Soul Mining

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Soul Mining
The The - Soul Mining CD album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released21 October 1983
LabelSome Bizzare/Epic
The The chronology
Burning Blue Soul
Soul Mining
Alternative cover
Cover of 2002 release of CD
Cover of 2002 release of CD
Singles from Soul Mining
  1. "Uncertain Smile"
    Released: October 1982
  2. "Perfect"
    Released: 11 February 1983
  3. "This Is the Day"
    Released: 2 September 1983

Soul Mining is the debut album by British post-punk/synth-pop band the The (the 1981 album Burning Blue Soul was originally released by the band's frontman Matt Johnson as a solo album, but later reissues credited it to the The). Soul Mining was released in the United Kingdom on 21 October 1983[1] on Some Bizzare Records/Epic Records and included versions of the UK singles "Uncertain Smile" which reached no. 68 in December 1982, "Perfect" which made no. 79 in February 1983, and "This Is the Day" which reached no. 71 in September 1983. The album peaked at number 27 in the UK album chart.[2] It has appeared on several lists as one of the best albums of the 1980s.[3][4][5]


The singles "Uncertain Smile" (originally released in 1981 in a different form and titled "Cold Spell Ahead") and "Perfect" were recorded in 1982 in New York with Mike Thorne producing, after The The had been signed by Epic Records in the USA.[6] However, the relationship between Johnson and Thorne quickly deteriorated as a result of Johnson's heavy drinking and drug use, and disagreements between the pair over the songs' production. The sessions were eventually abandoned and Johnson returned to London and began recording with Thorne's former engineer Paul Hardiman, reworking the two singles.[7] The version of "Uncertain Smile" released as a single in 1982 had featured flutes and a saxophone solo from the Uptown Horns founder Crispin Cioe, but for the album the song was re-recorded, replacing the saxophone solo with a lengthy piano solo by Jools Holland. In his 2007 autobiography Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie Boasts Holland recounted that when he first listened to the track he had expected to hear his contribution used as an instrumental break in the middle of the song, only to discover that Johnson had edited together two separate solos and used them as the song's outro instead.[8] "Perfect" features harmonica playing by New York Dolls singer David Johansen, a friend of Thorne's. The song was remixed by Johnson and Hardiman, only keeping Johansen's contribution from the original single. The new version was added on to the end of the US version of Soul Mining, and later to the CD versions, a fact which irritated Johnson who felt it was an unnecessary addition to the album.[7] The original New York-produced 7" single versions of both songs were included on The The's greatest hits album 45 RPM: The Singles of The The in 2002.

Apart from Holland and Johansen, the album features contributions from well-known musician friends of Johnson, including Orange Juice drummer Zeke Manyika, do-it-yourself synthesiser pioneer Thomas Leer, and experimental Australian musician Jim Thirlwell, credited on the album as one of his early aliases "Frank Want", and who would go on to achieve some degree of recognition recording under the name Foetus.

As with many of The The's early albums and singles, the original cover artwork is by Matt Johnson's brother Andrew, aka "Andy Dog". Different artwork was used for the UK and US album covers. The 2002 reissue replaced the original cover art with an early photograph of Matt Johnson.

Release and promotion[edit]

There are several different versions of the album in existence. Johnson originally intended the album to have seven tracks and finish with "Giant", but in the US his record company Epic insisted that seven songs was not enough for a full album, and the re-recorded version of "Perfect" was added to the US vinyl version, much to Johnson's annoyance. This extra track was also included on the album when it was first released on CD in June 1987, in both the UK and the US. There was also a limited edition of the original UK vinyl album which included a 12" single of an extended remix of "Perfect" with "Fruit of the Heart" and "Soup of Mixed Emotions" as the B-sides (catalogue number XPR 1250).

The US cassette version included extended mixes of "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" and "This Is the Day" added on to the end of each side of the cassette. The UK cassette version had the original seven-track album on side one, and "Perfect" and five other extra tracks on side two. Several of these tracks had originally been recorded for The Pornography of Despair, the album intended to be The The's debut album in 1982 but which was never released. "Three Orange Kisses from Kazan" and "Waitin' for the Upturn" were released as B-sides on the "Uncertain Smile" single, "Mental Healing Process" was on the B-side of "This Is the Day", and a version of "The Nature of Virtue" appeared on the B-side of "Perfect". "Fruit of the Heart" was an instrumental track. To date these five songs have never appeared anywhere on CD.

