It was back in 1983 that I plucked up the courage to move out of the family home into a student flat in time for my third year out of four at university. And aside from a couple of times when I’ve returned to mum and dad’s place to sleep on a spare couch, numerous flatmates (and two wives) have been the ones that have had to put up with my mood swings for quarter-of-a-century. They’ve also had to put up with my taste in music, although thankfully, just about everyone (bar wife numero uno) who ever lived under the same roof as me liked what I was playing.
This particular song is the one that I most associate with my first flat.
‘Well you didn’t wake up this morning cos you didn’t go to bed’ – as an opening line seemed to capture what every weekend was designed for.
‘This is the day your life will surely change’ – as a chorus seemed to capture what the hope of every Friday and Saturday night was going to be about as I set out in the hope of finding a true soul mate.
This particular song is the perfect companion piece to How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths, yet another great hymn of the 80s dealing with angst, loneliness and a desire to belong. And while the genius guitar work of Johnny Marr was at the heart of what made his band’s song so special, so the accordion work of someone simply called Wicks turns This Is The Day into an instant classic.
Matt Johnson is probably the most under-rated and unappreciated singer/songwriter of my generation. He started off using The The as just another name for his solo efforts augmented by hugely talented guest musicians, including Jools Holland (who contributes a memorable piano solo on the LP version of Uncertain Smile) and Zeke Manyika who gave the drums one hell of a pounding on most of the LP Soul Mining, in a style that was completely different from his work with Orange Juice.
Then Matt decided that The The needed to become a band, primarily for touring purposes – and lo and behold, he unveils Johnny Marr as his lead guitarist. Strange as it may seem, Johnny was actually a member of The The longer than he was in The Smiths….
From 1983-1992, The The released four LPs at regular intervals. Three of these – Soul Mining (1983), Infected (1986) and Dusk (1992) remain among my favourites by any band. And while Mind Bomb (1989) is a bit more patchy, it did spawn a couple of great singles, including the astonishing and controversial Armageddon Days Are Here Again, the first few seconds of which are a tribute to 70s glam rock band The Sweet, before turning into a fantastic tirade against those who use religion to justify war and violence.
Just when I thought The The could do no wrong, Matt dissolved the band as it was, and in 1995 unleashed Hanky Panky an LP consisting solely of covers of songs by Hank Williams. It’s pretty awful with few redeeming features……
It was another five years before the next The The LP – Naked Self – which was very much an understated production but a fabulous return to form. Since then, all of the old LPs have been remastered, remixed and re-issued, as well as the release of a ‘Best Of’ with very little in the way of new songs being available in the shops. However, Matt remains very active in the things that most interest him, and much of his energy is focused on a truly stunning website which can be found here. And that’s where you’ll be able to hear some new songs……
But returning back to This Is The Day……
I was sure this was a minor hit back in 1983 – I certainly recall seeing the promo on the telly as well as Matt making at least one appearance on a Channel 4 chat show performing the song. And yet it barely scraped the Top 75. Maybe that’s why the song was given a radical makeover in 1994 as the main track of the Dis-Infected EP which did hit the Top 20 and saw the band appear on Top Of The Pops.
The 1983 single was yet another 7” single that was lost for many years, but now I have a copy back in the collection. The version I owned was a limited edition double-pack, and it’s that which I picked up (at some expense) on e-bay a couple of months back. And here are all the songs in their full glory…
mp3 : The The – This Is The Day (single version)
mp3 : The The – Mental Healing Process
mp3 : The The – Leap Into The Wind
mp3 : The The – Absolute Liberation
I bet the b-side and the other two tracks weren’t what you would have expected given the pop brilliance of the single……each of them were culled from an unreleased LP called The Pornography of Despair.