Town Called Malice

Album: The Gift (1982)
Charted: 1


  • 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.

Comments: 7

  • Graham from BangkokSounds From the Street - The Jam - Town Called Malice (the story behind the song)
  • John from Los Angeles, CaStrangely (and perhaps sadly) enough, this song is featured in Eurpoean Vacation.
  • Paul from Bristol, United Kingdomthe first single i ever bought and still the quintessential song about growing up under thatchers england, the jam emerged during a time of high unemployment and social unrest in the u.k and whent on to become the biggest post punk era group. still hugely popular in the u.k and will always be a part of brittish pop culture.
  • S.d. from Denver, CoThe seminal "mod" song, and one of the few near-perfect blends of music and lyric. Apart from having trouble understanding what Weller is shouting in the parts of the song where he shouts, I can't imagine a reason for anyone not liking this song. IMHO, it's just that good.
  • Leo from Davis, CaThis is a great song! The ultra-catchy bass line, however, is ripped off from "i'm ready for love" by Marth and the Vandellas. Check it out.
  • Terry from Ottawa, CanadaThis is one of the most poignant songs the Jam ever did. Paul Weller is lyricist without compare. Tha Jam suffered in North America as the were very British in mood and song. The album, Sound Affects, is tremendous and marked a sea change for the band musically. The anger that fuelled their music was still there but contained in tight songwriting, playing and particularly production.
  • Don from San Antonio, TxI don't know much about The Jam, except that THIS SONG SHREDS!
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