July 16, 2009

The "Teenage Kicks" Gap

Back in the Early Mesolithic Era, when I got my rock and roll on vinyl slabs and paid a substantial chunk of my disposable income for it, there were some songs that every up and coming new band learned and covered—tunes like “House of the Rising Sun” and, even before you tackled that, “Land of 1000 Dances” (which conveniently has only one chord). And that was within a couple years of hit versions becoming substantial radio, jukebox and party standards.

This FotM is a tribute to a little-heralded gem, a song that is only a decade younger than those chestnuts, but seems to be one of the definitive tunes young bands take on, right up to the present, 30 years later. It’s a song I suspect relatively few ‘60s-era boomers have more than a vague memory of, but I am convinced that it is one of the greatest tunes in rock and roll history.

Here gentle reader, is “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones, a first generation punk band from Derry in occupied Northern Ireland.

The “Teenage Kicks” Gap appears most strikingly in a book by first generation rock critic and people’s fighter, Dave Marsh, The Heart Of Rock & Soul. Immensely interesting and useful, his annotated list of “The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made” contains nary a mention of this wonderful tune. Yet in the 20 years since Marsh published it, few songs have shown the staying power of “Teenage Kicks.” Probably the most vivid external demonstration of its greatness is the fact that hundreds of bands make it one of the songs they cut their teeth on. If you are willing to spend hours rummaging around YouTube you will find homemade videos of this played (and sung a capella) in garages, living rooms, basements, junior high talent shows, and cruddy bars. To spare you the search—or perhaps to whet your appetite for it--here are the Ice Cold Idiots, a trio with the combined age of 33 when they recorded this.

Yet another sign of a song’s greatness is how well it lends itself to interesting and imaginative covers. Skipping over such worthies as Snow Patrol and Nouvelle Vague, I close my argument with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, doing The Undertones justice.


Anonymous said...

Ice Cold Idiots performed teenage kicks again this year, they now have a combined age of 36, see how htey have changed along with the venue they now play.

best song in the worls if you ask me

Anonymous said...


and here is the link

Analogue Junkie said...

These kids play a faster, more upbeat rendition of Teenage Kicks that has to be heard. It totally BRILLIANT !