On Monday evening I joined Matt Johnson of The The on stage at Rough Trade East in London for a two hr Q&A about his ‘debut’ album, ‘Soul Mining’. It was a great evening with plenty to talk about and 200 eager fans there to listen and ask questions before queuing half way down the shop floor for autographs.
One fan even had the original art for the ‘Soul Mining’ cassette with him, complete with pasted up overlay. Matt recorded it all via clip on mics and I believe someone was video taping as well. I should be editing the audio sometime next week for a podcast. (Top photos by Nancy Brown and Adam James Seth-Ward, photo below posted on Twitter, thank you , please let me know who you are so I can credit you).
The recently released box set is something to cherish with lots of quirks courtesy of Matt’s designer Cally at Antar. Upon lifting the lid you’re greeted with a huge scan of one of the original master tapes on the underside and a 24″ x 36″ foldout containing images and liner notes. The download card is a large replica of a 1/4 inch reel to reel tape and I was thrilled to have a thank you on the reverse for providing images from my archive to the project.
The bonus disc of remixes and B-sides is probably the jewel in the crown as it arrives in a full colour gatefold plastered with Andy DOG Johnson‘s classic imagery. Finally we come to the original LP which is a faithful recreation with an inner sleeve showing the original labels barely visible printed straight on to the paper. Cally tells me he had to fight hard to present details like this and more as part of the package as Sony wanted it all cleaned up but to me these are the details that make it unique, showing off the artifact. More master tape scans finish the experience on the box bottom and the quality is top notch, it all feels as if a lot of care and attention has been taken to put this together.
The audio really doesn’t need rhapsodising over but the bonus Recollected disc contains alternate 12″ and early versions of Uncertain Smile, Perfect, This Is The Day and I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (all of my life) from the album and period B side Fruit of the Heart. The remaster has been very sympathetic to the original and with a lack of outtakes or demos the quality of the songs never dips or falters. You can order a copy direct here and there are several articles doing the rounds on the web at the moment, one of the best being John Doran‘s piece on the Quietus and check the latest issue of Mojo for 6 pages of Soul Mining.
Also I should point out that the box set is (intentionally) large enough to easily fit the dual 12″ of Matt and mine’s versions of ‘GIANT’ that was released for Record Store Day. This was always intended and nicely completes the set of Andy Dog cover art from that era whilst adding a touch of my own take on his work.