Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tracks Of My Years: Down In The Tube Station At Midnight by The Jam

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"The London Underground is a great way of getting around our capital city, but this speedy mode of transport can have its drawbacks. When darkness descends and the hour is late, this vast network can bring its own terrors. I've traveled on the underground late at night on countless occasions, and always recall this classic from The Jam during my journey. "

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"The song really begins as a solitary male commuter approaches the ticket machine, armed with an evening meal for himself and his wife. 'Headlines of death and sorrow' and 'madmen on the rampage' occuly his thoughts as he puts his money into the machine, while Bruce Foxton's bass bubbles away in the background. Soon, 'gruff blazing voices' interrupt his thoughts as a couple of thugs ask for money. 'I've a little money and a takeaway curry, I'm on my way home to my wife' explains the frightened man, but to no avail as the men launch their attack. 'They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs, and too many right-wing meetings' is a classic Paul Weller line. It allows you to imagine these shadowy figures and the horror they impart, with Weller's vocals beautifully capturing the shaky commuter's explanation and the hate-filled demands of his aggressors. Now, flashes of his life are mixed in with 'the smell of brown leather' and his senses are blocked as the attack continues."

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"It's a completely overwhelming part of the song, and leads to Rick Buckler's drums really pounding the beat. Then, when you're on the canvas, out for the count and thinking Weller has finished his story.. then he launches into an incredible stream of consciousness rant: 'The last thing I saw as I lay there on the floor was Jesus saves painted by some atheist nutter', with British Rail posters advertising cheap holidays filling his only line of vision. Now, 'The wine will be flat and the curry's gone cold' is all he can finally think of, as Weller's guitar and the sound of the underground bring this song to a close."

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"'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' was the second single to be taken off the wonderful 'All Mod Cons' album. It was released on October 21st 1978, and was usually the song that ended their live set before the encores. It remains a classic, and is even more relevant today than it was back in the '70s when it was still relatively safe to be out late at night."

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"This is the first in a series of songs that will feature in 'Tracks Of My Years', and there will be more to come from The Jam and a whole host of other bands."

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