The The - Soul Mining (1983) (1 Viewer)

rettucs

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Resounding thumbs-up from me on this one.

On The The's first album, Matt Johnson crafted a pleasant but unengaging set of dance-pop
from the opening post. I think 'unengaging' is unfair. Theres a lovely warm feel to this album. It doesn't feel typically 1983 to me. What was the big thing in 1983? New-wave? Men At Work? The theme tune from ET?

I'm trying to remember back to then actually. I was 9 years old in 1983. I don't think a 9-year old is instantly going to take to 'The The'. Being 'warm' and 'pleasant' probably won't have 9-year old me reaching for this ahead of the other, very limited set of, music I had available to me.

In 1983 music discovery happened for me in 2 ways;

1: Kasey Kasem's America's Top 20. I can't remember what day this was on but myself and my brother would tape every song and spend the week listening to them. The following week we'd use the same tape to tape the follow week's chart.

I don't ever rememeber The The featuring.

2: MT USA. My memories of this are little blurred but I do remember it being on in the house every sunday afternoon. Or, the odd sunday when we'd go to the rellies, we'd insist it be on in their house too.

Again, nothing The The related.

So this album completely passed me by until the late 1990s. At that point I probably only still knew that one 'big hit' they had - 'The Beaten Generation', and I don't ever remember especially liking it.

Though, 5 and 6 minute-long songs - I can't imagine many radio stations would be queueing up to play them back in 1983.

It seems theres a whole world of Matt Johnson that awaits me, which is no bad thing.

Returning to that 'engaging' comment. I guess that refers to the songs not being instantly catchy. I'm about 7 or 8 listens in now and I'm at at stage where I recognise songs when I hear them, but not much sticks beyond that. But I know full well that in time I'll start loving them.

The production quality is great. I don't know if the reason it sounds so fresh is because its remastered, or whether it originally sounded this good.

His voice is something I'd have an issue with at different points. When he strays towards falsetto it kind of grates. But when he doesn't its fantastic. Very reminiscent of Lloyd Cole, with less whinging.

I'd give it 7/10 based on my experience of it of it so far. I know I'm going to end up liking it more and more, so will go 4/5. Great stuff.
 

diauhdiad?

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Lloyd Cole came to mind for me too, particularly on the tracks I liked least. My first reaction was very negative - very naff, horrible synth bass, horrible singing, that disagreeable Lloyd Cole gone bad vibe, unengaging and cold. Second time around I got almost none of that, it was all warm and bubbly and third time I was totally convinced (except for the last track which sounds like it should be on the b-side of a 12-inch remix single). It seems to be in the same kind of territory that Kate Bush was in around that time.

Are other Talk Talk albums worth bothering with?
 

dudley

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The other LP's are very much of their era. If you're a fan you'll love them.

Infected, the mid 80s follow up has dated horribly, you'd be hard pressed to mind a more disgusting palate of Lynn drums and disgusting synth tones outside of a Belouis Some record. That said, I love it, and the closing track, 'The Mercy Seat' is just this outrageously massive and bleak epic, fx overdosed guitars, appalling drums, tower of power horns and overwraught vocals about the devil. It's brilliant!

Mind Bomb, from 1989, saw The The mutate into a proper band for the first time, and again it's very much a record of 1989, aimed straight at the Q readers market, the serious mid 30s music fan who'd just bought their first CD player for the car. It's mostly a more political record and focuses on the middle east, and I vaguely remember him being ridiculed at the time for the taking the middle east much more seriously than it ought to have been. I guess he got the last, bitter laugh.

The Mind Bomb tour was the only time I saw them, in the Point Depot. I remember there being barely a hundred people at it, and it was the last night of their tour. You'd expect them to be as miserable as hell but it remains one of the most intense and phenomenal shows I've ever seen.

Dusk came next, same proper band with Johnny Marr on guitar. It's a lot more rock than the previous LPs, big guitars, concise tunes. It has some great, great moments, and tends to be the most favourably removed in all the music mags, but it was here my interest started to wane a little.

