PUNKNET 77 - Television Personalities


Jukka want's to thank Tommi Ujo for his help with this article.

What is this all about? Ira Robbins put it in Trouser Press 1991 like this: "Edward Ball, Daniel Treacy and Joseph Foster began casually recording singles together as the Television Personalities, O Level, Teenage Filmstars and the Missing Scientists... haphazard and amateurish records which offered no slick musicianship but loads of brilliantly adapted Pop Art weirdness, jagged space noise and various stripes of time - wraped psychedelia".

It all started in Chelsea in 1976. Daniel "Dan" Treacy lived near the King's Road, with his mom and dad of course at the age of seventeen. He was interested in 60ís bands like Strawberry Alarm Clock. The story tells that young Dan went to a punk gig, but left soon because found it "too violent". Later he thought that he could do better, bought a guitar, formed Teen 76 with his pal Edward "Ed" Ball and started to write pop songs. Soon also Joseph "Joe" Foster came in. In April 1978 14th Floor / Oxford Street, W1 saw daylight; it was recorded in November previous year but the band didnít have the money to put the record out before this. The initial pressing was 1500 and the sleeve says the musicians on the record are Nicholas Parsons (guitar), John Peel (vocals, drums), Russell Harty (guitar) and Bruce Forsyth (bass). This was the beginning for using fake names and to confuse people more they also changed the name of the band several times, so it seemed that there were many different bands. For example O Level's first single was recorded in November 1977 (maybe in the same session).
The beginning wasnít very furious. I took a year more before it was TVPs time to take part of the fame. In November 1978 Television Personalities released Part Time Punks on Whereís Bill Grundy Now EP. And John Peel started to play it again and again. OK, Mr. Peel had given airplay also to 14th Floor, so he knew IT from the beginning, but this fresh amateur powerpop classic about moms and dads little angels who listen punk records when mom & dad are out was the one which everybody liked. Soon the record had sold 24000 units, which is really well for a DIY record and TVPs packed in their jobs and started doing music full time.
Rough Tradeís Geoff Travis signed them quickly to Rough Trade and Whereís Bill Grundy Now was re-released on Rough Trade (and it sold another 24000 units). King and Country / Smashing Time was TVPs first real release on Rough Trade. This anti-military single is the most underrated TVPs record - and it didnít sell nearly at all. I know where Syd Barret Lives made a little better although it sold only 1800 units in UK, but it did charts in Holland! Sometime in the end of 1980 Joe Foster left that band and Mark Sheppard and Bernie the Bass joined in. With them Dan and Ed made the angsty teen mod-pop LP And donít the Kids just Love It (sold 12000 units). Dan formed a new label Whaam! which was distributed by Rough Trade and the next Television Personalities LP Mummy You are not Watching Me was Whaamís first release. Mummy Youíre not... showed the new direction of TVPs, which was more psychedelic and far less punk. Next record They Could Have Been Bigger than the Beatles collected outtakes from the previous three years. About the early work the (Thereís a) Cloud over Liverpool single did later sell well because Beatles fans thought that it's about Lennons dead, but oh how wrong they were.
Now the band was in crisis: After the fine beginning not so much had happened. In 1982 Edward left Television Personalities to start his own group The Times (later he worked to Creation Records) and Dan started to seek new band mates. Joseph Foster came back and two new members were David Musker and Mark Flunder. The next album The Painted Word was the last one for Whaam! and Dan formed a new label called Dreamworld. Dreamworld didnít last long: in 1986 it collapsed, and about that and time after that Dan told in Melody Maker (1990): "There were numerous breakdowns and stuff. And then Rough Trade gave me loads of money to distribute it and forgot to sign the contract. Fire offered me a deal, so I took that as well, and then Rough Trade wanted their money back which held it up for a bit - They didnít get it, itís their fault. Very naughty of me I know, but theyíd ripped me off enough in the past."
So the Fire contract was on and Fire released Privilege LP plus re-releases of all first four TVPs studio LPs. After that the record labels changed nearly as often as the guys who had played with Dan. England nearly turned its back to TVPs, but in Germany things were different and most of the latest Television Personalities records had been released there and Dan had gigged often in Germany.
And now? Well maybe "business as usual". Havenít heard about Dan much lately, but there is a new Yes Darling, But is it Art? CD which contains in 70 minutes nearly all TVP singles. So itís a good start to Danís odd but talented world.
Look also: Missing Scientists, O Level, Teenage Filmstars.


