The Television Personalities are an English group with a varying line-up. The only constant member is singer–songwriter Dan Treacy (b. 19 June 1960), who uses the band as a vehicle for his music. The band's first release (January 1978) was the single "14th Floor / Oxford Street W1", while their second, the EP Where's Bill Grundy Now? features one of their best-known songs, "Part Time Punks".
The Television Personalities' first album ...And Don't The Kids Just Love It was released in 1981. It set the template for their subsequent career: neo-psychedelia, an obsession with youth culture of the 1960s, a fey, slightly camp lyrical attitude, and the occasional classic pop song. Their second album Mummy Your Not Watching Me[sic] demonstrated increased psychedelic influences. Their third album, entitled They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles showed Treacy's sense of humour: the TVPs were never to have any major commercial success in the UK – although their albums sold respectably in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The first three albums featured Treacy and schoolmate Ed Ball; Ball left the band[when?] to found The Times, but rejoined in 2004.
The 1984 album The Painted Word was unexpectedly dark in content, reflecting Treacy's despair at Thatcherite Britain and his personal circumstances.
Various line up changes prevented their next album (Privilege) from appearing until 1990. Their subsequent album Closer to God was a combination of fey sixties style pop and darker material, similar in tone to The Painted Word.
The album Don't Cry Baby, It's Only a Movie was released in 1998.
From 1998 to June 2004 Dan Treacy was incarcerated for shoplifting to feed his drug habit. He spent time aboard HM Prison ship Weare in Portland Harbour, Dorset, England. He has referred to the Weare as "The Good Ship Lollipop". The experience helped him put his life and career back on track.
In February 2006 a new TVPs album My Dark Places was released. Despite their relatively small independent sales the TVPs were very influential on British music in the 1980s, especially the so-called C86 generation and many of the bands on Creation Records.
In an article in The Guardian on 24 April 2006, it was implied that Dan Treacy was in some way behind the Arctic Monkeys, although this was based on little more than a perceived similarity between their lyrical style and that of Treacy, and the fact that the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, Alex Turner is not credited with the band's songwriting.
It was reported in October, 2011 that Treacy was seriously ill after an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Albums[edit source | edit]Edit
- ...And Don't The Kids Just Love It (1981, Rough Trade)
- Mummy Your Not Watching Me (1982, Whaam! Records)
- They Could Have Been Bigger Than the Beatles (1982, Whaam! Records)
- The Painted Word (1984, Illuminated Records)
- Privilege (1989, Fire Records)
- Closer to God (1992, Fire Records)
- I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod (1995, Overground Records)
- Don't Cry Baby, It's Only a Movie (1998, Damaged Goods Records)
- My Dark Places (2006, Domino)
- Are We Nearly There Yet? (2007, Overground Records)
- A Memory Is Better Than Nothing (2010, Rocket Girl)
Live[edit source | edit]Edit
- Chocolat-Art (A Tribute to James Last) (1985, Pastell - live in Germany 1984)
- Camping in France (1991, Overground)
- Top Gear (1996, Overground)
- Made In Japan (1996, Little Teddy Recordings)
- Mod Is Dead (1996, Teenage Kicks)
- Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts (1997, Overground)
EPs[edit source | edit]Edit
- The Strangely Beautiful (1991, Fire)
- How I Learned To Love The Bomb (1994, Overground)
Compilations[edit source | edit]Edit
- Yes Darling, but is it Art? (Early Singles & Rarities) (1995, Fire)
- Prime Time 1981-1992 (1997, Nectar Masters)
- Part Time Punks – The Very Best of the Television Personalities (1999, Cherry Red)
- The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming (2000, Vinyl Japan)
- Fashion Conscious (The Little Teddy Years) (2002, Little Teddy Recordings)
- And They All Lived Happily Ever After (2005, Damaged Goods)
- Singles 1978-1987 (2007, Vinyl Japan)
Singles[edit source | edit]Edit
- '14th Floor' (1978 - Side A: 14th Floor - Side B: Oxford St.W.1 - GLC Records - released as Teen '78)
- 'Smashing Time!' (1980 - Side A: Smashing Time - Side B: King and Country - Rough Trade Records - RT 051)
