By Mark Nobes

"Town Called Malice" became The Jam's third No.1 single in the UK, and is also their best-selling, receiving 2 x Platinum sales certificate from the BPI, with sales of over 1.2 million. It was the band's fifteenth single release overall, and was released as a double-A side with "Precious". The only other single to achieve platinum was "Going Underground/Dreams of Children"
What surely contributed to the high sales was the fact that the 12 inch release included a live recording of "Town Called Malice", with fans keen to hear both the studio and live version, and therefore, purchasing both the 7" and 12" vinyl.

The song was penned by Paul Weller and produced by Peter Wilson and the band. It was lifted from the sixth and final studio album The Gift, which topped the UK album charts. At under 33 minutes long, The Gift was a relatively short album featuring funk and bass influences.  

"Town Called Malice" has featured in several big movies, including National Lampoon's Euopean Vacation (1985), Billy Elliot (2000) and The Matador (2005). The song also featured on the soundtrack in the video game FIFA Football 2004.
If you were a fan, then you don't need me to tell you that The Jam were a top quality Punk/Mod revival band fronted by Paul Weller, and were active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They achieved success with eighteen singles, and their loyal fanbase ensured that none of the songs failed to break into the top 40, which is some achievement.

Chart Performance

Released on 29th January 1982, "Town Called Malice" entered the official singles chart at No.1 in the UK on 7the February, becoming the band's third chart-topper. It remained on top for three weeks. During this time, "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers was at No.2 for the first two weeks, and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by Tight Fit at No.2 during the third week. Tight Fit reached #1 on 28th Feb when The Jam slipped to #3. 

As with many of The Jam's singles, "Town Called Malice" didn't hang around in the charts, spending just eight weeks inside the official UK Top 100, although four of these were inside the top 10. 
The song reached #7 on both of the Netherlands' main music charts, and also #4 on Belgium's Ultratop 50. It was also a moderate hit down under, reaching #14 n the Recorded Music New Zealand chart and #15 on the Kent Music Report in Australia.


Most people would probably expect the video to feature the grubby back streets of British town. Instead, the video focuses entirely on the band playing their instruments, with each of them under a bright spotlight in a dark room. The only other object seen is an empty white coat stand.

1982 7" vinyl sleeve (Polydor)


UK 7 Inch Vinyl - Polydor - POSP 400

A1. "Town Called Malice" 

A2. "Precious"

UK 12 Inch Vinyl - POSPX 400

A1. "Town Called Malice" (Recorded live at the Hammersmith Palais, Dec 14th 1981)

A2. "Precious" (Extended Version)


The lyrics (written by Paul Weller) reflect upon the issues of the early 80's such as unemployment, alcoholism and trying to survive in a town (Paul Weller's hometown of Woking) with no work or facilities under a Tory government - they're still just as relevant today then! 
Town Called Malice 12 inch vinyl with purple and black stripes

The 12" vinyl

Paul Weller on the front cover of Zig Zag magazine No.123 (March 1982)

Paul Weller on the cover of Zig Zag in March 1982