Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost Gems: Television Personalities-I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod

In the musical world, so much is released only to disappear without a trace. Creative, experimental, boundary pushing, great music is lost without a notice or second glance. In order to fix this I shall go, one by one, to bring to light all that I can... if I find them.

1995 was not a good year for the Television Personalities. The band had tolled in obscurity for years and band mastermind Dan Treacy's drug problem was just getting worse. Within a few years Treacy would find himself in jail before starting anew and getting everything back on track. However, before all that wound up happening, the band would produce one of their best and underrated albums I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod (though I'm pretty sure you can say that about any album from the Television Personalities discography).

The album easily represents all the tribulations the band was going through at the time. For one, it's a bit hard to even consider it a "band" effort. The entire record was crafted by Treacy, writing and playing everything on it. Also gone are childhood musings and mindsets of previous albums. True, the Television Personalities where always darker than people gave them credit for (one reading of the actual lyrics for "This Angry Silence" is proof of this), but when you open with something as stark as the piano lines of "As John Belushi Said" it sets a tone that the album never shakes off.

Not to say the entire album is devoid of anything that made the Television Personalities, the Television Personalities. The title track is an excellent snotty guitar pop, and the band descends into utter nonsense with repetition of "Little Woody Allen". But still the rest of the album is marred by despair and lost, from the tales of fucking up that make up "A Long Time Gone" and what appears to be its counter part the equally sad "Evan Don't Ring Me Anymore". And that is only side A, which tries at least to keep the twee image up the ungodly excellent guitar pop coming from everywhere. Slightly less falling apart than usual, but fitting in the album's context. However, side B comes out battered and bruised, five increasingly dark tales from Treacy's mind, the psychedelia influence becomes more apparent with each passing song, almost as an emphasis. Demon's swirl around in "Haunted", paranoia and delusion become apparent with "Something Just Flew Over My Head", with the entire world falling apart on "I Can See My Whole World Crashing Down". The album ends with the most Pink Floyd influenced track "Everything She Touches Turns to Gold", a bleak retelling of Treacy's past coupled with bare bones instrumentation, crafting of image of Treacy singing it in a mental hospital. While the album is without a doubt dark that is in no way a commentary on the quality of the album itself. The album was originally released on CD by Overground in the States, but went out of print long ago. Thankfully, the always awesome Burger Records recently reissued the album on cassette for the rest of the world to try to obtain.

(mp3) Television Personalities-I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod
(mp3) Television Personalities-A Long Time Gone
(mp3) Television Personalities-Everything She Touches Turns to Gold


Television Personalities' website
Buy I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod here, from Burger Records

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