When The The's early albums were remastered and reissued in 2002, Johnson finally succeeded in having Soul Mining reissued without "Perfect", as originally intended.

The 2014 2-LP "30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" boxset of Soul Mining includes an authentic vinyl reproduction of the 1983 release, with audio remastered in 2013 (overseen by Matt Johnson at Abbey Road Studios), and is expanded with a second vinyl containing alternate versions, 12"'s and remixes, intended to complete a "purist album experience".


The artwork on the sleeve contains a drawing created by Andy Dog Johnson. Soul Mining was given a different cover for its 2002 release.

The The's logo and font for 'Soul Mining' were created in 1982 by Graphic Designer Fiona Skinner (Matt Johnson's girlfriend 1982-93). Skinner created the bespoke typeface for the release of 'Soul Mining' - hand cut in lino, hand printed then each word pasted together letter by letter.

Johnson references the artwork in this 2014 interview with 'The Quietus'

Fiona Skinner designed the layout and typography for much of The The's output during the period she & Matt Johnson were together. Along with the logo font she created a hand tooled font for the re-release of 'Burning Blue Soul', animated titles for 'The The Versus the World' and shot & directed the video for 'That Was the Day' (1993 re-release of This is the Day)

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[11]
The Guardian5/5 stars[12]
Mojo4/5 stars[13]
Q4/5 stars[14]
Record Collector4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[16]
Smash Hits8/10[17]

The album was well received on its release. Don Watson of NME said, "In days when the pop song has been reduced to the reiteration of catch-phrases, Matt Johnson flexes a rare literary flair. More importantly he has the command of music's immense possibilities to carry them through without self-indulgence. Ignore this LP if you must, but you'll be ignoring one of the year's rare heart-stopping moments."[19] In Melody Maker Steve Sutherland said, "As you return to Soul Mining again and again, there will be times when you discover it was the last thing you really wanted to do. It will sound mawkish, almost absurd, like a voice crying wolf over and over ... Then again, there'll be times when it will sound obscenely close to the bone, as if [Johnson] were invading and defiling your most private thoughts and emotions ... In other words, you'll use Soul Mining as a barometer to your day and if that's the principal function of great pop, then surely Soul Mining is great pop."[20] In the US, Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone praised Johnson's "sense of structure and his unerring ear for sonic definition" and highlighted "Uncertain Smile" and the "entirely gorgeous piano solo by the exceptionally talented Holland", but had reservations about the "obsessively self-absorbed lyrics... Youthful angst and anomie are fine in their place, but not all over the place." However, Loder concluded, "Johnson creates pop music with an agreeably individual stamp: In the current sea of synth-pop sludge, Soul Mining stands out".[16]

The release of the 30th anniversary deluxe edition in 2014 received universal praise from music critics. Michael Bonner of Uncut described the record as a "masterpiece" and said, "Released in the interzone between post-punk and synth pop, and reflecting both, Soul Mining thrums with ideas, tension and dread. Johnson's enduring lyrical concerns – social alienation, political disillusionment and troubles of the heart – are all present and correct, but unlike the industrial/psychedelic adventuring of Burning Blue Soul, they are here given a glossier sheen... Certainly, for an album of heavy themes, Soul Mining is musically surprisingly light." He concluded, "Soul Mining is arguably Johnson's defining work: ambitious, strange, exciting. And, 30-odd years on, remarkably fresh."[18] In Q Peter Paphides described the album as being "like one long distress signal from someone being held against their will inside a Sartre novel". He stated, "The years might not have been quite so kind to Soul Mining were it not for the inspired guest performances that Johnson teased out of his collaborators", singling out Holland's piano solo as "a high point on an album full of them".[14] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian also noted Holland's "genuinely astonishing performance" and said, "The lyrics contained the occasional hint of histrionic gaucheness – 'the cancer of love has eaten out my heart' seems a pretty melodramatic way to say you got dumped – but more often they're strikingly precocious: 'Uncertain Smile''s brilliant drawing of a confused relationship, 'The Twilight Hour''s painfully accurate depiction of self-obsession... More striking still is the ease with which Johnson marshals a kaleidoscopic array of musical influences into something coherent and unique. Quite aside from Holland's boogie-woogie piano, over the course of Soul Mining's seven tracks, you variously hear folk fiddles and accordion, the popping basslines of contemporary funk, punishing industrial beats, electronics derived from New York's then current club music... But Soul Mining never sounds disjointed, never feels like an exercise in smart-alec showboating: Johnson's songwriting holds its disparate elements tightly together." He concluded, "Soul Mining is a brilliant and very idiosyncratic album. Maybe that's why it's never really cited as an influence these days: you can't hope to mimic something this personal and unique."[12]


