Town Called Malice

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"Town Called Malice"
Single by the Jam
from the album The Gift
Released29 January 1982
Format7-inch single
LabelPolydor (UK)[2]
Songwriter(s)Paul Weller[2]
Producer(s)Peter Wilson and The Jam[3]
the Jam singles chronology
"Absolute Beginners"
"Town Called Malice" / "Precious"
"Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?"

"Town Called Malice" is a song recorded by British band the Jam from the album The Gift. It debuted at number one in the UK Singles Chart in February 1982.[4][5]


The title is a play on words of the 1950 Nevil Shute novel A Town Like Alice, although Paul Weller says he had not read the book at the time.[6] It was a double A-side single release featuring "Precious" as the flip side. A 12" version was also available with a live version of "Town Called Malice" backed by an extended version of "Precious".

Paul Weller has said that it was written about his hometown Woking as a result of his teenage experiences there.[7][8][9]

Released as the first single from the album on 29 January 1982, it entered the chart at number one on the British music charts, staying at the top for three weeks,[3] and preventing "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers from reaching number one. EMI, the Stranglers record company, objected to the sales of both versions of "Town Called Malice" being aggregated, arguing that Jam fans were buying both and thus preventing their band from reaching the top of the chart.[2]

"Town Called Malice" was the band's third number-one single in the UK. It was the band's sole chart entry onto any American chart (although this single and "Start!" both appeared in the low-rungs of the Billboard Dance/Club Play charts) when it hit No. 31 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1982.[10]

The song was ranked among the top ten "Tracks of the Year" for 1982 by NME.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

"Town Called Malice" was featured prominently in the 1985 comedy film National Lampoon's European Vacation, provided the soundtrack for a key scene in the 2000 drama Billy Elliot,[12] and was the opening track to the 2005 film The Matador.[13] It also appeared in the opening sequence of the third episode of the seventh season of The Walking Dead. It is played before every Millwall F.C. home game and is also played before the second half of Woking F.C. games when they play at their home ground Kingfield Stadium.[citation needed]. The song was used in the opening scene of a season six episode of the CBS series Elementary titled "The Visions of Norman P. Horowitz". It was also used in a minor scene in the 2019 superhero movie Spider-Man: Far From Home.[14]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1982) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[15] 15
Canadian Singles Chart 19
UK Singles Chart[16] 1
Recorded Music NZ[17] 14
US Billboard Mainstream Rock 31
US Billboard Dance Club Songs[18] 45


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


The song has been variously re-recorded as cover versions by several artists spanning a number of genres:


  1. ^ "AllMusic - Town Called Malice - The Jam". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 221–2. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  3. ^ a b "JAM | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. ^ "The Jam Singles – Town Called Malice". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 405–6. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ Dave Simpson. "How we made: Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton on Town Called Malice | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 5 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Sunday Times 2007". 12 June 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  9. ^ "July 2008". Music Zone. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Jam | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  12. ^ [2]Archived 2 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ MrJamesPriestly (4 December 2011), The Matador intro, retrieved 27 May 2018
  14. ^ Moran, Sarah. "Spider Man: Far From Home - Soundtrack". screenrant. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 277. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal".
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 133.
  19. ^ "British single certifications – The Jam – Town Called Malice". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Town Called Malice in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]