Classic Catalogue: The The - 'Soul Mining'
Looking back on The The’s major label debut ‘Soul Mining’ it is fair to say that it has stood the test of time. Singles such as ‘This Is The Day’ and ‘Uncertain Smile’ still fizz with a vibrant, wonky pop energy, making it hard to believe that the album is three decades old.
Originally released on 21st October 1983, the recording of ‘Soul Mining’ began in the spring of 1982, when The The founder and primary member, Matt Johnson decamped to New York to record ‘Uncertain Smile’ with producer Mike Thorne.
Following a split from financing label London Records, The The then signed with CBS Records and decided to start ‘Soul Mining’ afresh, reconvening at John Foxx’s Garden Studios in the then pre-gentrified Shoreditch area of London with Matt co-producing alongside 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 typeface of the unique and enduring logo whilst his brother Andrew, working under the moniker Andy Dog, created the album artwork - a painting of one of Fela Kuti’s wives.
Thirty years on and ‘Soul Mining’ still sounds as great as ever, marrying African and industrial sounding rhythms with chiming guitars and perfectly skewed synth lines.
Earlier in June 2014 Sony released a remastered, re-packaged and expanded version of this classic LP.
Remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original master tapes by Matt Johnson and packaged in a lavish 12” box, this vinyl only release includes an authentic reproduction of the 1983 release on 180g vinyl, plus an extra 12” gatefold vinyl of alternative versions and remixes.
The boxset also includes a unique ‘news-poster’ containing extensive notes written by Johnson that detail the making of the album.