Album #519 – Soul Mining

Album #519

The The is the most unique band name I have ever come across. It’s so simple, yet very unique. The brains behind the group is Matt Johnson, who serves as the group’s lead singer and songwriter. The sound is synth pop and new wave. But, Johnson’s lyrics are more dark and personal. His songs reflect his life and his opinions on social issues of the time but, they are very bright with the addition of synthesizers. I would say his way with words puts him at the same level as Elvis Costello and Graham Parker. In fact, Johnson’s brand of synth pop could be a return to the elements of the Angry Young Man that was huge in the late 70’s. His vocals also match the songs perfectly. His voice is dark and emotional, containing the whine that so many singers had at the time. I loved the fact that his voice is low and a little raspy. Johnson ended up using many session players on the album but my favourite contribution is from Jools Holland, who plays an amazing piano solo to end the track Uncertain Smile. Holland didn’t think his contribution would make it onto Soul Mining but, Johnson liked his playing so much that he edited Holland’s two solos together to make the piano outro. Drums on many of the tracks also feature a member of another band on the list: Orange Juice. Drummer Zeke Manyika plays on several of the tracks and became a collaborator on future The The albums and is a good friend of Johnson. A underrated classic, Soul Mining is a great album to explore if you would like to get deeper into the music of the 1980’s. Other highlights include: I’ve Been Waitin’ For Tomorrow (All of my Life), This Is The Day, The Twilight Hour, Soul Mining and Giant. Overall, I give Soul Mining, 5 out of 5.

Next: Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits

 

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