Creation Records - Alan McGee - Why Dan Treacy inspired me

Written by Alan McGee
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While filming the forthcoming Creation documentary (produced by Steve Lamacq and Danny O'Connor), I found myself remembering Dan Treacy. I realised that the Creation story really starts with Treacy and his band Television Personalities, because they provided the inspiration and motivation for me to start the label.

Now my TVP fixation is catching up with me again. A few months ago I received an email from Bjorn Copeland of Black Dice about my fanzine from back in the day called Communication Blur. Apparently, Television Personalities fans in New York are distributing it.

I'm not a nostalgic person, but the first TVP gig I saw in 1982 changed my life. Back then, the first two TVP albums And Don't the Kids Just Love It and Mummy You're Not Watching Me established Treacy as the UK's version of Jonathan Richman, as reimagined by Ray Davies.

TVP's live sets were incredible; shambling, full of whimsy, camp and fey, but under the influence of the amphetamine-crazed mod rush of the 60s. Treacy's appearances were legendary and he became a kind of pied piper for London music fans. He captured British pop culture in a particularly unique and musical fashion, and where he went I followed.

It wasn't just TVPs that fascinated me. Treacy's own record company Whaam! made me realise that someone like myself could own and operate a label. His merging of the classic psychedelic template with the DIY ethics of punk rock informed the early acts of Creation Records (including the Jesus and Mary Chain). In fact, Creation employed and released albums by two of the original TVPs: Joe Foster and Edward Ball, whose recorded efforts comprised the label's early discography.

By the time others caught on to the TVP sound, Treacy had already moved forward with the stunning album The Painted Word (1985). Treacy's world was no longer painted in twee Day-Glo colours with camp references – he was now mainlining his own reality. The Painted Word was not without controversy. The first single A Sense of Belonging featured the face of a battered child. Rough Trade refused to have anything to do with the album but it found a release via Illuminated Records. The title refers to a Tom Wolfe novel, and to the author's search for a sense of reality in art. Treacy was seeking truth in music and with this album he succeeded.

Meeting up again with Treacy during the Creation documentary, I realised that the man just bleeds real. Never was this expressed so fully as on The Painted Word. At the time people weren't prepared for this album. It didn't possess the shambling charm and whimsy of earlier efforts, but instead was a stark, unforgiving look at the despair of a man lost in his own world. Although John Peel was disappointed that the TVPs had "grown up" and some magazines slammed it, TVP fans still speak of the album in hushed reverence.

Treacy's writing expressed an emotional brutalism filtered by the drugged optimism of the Velvet Underground. Since the release of the Painted Word, Treacy has continued to write dark classics, right up to 2007s Are We Nearly There Yet?, but somehow he is still regarded as a fringe player in rock'n'roll. I find this unbelievable when you consider that in 1991 Kurt Cobain personally tracked down Treacy to ask him to open for Nirvana.

The man still hasn't been fully recognised for his contribution to music. Some contemporary musicians like Battles, Black Dice, Crystal Stilts and MGMT have been showing love and support, but do I think Treacy has been given his cultural due? No. In the days of Don't Look Back and reissue culture, more should be made of one of Britain's last great songwriters. He is a legend; let's make him legendary in his own time

Reproduced by Kind Permission of Alan McGee

Read 4685 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:41
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Alan McGee

Alan McGee

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


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