How The Jam's Town Called Malice turned a cheeky Motown steal into a bona fide bass classic

Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton performing live onstage, singing at same microphone, Wembley Arena, December 1982
The Jam's Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton, 1982, Bruce playing an Aria Pro II SB-R60 (Image credit: Phil Dent/Getty)

In February 1982, The Jam’s Town Called Malice went straight to number one in the UK, underpinned by a classic Motown-style bassline so good that Bass Player placed it at no. 35 in our list of the top 100 best basslines ever.

The man who played it, Bruce Foxton, had grown up on Motown and soul. “My older brother Derek had been an original mod and was always playing Motown stuff,” Foxton told The Guardian. “The Malice bassline is very similar to You Can't Hurry Love by the Supremes, but it worked. When we hit that groove, you couldn't stop your foot tapping.”

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Tom Poak has written for the Hull Daily Mail, Esquire, The Big Issue, Total Guitar, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and more. In a writing career that has spanned decades, he has interviewed Brian May, Brian Cant, and cadged a light off Brian Molko. He has stood on a glacier with Thunder, in a forest by a fjord with Ozzy and Slash, and on the roof of the Houses of Parliament with Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham (until some nice men with guns came and told them to get down). He has drank with Shane MacGowan, mortally offended Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and been asked if he was homeless by Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch.

With contributions from