In his brilliant 2006 book Fear of Music, Garry Mulholland listed Matt Johnson's second album – his first as the The – as one of the "Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco". But, tellingly, he called it "a hidden masterpiece". That was nearly a decade ago, and since then Soul Mining appears to have dropped even further out of public view and off the critical radar.
Though he would go on to make bigger commercial waves with Infected and the near chart-topping Dusk, Matt Johnson’s first album fronting revolving-door line-ups of The The in 1983 (after a largely overlooked solo debut three years earlier) remains a notable peak. In many ways, its blend of dizzying dance-pop, tough guitar rock and lyrical angst was a blueprint for all that followed. Johnson sets out his stall on the anger and frustration of I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (All My Life), on which he sings, “I’ve been deformed by emotional scars/The cancer of love has eaten out my heart.
A week is a long time in pop music, and for a record to have its 30 year anniversary reissue and still sound as contemporary as it did upon its release is a miraculous achievement. Soul Mining was the debut album by The The, the nom de plume of Matt Johnson. He emerged as one of a clutch of musically sophisticated, angry young men of the 80’s, sounding like a modern day Winston Smith from George Orwell’s 1984.