TV Personalities – Whaam! Records – 1982

Adventure Playground / A Day In Heaven / Scream Quietly / Mummy Your Not Watching Me / Brians Magic Car / Where The Rainbow Ends

David Hockneys Dairies / Painting By Numbers / Lichtenstein Painting / Magnificent Dreams / If I Could Write Poetry

Brilliant second LP from the TV Personalities, originally released on Whaam Records run by main TVP Dan Treacy. This LP is a little darker lyrically and musically than the rather twee (but also brilliant) debut LP released on Rough Trade Records. That debut LP, the ‘Grundy’ 7″ on Kings Road Records and ‘Syd Barrett’ 7″ on Rough Trade Records are all on this site if you use the search function and enter Television Personalites (not TVPs!).

Photographs and flyer from the collection of TV Personalities and later The McTells member Mark Flunder.

Text ripped from

Chelsea, London, in the mid-70s. Schoolmates Dan Treacy, Ed Ball, Joe Foster, John Bennett and his brother Gerrard rehearsed together in their spare time, playing covers by the likes of The Who and Pink Floyd.

Inspired by the punk movement, Dan, Ed and the Bennetts went into a recording studio in August 1977 and emerged with ’14th Floor’ and ‘Oxford Street’. Lack of money meant that only a handful of white label singles were initially pressed. Dan originally thought of calling the band Teen 78; whilst writing out a label to send a copy to the DJ John Peel, for a joke he listed the members of the band as famous television stars of the day, and the name TV Personalities was born. Peel played the single a number of times, and eventually Dan scraped together enough money to press 867 copies.

Dan returned to the studio with Ed Ball in the Summer of 1978 to record a follow-up single, the ‘Where’s Bill Grundy Now?’ EP. This was an instant hit with John Peel, who played the track ‘Part Time Punks’ many times. The success of the EP led to a deal with Rough Trade, who reissued the single and a follow-up, ‘Smashing Time’ (recorded again by Dan and Ed). Throughout these early years, Ed Ball had his own projects, O Level and then the Teenage Filmstars. Although Dan and Ed helped out with each other’s groups, they were always separate bands.

In the middle of 1980, the TVPs made their live debut following the recruitment of Joe Foster on bass and Mark Sheppard (known as Empire) on drums. This line-up was short-lived, reportedly due to differences in opinion between Foster and Sheppard, resulting in Joe’s departure. Prior to this, Dan and Mark helped out with Joe’s solo project, the Missing Scientists, which also included Mute Records boss Daniel Miller. The group’s ‘Big City Bright Lights’ 7″ was released by Rough Trade in September 1980.

In October 1980, Dan and Ed Ball returned to the recording studio with Empire to create the TVP’s debut album. Issued in January 1981 by Rough Trade, ‘And Don’t The Kids Just Love It’ was a considerable improvement over the early ramshackle recordings. The influence of Sixties pop culture was apparent from the LP’s sleeve, which featured supermodel Twiggy and Patrick McNee from the Avengers. The songs included Kinks-like social commentary (‘Geoffrey Ingram’), domestic drama (‘This Angry Silence’, ‘A Family Affair’) and one of their most famous (but not typical) songs, the rather whimsical ‘I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives’. Simultaneously, Rough Trade issued the latter as a single, albeit a different version.

In early 1981, Dan and Ed launched their own record label, Whaam! (named after the Roy Litchenstein painting). The first release was the debut single by Ed Ball’s new outfit The Times, followed by the Gifted Children’s ‘Painting By Numbers’. This was recorded during winter sessions by Dan and Empire, with Bernie Cooper on bass. It seems as if Dan toyed with the idea of breaking up the TVPs (not for the first, or last time) and continuing under this name. However, this single, and a track on the Whaam! compilation LP ‘All For Art’ were the only Gifted Children releases. Bernie Cooper apparently then disappeared, leaving Ed Ball to fill in on bass, notably during a joint Times / TVP UK tour in the Spring of 1981.

The TVPs second LP was released in January 1982. ‘Mummy Your Not Watching Me’ combined tracks recorded during the ‘Gifted Children’ sessions with later material recorded with Ed Ball. Both Dan and Ed were leading figures in the contemporary psychedelia revival, and the influence is evident, particularly on the lo-fi pop psyche of ‘A Day in Heaven’ and ‘David Hockney’s Diaries’. Elsewhere, songs with Pop Art references, such as ‘Painting By Numbers’ and ‘Litchenstein Painting’ sat alongside the enduringly popular ‘If I Could Write Poetry’ and ‘Magnificent Dreams’.

A third album followed shortly afterwards; ‘They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles’ compiled unreleased tracks, material recorded during the ‘Gifted Children’ sessions, alternate takes and another airing of ’14th Floor’. Despite this, the album was a surprisingly cohesive and entertaining collection of songs.

In early 1982, Ed Ball left the ranks to concentrate on his own band The Times. Mark Flunder was recruited to play bass and the trio of Treacy, Flunder and Sheppard gigged until the Spring of 1983, when Mark Sheppard departed. The TVPs expanded with the return of Joe Foster and the addition of Dave Musker (keyboards). This drummerless line-up recorded the TVPs next LP, ‘The Painted Word’, a dark masterpiece considered by many to be their best. The overall tone of the album was heavy, with some angry political songs such as ‘A Sense of Belonging’, ‘You’ll Have to Scream Louder’ and ‘Back to Vietnam’. In contrast to these were the melancholic beauty of ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’, which invited comparison with the Velvet Underground, and the touching ‘Someone to Share my Life With’.

With the album recorded, the band reunited with Rough Trade in 1983 for the acerbic protest single ‘A Sense of Belonging’. Controversy over the sleeve, which depicted a battered child, probably influenced the label’s decision not to release ‘The Painted Word’. A legal dispute with a pressing plant prohibited Dan from putting out the record on his own Whaam! label. Delayed by 18 months, the album was finally granted a limited release on Illuminated in mid-1984, a label that promptly folded. Further line-up changes occurred. Drummer Jeff Bloom joined the band and Mark Flunder was replaced by ex-Swell Maps bassist Jowe Head. After a tour of Europe in early 1984, the five-man TVP line-up came to an end with the departure of Joe Foster and Dave Musker.

  1. Nic
    February 25, 2009 at 2:40 am

    The TVPs are my better half’s favourite group (after early Postcard label Orange Juice), so they get a regular blast in our house…

    What a great band! Such an invigorating spirit shines through all their recordings…
    (I saved a copy of the pic of that poster for the concert with the Marine Girls: what a winkle-picker-wearing-baggy-fringe-growing-peasant-cap-sporting Doss!)…

    Have you got the O Level single, Mick? That’s a classic slice of ’14th Floor’ Punk!

  2. the sweet spot diviner
    the sweet spot diviner
    March 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    thanks for this and for an all around great site the diversity and quality is amazing, i can’t say i like everything here, not many would i suspect… but definitely some of the best and rarest stuff i could ever hope to find is on here and i thank you very much for it… love your work!

  3. Paul J
    Paul J
    September 4, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Ummmm. Both of the links above take me to the Side 1 download /-:

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