turning Blue

Written by John O’Neill, it is again a million miles removed from the earlier material; it’s a decent enough song for a b-side or as an album filler but not all that memorable

The single came out in 7″ and 12″ format but only difference on the latter was the inclusion of this additional b-side, again written by John with the help of Michael Bradley:-

mp3 : The Undertones – Bye Bye Baby Blue

Two songs with the word ‘blue’ in the title – maybe it was a subliminal message as to the overall mood the band were finding themselves in.  This is actually a decent sounding track featuring some very fine harmonies and backing vocals and it certainly is stronger and more accessible than the sole track on the 7″. It is also one of the few tracks on any of their singles that ever went over three minutes in length.


3 thoughts on “THE UNDERTONES SINGLES 77-83 (Part 12)

  1. I’ll ‘fess up to being one of those who propelled this to #82. I was (and still am) unfamiliar with the original, so I just took this on its merits as a decent pop tune. To be honest, even a song in a Teenage Kicks-style probably wouldn’t have done much commercially by early ’83. I can’t recall everything that was in the Top 10 at the time, but I think Boxerbeat was about as boisterous as it got.

  2. For all the mis-fires The Undertones may have made after the second album, they always sounded like The Undertones to me. Whether a ballad or a soul track/cover, the combination of Feargal Sharkey’s vocals and the rhythm section of Michael Bradley and Billy Doherty remained undeniably familiar. I’ll take Got To Have You Back over Karma Chameleon EVERY DAY.

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