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You’d better stop dreaming of the quiet Life

On the 9th February 1982, The Jam’s Town Called Malice entered the UK charts at No.1.
Some songs claim their place in your own personal folklore the moment you hear them. Town Called Malice is one of those, a permanent fixture on my imaginary desert island, one of a stash of tunes that provide an instant shortcut to a precious moment in time and place.
For Weller, the song was a personal evocation of growing up in Woking. But its sentiments rang as true for a bunch of teenage mods in Orpington as it doubtless did for countless kids just like us in towns just like ours. It’s not hard to see why. Town Called Malice kicks in like a full-on Motown manifesto, a lift from the Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love for a bass groove and then a call to ‘stop dreaming of a quiet life’, ‘quit running for that runaway bus’ and ‘stop apologising for things you’ve never done’.
Town Called Malice had that sepia-tint from the word go, the single sleeve’s backyard terraces found a space in pop music history when you could take lyrical images about disused milk floats, longing, love letters and the choice whether to ‘cut down on beer or the kid’s new gear’ to the top of the charts.    
So, I blow the dust off the record deck, hoping the needle doesn’t dig its own groove and I’m thinking of a cold, bright February afternoon round the back of an old cinema, long since demolished. I’m thinking of parkas, trench-coats and graffiti on a wall. I’m thinking of a bunch of people, names and faces. I’m thinking of the ‘big decisions’ and 'lost laughter in the breeze' and I reckon if Town Called Malice made sense to me at 17, tonight it makes even more.


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