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Friday, 21 October 2016

45RPM: #114 Down In The Tube Station At Midnight - The Jam (1978)

A-Side: Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
B-Side: So Sad About Us / The Night
Polydor Records
Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven
Released 21st October 1978
UK Chart #15

Down In The Tube Station At Midnight



The Jam released so many classic singles in their time and if Paul Weller had gotten his way Down In The Tube Station At Midnight would not have been one of them. He discarded it in the studio saying that the arrangement hadn't really developed and basically it was going in the bin! Can you believe that? Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, producer of the up-and-coming third album All Mod Cons, convinced him that it was good enough to be a part of the album and eventually a single.

Now, if Tube Station hadn't been the single Billy Hunt was in the running and Weller had even announced at a few shows that it was to be the next single. Polydor Records had other ideas and rejected it and English Rose as singles throwing their lot in with Tube Station.

It was another Top 20 single peaking at #15. I read somewhere that it was banned by the BBC, though I must admit I don't remember that at all. It's not exactly a happy go lucky type of song either as it drums up some crazy pictures as you are listening!

The song was pretty amazing as lyrically it unfolded the story of a bloke on the way home to his wife and you can almost picture the scene of domesticity the unnamed man enjoys but suddenly you are shaken out of that by a confrontation and a violent assualt at the hands of a gang and then the picture changes to the man laid out on the floor blood pouring down his face, helpless and we have no idea what happens next as he realises that the attackers have the keys to his house, and he's worried that his wife may be in danger ("I glanced back on my life and thought about my wife, 'cause they took the keys and she'll think it's me").

It's like a movie played out in the space of four minutes that would actually resonate with folks because it was quite common to hear of such attacks on the London Underground. As a youngster I can remember many times coming face to face with either Teddy Boys or Skinheads down in the tunnels of the Underground and having to do a runner lest I end up with a good kicking and who knows what other injuries!

On the B-Side was So Sad About Us - a cover of a song by The Who and pictured on the back cover of the single was Keith Moon who had died shortly before the release of this single (7th September 1978). The Night was a Bruce Foxton number (I had actually forgotten that was on the record such was the impression it made on me!).

I would stick my neck out and say that Down In The Tube Station At Midnight is probably their finest single ever (though I'm sure there would be some interesting debate about that).
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