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The Jam were an English punk rock/New Wave/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were formed in Woking, Surrey. While they shared the “angry young men” outlook and fast tempos of their punk rock contemporaries, The Jam wore smartly tailored suits rather than ripped clothes, and they incorporated a number of mainstream 1960s rock and R&B influences rather than rejecting them, placing The Jam at the forefront of the mod revival movement.

The title is a play on the 1950 Nevil Shute novel A Town Like Alice. 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”.
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, and preventing “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers from reaching number one. EMI, the Stranglers record company, objected to the sales of both formats of “Town Called Malice” being aggregated, arguing that Jam fans were buying both versions and thus preventing their band from reaching the top of the charts.
It 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 #31 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1982
Paul Weller has said that it was written about his hometown Woking as a result of his teenage experiences there.
In a retrospective review of the song, Allmusic journalist Stewart Mason wrote: “Town Called Malice is easily one of the most musically thrilling singles from its era.”

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