(Fire Records, England )
A packed 24-track set, 1995's Yes Darling, But Is It Art? performs an invaluable service by collecting the Television Personalities' early singles and b-sides, but it's an incomplete and inconclusive history that presents a somewhat skewed history of the band. The real meat of the album is in the first ten tracks, all of which pre-date the group's first album, 1981's And Don't The Kids Just Love It. Several of these songs were released under other names like the O-Level's classic 'Where's Bill Grundy Now?' and 'Part Time Punks'. These are the start of the DIY pop underground that led to the Pastels, the Marine Girls, the C86 movement, Sarah Records and other institutions of British indie pop, and they sound as fresh now as they did when they were recorded.
The album then makes an odd stylistic leap, all but ignoring the group's 1982-1989 period and picking the story back up with the singles and B-sides from the Privilege and Closer To God era. These are rather less interesting tracks (though 'A Girl Called Charity' and 'Now You're Just Being Ridiculous' are stellar), heavy on the stylistic experiments and light on the sort of pop melodies that make Treacy's best tracks so memorable. And there are some inexcusable oversights as well; for example, the brilliant 1992 b-side 'An Exhibition by John Miro', from the 'We Will Be Your Gurus' single, is unfortunately absent here. Overall, this is more for confirmed fans than newbies, though the early single sides are essential. - Stewart Mason, AMG
"The early Television Personalities songs were charming, stumbling, foppishly ironic gems." - Q