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Soul Mining

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Soul Mining

Soul Mining
Studio album by The The
Released 21 October 1983
Recorded 1983 at MediaSound/Advision and SARM Studios, London
Genre Post-punk, synthpop, new wave
Length 41:42
Label Some Bizarre/Epic
Producer Paul Hardiman and Matt Johnson
The The chronology
Burning Blue Soul
Soul Mining
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/synthpop band The The. The 1981 album Burning Blue Soul was originally credited to the band's frontman Matt Johnson as a solo album, but later reissues now credit it to The The. Soul Mining was released in the UK on 21 October 1983[1] on Some Bizarre 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 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

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 too few 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 ‘2LP 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.’

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 92/100[9]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[10]
Melody Maker favourable[11]
NME very favourable[12]
PopMatters very favourable (2002 reissue)[13]

The album was well received on its release, and has retained its critical standing over the years. 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."[12] Melody Maker 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."[11]


Melody Maker placed it at number 3 in its critics' list of the best albums of 1983[14] and the NME placed it at number 25 in its own list the same year.[15] 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."[13]

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".[16] In 2007 the UK newspaper The Guardian included Soul Mining in its list of "1000 albums to hear before you die".[17]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Matt Johnson.

1983 vinyl LP release

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

1983 UK cassette release

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

1983 US cassette release

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 release

  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" (original 1987 release only) – 5:36
  • The original CD release of Soul Mining in June 1987 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.

2LP 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (remastered 2013)


  1. "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" – 5:45
  2. "This Is the Day" – 4:58
  3. "The Sinking Feeling" – 3:41
  4. "Uncertain Smile" – 6:53
  5. "The Twilight Hour" – 5:55
  6. "Soul Mining" – 4:47
  7. "Giant" – 9:39


  1. " Uncertain Smile (New York 12’’ Version)” – 10:00
  2. "Perfect (New York 12’’ Version)" – 9:01
  3. "This Is The Day (12’’ Version)" – 5:26
  4. "Fruit Of The Heart" – 1:54
  5. "Perfect (London 12’’ Version)" – 5:41
  6. "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"


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Roberts, David (ed.) (2006).  
  3. ^ a b "Top 80 Albums of the 80s".  
  4. ^ a b "The Top 100 Albums of the Decade".  
  5. ^ a b "80 from the 80s".  
  6. ^ "The Same... Only Different: Matt Johnson & Johnny Marr in Conversation (part 1)". Retrieved 2 January 2012.  Reproduced on
  7. ^ a b "The Same... Only Different: Matt Johnson & Johnny Marr in Conversation (part 2)". Retrieved 2 January 2012.  Reproduced on
  8. ^ Holland, Jools; Vyner, Harriet. "Mushroom Men". Barefaced Lies and Boogie Woogie Boasts.  
  9. ^ "Soul Mining". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. > ReviewSoul MiningThe The – at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b Sutherland, Steve (22 October 1983). "Review: The The – Soul Mining". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media). p. 23. 
  12. ^ a b Watson, Don (22 October 1983). "Review: The The – Soul Mining".  
  13. ^ a b Medsker, David (30 August 2002). "Soul Mining"Review: The The – .  
  14. ^ "Albums of the Year". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media). 24 December 1983. p. 38. 
  15. ^ "Albums of the Year". NME (London, England: IPC Media). 24 December 1983. p. 36. 
  16. ^ Mulholland, Garry (2007). Fear of Music: The Greatest 261 Albums Since Punk and Disco.  
  17. ^ "1000 albums to hear before you die".  

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