Glenn Donaldson on The Television Personalities – The Painted Word


Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. The kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle. The ones that got away. In the first installment I tapped Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Jewelled Antler Collective) to have his pick at a record that fits the bill. Glenn’s Twitter feed alone is full of enough overlooked classics to fill this feature ten times over, so needless to say I was intrigued. He’s picked Television Personalities’ fourth album, the darkly shaded, The Painted Word. I asked him how the record came into his life and how its affected him and his music.

Donaldson says, “This is the record I have pillaged the most for ideas about how to pull apart pop music. I first ‘borrowed’ the cassette for about 5 years in ’93, then owned a CD, mp3s, then vinyl. I would attempt a 33 1/3 book on it, but I don’t want to know all its secrets (not to mention, as a half-assed writer I would never qualify). Early TVP albums veered towards rickety Clash/Jam takes on English whimsy pop, but this one is dark, ravaged even. No song is produced or arranged at all like ’77 punk or typical ’84 indie; Big Star Third or VU’s third album are closer in spirit. Emotional, political and uncomfortable songs are rendered in wide open spaces with slightly detuned instruments, spooky fairground keys and distant drums. Some credit must be given to co-producer/bandmate Joe Foster, who also played the dejected 12-string parts.”

Glenn further elaborated, “I’m pretty sure this is a concept album, an opiated Village Green Preservation Society, a Pleasant Valley Sunday hope dashed ’60s hangover crashing into ’80s Thatcher and the nuclear threat. Head TVP Dan Treacy writes an obscene number of world class tunes but never made a more consistent work of art than The Painted Word.”

The record’s had a recent reissue on 1972 recently, so its now possible to pick one up at a fair price, which is good because Glenn’s right, this one is a gem that’s never talked about as often as it should be. It’s recommended that you delve in and check out “Paradise Estate” above. As for more handpicked records from Glenn, you can also check out Fruits & Flowers, his label with Soft Abuse’s Chris Berry. They’ve got a new LP from Odd Hope and a reissue of 1986 Japanese obscurity Hallelujahs on the way.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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