The Jam

Town Called Malice

Composed by Paul Weller

Song Review by

Paul Weller claimed that the Style Council were going to be entirely different from the Jam, but when their first single, "Speak Like a Child," came out in early 1983, it was clearly just a continuation of the '60s soul obsession Weller had first shown off with this classic single the year before. Kicking off with a bass line directly lifted from Motown's James Jamerson (coincidentally the same bass line Elvis Costello had nicked to open "Love for Tender" on 1980's Get Happy!) before adding a thumping load of hand percussion on the downbeats and an organ part inspired by the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'," "A Town Called Malice" is like a Northern soul primer for would-be '80s mods. The lyrics are yet more of Weller's social commentary typical of the era, with a hint of cheerleading in the face of apathy brought on by the realities of life in Thatcher's Britain. Derivative though it is, "A Town Called Malice" is easily one of the most musically thrilling singles from its era, which is no doubt why it regularly appears in films set in early-'80s Great Britain.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Gift 1982 Polydor / Universal
Snap! 1983 Polydor 2:55
No Image 1984 Media Records
Trans-Global Unity Express 1985 Pinnacle
All the Choice Cuts 1990 Universal Distribution / Polydor 2:55
Greatest Hits 1991 Polydor 2:52
Beat Surrender [Collection] 1993 Polygram 2:57
Live Jam 1993 Polydor / Fontana / Fontana Distribution / Hip-O / Interscope 3:03
That's Entertainment [single] 1993 Polydor
Start: The Best of British Rock 1994
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 2:54
Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 5 1994
Various Artists
Rhino 2:57
More Music from the Valley Girl Soundtrack 1995
Original Soundtrack
Rhino
Bang & Olufsen: A New View on Music [Blue Cover] 1996
Various Artists
Polygram 2:56
Direction Reaction Creation 1997 Hip-O / Interscope / Polydor / PolyGram 2:55
The Very Best of the Jam 1997 Polydor / Decca / Interscope 2:53
Roots of Rock: New Wave 1998
Various Artists
Rebound Records / Universal 2:56
CMJ the Year in Alternative Music 1982 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 3:03
Eighties Assortment 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:55
Now: 1982 [2 CD] 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 2:52
Billy Elliot 2000
Original Soundtrack
Interscope 2:53
Music of the Year: 1982 2001
Various Artists
Spectrum Music
Singles Box Set: 1980-1982 2001 Universal International 2:55
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:53
The Jam at the BBC 2002 Polydor / Universal 3:18
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Best of Brit Pop 2002
Various Artists
Universal International 2:57
New Wave Greats 2002
Various Artists
Repertoire
The Complete Jam [DVD] 2002 Interscope
The Sound of the Jam 2003 Polydor / Universal 2:53
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Columbia
Friends Reunited: Music of the Year 1982 2004
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:53
This Is the Modern World [Universal] 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 2:56
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:55
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Jam 2005 Universal / Universal International 2:54
Best of Pop Classics 2005
Various Artists
Paradiso
Drive Time [Universal/WB] 2005
Various Artists
WEA/Warner Special Marketing 2:52
Teenage Kicks [Sanctuary] 2005
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:52
Gold 2005 Decca / Universal 2:53
The Matador [Soundtrack] 2006
Original Soundtrack
Superb Records 2:54
Story 2006 Universal International 2:54
Greatest Ever! Number 1's: The Definitive Collection 2006
Various Artists
Union Square / Union Square Music 2:53
True School Party 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music / Universal 2:52
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Brunswick / Universal 2:53
No Image 2006 Universal/Island 2:52
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:52
Greatest Ever School Days 2007
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 2:53
Lost & Found: The Jam 2007 Universal 2:53
Feeling Good: The Ultimate Collection 2008
Various Artists
Ultimate 2:53
100 Hits: Drive Time 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits 2:54
No Image 2008 Universal / Universal Distribution / Universal Music 2:52
The Firm [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2009
Original Soundtrack
Universal Distribution 2:54
Ashes to Ashes, Series 3 2010
Original Soundtrack
Sony CMG / Sony Music Entertainment 2:51
Mod Mania 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:53
Greatest Ever! Eighties Hits: The Definitive Collection 2011
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:53
The Ultimate Collection: 80s School Days 2011
Various Artists
Universal 2:52
Made in Britain 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:52
That's Entertainment: The Collection 2012 Spectrum Music 2:54
Classic Album Selection: Six Albums 1977-1982 2012 Universal 2:53
Top Gear Driving Anthems 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:54
Now: 25 Top Hits of the 1980's 2014
Various Artists
Universal 2:54
Now That's What I Call Legends 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 2:54
No Image 2015
Various Artists
Universal
About the Young Idea: The Very Best of the Jam 2015
Our Generation 2015
Various Artists
Universal Music TV
Fire and Skill: The Jam Live 2015 Polydor 3:20
Now That's What I Call the 80s [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:52
Sing Street [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2016
Original Soundtrack
Decca / Sing Street 2:53
Live at Hammersmith Palais: 14th December 1981 2017 Polydor
No. 1 Dad: The Ultimate Collection 2017
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 2:54
100 Rock
Various Artists
Universal 2:53
101 80s Hits [Spectrum]
Various Artists
Spectrum Music
Anthems Alternative 80s
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 2:54
Best of British [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:53
Best of the 80's [Polygram]
Various Artists
Polygram 2:54
Classic Driving Songs
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:54
Classic Pop [2015]
Various Artists
Universal
Countdown: 40th Anniversary Continues...
Various Artists
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2:54
Eddie Stobart Trucking Songs: Trucking All over the World
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:54
Festival Anthems [2017]
Various Artists
UMOD
Foute CD, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Ars Produktion 2:55
Giants of Rock [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:52
Greatest Ever Movie Hits: The Definitive Collection
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
Greatest Ever! Dad Rock
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
Haynes Driving Anthems
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:54
I Am Angry
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal 2:53
I Grew Up in the 80s
Various Artists
EMI 2:54
It's a Mod Mod Mod Mod World [bootleg] Big 3:17
Live in the Modern World [bootleg] Gema
No Image
Various Artists
Universal Music 2:51
Now That's What I Call 20th Century
Various Artists
Now! 2:53
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 2:51
Rock 80's
Various Artists
Universal 2:54
No Image
Various Artists
The Best of 1982: 20th Century Masters
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing / Universal Music 2:56
The Best of Musical Idea
Various Artists
Universal 2:57
The Eighties Album
Various Artists
Rhino 2:53
The Studio Recordings Universal
No Image
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Top of the Pops 1980-1984
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:55
No Image
Various Artists
2:53
blue highlight denotes editor's pick