Melody Maker placed it at number 3 in its critics' list of the best albums of 1983[21] and the NME placed it at number 25 in its own list the same year.[22] In 1989 the music magazines Sounds and Record Mirror both included the album in their critics' lists of the albums of the decade, Sounds ranking it at number 24[3] and Record Mirror at number 8.[4] A supplement entitled "80 from the 80s" in the August 2007 issue of Mojo included Soul Mining as one of only four albums from 1983 to make its list of the 80 best albums of that decade.[5] Reviewing the remastered reissue in 2002, PopMatters said, "It may not make the list of best records of the '80s, but it's damn close, and would definitely stir some intense debate over its inclusion."[23]

The album was also included in the books 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Fear of Music: The Greatest 261 Albums Since Punk and Disco by journalist Garry Mulholland, who described it as "a hidden masterpiece".[24] In 2007 the UK newspaper The Guardian included Soul Mining in its list of "1000 albums to hear before you die".[25]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Matt Johnson.

LP: Epic / EPC 25525 (UK)[edit]

Side one
  1. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" – 5:45
  2. "This Is the Day" – 5:01
  3. "The Sinking Feeling" – 3:44
  4. "Uncertain Smile" – 6:52
Side two
  1. "The Twilight Hour" – 5:58
  2. "Soul Mining" – 4:50
  3. "Giant" – 9:36
  4. "Perfect" (US release only) – 5:36

Cassette: Epic / EPC 40 25525 (UK)[edit]

Side one
  1. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" – 5:45
  2. "This Is the Day" – 5:01
  3. "The Sinking Feeling" – 3:44
  4. "Uncertain Smile" – 6:52
  5. "The Twilight Hour" – 5:58
  6. "Soul Mining" – 4:50
  7. "Giant" – 9:36
Side two
  1. "Perfect" – 5:36
  2. "Three Orange Kisses from Kazan" – 4:27
  3. "The Nature of Virtue" – 5:50
  4. "Mental Healing Process" – 3:45
  5. "Waitin' for the Upturn" – 4:30
  6. "Fruit of the Heart" – 1:57

Cassette: Epic / PET 39266 (US)[edit]

Side one
  1. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" – 5:45
  2. "This Is the Day" – 5:01
  3. "The Sinking Feeling" – 3:44
  4. "Uncertain Smile" – 6:52
  5. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" [Special Mix] – 7:36
Side two
  1. "The Twilight Hour" – 5:58
  2. "Soul Mining" – 4:50
  3. "Giant" – 9:36
  4. "Perfect" – 5:36
  5. "This Is the Day" [12" Version] – 5:22

CD: Epic / CDEPC 25525 (UK)[edit]

  1. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" – 5:45
  2. "This Is the Day" – 5:01
  3. "The Sinking Feeling" – 3:44
  4. "Uncertain Smile" – 6:52
  5. "The Twilight Hour" – 5:58
  6. "Soul Mining" – 4:50
  7. "Giant" – 9:36
  8. "Perfect" – 5:36
  • The original CD release of Soul Mining added "Perfect" at the end of the album after "Giant". The 2002 remastered reissue removed the track, thus leaving the album's track listing as Matt Johnson originally intended.

2-LP 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (2014): Sony Music / 88843035261 (Europe)[edit]

Disc one – "Soul Mining"

Track listing as the original UK vinyl version.

