Good Vibrations: Teenage Kicks right through the night…alright
Paul Morley puts Manchester’s musical success down to the ‘scene’, a habitat of musicians, journalists, record shop owners, print shops and then the secret sauce – entrepreneurial types like Tony Wilson. Belfast’s had its own piratical fixer, the one-eyed, Terri Hooley.
Hooley, in the midst of the chaos of the Troubles, opened a record shop, then started a record label, organised gigs and put out records, He pulled bands into his orbit and most famously discovered The Undertones and the legendary Teenage Kicks. When the song is played half way through the film, you almost cry with joy, it’s that good. I’m welling up just thinking about it! Never mind that the lyrics could have been written by the Bay City Rollers, this is the song that put Belfast on the musical map (even though The Undertones came from Derry). Who would have thought that Northern Ireland, of all places, would have produced punk’s most optimistic masterpiece, the flipside of all that angst, anger and aggro.
It’s a cosy, little film that focuses on the haphazard route that punk took in those days, fuelled more by enthusiasm than business sense and all the better for it. The record companies in London all rejected Teenage Kicks until John Peel famously played it twice in a row. That was it. What Hooley did was create a little bit of Northern Ireland that was beyond the religious divide. He didn’t give a monkey’s about religion, just the music that kids of all types wanted to play, hear and dance to.
Forget the flute bands, listen to Van Morrison and Teenage Kicks and you’ll see the real side of Northern Ireland. I’ve been to Derry more than a few times and you couldn’t meet a more open and friendlier bunch of people. They like a laugh and are relentlessly optimistic. Teenage Kicks is their anthem and every time it’s played the world’s a little bit happier than it was before.