Television Personalities

Some Kind of Happening: Singles 1978-1989

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There have been a few compilations of the Television Personalities' singles and EPs, but it wasn't until the pair of sets put out by Fire Records in 2019 that they were presented in chronological order with the requisite rarities. Both Some Kind of Trip: Singles 1990-1994 and this collection, Some Kind of Happening: Singles 1978-1989, provide a service that's on par with the vital utilities like gas and water. Like those essentials, the songs and very particular world view of Dan Treacy are an absolutely necessary part of everyday life for fans of indie pop. Especially indie pop that is unsparing, spiky, endlessly melodic, and weird as a duck, because the TVPs are all those things and more.

This set traces the non-LP history of the band from their punky beginnings of hand-folded sleeves and John Peel endorsements to crashing mod revival and ultra-twee neo-psychedelia -- right up to the point where the band (and Treacy) seemed like maybe they had burned out for good. It collects their late-'70s singles for Rough Trade that made their name as shambling, witty, and sharp commenters on the scene. Songs like "Part Time Punks" and "Where's Bill Grundy Now" skewered the U.K. scene and deconstructed punk while creating their own little space where anything could happen. From there the band started incorporating '60s sounds into their approach. The lo-fi freakbeat "Smashing Time" is a brilliant early example of Treacy taking a familiar sound and turning it into something gloriously personal and strange, as is "King and Country," which cheekily borrows the guitar solo from "8 Miles High." They also delved deeply into oddball psychedelia on "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives"; wrote smashing mod tunes like "And Don't the Kids Just Love It"; and as the decade progressed, they added some noisy muscle to their sound. 1986's "How I Learnt to Love the Bomb" has a creeping power and guitars that fill the room instead of scraping at the edges, and the lovely arrangement and aching melody of "Now You're Just Being Ridiculous" shows that Treacy's skill as a craftsman was only growing even as his personal life and the band were on the verge of collapse.

Adding to the officially released singles that make up the bulk of the collection, some nice rarities were added like the crash pop double shot of "Painting by Numbers" and "Lichtenstein Girl," recorded under the name the Gifted Children in 1981; a 1982 flexi disc released by Creation where the band does a credible cover of "Biff Bang Pow"; two singles that were slated to be released on Treacy's Dreamworld label in the mid-'80s but were shelved (not for quality issues!); and a rare single released on the Caff label in 1989. The singles plus the rarities make for a thrilling collection of music that works as a stand-alone confirmation of Dan Treacy's unrelenting genius or, when paired with the brilliant albums the band released at the same time, fits the pieces of the TVP puzzle together quite nicely.

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