I’ve recently finished reading Alan McGee’s autobiography Creation Stories, a book that recounts the story of his involvement with bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and inevitably Oasis but which also manages to devote some time to less widely known acts such as The Television Personalities, who McGee first saw live in 1982 in London, a show where Joe Foster ‘sawed Dan Treacy’s Rickenbacker in half! It was maybe a grand’s worth of guitar. They were only getting paid about £50 for the gig!’
From that moment on, McGee was hooked and he soon started heaping praise on them in his Communication Blur fanzine as well as booking them to perform at his Communication Club on a bill that also included the Nightingales and Vinyl Villain favourites the Go-Betweens.
Significantly, the TVP’s pop art label Whaam! in part inspired McGee to set up Creation Records and one of the first ever releases to carry the name Creation (as Creation Artifact) was a flexidisc distributed with the second issue of his fanzine that featured two tracks by the TVPs.
Alan McGee wouldn’t the last high profile fan the band would attract. At Kurt Cobain’s insistence they were invited in 1991 to support Nirvana and more recently Pete Doherty and MGMT have declared themselves admirers, the latter titling one track Song for Dan Treacy on their critically acclaimed Congratulations album.
Despite the high profile recommendations though, mainstream success has never materialised for the TVPs and this is likely down to the fact that Dan Treacy, the sole consistent member of the band since its inception, is one of those mercurial talents who are completely ill-suited to fame – even many of his devoted coterie of fans might find it difficult to disagree with the theory that he has repeatedly and deliberately sabotaged his own career over the years.
Despite this, Treacy has continued to make fascinating and innovative music over a period of decades that have also seen him suffer periodic breakdowns and homelessness. He’s also been imprisoned four times; battled long term drug and alcohol problems and, in 2011, he ended up in a critical condition in hospital that required an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain, the singer having to be induced into a coma for some time afterwards.
His band, who can claim to be massively influential on what has become known as ‘indie’, first surfaced in 1978 with a ramshackle DIY debut single 14th Floor, which they put out themselves on GLC Records.
John Peel was highly encouraging, he played the track and read out a letter that Treacy had sent him that listed the band members as Hughie Green, Bob Monkhouse and Bruce Forsyth; Peel also mentioned them in his weekly column in Sounds, where he connected them to another pivotal independent act, the Swell Maps whose Read About Seymour was another big Peel favourite of the time.
The next TVPs release, the Where’s Bill Grundy Now? E.P would again be on their own label, this time named King’s Rd Records – Treacy being largely brought up on the 7th (rather than the 14th floor) of a King’s Road high-rise. The only other release on this label would be another E.P, We Love Malcolm by ‘O’ Level.
Here’s Part Time Punks from the E.P, a satirical dig at the tabloid inspired new wave masses who would descend on Chelsea at weekends to pose, and if you had never understood the following references in the song’s lyrics before, you do now: ‘They’d like to buy the ‘O’ Level single, or Read about Seymour, but they’re not pressed in red, so they buy The Lurkers instead.’
mp3 : Television Personalities: Part Time Punks
And here’s Shadow, a 1977 single by the Lurkers, that was the first ever track released on the independent imprint Beggars Banquet and which was pressed in black, white, blue and, of course, red vinyl.
mp3 : The Lurkers: Shadow
(as submitted by Jamie H)
Fancy adding your own contribution the series? All I need are a few words and an mp3 copy of the tune, fired over to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go on, draw attention to an underground classic that’s close to your heart…..