One of the most mildly disappointed memories of my punk rock teen years was getting Television City Dream and thinking, “man, this is a great, angry, punk rock album but why does it sound like shit?” Okay so, maybe I didn’t think it sounded like ‘shit’ but I do remember recognizing the difference in audio quality between Bark Like a Dog and Television City Dream. It wasn’t a crucial denouement, being a punk rock kid and all, because you know, back in the day, when you sounded crisp and clean you had sold out. Really.
But don’t tell Ben Weasel that, because more than a decade after its original release, his vision for what the album should have sounded like has come to fruition. Remastered and resequenced to include additional bonus tracks of outtakes/b-sides (along with new artwork), the reissue of Television City Dream does the most important thing it aims to do; maintain the original urgency and anger of the record while giving new buyers an incentive to pick up the release. Originally released tracks like “Your Morality”, “Count to Three” and “Speed of Mutation” all sound even better than they did in 1998- the low-end of the recordings have been given that missing crunch it deserves. The audio quality is now reminiscent of the levels found on Major Label Debut, which I contend is still one of the best sounding Screeching Weasel releases available.
The bonus tracks are a welcome addition to the mix. Four of them were released a year after the album on the Four On the Four split (“Punk Rock Explained” and “Video” are the picks of the bunch) while the fifth, “My Own World”, was released by G7 Welcoming Committee in 1999. So while they aren’t necessarily new or unavailable, they are part of the completing process of Television City Dream.
We’re all waiting for a new Screeching Weasel album, but until that time comes, Television City Dream serves as a stop-gap method of satiating the long wait we’ve had to endure. It is also a quick reminder that when Ben Weasel’s songwriting is on point, its rapier-like success is unmistakable. The best thing I could say about Television City Dream’s reissue is that I’d buy the same album twice.
(Fat Wreck Chords)