As January 1978 dawned many music critics, already fed up with punk, began banging on about Powerpop, an idea that at this point I had little understanding of, although I did have a copy of the Vertigo compilation New Wave, that had Shake Some Action by The Flamin’ Groovies on it.

Back then I bought one music paper per week, basing my choice not on any big allegiance but more on which of them looked to have the most promising cover. Mostly it would be NME or Sounds, although Melody Maker might occasionally win out; very, very occasionally I might even go for Record Mirror but preferring that to the big three was a bit like believing Ringo was the most talented Beatle.

When NME went for their Pleasers, Stukas and Boyfriends front page I certainly would have went for one of the others even though for ‘nostalgia freaks’ they were also featuring The Sex Pistols and Rich Kids that week.

NME Jan 21 1978

Elsewhere, The Rich Kids often found themselves being tagged Powerpop, which in Britain then was being seen largely as a reaction against the rawness and unpredictability of 1977, although The Rich Kids had little in common with the slew of guitar bands in suits such as those on the NME cover, whose their sole mission seemed to be to make music that sounded not only pre-punk but that you might think had been written and performed by Gerry and The Pacemakers in 1964. As a homage to Merseybeat, The Pleasers even tried to brand their sound as Thamesbeat.

Okay, Glen Matlock, famously, wasn’t averse to bit of Beatles and of course, Malcolm McLaren falsely claimed that he was sacked from The Sex Pistols for going on too much about Paul McCartney (Glen’s favourite Beatle) but the sound of The Rich Kids still had more in common with The Sex Pistols than it did with The Searchers and The Swinging Blue Jeans. They even did a cover of Pretty Vacant when they played live at Satellite City in Glasgow early in ’78, although Midge made it clear that night to punters that if they’d come to see a punk band they’d come to the wrong place.

Although he had been referred to as the Pete Best of Punk, any new band involving Glen Matlock was always guaranteed to send the music biz hype machine into an almost demented overdrive and during the first weeks of 1978, The Rich Kids were repeatedly tipped as the band most likely that year. In Sounds, for instance, Pete Silverton asked, ‘How can they Fail?’, adding that so pre-ordained their success looked to be that, like the Clash a year earlier, anything but complete triumph would be seen as a failure.

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Last year in the Observer, Glen speculated on why The Rich Kids failed to live up to expectations. ‘In many ways, the Rich Kids were ahead of their time,’ he said. ‘I always believe if you try to copy what’s going on, by the time you’ve written some songs and put a record out you’re going to be a year too late.’ He also made the point: ‘I think we went wrong by being too hasty – or rather, we were pushed into being too hasty, and we should have taken a bit more time out to make our album.’

After all the buzz and build-up, that album, Ghosts of Princes in Towers, amazingly stalled just outside the UK Top 50, although I’ve always remained very fond of it.

Performing the title track on the pilot of the ITV show Revolver, here are The Rich Kids:

 
Martha describe themselves as a four-piece powerpop ensemble from the North East of England. I’ve only come across them in recent weeks but have been impressed by their fine album Courting Strong. Think Arctic Monkeys if they’d emerged in Belfast during the Troubles and been signed to Good Vibrations as a quick reference point.

According to the Independent, the group are ‘tearaway DIY super-vegans’, while Drowned in Sound describe their songs as ‘clever but not smart-arsed, fun but completely serious, catchy but lusciously enriching.’

The band will be playing the Pop South Weekender in Glasgow’s Glad Cafe next month – a great wee venue incidentally – along with upcoming acts local acts like The Just Joans and TeenCanteen. Should be fun.

Pop South Festival Glasgow

This is 1967, I Miss You, I’m Lonely:

 
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