Soul Mining (National Album Day 2022)

The The
Release date: 14th October 2022

 

Black Vinyl

Originally released on 21st October 1983, the recording of Soul Mining began in the spring of 1982, when the then 20-year old Matt Johnson, financed at this point by London Records, de-camped to New York to record 'Uncertain Smile' with producer Mike Thorne. A subsequent session, again in New York with Thorne, and featuring David Johansen of the New York Dolls, resulted in 'Perfect', yet both sessions, and the deal with London Records, were subsequently scrapped as The The switched to CBS Records and decided to start the album afresh. Work on the album was reconvened at John Foxx's Garden Studios in the then pre-gentrified Shoreditch area of London with Matt co-producing with Paul Hardiman - the album was subsequently mixed at Martin Rushent's Genetic Sound studio. Featuring a host of talented musicians, including JG Thirwell (aka Foetus, Manorexia and Steroid Maximus), Zeke Manyika (Orange Juice), electronic DIY pioneer Thomas Leer and Jools Holland, Johnson set out with a clear vision in mind - to produce an album that felt cinematic; a record of width, depth and texture and one which avoided the mundane line-up of two guitars, bass and drums. The aesthetic of The The was also something Johnson was very conscious of, assembling a supportive and talented team of creative individuals to help him refine his vision - his then girlfriend Fiona Skinner designed the type-face of the unique and enduring logo and his brother Andrew, working under the moniker Andy Dog, created the album artwork, a painting of one of Fela Kuti's wives.

 

 

 

Soul Mining is very much of its time, with the anti-thatcher rally cries and drum machines that were lifted from the Human League's studio. at the same time, it's like absolutely nothing else from 1983. Johnson's peers were either gleefully wallowing in synth pop or turning into vampires. Only Johnson, perhaps because he has always been a little out of his mind, chose to walk that line between accessible pop (which also meant risking critical scorn) and high art.

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