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SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 114)

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TV21 formed in 1979 in Edinburgh, comprising Ally Palmer (vocals/guitar), Norman Rodgers (guitar/vocals), Neal Baldwin (bass), Dave Hampton (trumpet) and Ian Greig (drums).

Two singles in 1980 were released on their own Powbeat label, at which point Ian Greig was replaced by former Rezillos drummer Ali Paterson. After a further one-off single in early 1981 with Demon records, the band were signed to Deram (which was part of the multinational Decca Records conglomerate) with many comparing their material to The Teardrop Explodes (a very lazy comparison based almost solely on the fact that Reward, with its prominent trumpet part, had been a smash single).

There were great hopes for TV21 and the band were teamed up with a then unknown but much thought of producer in Ian Broudie. The first of the material to emerge from this collaboration was Snakes and Ladders, a single released in May 1981, while its b-side, Artistic License, was produced by James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers of The Pretenders. The single also came with a bonus 7″ single which was co-produced by the band and Troy Tate, who of course was once part of the afore-mentioned Teardrop Explodes.

mp3 : TV21 – Snakes and Ladders
mp3 : TV21 – Artistic License
mp3 : TV21 – Ambition
mp3 : TV21 – Playing With Fire

Despite so many well-kent faces working with the band, the single failed to register with the general public, as indeed was the case with its follow-up Something’s Wrong in October 1981 and the debut LP A Thin Red Line released the following month.

A change of producer followed but the March 1982 release of All Join Hands also flopped. Later that year TV21 opened for The Rolling Stones when the latter had a mini-tour of smaller venues across Scotland (including the Glasgow Apollo where I had got myself a ticket) but instead of building on any new fans picked up from such exposure, the band broke up almost immediately after the tour was completed.

23 years later, and totally out of the blue, TV21 reformed since when they have gigged a fair bit and also recorded and released new material, including the LP Forever 22 in 2009 once again on Powbeat Records (29 years after that last relaese on that very label!!!)

One of their biggest fans is Mike from Manic Pop Thrills. If you click on this link you can more or less get the full story of the band since they got back together.

Enjoy

FROM OUR CRUMPSALL CORRESPONDENT

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From wiki:-

The name Crumpsall derives from old English and means a “crooked piece of land beside a river”.Crumpsall was rural in character during the early part of the 19th century, however, the necessity to house Manchester’s growing population of mill workers saw the area become more urbanised. Crumpsall was incorporated into the city of Manchester in 1890.

Sir Humphrey Chetham was born in Crumpsall in 1580, the son of a successful Manchester merchant who lived in Crumpsall Hall. He was responsible for the creation of Chetham’s Hospital (now Chetham’s School of Music) and Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, and located in the city centre.

The folk singer, comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding, was born in the area in 1944.[17]

The Moors murderess Myra Hindley was born in Crumpsall in 1942.

Howard Jacobson was brought up in Crumpsall and some of his novels, Kalooki Nights and The Mighty Walzer feature descriptions of Jewish life in the area.

Actor and singer Don Estelle (Gunner “Lofty” Sugden in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum), real name Ronald Edwards, was born and brought up in Crumpsall.

Jason Orange of band Take That was born at North Manchester General Hospital in Crumpsall.

None of the above named however, are responsible for this e-mail that dropped into the TVV inbox recently:-

I could be your Crumpsall correspondent if you like. Although I live in Stockport, I’ve worked at North Manchester General Hospital in said Crumpsall for 26 years now.

Like most of north Manchester, it’s looked down upon by the Didsburyites and Chorltonites that I find myself knocking about with. The birthplace of Mike Harding, Don Estelle, and Myra Hindley, though we tend to gloss over the last one. For many years it was home to the stunning Co-op Biscuit Works, which produced the “Crumpsall Cracker.” The Co-op knocked it down in the eighties. They’ve gone downhill ever since.

Wondered if you might want to post this on the site. Being able to listen to A Thin Red Line again after all this time, I was wondering who to share my joy with. Who better than someone steeped in the history of Scottish pop like yourself. Feel free not to if it doesn’t fit in with what you want to be doing with the site.

Without the archive of the old site to check, I can’t say how much attention you’ve paid in the past to TV21, though I think they got a mention when they reformed a couple of years ago.

Back in 1981, when their magnificent debut was released it stuck out as being out of the ordinary and it certainly struck chord with me, despite the fact that as a 16 year old in a sleepy Staffordshire village I still had to order it from Burton-on-Trent’s only independent record shop.

Having just obtained a digital copy of  Snakes And Ladders – Almost Complete: 1980-82 and rearranged the running order to make it fit that of “A Thin Red Line” the thing that amazed me most of all, was that even though I’ve not played the album for nigh on thirty years, I still the know the lyrics to every song, all the way through.

Even back then, TV21 always seemed to stand slightly apart from the rest of the music scene, the Scottish scene in particular. They differed from the Postcard/Pop Aural gang that we all loved at the time – slightly more cerebral, with some Angry Brigade thrown in as well – the Provisional wing of the Sound of Young Scotland. A fuzzy, indeterminate picture on the cover, no band photos or biogs on the inner sleeve, it was obvious that to them, it was all about the music. Stomping baselines and a heavy drum sound behind teenage angst, plus more than a touch of the political consciousness of the day that again made them stand out from the crowd. Musically and politically, they seemed to stand nearer to the likes of Fischer-Z than their Scottish, more jangly contemporaries.

Maybe because it was produced by child prodigy Ian Broudie (he was only 23 at the time), or maybe because they’d already worked with Troy Tate of the Teardrop Explodes, it sounds surprisingly Liverpudlian, with the brass sections on Snakes and Ladders and Tomorrow fading in and out, straight out of the Teardrop’s Kilimanjaro.

Listening again after so many years, it has more than stood the test of time.  Ticking Away for example would not have sounded out of place if it had appeared on the new Teleman album, one of the best albums of 2014 so far. Yet they also seem perfectly at home sandwiched between the Fire Engines and Dolly Mixture on Scared To Get Happy, a recent 5 disc box set covering ten years of 80’s indie pop.

“A Thin Red Line” is an often overlooked masterpiece, a combination of punchy pop songs with an underlying rage against the machine. Seek it out.

DKR

JC adds

TV21 are not that far away from featuring on the Saturday’s singles series and I’ll say a bit more about them then. What I can say is that Mike Melville, who has an incredibly good taste in music and is responsible for the very fine blog Manic Pop Thrills, is a huge fan of the band and has in fact promoted a number of their gigs a few years back following the reformation of TV 21. If you take a visit over to his place (click here) you will find plenty of postings in his archives about the band including some great photos and reviews as well as a tremendous podcast back in January 2010.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of tracks from the LP which DKR has so enthusiastically written about:-

mp3 : TV21 – Ticking Away
mp3 : TV21 – This Is Zero

Enjoy