The Hank Williams covers record came next, and I didn't get it all, and that couple with my changing tastes in music meant I ignored the last record, Naked Self, entirely, which is unfair but there you go.

Anyway, it's all worth an explore if you've found yourself really entranced with Soul Mining...
 

ann post

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Think I got three semi absorbed listens in the car.

I really like this. Its nice musically. Giant is stand out but in general the synth use is great.

Lyrically its either great or morto. Like if i'd a first or second meeting of a person in my car, i'd switch it.

Think its a keeper anyways.
 

Cornu Ammonis

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The production quality is great. I don't know if the reason it sounds so fresh is because its remastered, or whether it originally sounded this good.
Matt Johnson's first record, Burning Blue Soul, kind of came out of a more experimental or industrial place and he has a couple of unreleased albums from that time which are supposed to be more influenced by noise and avant garde stuff than actual songs. Anyway, he basically ended up on the Some Bizzare label, which was run by a guy called Stevo Pearce. Stevo signed all the major second wave industrial artists like Coil, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Swans, Psychic TV, Foetus and Test Dept. He also signed more poppy artists who were part of that same scene like The The and Soft Cell.

Stevo was very much committed to releasing a quality product and at the same time was a bit of a shyster. He would court various major labels to get advances on licensing deals to get money into the label and would then pay for these uncommercial acts to go into really top notch studios to record with decent producers. If you listen to any of the stuff released on Some Bizzare, it sounds amazing because he had the sense to put money up to pay for studio time. The thing was, in the long run, Stevo didn't pay most (or possibly any of the bands) even when he had recouped the money on sales. He continues to reissue these albums without the artists' permission and licenses out songs from those albums to films and TV shows but keeps the money. Blixa Bargeld from Einstuerzende Neubauten encourages people to steal Some Bizzare albums from shops and when Coil reissued their two albums from that era, they plastered "STEVO - PAY US WHAT YOU OWE US!" over the cover art.

Soul Mining still sounds fantastic to me today, some of it has dated in terms of style but I love the sound of the Omnichord* (the really distinctive synth that seems to be like audio marmite here) and the mix of personnel between experimental oddballs like Jim Thirlwell (from Foetus) and Thomas Leer along with regular musician folk like king of the boogie woogie piano, Jools "No Neck" Holland, makes for a really interesting sounding record. It's dead catchy but there are little unexpected hooks that you just don't get from more straightforward artists from this time.

Lyrically, I think he writes with a tongue in his cheek and occasionally with a middle finger raised (more apparent on later albums). Some of the lyrics here are a little hysterical ("The cancer of love has eaten out my heart") but overall I think he hits home more often than he bungles. I think his lyrics got sharper on Infected and Mind Bomb but something about Soul Mining pips them to the post as my favourite The The album.

On a side note, it's funny to see everyone confusing The The with Talk Talk because when I first listened to Talk Talk for Thumped Album Club, there were loads of passages that reminded me of The The on their album Dusk. However, Talk Talk were pushing those textures far further out years in advance of Dusk. I do wonder if it had an influence on Johnson?

*Omnichord:
 

rettucs

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Stevo was very much committed to releasing a quality product and at the same time was a bit of a shyster. He would court various major labels to get advances on licensing deals to get money into the label and would then pay for these uncommercial acts to go into really top notch studios to record with decent producers. If you listen to any of the stuff released on Some Bizzare, it sounds amazing because he had the sense to put money up to pay for studio time. The thing was, in the long run, Stevo didn't pay most (or possibly any of the bands) even when he had recouped the money on sales. He continues to reissue these albums without the artists' permission and licenses out songs from those albums to films and TV shows but keeps the money. Blixa Bargeld from Einstuerzende Neubauten encourages people to steal Some Bizzare albums from shops and when Coil reissued their two albums from that era, they plastered "STEVO - PAY US WHAT YOU OWE US!" over the cover art.
That is an amazing story.

What was his deal? Was he genuinely about the music? Or was it a case of, if you throw enough shit, something will stick eventually - in the hope that he'd make some money somewhere along the line?

