Television Personalities

A crass meeting of 60s pastiche and a tongue-in-cheek nod towards punk have characterized Dan Treacy’s Television Personalities over their long, erratic career. Treacy teamed up with Edward Ball (b. 23 November 1959, Chelsea, London, England) back in 1977, releasing the privately pressed “14th Floor” the following year. After Ball’s solo single as O Level, the pair issued what was to be seen as a pivotal artefact of the time, the EP Where’s Bill Grundy Now? (1978). BBC disc jockey John Peel latched onto one of the tracks, “Part Time Punks” (a cruel send-up of a rapidly decaying London scene), and this exposure attracted the interest of Rough Trade Records.

Ball spent some time working on his solo projects in the early 80s, The Teenage Filmstars and The Times. Treacy, Ball and drummer Mark “Empire’ Sheppard recorded the Television Personalities debut album, “And Don’t The Kids Just Love It“, which extended Treacy’s exploration of 60s influences. From it came the whimsical “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives” as a single, the band’s last for Rough Trade.

Treacy then teamed up with Ed Ball to form the Whaam! label for Television Personalities and Times products plus other signings, including the Marine Girls.

1982, the band’s busiest recording year, saw “Mummy You’re Not Watching Me” share the instant appeal of their debut. “Three Wishes” followed, and coincided with a minor psychedelic revival in London. “They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles” was a surprisingly strong collection of demos and out-takes.

Television Personalities soon expanded by Mark Flunder (bass), Dave Musker (organ) and Joe Foster (12-string guitar) for a tour of Italy, with Flunder replaced by ex-Swell Maps bass player Jowe Head for a similar tour of Germany. “A Sense Of Belonging” (1983) saw a one-off return to Rough Trade and caused a minor scandal over its sleeve. However, delays meant that “The Painted Word” was not issued until January 1985.

Foster, who had played with the band on and off since 1980, and Musker soon left to work at Creation Records. With a new drummer, Jeff Bloom, Treacy set up a new label, after Whaam! folded due to pressure from pop duo Wham!

In the meantime, the German album “Chocolat-Art” captured one of their European live gigs. It was not until early 1990 that the next album emerged; “Privilege” included the catchy “Salvador Dali’s Garden Party“.

The band subsequently lay low for a further two years (punctuated by a live album for Overground Records) until the release of Closer To God. Struggling with personal problems, Treacy did not record again until 1995’s melodic “I Was A Mod Before You Was A Mod“.

Ball signed with Creation as a solo artist and had his first hit in 1997 with “Love Is Blue“. The most recent Television Personalities album “Don’t Cry Baby It’s Only A Movie” collected cover versions and original material recorded in 1994/95.

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