Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Desert Island Discs 66 - Soul Mining by The The

66 Soul Mining by The The 1983

1983 and I ws struggling with both my o levels and figuring out how to talk to girls ( I went to an all boy grammar school and we would spend out lunchtimes ahnging around the record section in Smiths trying to look cool to the High School girls who were also there).

Friday night meant Spalding's semi alternative disco Wagon Wheels ( a barn at the back of a pub where you could get served vomit inducing vodka and orange cordial) for a tap of your foot . nod of your head , dance to something by the already disbanded Jam and a hopeful search for a snog.

One weekend 2 things happened. Firstly the dj at Wagon Wheels (notorious for ignoring requests) played this

and then on the sunday Annie Nightingale played the full lp version of this

I rushed out to buy the lp Soul Mining that monday and got home to lsiten to seven tracks of a man slowly falling apart in his room .

Largely a one man band with session musicians ., Matt Johnson brought out the best in those he played with , whether it is Jools Holland's endless piano solo or Orange Juice's Zeke Manyika manic drumming.
 He and co producer Paul Hardiman (who strangely a year later would produce LLoyd Cole's Rattlesnakes) managed to make an lp that blended traditional rock instruments with synths so that the end results sounded like neither. Little things like leaving in the string scratches of the chord changes on Uncertain Smile made the whole thing feel slightly off kilter.

The lyrics were perfect for the mixed up , angst  ridden self centred world of a 16 year old. Here is the closing track taken out of the bedsit and onto the road with Johnny Marr on guitar


  1. A fine album; even Jools couldn't spoil it.
    I didn't realize that the producer was the same as Rattlesnakes; makes 'Uncertain Smile' sound like Lloyd now...

  2. A penal sent me a mix tape with The Sinking Feeling and Uncertain Smile on it and played them a lot for a while. However, I never bought the album and never thought anything else he did was as good. Still love those two songs. Must listen to the full album.

  3. Soul Mining came along just as another Some Bizzare group, Soft Cell, was ending. For me Matt and Marc were compatriots in the realm of twisted, tortured, angry and questioning. The The may have driven down a straighter path musically than Soft Cell, but both bands brought the fringes into your bedsit and produced some damn celebratory music to all things NOT mainstream.
    Soul Mining is a magical album released just as record companies were getting successful at harnessing the New Wave and Post Punk to make money with it. I love the way This Is The Day and Uncertain Smile make the silence at the beginning of the songs part of the experience. This wouldn't really be something you heard until the 90's and the Post Rockers like Talk Talk would make the empty spaces as important as the musical passages of songs.

  4. I think I swapped this album out when the compilation of THE THE extended 12" remixes was released. This Is The Day, Uncertain Smile, Perfect - extended mixes are the ones I grew up loving; played here on CFNY, back in the glory days of FM. It's a bit odd for me when I listen to the studio versions.
    The 9 minute version of "Perfect" ("I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh"!!!) is killer...

    #66 - HONEYCHURCH - Makes Me Feel Better (2004)

    - I profiled this band on Hissyfit awhile ago, so won't rehash...
    Chancery Lane: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciFkG0QDHQc

  5. Hi all

    i think Infected has teh better songs on (including the best he has wirtten in heartland) but the production oddly has dated alot more than Sould Mining. I think both Mind bomb and Dogs of lust are patchier but have some great stuff on them

    I've got the 12" lp as well and love the longer versions but miss the non singles (it is a shame perfect was left off Soul minnig although it did appear on teh cassette version)

  6. I've been a fan of Matt Johnson since first hearing a track on the 'Some Bizzare' compilation ( one of the best compilation albums of all time). I then bought the 7" of 'Cold Spell Ahead' which was an early version of 'Uncertain Smile'. He then went on ,ofcourse, to release 4 great albums before releasing the not so hot 'Hanky Panky'. I rate 'Soul Mining' as his best work or at least it's the album I return to more than his others.
    My # 66 is an album I played to death at the tail end of the 80's Black - Wonderful Life
    ps Good shout Tim with Honeychurch!

  7. Hi Phil

    another under rated songwriter although i prefer Comedy (mainly as i saw hime tour this lp) and some then later lps

    Re Matt Johnson there seems to be a whole host of unreleased stuff (usually whole lps) for some reason


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