Owned since: 2018
Genre: Proto-GBV, if Bob says he didn’t listen to this he is lying
Where I bought it: My favorite punk record dealer
Label/pressing: Fire 2018 repress
In the year 2022 it’s absolutely easy to pinpoint the influence the out washes of punk had. A lot of people liked the DIY attitude of punk but didn’t really enjoy playing straight 3-chord punk and after the original wave in the UK fell apart, its network of labels and venues mostly decided to stick to the attitude more than the sound giving way to bands like Swell Maps, the Mekons and today’s subject Television Personalities whose weird musing found an audience through that way.
Television Personalities are/were/will always be Dan Treacy and an ever changing cast of band members. They formed after Treacy got inspired by the original UK punk wave, and most importantly, Jonathan Richman to make unrehearsed primal guitar pop music. It also is a long story of Treacy’s problems with the law and health which have always been the reason why Television Personalities never went beyond being a band’s band pretty much. There was a while where the band went defunct because Treacy was jailed on a jail boat for theft and after he was released made one of the most gut wrenching mid 00’s indie records with My Dark Places. A lot of gigs around that album release ranged from great to outright bizarre with the band trying to get Treacy to focus up enough to stop fiddling with a mic stand to play the music. It’s easy to draw parallels between this and other tragic musician stories like Brian Wilson, Skip Oar and maybe even the most fitting Syd Barrett but in the end Television Personalities always returned with their unique sound.
It’s hard to pinpoint the overall sound of the band. Their comeback introduced synths to the music and the records following ..And Don’t the Kids Just Love It already saw the band switching back to more Barrett-like twisted pop music and just full blown indie rock. The thing that ties it together is Treacy’s playful lyrics that recall 60’s pop jokers like Arthur Brown but also have a hard but funny narrative edge to them. For example the childish whimsy of I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives is done completely tongue in the cheek but never undermines the song. He just wants to eat sausages with Syd Barrett in his little hut and uses the same kind of weird sound effects all over Barrett’s two solo records.
In the end there really isn’t anything like ..And Don’t the Kids Just Love It. It’s an album with one foot very much in the punk movement (Parties in Chelsea sounds like an In The City era The Jam song) but also borrows a lot from the beat movement, the jamming of a later era Velvet Underground live record and the fragile baroque pop of The Zombies which gets the lo-fi garage treatment on A Picture of Dorian Gray with Treacy even following Colin Blunstone’s vocal beats. Overall it is just 14 extremely fractured and great pop songs played through a filter of childish love for said pop music.
There’s something terminally teenage about the record also. It all are songs about being mad at your parents, your friends, sports, girls and endless references to mid-60’s culture including Guy Green’s This Angry Silent and John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, two seminal Angry young men productions. It really recalls how most of the time Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices writes his lyrics. Smart, funny but also very little leeway for interpretation. But in the end it’s just all about the same old story, and you have heard the story 1,000 times before like Treacy goes in Jackanory Stories, another reference to a 60’s TVshow, this time a famous kids show. Later rebooted with Rik Mayall in it’s lead.
It really is what makes ..And Don’t the Kids Just Love It stand a bit out in the Television Personalities discography. It’s just a lot of fun and doesn’t go overly deep on the dark personal touches the lyrics from Treacy would take in the albums after this. They are, for sure, still here but they’re more teenage angst than the clear problems with mental illness that slowly crept into the rest of the albums. It for sure is the most primal version of the band but the very loose and rambling sound of this really goes well with it mostly sounding like it was recorded with the band in the same room on tape. Silly Girl, for example, is such a primal little rock song carried by an extremely loud lead guitar just endless wailing through the same 2 chords and Treacy pleading for a silly girl to look at her life.
The band is still kind of a thing even though Treacy is still recovering from a long illness for a couple of years. Their last record is from 2010 and I’ve got it here also so that’s got to be covered someday. Fire Records has been solo reissuing their more obscure stuff with two singles compilations, a live set and, maybe most importantly, Beautiful Despair which is their unreleased till then 1990 record which is among the best stuff they recorded. They said They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles with their third album and I wish they were.
Television Perslootanilities: Ah this ruled, really captures the kind of energy and wit of being a teenager with an ego.