Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground – The Jam

The Jam

Going Underground

March 1980

Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground” is the first British #1 chart single by The Jam, released in March 1980. It went straight in at #1 in the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top.

It was the first of three instant chart-toppers for the group

Going Underground

Song profile

“Going Underground” was not released on any of the band’s six studio albums, although it has appeared on many compilations and re-releases since then. The song was released as a double A-side with “Dreams of Children”, which originally had been intended to be the sole A-side; following a mix-up at the pressing plant, the single became a double A-side, and DJs tended to choose the more melodic “Going Underground” to play on the radio.

The song was ranked at #2 among the “Tracks of the Year” for 1980 by NME. In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Going Underground” at #73 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and in October 2006, placed it at #98 in its list of the 100 Greatest Songs Ever.

Jam Facts:

The band released 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits

“Going Underground”
Single by The Jam
A-side“Dreams of Children”
Released14 March 1980
Format7″ vinyl
RecordedDecember 1979
GenreNew wavemod revivalpower pophard rock[1]
Length2:50
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)Paul Weller
Producer(s)Vic Coppersmith-Heaven
The Jam singles chronology
The Eton Rifles
(1979)”Going Underground” / “Dreams of Children”
(1980)”Start!
(1980)

My Thoughts ?

me with hat.PNG
Me in my Mod days

Being an old Mod and a Jam super-fan this was one of the first Jam records I bought and from the first moment I heard it I loved it and became obsessed with the Jam and this set me on the road to becoming a Mod and the best years of my teenage/young adult life in Belfast, what I can remember anyways. The Jam became the sound track to my crazy teenage odyssey and I came to love everything about them and the Mod way of life and even to this day I still love all the Jams stuff and listen to it whenever the feelings take me , which is a few times a week at least.

My fav Jam album ?

Its a hard one but its between Setting Sons & Sound Affects , although I love In the City and This is a Modern World also . Grrrr…. Its like trying to choose which of your kids or pets you love best , an impossible task and Im the same with Jam albums I feel i’d be betraying those I left out. Going Underground is a personal fav of mine for the path it set me on but I have to say Thick as Thieves and That’s Entertainment are two of my fav Jam tunes off all time.

See: Getting Stoned with Paul Well

See: The Loyalist Mod – Death of a fella Mod and a catholic friend

See: Steve Marriott Jan 1947 – April 1991 All or Nothing

Lyrics

“Going Underground”

Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I’ve got
People might say that I should strive for more
But I’m so happy I can’t see the point

Something’s happening here today
A show of strength with your boy’s brigade
And I’m so happy and you’re so kind
You want more money – of course I don’t mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes
And the public gets what the public wants

But I want nothing this society’s got
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Some people might get some pleasure out of hate
Me, I’ve enough already on my plate
People might need some tension to relax
Me, I’m too busy dodging between the flak

What you see is what you get
You’ve made your bed, you’d 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
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

La la la la…

We talk and we talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

Going underground, I’m going underground!

La la la la…

These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout,
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet go pow, pow, pow
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Covers and parodies

Ade Edmondson‘s folk punk band The Bad Shepherds covered it in 2013.

The Bad Shepherds Going Underground

Welsh alternative metal band Lostprophets covered the song in 2007 as a B-side to their single 4:AM Forever.

The comedy band Amateur Transplants released a two-minute parody titled “London Underground” in 2005 in the light of the December strike. It became a popular download in the United Kingdom.

Jam Facts:

Jam biographer Sean Egan said of the Jam that they “took social protest and cultural authenticity to the top of the charts.

Amatuer Transplants London Underground

The song was covered by Buffalo Tom for the 1999 Jam tribute album Fire and Skill: The Songs of the Jam. This version also was released as part of a double A-side single with Liam Gallagher‘s and Steve Cradock‘s version of “Carnation” and reached #6 in the UK singles chart.[6]

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered the song on their 1986 album “Criminal Tango“.

Daryl Denham released a version of the song titled “Go England” in 2002 after Weller gave permission for it to be adapted as a football song.

Jam Facts:

Paul Weller on becoming a Mod

“I saw that through becoming a Mod it would give me a base and an angle to write from, and this we eventually did. We went out and bought suits and started playing MotownStax and Atlantic covers. I bought a Rickenbacker guitar, a Lambretta GP 150 and tried to style my hair like Steve Marriott‘s circa ’66.

Dreams of Children

“Going Underground” was coupled with “Dreams of Children” as a double A-side. It opens and is intermittently accentuated with a backmasked sample of the band’s 1979 song “Thick as Thieves“. In the US the backwards intro was edited out making the single 10 seconds shorter than the UK Version. This US edit is available on the best-of compilation Snap!.

The Jam released two other double A-side singles: “David Watts“/”‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Town Called Malice“/”Precious“.

Jam Facts:

On 29 April 1977, Polydor released the Jam’s debut single, “In the City“, which charted in the Top 40 in the UK.

See: here for more information on the Jam

Thick As Thieves

See: Golden Brown – The Stranglers

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