Television Set

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This song was written by Jason Knott, Vince Clarke's friend and fellow musician from Basildon. This track was performed from the 1980 Tour through the 1982 See You Tour. The song was never recorded in the studio and does not appear on any official release due to the fact that it was not written by Vince or Martin (thanks to Deb Danahay and Basildon: New Town - New Life for that information). Several excellent live recordings of the track as well as a short excerpt of Vince Clarke's demo can be heard below. Full lyrics are also available.

From Basildon: New Town - New Life:

No Romance In China's original demo tape for Television Set - credit to Basildon: New Town - New Life

DEPECHE MODE - TELEVISION SET

Probably the most famous un-released Depeche Mode track is 'Television Set'.

Television Set was a song played by the band at virtually every gig during 1981, usually as their opening number in the first 6 months of that year. It was a firm favourite amongst fans at live gigs during that period. At the time many considered it DM's best song. When asked why it wasn't being released as an obvious choice for a single, the whispered reply was "Vince didn't write it". The origins of this classic song remained shrouded in mystery for years but the songs existence has always been well known to Depeche Mode fans through live bootlegs from this period.

'Television Set' was written by Basildon musician Jason Knott. Jason was in a local band called 'The Neatelllls' (spelt with 4 L's) which also included well known Basildon drummer Peter Hobbs. Although they never actually formed a band together, Jason, Peter and Vince Clarke did rehearse together a number of times and this is how Vince got to hear the song.

Vince took the song through a number of incarnations, firstly a recording with friend Sue Paget (his bandmate in No Romance In China) with Vince on guitar & vocals and Sue on Bass. The first ever live version of TV Set was performed at 'The Double Six' Pub in Basildon at 'No Romance In China's' only gig featuring Vince, Sue & Peter. A second recorded version was a solo demo track made by Vince, sounding completely different, made with a synthesizer, drum machine and Vince's vocals. Finally, Vince introduced the song into his new band Depeche Mode.

The photo shows the original cassette by 'No Romance In China' that contains their recording of T.V.Set. As you can see its has been recorded over a copy of 'The Cure's Three Imaginary Boys', Vince's favourite band at the time. Many thanks to Sue for providing the photo.

Bong Magazine Issue 24, Page 15

Susan Ryder Paget also recollects about the tape:

Tim tells the story fairly well in this article... it's my tape, recorded with just myself and Vince during a rehearsal in his bedroom in 1979. Also on it are a couple of Yazoo songs! And many more that never saw the light of day. It's been heard by only a very few people, and only via headphones and never played publicly anywhere!

It might be possible that Martin Gore befriended Jason Knott first and that Vince Clarke got to know Jason Knott through Martin, because when Norman & The Worms did a school gig in summer 1978, The Neatelllls supported them, and afterwards, Phil and Martin from Norman & The Worms asked The Neatelllls' drummer Pete Hobbs to join their band. Robert Marlow told Jonathan Miller: "There was another local band at school at the same time as Norman and The Worms that Martin also played in, together with two hippies. I can't remember their names but one of them wrote "Television Set"." This means that, in return for borrowing Pete Hobbs from The Neatellls, Martin occasionally played for The Neatelllls, and subsequently heard 'Television Set'. Marlow continued: "Martin wrote a catchy synth riff to [Television Set] so it ended up in [Depeche Mode's] set." Vince Clarke himself also told Jonathan Miller: "Television Set was written by a friend of Martin's. I don't know how or why [Depeche Mode] got it but we used to perform it. I think we decided not to record it because we weren't getting any publishing for it, otherwise we probably would have recorded it for the first Depeche Mode album."

The track is also mentioned by Daryl Bamonte in Bong Magazine, Issue 24 on page 15, see right.

Alan Wilder recalls performing "Television Set", from the Shunt Q&A:

  • From: Imrich Vegh
  • E-mail : ivegh@mail.pvt.sk

Have you ever heard or played early DM tracks such as 'Tomorrow's Dance' and 'TV Set'?

I have had the dubious pleasure of actually performing 'TV Set' which was part of the Mode live set when I first joined the group. I'm also familiar with Tomorrow's Dance although I've never played or heard an actual performance of the song. Dave's rendition / impersonation of the embryonic DM performances were enough to have left an indelible imprint on my musical memory.

Full track samples

Perhaps the best quality recording of this song is from a first-generation FM broadcast recording of 1981-09-29 Les Bains Douches, Paris, France. Listen: Play

Other excellent recordings of the song are available from these dates:

Demo excerpt

This is the first of four tracks appearing on Composition Of Sound's first demo tape. Vince Clarke sings lead vocals, as Dave Gahan had not joined the band yet. The entire demo tape has not yet surfaced; only the four excerpts found on the the demos & studio pre-mixes page are available. This one-minute excerpt is the original MP3 file shared by the owner of the demo tape in this thread on depmod, courtesy of Recoil19.

Lyrics

And did you see them running through me, babe
Did you see the lights in their eyes
Did you see the masses praying to me
And I'm preaching them more lies

I'm just a mass for communication
I sell what everyone buys
Do you know my appearance is changing
Changing from my disguise

I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set

And you can have me, babe, if you want me
Just plug me into your wall
And I'll give you sex if you want it
Or I'll give you nothing at all

You can have me, babe, for good times
You can have me, babe, for bad
Keep me running all of your life and
I'll turn you instantly mad

I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set

Did you see them running through me, babe
Did you see the lights in their eyes
Did you see the masses praying to me
And I'm preaching them more lies

I'm just a mass for communication
I sell what everyone buys
Do you know my appearance is changing
Changing from my disguise

I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set
I'm just a
Television set

Dates with available recordings of Television Set

There are currently 21 recordings of Television Set available.

Dates where Television Set was played

1980 Tour

To the best of our knowledge, Television Set is confirmed to have been played 3 times during this tour, at the below concerts.

1981 Tour

Television Set was played 19 times during this tour.

1982 See You Tour

Television Set was played 32 times during this tour.