14the Floor / Oxford Street, W1 (Teen Records) 4/78
- re-release (Overground OVER-03)
Whereís Bill Grundy Now? (Kingís Road) 11/78
- re-release (Rough Trade RT-033)
King and Country / Smashing Time (Rough Trade RT-051) 6/80
I know where Syd Barret Lives / Arthur the Gardener (Rough Trade RT-063) 12/80
** LP ** And donít the Kids just Love It (Rough Trade ROUGH-24) -81
- re-release (Fire Records REFIRE-7) -90
** LP ** Mummy You are not Watching Me (Whaam)
- re-release (Dreamworld BIG-DREAM-4)
- re-release (Fire Records REFIRE-8) -90
Three Wishes / Geoffrey Ingram / Donít the Kids just Love It (Whaam WHAAM-4) 9/82
** LP ** They Could Have Been Bigger than the Beatles (Whaam WHAAM-5) 11/82
- re-release (Fire Records REFIRE-9) -90
** LP ** The Painted Word (Whaam BIG-7) 11/84
- re-release (Illuminated JAMS-37)
- re-release (Fire Records REFIRE-10) -90
A Sense of Belonging / Paradise Eastate (Rough Trade RT-109) 12/83
** LP ** Chocolate-Art (live; Pastell Records POW-2) -85
How I Learned to Love the Bomb / Girl Called Charity / Sheís only the Grocers Daughter (12"; Dreamworld DREAM-010) 10/86
Prettiest Girl in the World / If That's What Love Is (Constrictor Records) 3/87
- re-realese with bonus tracks: Miracles Take Longer / Apples and Oranges (Overground OVER-38)
Salvador Daliís Garden Party / The Room at the Top of the Stairs (Fire Records BLAZE-37S) -89
- also as 12" with bonus tracks This Time There's No Happy Ending / Part One: Fulfilling the Contractual Obligations (BLAZE-37T)
** LP ** Privilege (Fire Records FIRE-LP21) -89
The Strangely Beautiful EP (12"; Fire RecordsBLAZE-48T) -91
** LP ** Camping in France (recorded in 85; Overground OVER-21) -91
She's Never Read My Poems EP (CD-EP; Fire BLAZE-55049) -91
We will be Your Gurus // An Exhibition by Joan Miro / Love is Better than War (Seminal Twang TWANG-15) -92
Smashing Time / King & Country / Three Cheers for Simon (also known as Smashing Time EP; Overground OVER-23) -92
Favourite Films EP (Overground OVER-27) -92
** 2LP ** Closer to God (Fire FIRELP-32) -92
Goodnight Mr Spaceman / If I was Your Girl Friend (Fire Records BLAZE-65) -93
** CD ** Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts - Live at the Clarendon 22 May 1980 (TPVCD-001)
Bike / No Oneís Little Girl // Seasons in the Sun (Twist Records TWIS-20) -95
A Sense of Belonging / Baby's Turning Blue (Overground OVER-34)
Far Away & Lost in Joy EP (Vinyl Japan TASK-28) -94
** CD ** I was a Mod Before You was a Mod (Overground Records OVER-41CD) -95
Not Like Everybody Else EP (Little Teddy Recordings LITE-709)
Time Goes Slowly When Youíre Drowning / Meanwhile in a Luxury Dockland Home (Little Teddy Recordings LITE-716) -95
Do You Think If You Were Beautiful You'd Be Happy? EP (CD-EP; Vinyl Japan TASK-CD-48) -95
** CD ** Yes Darling, But is it Art? (single collection; Seed)

Most important tracks on compilations:

Television Personalities links:

Television Personalities - the Rough Guide to Rock
Television Personalities - Trouser Press
Television Personalities - All-Music Guide

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Created by JJu: February 6, 1996        Part Time Television Personalities

Last Updated: January 19, 1999