- 'I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives / Arthur The Gardener' (1981 - Side A: I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives - Side B: Arthur The Gardener - Rough Trade Records - RT 063)
- 'Painting By Numbers' (1981 - Side A: Painting By Numbers - Side B: Lichtenstein Girl - Whaam! Records - WHAAM 001)
- 'Three Wishes' (1982 - Side A: Three Wishes - Side B: Geoffrey Ingram - And Don't The Kids Just Love It! - Whaam! Records - WHAAM 4 - released as Gifted Children)
- 'Biff Bang Pow!' (1982 - Side A: Biff Bang Pow! - Side B: A Picture Of Dorian Grey - Creation Artifact - 0 0 2)
- 'A Sense Of Belonging' (1983 - Side A: A Sense Of Belonging - Side B: Paradise Estate - Rough Trade - RT 109)
- 'How I Learned To Love The Bomb' (1986 - Side A: How I Learned To Love The Bomb - Side B:Grocer's Daughter / Girl Called Charity - Dreamworld - Dream 10)
- 'The Prettiest Girl In The World / If That's What Love Is' (1987 - Side A: The Prettiest Girl In The World - Side B:If That's What Love Is - Overground Records - over 15)
- 'I Still Believe in Magic' (1989 - Side A: I Still Believe in Magic - Side B: Respectable - Caff Corporation - CAFF 5)
- 'Salvador Dali's Garden Party' (1989 - Side A: Salvador Dali's Garden Party - Side B:The Room At The Top Of The Stairs - Fire Records - BLAZE 37S)
- 'She's Never Read My Poems' (1991 - Side A: She's Never Read My Poems - Side B: The Day The Dolphins Leave The Sea / Christ Knows, I Have Tried - Fire Records - BLAZE 44049)
- 'Your Class / Someone To Share My Life With' (1991 - Side A: Your Class - Side B:BMX Bandits - Someone To Share My Life With - Clawfist - PIG 8 - "Split with BMX Bandits - Each band covered other band's song")
- 'We Will Be Your Gurus' (1992 - Side A: We Will Be Your Gurus - Side B:An Exhibition By Joan Miro / Love Is Better Than War - Seminal Twang - TWANG 15)
- 'Favourite Films' (1992 - Side A: Favourite Films - Side B:The Dream Inspires / Happy All The Time (Ten Years Ahead Of Its Time Version) - Overground Records - Over 27 - from the 1984 Whaam! compilation All for art...and art for all)
- 'Goodnight Mr Spaceman' (1993 - CD: Goodnight Mr Spaceman / If I Was Your Girl Friend / She Loves It When He Sings Like Elvis / Goodnight Mr - Fire Records - BLAZE65CD)
- 'The Happening' (1995 - Side A: Jennifer, Julie & Josephine - - Side B: The Bartlebees - Why Don't You Smile Now? - Little Teddy Recordings - LiTe 739 - Split with The Bartlebees)
- 'Time Goes Slowly When You're Drowning' (1995 - Side A: Time Goes Slowly When You're Drowning - Side B:Meanwhile In A Luxury Dockland Home - Little Teddy Recordings - LiTe 716)
- 'I Was A Mod Before You Was A Mod (Easy Mix)' (1996 - Side A: I Was A Mod Before You Was A Mod (Easy Mix) - Side B:She Lives For The Moment - Overground Records - OVER50 - Limited edition of 1000)
- 'Bike' (1996 - Side A: Bike / No One's Little Girl - Side B:Seasons In The Sun - TwistRecords - Twis 20)
- 'Now That I'm A Junkie!' (1996 - Side A: Now That I'm A Junkie! - Side B:How Does It Feel To Be Loved? - Little Teddy Recordings - LiTe741)
- 'When I Grow Up I Want To Be…' (1999 - Side A: The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming - Side B:When I Grow Up I Want To Be… - Damaged Goods - damgood 170)
- 'All The Young Children On Crack' (2006 - Side A: All The Young Children On Crack - Side B:Any Love Is Good Love - Domino - RUG220)
- 'The Good Anarchist' (2008 - Side A: The Good Anarchist - Side B:She's Always Been There For Me - ElefantRecords - ER-256)
- 'My New Tattoo' (2009 - Side A: My New Tattoo - Side B:Funny He Never Married - Good Village Recordings - GVR 2)
- 'People Think That We're Strange' (2009 - Side A: People Think That We're Strange - Side B:A Glimpse Of My Genius - ElefantRecords - er-269)
- 'You're My Yoko' (2010 - Side A: You're My Yoko - Side B:The Girl From Nowhere - Rocket Girl - rgirl58)
- 'Wonder What It Was' (2011 - Side A: Wonder What It Was - Side B:Radiohead Song - Formosa PunkRecords - SHADE 009)
Tributes[edit source | edit]Edit
- "I Don't Know Where Dan Treacy Lives" (2000, Lookout Records) The Mr. T Experience
- "If I Could Write Poetry" (2003, The Beautiful Music)
- "¡Harte para todos" (2004, Discos Harte) Thy Surfyn' Eyes, TCR, Alpino, Los Part-Time Pops singing TVP's songs in Spanish
- "Someone to Share My Life With" (2005, But Is It Art) Nikki Sudden, Swell Maps, The Shambles, Semion and others
- "I Would Write A Thousand Words" (2007, The Beautiful Music) Nikki Sudden, The Loch Ness Mouse, The Shambles, Swell Maps, Semion, Superczar, The Airwaves, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt and others
- "Song For Dan Treacy" MGMT on the album Congratulations.
