Kind of beggars belief that it has taken this long to highlight such an outstanding debut single as part of this occasional series
I’d be lying if I said I can remember this being released on 29 April 1977 and it reaching No. 40 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1977. I can’t even recall seeing it on Top of The Pops on Thursday 19 May 1977 (when it aired despite being outside the Top 40, sitting that particular week at #45).
Yup…..feel free to cringe at David ‘Kid’ Jensen‘s awful shirt and his half-arsed effort at playing air guitar.
It would actually be a couple more years before I fully cottoned on to The Jam, but when I did, they quickly became my favourite group in my mid-late teenage years as my tastes shifted increasingly towards new wave/post-punk. In The City is a tremendously energetic and exciting debut.
I didn’t, even in 1979 as I became familiar with it, get the comparisons with The Who, a band I only knew from their rather dull mid-70s releases such as Substitute and Who Are You?, or from staple songs of ‘The Golden Hour’ such as My Generation and Pinball Wizard, none of which had the attitude or vibrancy of The Jam. But, in my defence, I had a lot of learning/catching-up to do in years to come.
The b-side of I’m A Boy, their #2 hit from 1966, that had never been included (at that point in time) on any album and despite its relative obscurity, was a track which Paul Weller was clearly very familiar with.