Jam – In The City

As with the Buzzcocks…I had friends with Jam albums and that is how I found out about them.

This was their first single and introduction to the Jam and singer/guitarist and Jam songwriter Paul Weller. Weller wrote this song and borrowed the title from a Who single I’m A Boy with the B side In The City.

It was released in 1977 and peaked at #40 inn the UK Charts. This was their first Top 40 single and the beginning of their streak of 18 consecutive Top 40 singles. The single came off the album of the same name. The album peaked at #20 in 1977.

The song’s opening bassline re-appeared a few months later on the Sex Pistols’ single “Holidays in The Sun.” Weller had a fight with Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious in the Speakeasy Club over stealing the riff.

Paul Weller: “We had a different sort of birth to a lot of the bands, our contemporaries of that time. Because we’d been playing for five years – pubs and working men’s clubs and anywhere that would have us really. I’d been plating since I was 14, sort of semi-pro if you like. So I never got the thing about not turning your guitar.”

“I wrote this after I’d seen the Pistols and The Clash and I was obviously into my Who phrase. I just wanted to capture some of that excitement.” “It was a big tune for us. We’d open our set with it, we’d probably play it at the end and if we could get an encore, we’d play it again. The reaction it got from the audience, we knew it was a big tune.”

“I’m not sure about some of the lyrics in … I was 17, 18 man. But it was a good youth anthem, I thought.”

From Songfacts

While only a minor hit on the charts, this mod/punk number is well remembered for serving as England’s first introduction to singer/guitarist and Jam songwriter Paul Weller. The song’s #40 chart position when the song was first released marked the beginning of his band’s streak of 18 consecutive Top 40 singles. After their breakup in 1982, Weller would continue to notch up chart entries well into the 21st century firstly with Style Council, then under his own name.

Weller was only 18 when he penned this celebration of youth in the big city. He recalled writing this song to Q magazine April 2011: “It was the sound of young Woking, if not London, a song about trying to break out of suburbia. As far as we were concerned, the city was where it was all happening; the clubs, the gigs, the music, the music. I was probably 18, so it was a young man’s song, a suburbanite dreaming of the delights of London and the excitement of the city. It was an exciting time to be alive. London was coming out of its post-hippy days and there was a new generation taking over. The song captured that wide-eyed innocence of coming out of a very small community and entering a wider world, seeing all the bands, meeting people, going to the clubs, and the freedom that it held.”

The single has the particular distinction of reaching the UK Top 50 on four different occasions. The song originally peaked at #40, then when “Going Underground” became the group’s first #1 single three years later, Polydor decided to re-issue all nine of the group’s prior singles and “City” was the only one to make the Top 40 again, peaking at #40 for a second time. After the group’s breakup at the end of 1982, the record company re-issued every single of the band’s career in early 1983 and this time “City” peaked at #47. Finally, in May 2002, Polydor decided to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Jam by re-releasing their debut single in its original packaging, in its original 7″ vinyl record format, and at its original price of 75 pence. The limited pressing sold out immediately, this time peaking at #36, higher than it ever did in its original release and two subsequent reissues.

In The City

In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you
But whenever I approach you, you make me look a fool
I want to say, I want to tell you
About the young ideas
But you turn them into fears

In the city there’s a thousand faces all shining bright
And those golden faces are under 25
They want to say, they gonna tell ya
About the young idea
You better listen now you’ve said your bit-a

And I know what you’re thinking
You still think I am crap
But you’d better listen man
Because the kids know where it’s at

In the city there’s a thousand men in uniforms
And I’ve heard they now have the right to kill a man
We want to say, we gonna tell ya
About the young idea
And if it don’t work, at least we said we’ve tried

In the city, in the city
In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you

The Jam – Town Called Malice

The Jam was a mod band in the late seventies who were hugely popular in the UK but their only charting song in America was Town Called Malice that peaked at #31 in the Mainstream rock charts in 1982. This song went to #1 in the UK and #19 in Canada.

In the UK they had 4 number 1s, 9 top ten hits, and 24 top forty hits. They had company with bands like The Small Faces and  Slade who were much more popular in the UK than America. Paul Weller left the Jam in 1982 and found The Style Council with Mick Talbot in 1983.

From Songfacts

The title of Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice inspired the title, but the inspiration for the song came from Paul Weller’s friend Dave Waller by means of describing urban life. The song is about unemployment in a working town and Paul Weller confessed, “It could have been written about any suburban town, but it was in fact written about my hometown of Woking.” (quote from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh)

This was a double A-sided UK #1 along with “Precious.” The Jam became the first act since The Beatles, who performed “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out” to perform both tracks of double A side on the BBC pop music show Top Of The Pops.

The song lasted a mere eight weeks on the chart, four of which were in the Top 10 and of that four, three were spent at #1.

This caused an industry furor after EMI objected to this being available in a studio-recorded 7-inch version and a live 12-inch version. The feeling was that the Jam’s fans were buying both versions of the single and so stopping “Golden Brown” by the Stranglers on the EMI label from reaching #1.

Many of Weller’s songs reflected his anger with right of center politics and the video for this number featured a cue-card with the slogan “If we ain’t getting through to you, you obviously ain’t listening.” Prompted by Conservative Party leader David Cameron’s comment that the music of the Jam “meant a lot,” the Guardian newspaper asked Weller, if it had been suggested in the early ’80s that there were ardent Tories coming to Jam concerts, what would he have thought? He replied: “I’d have been really, really surprised. I think I pretty much nailed where I was at to the mast. But people come to gigs for different reasons: it isn’t necessarily about what the person on stage is singing. But at the same time, you do think, ‘Well, maybe this’ll change their minds.”

The Walking Dead Season 7 third episode starts with a montage of the Saviors’ Sanctuary soundtracked by this song.

Town Called Malice

Better stop dreaming of the quiet life
Cause it’s the one we’ll never know
And quit running for that runaway bus
Cause those rosy days are few
And, stop apologizing for the things you’ve never done,
Cause time is short and life is cruel
But it’s up to us to change
This town called malice
Rows and rows of disused milk floats
Stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk
Bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It’s enough to make you stop believing when tears come
Fast and furious
In a town called malice

Struggle after struggle, year after year
The atmosphere’s a fine blend of ice
I’m almost stone cold dead
In a town called malice

A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef
Gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear
It’s a big decision in a town called malice

The ghost of a steam train, echoes down my track
It’s at the moment bound for nowhere
Just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I’d sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice