Oh…..I’m going to be in bother for giving this a chart placing as low as #15. Especially as I’ve used dozens of past postings to tell the world of my adoration for The Jam.
This was the first band that I ever got infatuated with. They were the first band that I ever queued up for tickets overnight, lying on a cold and wet Glasgow pavement in a sleeping bag.
The minute the record shop opened on the day the band released a new single or LP, I was waiting to go in and buy it. My part of the bedroom wall in the room that I shared with my brothers was covered in posters of The Jam.
On day when I saw a friend’s wall had all the picture sleeves from the singles stuck to his bedroom wall, I went home and did the same. My shrine to Buckler, Foxton and Weller had to be better than that of anyone else I knew.
The break-up of the band didn’t send me into a sulk. Instead, I thought this was a chance to watch and enjoy each of their new bands and wait for the inevitable reunion (got that last bit spectacularly wrong, didn’t I???)
Even when The Style Council broke up and interest in The Jam was at a low, I could still be relied to keep talking about them to anyone who was interested. I think it was 1992 when myself and a mate were 40% of the audience at a theatre-show at the Edinburgh Fringe, all about the story behind the formation, success and break-up of The Jam. The other 60% in the audience were Sean Hughes, Phil Jupitus and some mate of theirs who probably worked for Channel 4 or the BBC...
No other band gave me such agony choosing which single to select for inclusion in the run-down. It could easily have been In The City which introduced me to them at an early stage. Or Down In the Tube Station At Midnight, a song that on release I thought would always be my favourite record of all time. Just as equally, Strange Town and When You’re Young are singles that mean so much to me – often because with The Jam, the B-sides were just as good as the single, and this was very much the case with The Butterfly Collector and Smithers-Jones respectively.
In the end, after much agonising, I’ve gone for Going Underground, and I’ve done so because it was the song that allowed me to say, to the watching world and all those who had cast dispersions on the band, YOU WERE WRONG, AND ALL THE TIME I WAS RIGHT.
In 1980, singles didn’t enter the charts at the #1 position. Instead, they came in somewhere in the 20s and that got you onto Top of the Pops. The single would sell well on the back of this TV appearance, would climb a few places and then again the following week into the Top 10. The second TOTP appearance would follow, and if it was different enough from the first one and Radio 1 was still playing it, then the Top 5 and a chance at #1 would follow. It was always a 3-4 week cycle to hit the top slot.
Going Underground broke all the rules of the game. It flew in at #1 and stayed there for three weeks.
Critics of the band said it only did this as the initial copies of the single came with a limited edition live EP, and thus fans rushed out and bought it immediately. The fact that The Jam would repeat the straight in at #1 on two more occasions soon disproved that theory.
Going Underground is my favourite Jam single for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it proved that in March 1980, The Jam were by far and away the biggest and most popular band in the UK - despite which, the band still managed to make long-time fans feel they were still something special.
Secondly, it was an attack on the Thatcher government’s policy of increased spending on nuclear weapons, and as a member of CND (weren’t we all in those days), this song seemed significant in spreading the word to a wide audience.
Thirdly, the B-side was another brilliant Jam song. So brilliant, it was originally intended as a double-A release, only the printing press got it wrong. Allegedly.
Finally, it did in fact come with a great live EP which didn’t bleep-out the swear words on The Modern World……
mp3 : The Jam – Going Underground
mp3 : The Jam – Dreams Of Children
mp3 : The Jam – Away From The Numbers (live)
mp3 : The Jam – The Modern World (live)
mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (live)
This was another single that I lost in the Edinburgh flit. But it was one that I chased up on e-bay not long after I got the USB Turntable and re-kindled the interest in vinyl.
So why only #15 in this rundown? Well, its just too good to be at #16 or lower.....