Chelsea - In Session album review

London punks’ radio recordings and live set

Cover art for Chelsea - In Session album

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The history of music, like everything else, is written by the winners. So maybe that’s why Chelsea’s role in the London punk explosion has been decidedly under-represented. They were undoubtedly leading lights in the summer of punk, and a spunky string of singles suggested their debut album would be a belter.

Sure enough, it was pretty tidy, but it didn’t come out on Step-Forward until June 1979, by which time they’d ditched some of their best early material.

The radio sessions here are in many cases just as good as the single versions, even if some start to veer into shouty, sloganeering Sham 69 territory on later tracks.

This is an essential listen for anyone delving into punk history, but completists beware: this is exactly the same CD that was released in 2001 on Captain Oi as The BBC Punk Sessions. We know this not just because of the identical track listing, but when you put it into a computer disc drive, it comes up under the previous title.

There are some differences though – a different cover, some mildly diverting sleeve notes from guitarist James Stevenson, and the sleeve also lists a curious new track called Come One. Only it’s not a new track – it’s another version of Come On, featured four tracks later, but misspelt. Punk rock, or what?

(810 for the music, 310 for the packaging.)

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock