Unfortunately, I didn’t buy this at the time that it was released originally – perhaps the plain black sleeve is a bit of a give away – but I was a big fan of The Jam. Oh yes, I may only have been ten but I loved The Jam.
They spanned the decades (well, the 70s and 80s) in a way that well, quite a few bands did. Always keen to pigeon hole, The Jam were called Punks (well they did once open for the Sex Pistols) and New Wave – well perhaps they weren’t really punks after all. And of course, they were part of a Mod revival too. Just goes to show, there’s only two types of music, music you like and music you don’t.
Anyway, back to this track. Released in March 1980, it smashed into the number one spot in the UK singles chart on 22 March. It remained there for three weeks before sliding away. When it was re released in 1983 after the band had disbanded, it again made the charts, but a more modest number 21.
It’s a very politicised track. Weller bemoans the priorities of the new Tory government of Margaret Thatcher. Complaining that:
What you see is what you get
You’ve made your bed, you better lie in it
You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
And the public wants what the public gets
But I don’t get what this society wants
he is indeed an angry young man. Of course all politicians say what they need to say to get elected, they don’t get elected otherwise. I’m not suggesting for a moment that Weller is naive enough to believe that the Tories would have made promises that he would have bought into, never mind expected them to keep. He’s more frustrated at the way that people seemed to have swallowed the message pushed in the 1979 general election campaign.