The Television Personalities | WIG166 | Released: 27/02/06
Ask anyone. Anyone with even just a slightest interest in pop music and they will all have a different take on The Television Personalities' Someone will mention that they were Kurt Cobain's favourite band. Someone else will go on about how they were the inspiration behind Creation Records and Alan McGee's biggest heroes. And a third person will call them the Original Babyshambles, from across the room someone will ask if they really did support Pink Floyd on the back of their I Know Where Syd Barrett Live single. And didn't they have the cheek to call an album They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles? You see, Daniel Treacy is not your typical boy: Born in Chelsea, London, Dan Treacy is The Television Personalities. Ever since releasing their first DIY-single in 1977, "14th Floor", and the classic follow up "Part Time Punks" later the same year, The TVP's have always been about Dan's songwriting, his honest words and unique voice. Regrets, he's had more of them than most. They're there for everyone to see in every line of his songs. Sometimes Dan's songs scare me because they're so helpless, seldom have songs about loss and love been so defenceless and therefore so true. It doesn't even feel like they've actually been written they're just part of life, they just needed to happen. Just like falling in or out of love. They capture something you can't plan, something so strong that you can't ever wish to lock it up and throw away the key. If you've seen or read The Collector you know you can't put love in a basement and keep your fingers crossed it'll understand. Luckily, in Dan's music there's always a sense of humour present. Rarely does it feel as important, as necessary, as when you hear someone who's been to hell and battled his way up again being able to be something as simple as cheerful. You'll hear it in songs like "She Can Stop Traffic", the almost tin pan alleyish homage to The Velvet Underground called, well, "The Velvet Undeground" and in the upbeat spoken word of "They'll Have To Catch Us First". But ever since his first nervous breakdown (yes, also a title of a TVPs song), the dark and sad side of Dan's songwriting is the one that seem impossible to shake off. It's always been there, at first hidden behind a mod attitude or under the sweetest melodies, but for every year She's been away Dan's become one of his generations, if not The most perceptive chroniclers of heartbreak, jealousy and lost love. He wouldn't like us calling his songwriting confessional or honest. But he'd accept it's real. Because, like most of us, he just wants someone to share his life with. In the 1990s Dan lost the plot. Drugs took over his life. He disappeared, no one knew where he was and for a while he was even presumed dead. Two summers ago he turned up. While serving a prison sentence on a boat on the shore of Southwest England he googled his own name and posted a note saying he was OK on a website devoted to his music. Something had happened while Dan was away. The history of The Television Personalities was being revised, rewritten by a new generation of fans and artists. They heard something else, something far deeper and much more important, in Dan's music and words. Slowly a new story of The Television Personalities emerged. Beneath the 60's imagery of the artwork and album titles like "I Was A Mod Before You Was A Mod" there was a darkness that very few wanted or were even able - to see or accept at the time. Dan Treacy was always out of time. He never fitted in. Even when punk was just starting to happen he was already mocking it, moving on. He still is. My Dark Places is the first Television Personalities album in 11 years. It's the record some of us always knew he'd do one day. It's as sad as it is uplifting, as genteel as it is noisy. And lyrically, you won't hear anything else that touches you more than "No More I Hate You's" or "There's No Beautiful Way to Say Goodbye".