As part of our Discover Series, we highlight Television Personalities’ prolific discography with a sale across their catalogue on Fire. Use code TVP25 at checkout to receive a 25% discount. Without them there would be no Mary Chain, Nirvana, Creation Records or Pete Doherty; there would be no romance about DIY Xeroxed record sleeves and the indie scene. We wouldn’t know where Syd Barrett lived, be besotted by Twiggy and The Avengers and wonder about the whereabouts of Bill Grundy.
The Television Personalities arrived in 1977 “celebrating” part time punks with bittersweet irony. Loved by Peel, they hopped and skipped through all the best indie labels and “recorded some of the most bizarre, unlistenable and brilliant pop songs.”
They put pop culture under the microscope, played ramshackle shows, covered their heroes from The Raincoats and Joe Meek to the Floyd and Terry Jacks, sang about Elvis, Dali, Lou Reed, Bridget Riley and passing spacemen and mapped out an alternative Britain on a glorious stream of singles and life-affirming albums which began with the pure joy of ‘… And, Don’t The Kids Just Love It’ in 1981, ‘Mummy Your Not Watching Me Now’ (“a gawky, charming collection of great little pop tunes, clever bits and embarrassing bits.” Sounds) and ‘They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles’ (both from 82) before the walls closed in for the slowly darkening and more mature ‘The Painted Word’ (84) (“a brooding piece of romantic regret that borrows heavily from Nico and the Velvets without surrendering its own sad voice or resorting to despair.” Melody Maker), ‘Privilege’ (89) and ‘Closer To God’ (92) (“They still haven’t lost the knack of pulling a good tune from seemingly nowhere” – NME).
The line-up morphed but stage centre was always songwriter and purple pop protagonist Dan Treacy whose jokey one liners and incisive lyrics grew more introverted as the drugs and his mental illness took hold; as can be witnessed on the rollercoaster singles compilations ‘Some Kind Of Happening 1978-1989’, ‘Some Kind Of Trip 1980-1994’, and ‘Some Kind Of Happiness? 1994-1999’ which slowly unravel into a haze of aching self-doubt. Along the way, he wrote great songs and, of course, there were out-takes and rarities which were collected on ‘Beautiful Despair’ – “a finger painted a portrait of everyday Britain warmed by another cup of tea as it gazes hopelessly into space”. There were also a million live shows reduxed onto the psychedelic blur of ‘Another Kind Of Trip’.
The TVPs were the darlings of the fanzines, the flag bearers for doing it yourself, mod believers with all the best tunes; a band who you could watch implode and re-invent over and over again. God, the monarchy, imaginary Friends, desires, dreams and Dorian Gray all co-existed in the mind of Dan Treacy; The Television Personalities’ music is timeless.
“Pop music, I guess, but this music is truly magical.” Melody Maker
“Treacy is the outsider’s outsider, committed to a raw honesty, constantly bearing witness to his own suffering, his own weakness and fallibility.” The Quietus
“In another life Treacy and his band might have become very famous.” Far Out Fanzine