[5] The Jam, ‘Town Called Malice’

Please feel free to write your own piece, tackling the following issues:

– Yes, ANOTHER Jam single, but I promise it’s the last one
– Doesn’t particularly hint at the Style Council
– Did Ocean Colour Scene ruin Weller or was it the other way around?
– It’s like Motown on amphetamines
– I had to buy it secretly because my mum disapproved
– ‘The Bitterest Pill’ IS possibly better
– She bounced a bit, but soon asked to be rescued from the playpen
– (Not my mum)
– Actually, Jesus, what a record
– Still to come: Charlene, Fat Larry’s Band, Toto Coelo and the Kids from Fame.

[12] The Jam, ‘Beat Surrender’

The last Jam single foreshadowed the Style Council again. ‘Speak Like A Child’-style horns, backing vocals sounding suspiciously like Tracie – hell, it was probably Mick Talbot on piano too. But still the purists thought Weller sold out.

This came straight in at No.1 back when that meant something. The Jam had a habit of doing that – four times, I think – and I remember hearing that it was because Polydor released singles at the beginning of the “chart week” for maximum sales exposure. Blimey. Hardly rocket science.

I know you love your chart facts, dear readers, but what of the song? What of Junior’s opinion? I think it’s a life-affirming, foot-stomping, air-punching cracker, but largely overlooked; Junior spent most of its three and a half minutes on her toy phone. Girls.

[17] Japan, ‘Ghosts’

At the time, I thought this went to Number One. To be honest, until I started taking a keen interest in the chart during the summer of ‘82,I thought everything that appeared on Top Of The Pops was a No.1 single. Happy, uncomplicated days, before my first Guinness Book of British Hit Singles destroyed these reveries. I felt crushed for Sylvian and the lads, and their No.5 hit.

They were probably ecstatic, or as ecstatic as a bunch of in-fighting, studiedly glacial, new romantic poseurs were ever going to get. Maybe they flared a nostril.

‘Ghosts’ is thuddingly pretentious, a glorious mood piece of mannered vocals and blandly eerie effects. It’s certainly no better than ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘Mirror Man’, but it thinks it is, and that’s half the battle. Like The Jam, Japan were gone by the end of the year, with a frontman indulging his whimsies. He plods along still, still able to bore you to death at a hundred paces, but at least he does it without Ocean Colour Scene.

I bloody loved Japan, really. Junior tried to look enthused herself, dancing with unsuitable vigour to the first few bars of tuneless electronic dabbling. After a couple of minutes she was thinking of forming the Style Council.

[20] The Jam, ‘The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)’

1982. ‘A Little Peace’ taking the Eurovision crown, The Falklands “Conflict”, a harrowing single term at boarding school, the Kids from Fame, the Goombay Dance Band, the lion sleeps tonight, dropping out of the Cubs to practise being Zico in the back garden, spending £1.25 on my first 7” single. They’re cheaper NOW.

The Jam’s penultimate single, then. I felt the pain of their break-up keenly, I didn’t understand why they’d stop. Perhaps it was some kind of law. A law that should be enforced more often, come to think. ‘The Bitterest Pill’ has a beautifully succinct lyric, a string-soaked, white-boy soul tune and rousing choruses. Hindsight shows us the tension that was pulling Weller towards the more mannered stylings of his Council.

I’m worried that Junior’s dancing doesn’t discriminate. She rocked out to an arrhythmic beat I was tapping on her toy drum at the weekend, unable to help herself. For what it’s worth, she cut some rug to this song like she hasn’t for a while.

She thought it should be higher up this chart, but I said I had to put some space between the Jam singles.

[7] The Style Council, ‘Shout To The Top!’

Junior was trying to drink from one of her stacking cups, clearly getting into the spirit of café culture. She’s not one of the luddites who believed that Weller had cooked his goose as soon as he hooked up with Mick Talbot and ditched the spiky Woking-class anthems. She knows that he was taking colour from a broader palette, not afraid to wear flat-fronted trousers and pink sweaters, not afraid of a female backing vocalist, a falsetto delivery, a mannered sleevenote, a little tickle of his keyboard player’s ear.

‘Shout To The Top!’ was the Style Council’s seventh single in 18 months. A rich, rich vein of prolific form. I’ll brook no argument.

The Jam, ‘Going Underground’

As a kid, I thought this was the start of some kind of Jules Verne adventure. Weller was standing proudly on the lip of a pit, a yawning chasm leading underground to the centre of the earth. A brass band was playing, the boys’ brigade was there, adding up to a fitting send-off for the brave mod explorer. I was a lad brimming with insight.

Jam lyrics continued to cause me problems. The reams of gibberish I must’ve sung along to ‘A Town Called Malice’, the dodgy copy I’d recorded off the Top 40. My mum had her own take on it, because she told me she didn’t like me playing the nasty record, but I had the last laugh when I secretly bought the 7”. In fact, I stuck it on a tape she asked me to make for her a year or two later. That’s a last, last laugh.

Junior dances to ‘Going Underground’, and laughs and points at her dad standing by the stereo again. She’s heard bad things about DJs somewhere. Might’ve overheard me slagging off Chris Moyles. Without pictures, she’s unperturbed by Bruce Foxton’s haircut and seems happy with the whole experience. She’s now braced to discover the Style Council.