Disc two – "Recollected"
Side one
  1. "Uncertain Smile" (New York 12" Version) – 10:00
  2. "Perfect" (New York 12" Version) – 9:01
Side two
  1. "This Is the Day" (12" Version) – 5:26
  2. "Fruit of the Heart" – 1:54
  3. "Perfect" (London 12" Version) – 5:41
  4. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" (12" Mix) – 7:39


  • Harry Beckett – trumpet on "Perfect"
  • Paul Boyle – fiddle on "This Is the Day"
  • Andy Duncan – drums on "This Is the Day", "Uncertain Smile", "Soul Mining" and "Perfect"
  • Paul Hardiman – chant on "Giant"
  • Camelle G. Hinds – bass guitar on "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)", "Uncertain Smile", "The Twilight Hour", "Giant" and "Perfect"
  • Jools Holland – piano on "Uncertain Smile"
  • David Johansen – harmonica on "Perfect"
  • Matt Johnson – vocals, synthesisers, percussion, instruments on all tracks, chant on "Giant"
  • Keith Laws – melodica on "Three Orange Kisses from Kazan"
  • Thomas Leer – synthesisers on "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)", "The Twilight Hour" and "Giant"
  • Martin McCarrick – cello on "The Twilight Hour"
  • Zeke Manyika – drums on "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)", "The Twilight Hour" and "Giant", chant on "Giant"
  • Jeremy Meek – bass guitar on "The Sinking Feeling"
  • Steve James Sherlock – flute and saxophone on "Three Orange Kisses from Kazan" and "Waitin' for the Upturn"
  • Anne Stephenson – violin on "The Twilight Hour"
  • Frank Want (aka Jim Thirlwell) – sticks on "Giant"
  • Wix (aka Paul Wickens) – accordion on "This Is the Day"


Chart (1983–84) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[26] 70
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[27] 14
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[28] 16
UK Albums (OCC)[29] 27


  1. ^ "Record News". Melody Maker. 22 October 1983. p. 4.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (ed.) (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). Guinness World Records. p. 555. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  3. ^ a b "Top 80 Albums of the 80s". Sounds. 30 September 1989.
  4. ^ a b "The Top 100 Albums of the Decade". Record Mirror. 25 November 1989. pp. 28–29.
  5. ^ a b "80 from the 80s – supplement". Mojo. No. 165. August 2007.
  6. ^ "The Same ... Only Different: Matt Johnson & Johnny Marr in Conversation (part 1)". Archived from the original on 14 July 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2012. Reproduced on
  7. ^ a b "The Same ... Only Different: Matt Johnson & Johnny Marr in Conversation (part 2)". Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012. Reproduced on
  8. ^ Holland, Jools; Vyner, Harriet. "Mushroom Men". Barefaced Lies and Boogie Woogie Boasts. Michael Joseph. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-0-14-102677-0.
  9. ^ "The The: Soul Mining (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) [Box Set]". Metacritic. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Soul Mining – The The". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  12. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (27 June 2014). "The The: Soul Mining reissue review – a brilliant and idiosyncratic pop album". The Guardian G2 supplement. p. 20. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  13. ^ "The The: Soul Mining". Mojo. No. 249. August 2014. p. 102.
  14. ^ a b Paphides, Peter (August 2014). "Definitive Statement". Q. No. 337. p. 118.
  15. ^ Staunton, Terry (July 2014). "The The – Soul Mining". Record Collector. No. 429. p. 101. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  16. ^ a b Loder, Kurt (10 May 1984). "The The: Soul Mining". Rolling Stone. No. 421. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  17. ^ Sheaff, Clair (10–23 November 1983). "The The: Soul Mining (Some Bizzare)". Smash Hits. p. 17.
  18. ^ a b Bonner, Michael (August 2014). "The The: Soul Mining 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition". Uncut. No. 207. pp. 86–87. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  19. ^ Watson, Don (22 October 1983). "Review: The The – Soul Mining". NME. p. 33.
  20. ^ Sutherland, Steve (22 October 1983). "Review: The The – Soul Mining". Melody Maker. p. 23.
  21. ^ "Albums of the Year". Melody Maker. 24 December 1983. p. 38.
  22. ^ "Vinyl Finals 1983". NME. 24 December 1983. p. 36.
  23. ^ Medsker, David (30 August 2002). "Review: The The – Soul Mining". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  24. ^ Mulholland, Garry (2007). Fear of Music: The Greatest 261 Albums Since Punk and Disco. Orion. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-7528-8243-7.
  25. ^ "1000 albums to hear before you die". The Guardian. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  27. ^ " – The The – Soul Mining" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  28. ^ " – The The – Soul Mining". Hung Medien.
  29. ^ "The The | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.

External links[edit]