Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Television Personalities - BBC Sessions 1980-86

In a week that saw the passing of The Iron Lady, I seized the opportunity to post She's Only The Grocer's Daughter, arguably the greatest anti-Thatcher song by one of the country's grreatest songwriters, Daniel Treacy. I also partially recanted the tale of how my late father once danced with Maggie T on a night out at Finchley Town Hall.

It would have been around 1963-64, my father was working at the Finchley branch of Sainsbury's. He and some of his colleagues would often frequent the Town Hall of a weekend. Mrs. Thatcher, then just a humble councillor, had some involvement with the running of the venue, possibly extended to booking the bands. It was largely the domain of the more innocuous jazz outfit, but on this particular night there was a guitar combo making a "right bloody racket". The band in question was none other than a nascent Pretty Things!

Unaccustomed to such eardrum abuse, my father sort refuge in the gents toilet, intent on leaving for elsewhere. When he returned to his table he noticed his drink was missing. After looking around he spotted Thatcher.....with his drink! He went over to confront her and sheepishly she apologised profusely and offered to buy him another.

At the bar they got chatting - my dad making a sarcastic jibe at the unbearable noise emanating from the stage. Thatcher chastised him and insisted that this music was the new thing and would be all the rage in the future (or words to that effect). Sensing my dad wasn't convinced, she then insisted they walk over to the dancefloor. Like son like father, he was reticent to be seen dancing in public, but had no choice but to succumb to her iron persuasion - she'd grabbed him by the arm and frogmarched him to the dancefloor where they remained for two or three numbers.

The two sessions posted here are, surprisingly, the only ones the TVPs recorded for the BBC. (By coincidence, Tom Ravenscroft is airing the first session as I type). I always prefered the Peel versions of the four songs that would later grace their debut album, And Don't The Kids Just Love It. I particularly like the softer, at times almost whispered, vocals which give the songs a more melodic and melancholic feel. Dan sounds a bit hoarse in places, so there may have been practical reasons for this relaxed, gentle approach.

It would be another six years before the TVPs returned to Maida Vale, this time under the auspices of Andy Kershaw. Now stripped down to a trio, with Jowe Head and Jeffrey Bloom accompanying Dan on his musical escapades, the band layed down three raw and radically different versions of songs that would feature on the much delayed (and laboured) Privilege album in 1990. The session also features rare track I Still Believe In Magic, a song that they would re-record for a limited edition 7" single on the Caff label.

Baroness Thatcher passed away after a series of strokes on Monday. With cruel irony, Dan Treacy has been hospitalised for over a year now following a blood clot on the brain. Last I heard he'd lost the power of speech. Hopefully he will soon return to full health and continue adding to the considerable cannon of beautifully honest songs he's created over the last thirty-odd years.

La Grande Illusion
Look Back In Anger
Silly Girl
A Picture Of Dorian Gray

Paradise Is For The Blessed
My Conscience Tells Me No
I Still Believe In Magic
Salvador Dali's Garden Party

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