Television Personalities

Television Personalities

Fashion Conscious (The Little Teddy Years)

Little Teddy Recordings

Television Personalities is a band so important and huge in the history of modern British music that hardly anyone has ever heard anything they ever did. This group, led by “singer”/”guitarist”/songwriter Daniel Treacy, pretty much embodied the word “shambolic” in their music with their indifferent attitude towards hitting the correct notes and singing about anything cool. Treacy was lo-fi and indie before that was even a concept — his Whaam! label was killed by George Michael’s money — and he kept soldiering on through (rumored) drug addiction and mental illness, before briefly disappearing in the late 1990s. (I think they found him.)

But what did they sound like? Well, this comp is not any kind of “greatest hits” or “best-of” CD; it’s taken entirely from mid-’90s recordings at Toe Rag Studios in London. And, at first listen, it sounds like shit: the first five songs are covers, and they’re all over the place, from a way-off “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” to an okay-now-I-understand version of The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.” This is just an awful way to start an album; sequencing is important after all.

Once the Treacy-penned numbers kick in, though, you get a sense of what this band was really like. Great glorious messy psych-pop like “Time Goes Slowly When You’re Drowning” and “In a Luxury Dockland Home,” super twisted jangle-pop like “Jennifer, Julie and Josephine” and “I Remember Bridget Riley” (a happy Zombies-like song about the Op-Art painter), proto-emo stuff like “I Wish You Could Love Me for What I Am” and “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming” — it’s all wonderful, really. Even the later covers of Syd Barrett’s “Bike” and the so-awful-it’s-great/so-great-it’s-awful five-minute Coped-out version of “Seasons in the Sun.”

If you’re forever complaining that all music is derivative and samey, you need to wrap this around your head. It’s scary, it’s funny (“You, Me and Lou Reed” is a knee-slapper), it’s blisteringly original. But it’s going to make you wish that you had their earlier stuff, so if you’re musically obsessive like me, or if you need your music to sound “good” and “clean” and easy and smooth and boring and passionless and bling-y, you’d better stay far away. Far FAR away.

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