60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #24


The The – Soul Mining (1983)

This is a wonderful example of my being of an age when not only did I have a lot of time to listen to music, but I was in an environment where everyone I socialised with seemed to be as nuts about pop and dancing as myself.

I was convinced that Soul Mining was a massive success back in 1983, as too were the various singles lifted from it.  It’s all down to the fact that all my friends, and I do mean ALL, had a copy of this kicking around their flats or houses.  Everyone was talking about it, possibly more so as one of its guest musicians was our adopted local legend Zeke Manyika, the Zimbabwe-born drummer who sat on the drum stool for Orange Juice, with his contributions certainly being a major factor in making the album sound so vibrant and powerful.

I was also sure that almost every music critic fawned over the album, welcoming the fact that in an era when short and sweet had been ruling the roost, here was a musician unafraid to let his songs extend out to epic lengths without resorting to the painfully obvious studio gimmickry or production techniques that were in vogue, especially on 12″ singles.

Turns out that the critics did love the record, and they also thought Matt Johnson was something of a brooding genius.  He was….it’s just a pity that some of his views as he’s become older, and in particular his social media posting postings about conspiracy theories and COVID which are, at best, disingenuous, and at worst downright dangerous.

I’m digressing. Sorry.  Back to 1983.  Soul Mining was featured in most, indeed if not all, the end of year rundowns in the UK music papers.   But in terms of sales, they were really poor.  It  came in at #27 which was its peak position, and within five weeks it was outside the Top 100, never to return.  Lead-off single, This Is The Day, which felt like THE anthem of the latter half of the year, peaked at #72. Uncertain Smile, held up by many as the pop centrepiece of the record, thanks in part to the piano solo from Jools Holland of Squeeze, came in at #100 and failed to improve.

As it turns out, it’s an album which has become increasingly popular in recent years. It took until July 2013, almost a full 20 years after I picked up my copy,  before the BPI certified it for a Silver Disc, signifying 50,000 sales. However, it took less than another six years to hit 100,000 sales and a Gold Disc, with the landmark being reached in March 2019, a short time after Matt Johnson brought the band out of a very lengthy hiatus and played a series of live shows in the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia.

I can still very happily listen to the album all the way through.  My vinyl copy is a bit battered and worn, but remains very listenable, while I’ve also a copy of its first release on CD, which contained an eighth and additional track, much to the annoyance of the album’s creator – the later 2002 remastered reissue went back to seven tracks.

mp3:  The The – I’ve Been Waitin’ for Tomorrow (All of My Life)

The album opener.  Those of us who regarded Zeke as being a gentle and pop-orientated drummer couldn’t help but be blown away by this one.


5 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #24

  1. An LP I’m all too aware of for some of the reasons JC outlined.

    It seemed to be THE LP of the day and a ‘must’ listen but… I never did listen. For reasons I’m not so sure about now Matt Johnson just rubbed me up the wrong way – I expect an over-confident interview may have something to do with it, but I can’t be sure (if I want any more).

    I admire that the LP was returned to its original form when remastered in 2002.

    In life some things just pass you by. That’s ok. I have no regrets (no tears, goodbye).

  2. This sits, alongside The Specials and Gil Scott Heron (and notable others), as a snapshot to those dark days of the flaky B-Star Cowboy and our own B-Stardess Prime Minister. It is was fabulous and refreshing album. Well worthy of Top 60 inclusion

  3. It is an album I still listen to. I djed sometimes at university and I was suprised when I played ‘Uncertain smile’ that I then got requests from various people to play other tracks. I think it was unique in being an album where all the tracks got played over the evening. I had no idea it was so popular.

  4. After loving the single ‘Perfect’ by The The, it was with eager anticipation I raced to the record store to purchase ‘Soul Mining’. The needle hit the vinyl on track 1, and that was ok, track 2 ‘This is the day’ lifted it to another realm of hope that this was going to be the greatest album ever. And then….oh no!….it went rapidly mostly downhill and crashed 😦
    Still, I thought, my copy was the limited edition with the extra 12″ including ‘Perfect’ (still one of my all time top 10 tracks). Looking for solace and a comfort blanket, I started playing the aforementioned 12 incher. BIG DISAPPOINTMENT! It was a different version of ‘Perfect’ – not as I anticipated an extended version of the classic tune. Ah well……….still I’m glad for Matt the album is recognised and has done well (mainly I guess for ‘This is the day’).
    Meanwhile, I would be grateful if someone could provide a bit more detail on this: “his social media posting postings about conspiracy theories and COVID which are, at best, disingenuous, and at worst downright dangerous.¬”. What was said? What did I miss?

    PS I am intrigued what else from 1983 crops up on the top 60 as for me it was a classic year for music.

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