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#51 Going Underground/Dreams Of Children – The Jam

[454] Writer: Paul Weller (both tracks). Producer: Vic Coppersmith-Heaven.
22 Mar 80 – 9 weeks in chart – 3 weeks at #1

Bruce Foxton, Rick Buckler and Paul Weller had paved the way for this, their first #1, by hitting the top ten for the first time with their previous single The Eton Rifles four months earlier. It had made #3, after eight previous singles had hit between #13 and #40. Memorably, Going Underground also entered at #1; a rare feat in those days. The Jam were on the crest of a wave in 1980, and this #1 provoked a re-release of all their other singles, six of which re-entered the charts all at once a month later. Prime Minister Thatcher was barely a year into her stride – “You choose your leaders and place your trust”. John Lennon was still alive (for a few more months), but hadn’t troubled the charts for five years, and some of Weller’s songs had a political edge to them that was lapped up by this 13 year-old budding leftie. “You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns.” Going Underground was a hard-edged track with a rumbling base, one of the most recognisable intros ever, and – hey! – shouting on it. “Make this boy shout! Make this boy scream!” It’s about being an outsider, about not fitting in, not understanding the world, and about opting out. And boy, did I feel it. "I don't get what this society wants." We also thought it was about hiding from the impending nuclear holocaust.

Dreams Of Children? I didn’t know it at the time, and I couldn’t sing it to you now. Such is often the fate with double A-side tracks. It’s not even on my ‘The Jam – Greatest Hits’ album.

22 years later, Paul Weller currently sits at #1 in the UK album chart. Bruce Foxton had three solo hits, including the strikingly unusual Freak, and Rick Buckler….whatever happened to him?

The Jam had three more #1s after this, with Start! (which I actually preferred, even if it was a bit too similar to Taxman by The Beatles), Town Called Malice/Precious and Beat Surrender. None of the Jam's singles appear in this Top 50, but we WILL be seeing Mr Weller later. Oooh, how can that be….?

Going Underground was the #1 choice of David H. Hope you're not too disappointed David. You're not the only person whose top choice hasn't made the Top 50 at all.

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