Here’s another barely remembered and barely played single from my dusty shelf of 45s. It’s a pretty typical example of lower-league punk.
The song consists largely of a bloke yelling out “They call it Chelsea… They call it Chelsea 1977” over a hand-me-down Stooges riff.
The lyric (such as it is) might well have been inspired by a visit to the Kings Road – a pilgrimage that always began at the posh end (Sloane Square, where the Tube station is) and continued to World’s End, where you found the punk hangouts of Beaufort Market, Johnson’s, Sex and the Man In The Moon.
Listening again, the song has a certain contemporary resonance 45 years later, putting its finger squarely on the same sort of economic inequality we have today: “I’m not one of the young and rich / Life for some is just a bitch.”
So who were The Maniacs?
Formed in 1976 by lead guitarist Alan Lee Shaw (ex- Rings, with Twink), they were a trio of one-miss wonders with Shaw joined by Robert Crash on bass and Rod Latter on drums.
This was their only single, backed with Ain’t No Legend, which took a similar thematic approach towards the famous as the A-side did to the merely rich: “I don’t care about pop stars / They ain’t gonna go far / They don’t mean nothing anyway.”
The Maniacs were nothing if blunt: their minuscule four-song repertoire – this single and two songs on a dreadful Live at the Vortex compilation – was short, sharp and painfully to the point.
On the Vortex album they continued their catalogue of complaints over urgent thrashing on You Don’t Break My Heart (“I don’t like hypocrites”) and the eerily prophetic I Ain’t Gonna Be History – a song that brutally summed up their brief career.