Television Personalities – Beautiful Despair

Unexpectedly, 2018 brings us the wide release of a new Television Personalities album. Something I never expected to happen. TVP’s leader Dan Treacy suffered severe health issues a few years ago that left him debilitated, possibly sidelining any new music permanently. It was a tragic turn of events – the music Mr. Treacy had released since his comeback in the mid 00’s was some of the strongest material in the TVP’s oeuvre. Beautiful Despair features tracks recorded with Jowe Head in the late 80’s. Most of these songs would turn up on other releases, while a few are just seeing the light of day on this album. Not quite a demo tape, but not quite an official album feel to this release. What it does is bring the listener into the creative process, giving you and idea of what works and what doesn’t work. And to be clear – this isn’t a masterpiece. What it is, is an unexpected glimpse into the working relationship Jowe Head and Dan Treacy had. Results will vary for the listener depending on how much of a Television Personalities fan you are, but for me the album is a welcome release.

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The Times – This Is London

This Is London

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

1983 saw The Times release their 3rd full length (though 2nd released) LP, This Is London (their 1st LP proper was held back and not released until 1985). Ed Ball fronted The Times through various guises, but the period immediately following his tenure as a founding member of the Television Personalities, O-Level, and Teenage Filmstars is my favorite. Hipsters and those in the know look towards The Jam for their daily fix of mod inspired punk rock – dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Ed Ball was a mod before Paul Weller was a mod. The Kinks as filtered through a punk rock delivery? Something like that. The title track presents a bleak picture of London, England – times changing, hope evaporating. The song has a mod punk vibe but is wrapped up in pop sensibilities making it one of the most memorable songs by The Times. Resignation and anger collide as Ball delivers these words “I’m walking in the streets of Battersea in search of happiness / But all I find is misery in this London borough mess / My very best friend deserted me for someone else today / She met a small time insurance broker / And they’ll be married by next May”. This is amazing stuff and it is fairly easy to find as most of the early records by The Times were reissued in 2007. You can’t go wrong starting out with this song and record.

Television Personalities – Part Time Punks

part time punks

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Any scene or movement naturally opens itself up to the mockery of outsiders. In the late 70’s Daniel Treacy & Edward Ball led a few acts that were associated with the punk scene, though the music was simultaneously more melodic AND shambolic. O-Level (Ed on vocals) made fun of fake punks by way of the song Pseudo Punk. Television Personalities (Dan on vocals) tackled the topic from a slightly different angle on their 2nd release of 1978, Part Time Punks. The music feels like it will all fall apart at any minute, sounding like teenagers practicing music at home (in fact, that is exactly what it was). It feels more in line with what was labeled “twee” or the C-86 scene of the mid 80’s and not punk. The chorus is a joyous sing-a-long “Here they come / la la la la la / the part-time punks”. The Clash and Swell Maps get a shout out (among others). This is probably the most famous song by the TVP’s and showcases a lighter side of the band before they explored a darker path (sans Ed Ball). This is a must have track for any fan of the late 70’s punk, DIY, and post-punk scenes. I love these lyrics:

They play their records very loud
And pogo in the bedroom
In front of the mirror
But only when their mums gone out
They pay 5 pence fares on the buses
And they never use toothpaste
But they got two fifty to go and see The Clash.

Here they come
la la la la la la
la la la la la la
The part time punks!

Television Personalities – The Painted Word

Part 30 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

In the mid 90’s Britpop and all things Anglo were all the rage not only in the UK but also among those hipsters in the know. Sure, most people had heard of Oasis, but bands such as Pulp, Cast, and The Bluetones were hardly household names in the US (Blur WOULD become a household name, but it was with their 1st “post Britpop” album). In the midst of this era of a British invasion (some great bands, some..not so much), reissues of old records by then current Britpop darlings Pulp were being prepared. The early records were decidedly…not Britpop. That didn’t concern me so much and I read the liner notes with a focused intensity. Within those words I picked out a few bands that were loosely connected (either through Fire Records or some other obscure fact). The Blue Aeroplanes and Television Personalities were the most notable.

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