- "Various Artists All Those Times We Spent Together: A Tribute to the TVP" (2010, The Beautiful Music)
- "They Could Have Been Bigger Than Hiawata!" (2007, SellOut Music) by the Norwegian pop band Hiawata! is a nametribute/nod to "They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles"
References to popular culture[edit source | edit]Edit
Treacy is notorious for the numerous popular culture references and in-jokes scattered throughout the TVPs' lyrics, album titles and record artwork. Most of the references are to (mostly British) cult films, 1960s culture and forgotten or underappreciated musicians and celebrities.
- Woody Allen – The song "Little Woody Allen" is named after the American filmmaker. He is also mentioned in "Salvador Dali's Garden Party."
- Dr. Strangelove – "How I Learned to Love the Bomb" is named after the full title of this Stanley Kubrick film.
- Girl on a Motorcycle – The TVPs have a song named after this Marianne Faithfull/Alain Delon film.
- If.... – The Lindsay Anderson film (starring Treacy favourite Malcolm McDowell) is quoted in several songs, including "Paradise Is For The Blessed" and "Not Even a Maybe."
- King & Country – The TVPs named a song after this film by Joseph Losey. Several other Losey films are referenced in the TVPs' work, and "I See Myself in You" mentions Losey by name.
- Look Back in Anger – The last song on the TVPs' debut full-length is named after the film version of this famous play by John Osborne.
- Privilege – The name of the band's fifth album is taken from this 1967 film by Peter Watkins. The band's third album credits Steven Shorter (the main character of Privilege) as producer.
- A Taste of Honey – A major character from this popular "kitchen sink drama", Geoffrey Ingram, shows up in a lot of the Television Personalities' early work.
- Bill Grundy – The TVPs named their 1978 EP Where's Bill Grundy Now? after the disgraced British television presenter.
- Syd Barrett – The band's debut album features a song called "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives." In imitation of Barrett's own solo work and Pink Floyd's Brain Damage, the song is significantly calmer than the rest of the album, and features mildly psychedelic studio effects (such as chirping birds). They also recorded a cover version of "Apples and Oranges for Beyond the Wildwood, an indie tribute to Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd released in 1987.
- The Byrds – The Byrds song "Eight Miles High" is frequently quoted both lyrically and musically by Treacy. The guitar solo on "King & Country" is based on the one in "Eight Miles High." Byrds member Roger McGuinn is also mentioned in the song "You, Me and Lou Reed"
- David Hockney – "David Hockney's Diaries" is the name of a song on the band's second album
- The Jam – In "Geoffrey Ingram", Geoffrey and the narrator go to see The Jam play at the Marquee Club. Jam song titles are also quoted in TVPs lyrics, and the song "And Don't The Kids Just Love It" mentions Jam bassist Bruce Foxton getting all the girls.
- Roy Lichtenstein – The TVPs' label, Whaam!, was named after one of Lichtenstein's paintings. "Lichtenstein Painting" is the name of a song on the band's second album. An earlier version of the song (released by Treacy under the name The Gifted Children) was called "Lichtenstein Girl"
- Joe Orton – The British playwright's death at the hands of his lover Kenneth Halliwell is referenced in the song "God Snaps His Fingers" (the song's title is itself a quote from a novel co-written by Orton and Halliwell). The song "The Good and Faithful Servant" is named after one of Orton's plays.
- Andy Warhol – The Pop Art maverick is often mentioned in Television Personalities songs.
- King's Road – Referenced in several songs (including the seminal "Part Time Punks"), this Swinging London locale is close to where lead singer Dan Treacy was born.
- "Read About Seymour" – A song by their contemporaries Swell Maps mentioned in "Part Time Punks".