Must read up a bit more on this lad. The Del Trotter of the music business by the sound of it.
 

Cornu Ammonis

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That is an amazing story.

What was his deal? Was he genuinely about the music? Or was it a case of, if you throw enough shit, something will stick eventually - in the hope that he'd make some money somewhere along the line?

Must read up a bit more on this lad. The Del Trotter of the music business by the sound of it.
I think he sees himself as a Dada-esque/Surrealist figure who is pushing the frontiers of culture into brave new places. Which is slightly true. I used to think he was a cunt but given how many great albums came out of that era thanks to him, I'm revising my views of him. I think there's a good book to be written on him and the label.
 

GO

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Great thread! Thanks for a great read e everybody!

This lp reminded me of my nextdoor neighbour friend when I was 10. He was a real cool little kid who was in to all the alternative stuff..like me!

We were well into The The when I wasn't listening to the Sex Pistols and him The Cure.
 

Lili Marlene

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Playing a bit of catch up here:

i've always had the impression/assumption that The The were some kind of light pop/rock band for yuppies, don't know why
This is interesting, when I hear The The my mind immediately goes to the best of Mike & the Mechanics for some reason. I wonder what that's all about. Stupid brain.


Like mostly everyone else I found this quite engaging. I'm not sure what the deal with The The is, were they part of a scene?

I hear so much of 1983 in general in here - bits that remind me of Japan (the Twilight Hour could be a David Sylvian song), Human League, Talking Heads, even the likes of Blancmange - none obviously and I assume what i'm hearing really is the technology leading to a certain kind of music rather than a direct influence.

I'm surprised to read the lead fella was only about 21 or 22 when he made this, its very accomplished and varied. Bits could be Soft Cell and others could be like a one man Blow Monkeys or something.


ehhh... I really like when he goes off on one on Uncertain Smile and Giant. Actually, Giant kinda reminds me of (And That's No Lie) by Heaven 17, came out a year later. I wonder were they listening to this?

The songs where its the synthy drum machine with a guy talking about how depressed he is over it, that's basically Pretty Hate Machine but years before isn't it? huh.

Overall its really good but I feel i'm none the wiser on what The The actually sound like. Top marks anyway.
 
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Lili Marlene

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I read your post Cornu! I just don't feel any the wiser for where the music came from.

I like this line from the quietus interview:

I mean, there are people now who go out and blatantly steal and I do hear artists now where I think, ‘Well, you’ve just listened to that and ripped it off wholesale.’ And years ago that is something that you would have been embarrassed to have done. You felt that your influences should percolate through you and you would listen to music voraciously but only in order to make your own statement. Taking someone’s style or sound wholesale, I just wouldn’t have done that; I wouldn’t have wanted to do that.
Imagine Pharrell had that attitude.
 

travispickle

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I've missed a few TAC weeks due to more holidays.

This is a great album. I came to The The through the sister of a girlfriend who we went to stay with for a couple of weeks. Infected had just come out and she played it pretty much non-stop all day everyday. I was blown away by it and ended up backtracking to find whatever else The The had put out. While this isn't anywhere near as good as Infected, it's still pretty great.
Uncertain Smile is an instant classic. This is the day, I've been waiting for tomorrow - all brilliant brilliant songs. Fantastic songwriting.
 

chris d

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Way better than I was expecting. Youtube playlist running order doesn't seem to be the same as any of the releases.

might buy this.
 

Cornu Ammonis

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Way better than I was expecting. Youtube playlist running order doesn't seem to be the same as any of the releases.

might buy this.
I've been very tempted to buy the fancy pants vinyl reissue but given that I already own the regular album, I wonder am I just being a fool and parting with my money.
 

hugh

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I cant stand this band. Have never liked them. I'd listen again with an open mind but I'm worried my missus would overhear, remember that The The exist, and then insist on listening to them all the time because, as far as I recall, she used to really like them. I just can't take that risk. Sorry TAC.
 

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