Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Undertones: It's Gonna Happen

I was going to say that I could talk about the Undertones for days but MRML readers already know my weakness for obsessing over shoulda-beens and kinda-weres ad nauseum. So before I return to discussing Grant Hart marginalia, I need to remind you of what likely is the last great Undertones single, "It's Going to Happen". The song is from the 1981 album Positive Touch and it's a heart-breaking indication that a great band could have been borne of Feargal's ambitions and the band's growing prowess, a band that could groove like ska and rock like power-pop. But the band instead elected to play an eighties brand of soul; it's a deep loss, one that may bear some obsessing.

Finding this high concept, Buster-Keaton-meets-Ed-Wood video, full of Feargal's high-camp made posting this song a necessity.

It's Going To Happen

Support the band!


  1. This one is about the Ira hunger striker Bobby Sands which I didn't realise until I watched the story of The Undertones docu. I guess thats why its quite downbeat for them.

    Great writings as ever on these Undertones posts.

  2. Yes, a great song. Not from "Hypnotized," though, as I'm sure you know. I count myself as a "Positive Touch" fan (unlike you?). While not in the same league as Love's "Forever Changes," I think that in scope, sound, texture, etc., it's what they were aiming for, kind of. I appreciate how they were stretching themselves, and way prefer it over the fake soul of the final album. But I understand why those who get off on the rush of the first album were disappointed that they "matured" so quickly.

  3. Longy
    I was loving that video (but YouTube seems to start on part two) but never got to that part about Bobby Sands. It would make sense with a few of those more bitter lines plus the O'Neil brothers more political work in That Petrol Emotion.
    AS always, I'm always glad when people notice the words.

    Do'oh. I knew it was on PT (I even put the album cover there!) but typed Hypnotized for some unknown reason. Thanks for the heads-up - I fixed it.
    Parts of PT are great but as an album it doesn't work for me. That Love comparison is interesting, I'd never thought of it that way.
    It is the 'fake soul' that sinks Sin of Pride' but even then there are a few good songs.

  4. Their most political song, brilliant IRA references, really a powerful piece. So it's always bothered me that they would make such a fucking stupid video. It could've been so much better, like when they performed this on Top of the Pops right after Sands died, with Damian O'Neill wearing a black armband. One of my all time favorite bands of all time, thanks for the post.

  5. Max

    Y'know sometimes the comments make for a better post than whatever I originally wrote-up.
    Now that I finished the documentary I know that the British government was the target of the song - "Stupid revenge is what's making you stay". I wonder what Stiff Little Fingers thought about the Undertones change in policy...

  6. is the armband thing actually true?i found footage of them doing this on totp but i cant see an armand anywhere?i dont remember any fuss about it at the time?

  7. Hmmm I didn't look closely I just took him at his word. He sure sounds sincerely repentant, which wold be odd if it didn't happen.


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