The Undertakers are best remembered as the early '60s Liverpool combo whence came Jackie Lomax, he of the distinctive falsetto and Beatle/Apple-infamy (check the lengthy references to Jackie in the recent Anthology TV series). But the Undertakers themselves were a solid bunch of rockers in the best no-nonsense Merseyside tradition, and are long overdue for recognition. Hence Unearthed, the first full length compilaton of the group, which features their entire recorded output, including the rare US-only single I Fell In Love, and boasts a plethora of unissued cuts. Compiler Alec Palao recently chatted with Jackie about the Undertakers.(How did you come to join the band?) I was playing rhythm guitar in Dee & The Dynamites, doing pop stuff. Our drummer Bugs Pemberton left to join the Undertakers, and he told them, "If you're looking for another bass player, why don't you use this guy Jack?" They said, "Well does he play bass?" "No, but I'm sure he can!" So I got dragged into this scene where I got handed the bass, because the other bassist didn't pay for it, and I could make the payments. (And you ended up becoming the vocalist too!) The other singer was this crazy Irishman Jimmy McManus who drank too much and picked fights with the crowd, so we eventually kicked him out, and he picked fights with us! There were two other singers in the band, guitarist Geoff Nugent and sax player Brian Jones, but neither were lead vocalists. I fitted in right as the lead, that was just the way it was. The falsetto was the thing to do at the time, the way to do it.(The competition must have been fierce amongst groups on Merseyside.)There was a lot of rivalry, but no animosity. We were from Wallasey, only a mile away across the Mersey, but they could hate you in Liverpool for that. The first time the Beatles came back from Hamburg I saw Astrid with Stu. They were dressed alike, with the same hair cuts and with sunglasses on, and it was night-time! I thought, "Wow, these people look really cool." We designed drape jackets for ourselves that came down to the knees, like the western-type undertakers in the movies. But of course everyone said "Oh you're teddy boys"! (Even the band's name was somewhat controversial.) It was a punk name for the time. People kept saying the same thing over the years: "Well, what if someone's just lost their mother?" And I'm saying, "And they're coming to a dance? I'm sorry, if you can't see the humour in it, don't come!" What would happen on a TV show like Thank Your Lucky Stars, we'd go down to the studio and they'd have four coffins and five top hats, and they insisted on us doing this shit, which was cabaret to me. People would then be coming to shows to see the top hats. (Got any good Star Club stories?) We were going to Hamburg on a regular basis from July 1962 onwards. The Reeperbahn was 24 hour madness. The guy who owned the Star Club didn't pay the police off one month, so the commissioner sent down fourteen guys and arrested everybody. There were too many people for them to handle: underage girls, waiters that were wanted for assault, and us crazy Englishmen in the corner, going "You can't do this to us, we won the war!". Eventually a 1000 Mark note was pressed in the police chief's hand and we were all let go. (After four singles for Pye, the Undertakers took the plunge and moved to New York in 1965, where you recorded a whole album's worth of stage favourites, collected on Unearthed. How did that come about?) Our guitarist Chris Huston answered an ad in a magazine, and coincidentally so did Pete Best. The promoter was Bob Harvey, whose idea was, he'd get Pete Best over there and promote him as the ex-Beatle suing for $8 million, and make a fortune. He didn't care about us. He put us up in a sleazy motel for a couple of weeks, and then we ended up sleeping in this recording studio, fighting for the desk to get away from the cockroaches! We did a lot of sessions there (as hired hands), but I don't remember who most of them were for. There was no plan for an album, it was us just looking for something to do - why not record all those tunes that we liked by the Miracles, Shirelles etc, that were part of the Liverpool scene. Eventually Harvey abandoned us after a gig in Ontario, Canada, saying "I've got no more money, you're on your own", so we all started getting separate gigs. The band really split up when Brian went home that Chistmas, 'cos he was missing his mum.
- 01 Preview (Do The) Mashed Potatoes
- 02 Preview Everybody Loves A Lover
- 03 Preview Money (That's What I Want)
- 04 Preview What About Us
- 05 Preview Just A Little Bit
- 06 Preview Stupidity
- 07 Preview If You Don't Come Back
- 08 Preview Think
- 09 Preview I Wanna Be (Your Everything)
- 10 Preview She Said Yeah
- 11 Preview I Need Your Loving
- 12 Preview Tell Me What You're Gonna Do
- 13 Preview Tricky Dicky
- 14 Preview Irresistible You
- 15 Preview Love Is A Swingin' Thing
- 16 Preview Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!
- 17 Preview You're So Fine And Sweet
- 18 Preview Leave My Kitten Alone
- 19 Preview Watch Your Step
- 20 Preview Throw Your Love Away Girl
- 21 Preview I Fell In Love (For The Very First Time)
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