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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 176 - 01/19/11

Speakers' corner: Television Personalities
And Don't the Kids Just Love It... 30 years on

Following up our retro scope series of 2006 and 2007, 2009 and 2010 - here's the ever-continuing, never-stopping New Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves/vaults of rock. This moonth the Lunar spotlight has captured a 30 year old DIY pop-punk platter. The main man was saluted last year by acclaimed retro-pop-heads MGMT on their very fine Congratulations - an album including a second song hailing one of their heroes; Brian Eno. I guess Eno's a more famed personality than Treacy. Nevertheless, TVP's debut is a classic. Even if it isn't produced by Brian Eno.


Television Personalities
And Don't the Kids Just Love It
Rough Trade

There's a little man in a little house
With a little pet dog and a little pet mouse
I know where he lives and I visit him
We have Sunday tea, sausages and beans
I know where he lives
'Cause I know where Syd Barrett lives

He was very famous once upon a time
But no one knows even if he's alive
But I know where he lives and I visit him
In a little hut in Cambridge
I know where he lives
'Cause I know where Syd Barrett lives

"I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" was the first song I heard by Television Personalities (TVP). A friend had bought the seven inch vinyl single - off the debut album - due to the title about one of our shared musical heroes. Somewhat later came the Where's Bill Grundy Now? EP along (predating the album by a couple of years) including the most famous TVP-epos "Part Time Punks". Finally I spotted a copy of the band's debut album And Don't the Kids Just Love It in the great local record store in Bergen where I lived at the time. It must have been more than a year after the album was released. It turned out the album had more to offer than the fairly acoustic childishness and innocence (until the final 'Oh, shut up!' that is) that the Barrett-single represented.

The album was recorded by the band members themselves (under the alias Vic Hammersmith-Broadway), on mere four tracks. It's rough and low-fi. Most tracks only include vocals, bass, drums and an electric guitar or two. And a few with acoustic guitars. Try to combine punk attitude and estethics with cunning melodic ability flavoured by 1960s pop, rock and psychedelia. Sounds like something quite hopeless to do, especially when the vocal and instrumental abilities are limited. The end result sounds a bit like clumsy 1960s garage rock. But it works in this instance. The guitar playing ain't half bad, sometimes even with a quite sophisticated (well, well...) sound and production. And most important, TVP possessed something essential called charm...

The album cover oozes of fascination for the swingin' 60s. The front has a picture from the British 1960s cult tv-series The Avengers. The back includes cuttings and letters in a very punkish style with pictures of Syd Barrett, mod-era Pete Townshend, Twiggy, Marilyn Monroe, one of the main characters from the film A Clockwork Orange, the cover of the first Creation single (meaning the 1960s early psychedlic band that the TVP later covered two songs by and gave name to the record label Creation Records), Creation's slogan - sort of - 'Our music is red with purple flashes' and more.

All songs were written by TVP's main character and mastermind with a master plan Daniel Treacy. They range from the little bit hard, agressive and punkish ("This Angry Silence" and also "Silly Girl" and "Look Back in Anger" to some extent), the funny ("Jackanory Stories", "Geoffrey Ingram", "Parties in Chelsea"), the melancolic ("A Picture of Dorian Gray", "The Crying Room") to the somewhat gloomy ("Diary of a Young Man") and some somewhere in between ("World of Pauline Lewis"). And there are more.

Dan and his TVP seems to be experts in namedropping, of persons from the world of culture (Syd, and maybe Geoffrey Ingram?), TV and film ("The Glittering Prizes", "A Family Affair", "Jackanory Stories", "La Grande Illusion", "Look Back in Anger") and books ("A Picture of Dorian Gray"). Apart from Dan (vocals and guitar) the TVP line-up consisted of Mark Sheppard (drums) and Edward Ball (guitar and vocals) (I'm not sure if it was Dan or Ed who played the bass). Mark later made it as an actor on stage, TV and film. Ed started The Times, other bands and a solo carreer, worked at and recorded for Creation Records. Both Mark and Ed rejoined with Dan later on. In the late 90s and early 00s, Dan served his time as a junkie and inmate. But the TVP ship sailed on both before and after this. The band's instrumental abilities improved to some exent during the years and they recorded several songs that may be judged as better than the ones on And Don't the Kids Just Love It. And the band certainly released several more well-produced albums later. Still, there's something special about the debut. Not only the innocence, naiveté and natural charm, also some genuine urge to explore concerning both lyrics, music and the technical recording process. Together this means the kids still love the album. It's a true cult classic!

In retrospect "Diary Of A Young Man" might be the highlight of the album with dominating melancholic guitar and obscure spoken word lyrics, so obscure it's hard to grasp the words. Well, here they are:

I draw the curtains on another day
I pick up my diary but there's nothing to say
I went to see a friend to see how she's been
But when I got there she wasn't in
She never is

I sat in the park for what seemed hours on end
Watching autumn leaves falling from the trees
And the birds flying high up in the breeze
And tomorrow it could not rain
But then again it always does

I buy a ticket for the mystery train
As soon as I get there, it's time to come home again
And from every window there's a different view
But I still can't find you
I don't think I'll ever will

PS! The title track was not included on the album, maybe even not recorded at the time, but there exist a version of it, at least on the TVP-sampler Yes Darling, But Is It Art?.

Copyright © 2011 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Television Personalities articles/reviews: My Dark Places, Revolver, Oslo, 17.06.2011.

© 2011 Luna Kafé