On April 29th, 1977 The Jam released their debut single In The City in the UK. The song quickly shot up the UK music charts reaching the top 40. It helped launch their career and Paul Weller’s success as a musician. The song musically shares The Jam’s unique blend of Mod Revivalism and 70s Punk enthusiasm, it became an anthem for the Mod Punk revival of the late 70s. The song’s title was borrowed from the B-side of The Who’s I’m A Boy single, while lyrically the song is a social commentary addressing the scene at the time, being influenced by the burgeoning UK Punk scene and Joe Strummer of The Clash, one of Weller’s contemporaries at the time. The song celebrates as Weller states in the lyrics the “youth ideas” in the big city. In an interview with Q Magazine in April of 2010, Weller had this to say of the song and its origins:
"It was the sound of young Woking, if not London, a song about trying to break out of suburbia. As far as we were concerned, the city was where it was all happening; the clubs, the gigs, the music, the music. I was probably 18, so it was a young man's song, a suburbanite dreaming of the delights of London and the excitement of the city. It was an exciting time to be alive. London was coming out of its post-hippy days and there was a new generation taking over. The song captured that wide-eyed innocence of coming out of a very small community and entering a wider world, seeing all the bands, meeting people, going to the clubs, and the freedom that it held."
The B-side was the quick paced “Takin’ My Love” a song that along with “In The City” would appear on the bands first full length album In The City. Another interesting fact about this B-side is that it has appeared in the UK top 40 on three separate occasions during the Jam’s single releases. The single In The City was re-issued in 1980 following the success of “Going Underground” along with eight of the bands other singles, it charted in the top 40 and in 2002, Polydor re-issued the In The City single, the song went to number 36 on the UK singles charts. Six months following the release of this single, Sex Pistols released their Holidays In The Sun single, a song that featured a similar chord progression to “In The City”. The songs were both being worked on around the same time, The Jam demoing the song around the same time the Pistols were working on “Holidays In The Sun”, Paul Weller had this to say of the two songs in 2007 in Uncut, and of an argument and scuffle that Weller and Sid Vicious got into:
“He started it and I finished it. I don't know if anyone can claim any victory. He just came up to me and he was going on about 'Holidays In The Sun' where they'd nicked the riff from 'In The City.' I didn't mind them nicking it - you've got to get your ideas from somewhere, haven't you? Anyway, he just came up and nutted me. So I returned it."
Regardless of the supposed Sex Pistols, Jam rivalry surrounding this song both songs are good and different in their own right, the discussion of the two isn’t really relevant at this point. “In The City” was a defiant influential debut that introduced us to the three piece of Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler otherwise known as The Jam, it is also a song reflecting not only the times, but also a song that youth can identify with, even today.
The Play List:
1. Ty Segall – It #1
2. Dirty Projectors – maybe that was it
3. Deadly Lo-Fi – Walk Into The Sun
4. Micronite Filters – Hit The Hammer On The Nail
5. Mudhoney – What Moves The Heart
6. Lime Spiders – Nine Miles High
7. Cardboard Brains – Babies Run My World
8. Pelicans – New Wave
9. Johnny Jaws and The Sharks – Wizard
10. The Plain Steel – Away
11. Alex Chilton – Girl After Girl
12. Neil Young & Crazy Horse- Gallows Pole
13. The Beach Boys – The Shift
14. Young Rival – Another Nobody
15. Cold Warps - Slimer
16. The Future Primitives – Sea of Words
18. The Black Angels – Haunting at 1300 McKinley
19. The Police – On Any Other Day
20. Talking Heads – No Compassion
21. Devo – Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin’)
22. The Jam – In The City
23. The Jam – Takin' My Love
24. Sex Pistols – Satellite
25. Radio Birdman – Aloha Steve and Danno
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