John O’Neill from the Undertones top 10 favourite songs

During the Olympics there is a series of great gigs featuring Irish bands in London.


The London Irish festival will take place at Stamford Bridge at the end of July. Every day a classic Irish band will play. One of them is the Undertones so we asked Undertone John O Neill to tell his favourite all time songs to celebrate the event.


For full details go to the festivals website here…


John O’Neill is so much of a music fan that the task of picking favourite songs was a nightmare for him, telling us.

Attached is a list of ten of my favourite songs at the moment. I chose not to write a ”˜Top 10′ list of favourite LPs as they would inevitably include the usual Stooges, Ramones, Velvets, MC5 etc that have probably featured before in other lists and just thought it more fun and less boring to do a type of ”˜playlist’ sort of thing that maybe someone could download for their own enjoyment. (I think most of these songs can be downloaded). Hopefully that’s ok.

We always regarded ourselves as a ‘singles’ band being highly influenced by the sixties and the Glam era of the early seventies. Punk reintroduced the romance of the single as an art form which sadly seems lost now so I just thought it appropriate to do a list in that format as a kind of tribute

1. So Alone ”“ Ty Segall

More recent slice of garage punk or what he calls ”˜evil space rock’. Pure joy. What’s there not to like? Great guitar hook, short sharp burst of energy and killer chorus and you can dance to it. This is what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to sound like. Taken from Horn The Unicorn. Well worth checking out his whole catalogue.

2. When You Dance ”“ The Turbans

A big influence on the Undertones in the real early days was Doo Wop. The film, American Graffiti, had a huge impact on me. In the film, 1950’s USA seemed so fresh, innocent and appealing and Doo Wop was the perfect soundtrack to all of that, especially when you consider what was happening on the streets of Derry at the time the film was shown. There couldn’t have been more of a contrast. This is an absolute cracking song, check out that falsetto, wow.

3. Pot Can’t Talk About The Kettle ”“ Helene Smith

From the Eccentric Soul series of compilations, this one from: The Outskirts Of Deep City. I love the looseness of this track and what a vocal! I suppose this would be termed ”˜Northern Soul’ but it almost has a garage punk feel to it as well. You’ll be humming this tune for days after hearing it.

4. Did Ya Need To Know ”“ Dale Gregory And The Shouters

Another compilation series: Teenage Shutdown Vol.4: I’m A No-Count.

Another great song from 1966. What a year for music that was. I was only nine years old. The Stones, Beatles and Dylan were at their peak, Stax Records and James Brown where crossing over to a hungry white market and summers really were hot.Where did it all go wrong?

5. Final Solution ”“ Pere Ubu.

Cleveland’s finest and a band that no one seems to mention anymore.

I think I read somewhere that this was their rewrite of ”˜Summertime Blues’?

Eddie Cochran on heroin maybe. Real dark stuff this, there has never been a band like Pere Ubu and probably never will be again. If John Kennedy Toole started a band this what they would have sounded and looked like. You can find this on Terminal Tower which is (mostly) a compilation of their early singles. Mind blowing stuff.

6. Gimme Gimme ”“ ZZ Hill

It ”˜s another record from 1966! The late ZZ Hill was a southern soul singer who had bigger hits later in his career. This is a great record, an effortless groove and swingnot unlike early Al Green or Major Lance. This was arguably the ”˜golden era’ of Soul, there are so many incredible records from this time. It really depresses me, with such a wealth of choice, that music stations keep playing the same old shit we’ve all heard a million times before.

7. A Long Way To Nowhere ”“ The Pseudos.

Taken from the excellent Back from the Grave Vol.8 compilation, this Detroit punk band released this in 1966. As the sleeve notes say ”˜this is an extra-sharp little ditty ’bout a rough day in SQUARESVILLE.’ Back in 1977 the only access the Undertones had to songs like this came from the now iconic Nuggets LP. I personally always credit that record as the one that helped me become a song writer as we must have covered around nine or ten songs from that LP at sometime or another.

8. Block of Ice ”“ Thee Oh Sees

Opening track from the wonderful ”˜The Masters Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In.” Apparently amazing live and any band that sounds like The Fall is good enough for me. Again rock ‘n’ roll as it should be, ”˜crosscut raw and deliberately simple. (Thank you Lester Bangs).

9. Her Love Rubbed Off ”“ Carl Perkins

Taken from the incredible ”˜Dance Album Of ‘. Space Rockabilly in 1956! Not just a brilliant guitar player but an amazing songwriter. I think you can hear the influence of Howling Wolf on this, just like ol’ Chester, this sounds like it came from another planet. I’m amazed this doesn’t feature on other Rockabilly comps but then, he did write so many great songs. He’s the King, not Elvis, for me.

10. Tupelo Blues ”“ John Lee Hooker.

Haunting. One man, his voice and his guitar and the sheer power of this song is impossible for me to describe. As a Catholic, coming from the North of Ireland, we grew up hearing amazing Irish folk songs describing the plight of the downtrodden and deprived. We called them ”˜rebel songs’. The sixties civil rights movement in America was a huge catalyst for our civil rights movement in Ireland. There appeared to be definite parallels to the struggle of the African American and the Nationalist population in Derry, Belfast etc. And, once I discovered where the roots of rock’n’roll came from, there has always been something exotic and ”˜other worldly’ about the blues that I have loved ever since.

If buying or downloading this make sure it’s the studio version not the live version.






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