Thursday, February 15, 2007

Matt Johnson-Burning Blue Soul,LP,1981,UK

Matt Johnson (born 15 August 1961, in London, England) is the founder and only constant member of the multimedia band, The The.
Matt Johnson / The The rose out of the post-punk industrial music scene of late 1970s Britain. Over the years he has proven himself a prolific songwriter on various subjects. On 1986's "Heartland (51st State of the USA)" he railed against the Americanization of the UK. "Global Eyes" from 2000's Naked Self album continues the argument to a global level. His observations on human sexuality have also raised eyebrows (and led to numerous radio bans) over the years on songs such as "Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)", "Dogs of Lust", "This Is the Night" and others.
Johnson also argued forcefully for music videos to be considered an extension of the creative process, rather than just a marketing tool. His Infected movie was the first full length video album and picked up various international awards. Johnson left Britain in the early 1990s, and by 2006 was dividing his time between New York and Gothenburg, Sweden.
The son of East End pub owners who used to put on gigs, he grew up with John Lee Hooker, The Kinks and The Small Faces dropping by his parents' pub. Going through phases of fascination with The Beatles, Motown and Glam rock, he left school at 15 and started forming try-out bands.
In November 1977 Johnson placed an advertisement in the NME 1977, asking for 'Bass/lead guitarist into Velvets/Syd Barrett'. Two musicians responded, but only one, Charles Blackburn, returned after the first rehearsal. He worked with Johnson until 1979 under the name of "The Original Marble Index"; when they split up, Blackburn would take that name with him.
Rehearsing every Sunday through January and February 1978, they gradually came up with a song "Automaton". After a mid-year break, they joined up in October with a drummer and bass player to rehearse at Johnson's parents' pub in Loughton. By February 1979, the drummer had dropped out, the bass player needed to study for exams, and Johnson and Blackburn parted ways over musical differences.
Johnson placed a second advert in the NME, stating his new influences `The Residents/Throbbing Gristle'. Janice Higgs, Peter Fenton Jones and Keith Laws met Johnson to begin `The The'. Higgs left after the first rehearsal, only to later join Blackburn's band after running into him at The The's first concert.
The The made their debut as a prototype electronic trio at London's Africa Centre on 11 May 1979, third on the bill to Scritti Politti and PragVec. Jones disappeared with their fee from that concert, leaving Johnson and Laws to carry on for two and a half years as a duo, using backing tape tracks for the drums and bass. (A mutual friend, Chris Wilson, has rare rehearsal/live tape recordings from this period).
The The later began playing shows with some of that era's most influential groups: Wire, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, This Heat, The Birthday Party and Scritti Politti. The band managed to appear on the indie record labels 4AD and Some Bizzare, the former releasing their 1981 debut album, Burning Blue Soul. Although the album was originally credited to Matt Johnson, future releases from Johnson (including re-issues of his debut album) were credited to The The. In 1983, Johnson/The The released the synth-noir classic Soul Mining.
As the titles suggest, Johnson explored the depths of his soul in his music. Studio psychosis in New York and Hunter S. Thompson-style road trips with manager Stevo lie behind the recording of early singles "Uncertain Smile" and "Perfect". The 1986 Infected album project led to The The breaking through commercially with singles like "Sweet Bird of Truth" and "Heartland". Johnson was sometimes seen with Tom Waits in New York, and also filmed the stunt-filled, longform video for Infected while in Harlem and in South America.
The The released the globally rallying Mind Bomb in 1989 along with its banned religious war-alerting single "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)". He recruited Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor and ex-The Smiths guitar ace Johnny Marr to join the band and toured the world, topping off with three sold out nights at London's Royal Albert Hall.
1993 saw the release of the UK No. 2 hit album Dusk and the singles "Love Is Stronger Than Death" and "Slow Emotion Replay". In 1995, Johnson moved to New York, preferring to conduct from afar his ongoing tussle with the meaning of Britishness. He released Hanky Panky, an album solely consisting of cover versions of Hank Williams' songs, such as "I Saw the Light", which was released as a single.
In 2000, the album Nakedself was released. It was well received by both critics and fans.
A review
For legal reasons, Johnson had to release this under his own name rather than as The The. This is the type of album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts got most of the attention for at the time. But rather than global and tribal themes(for the most part), Matt sticks to personal themes of young adult pain and sudden awareness, dressed up in highly uncommercial fashion, with help from Wire's Lewis and Gilbert. Challenging but unfailingly artistic, this is the debut most bedroom recording artists should produce, before pandering to the suits in the record industry. The general sound resembles the work of German experimentalists Can, especially on the highly percussive tracks. Other than Matt's plaintive lyrics/delivery, this album bears little resemblance to the more (relatively) accessible, pop-friendly sounds of Soul Mining, Infected, or Dusk. In spots, Matt's vocals are too far down in the mix, especially on "Song Without an Ending."
But for all the unique textures, Matt's lyrics are already in full-flower here. In fact, they're not a whole lot different from those on The The's Soul Mining album that appeared two years later. "Bugle Boy" is a harsh electric strum (and nothing more) over which he segues from political observation into trying to figure out women. Closing track "Another Boy Drowning" is another wonderful, percussion-free melody that seems amazingly depressing, yet somehow invigorates.
Elsewhere, the album is dotted with ambient instrumentals, reminiscent of some of the darker sounds from Another Green World. One of these bits steers right into a full-blown Eastern chant ("The River Flows East in Spring").

Get it Here


Anonymous said...

kai itan kai to sima apo tous "APOHXOUS" tou Argiri Zilou...
husker du?

Anonymous said...

thanks for this, matt johnson is great.
greetings: hermanthegerman

Anonymous said...

do you have soul mining ( the best album of the the) ?

bye and thanks for the beautyfull music

Justin said...

Do you know of an EP called "At Home"? Circa 1981-82
A lounge electronica record & one I would love to have back in my collection.

Anonymous said...

This record is a very masterpiece with one of the best psychedelic cover of the story...

Local Business Initiative said...

Hello thanks for sharing this cheers jason

Daniel said...

oh, could you repost this please?
im late for the good stuff.

Anonymous said...


I am almost 40 years old, I and can remember when a friend first introduced me to your music..
He and I have remained friends till this day, too cool.. In any case I am righting to you after @ 7 years and not having contact with him regularly because he is over seas, this my friend, now as of this date I am worried of his well being.

An earlier time in life I had received a phone call in Alabama, he was in Maui, and that’s when he stated “ If you want that @@@**%%%@#*tape: THE MIND BOMB back you, you better get to Maui ASAP...and so I did...

This was @ 13 years ago, and now I can’t find the tape, nor can I locate one on the internet..

This tape helped secure my self as a person, and had got me, and him through the most difficult of times in life.

I am hoping you may help me relocate a version of it , to get me thought these new times of hardship again.

Thank you for your time and consideration in such matter,

Denise La Clare
4139 Emerson way
Carson City NV. 89706