I have been, recently, thinking back to the first concert I ever went to as a 19-year-old. Held in the Wellington Town Hall it blew my mind. Originally the plan involved us heading to the capital to attend an All Black’s test at Athletic Park. A friend suggested we also head to the concert because it happened to be occurring later that evening. And so a life-long love with Matt Johnson and The The was created.
As an aside, I find the majority of people I speak to about The The have either never heard of them or absolutely adore them. There appears to be no in-between.
Last month The The released their first new music in a long, long time. First it was released only in the UK in a run of 2000 (old skool vinals) singles. The likes of me currently living in South Canterbury had no chance. Thanks to Spotify (and, I imagine, the massive demand from fans), the song is now online. Yesterday it reached its algorithmic tendrils out towards me suggesting I might want to listen. Indeed I did. It’s a beautiful song – I said so much in a tweet.
As another aside, Twitter really does fill you with awe and wonder when you get a like from your favourite band.
This new music from The The has led to the UK Guardian to feature the band in their 10 of the Best series. Have a squizz.
With that in mind, I thought I would do my own “10 of the best.” This isn’t countdown from lowest to highest – they are all first equal. I have ordered them by year of release.
Time has removed much of the concert from my memory banks. This song remains. A 10 minute epic near the end of Soul Mining turned into a half hour encore (probably 15 minutes max).
1. This is the Day
“You didn’t wake up this morning because you didn’t go to bed. You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red.” Imagine just standing at the bathroom mirror for the entire night wondering about your life. Matt Johnson lyrics never disappoint – and that’s just the opening of this song about a hard life being touched with just a hint of optimism.
The melody belies the message in this song about the most perfect English day.
This is the 51st state of the USA – indeed. As we move into a world of Trump and May (?), who can forget the 1980s when Regan and Thatcher were having a similar love in?
1. Sweet Bird of Truth
Another song with the live performance etched into my memory. A song of a solder heading to certain doom in yet another futile ware. This also makes the list because it rocks.
1. The Beat(en) Generation
I was listening to this yesterday and again I can’t help thinking how Matt so cunningly hides dark messages within a perfectly constructed 3 minute pop song. “The beaten generation. Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation.” Sound like current UK times much?
1. Armageddon Days (are here again)
A song about religious conflict written years before 9/11, Bush, Blair, Iraq or Afghanistan. So very prophetic.
1. Slow Emotion Replay
This one makes the list because it’s all groove. Harmonica, Johnny Marr guitar and lyrics about life. What more could you want?
1. I saw the Light
When The The released an album of Hank Williams covers I had to find out who Hank Williams was. This was before Google. It took ages.
1. We Can’t Stop What’s Coming
This new song makes its way into this list because it is so lovely. A tribute to his late brother Andy, responsible for much of the artwork on early albums and singles (some of which was banned). A gorgeous and glorious re-entry.
Enjoy and share. In these days of Spotify and Apple Music and whatever the one Jay-Z set up is called and nobody ever uses, word of mouth is just as important as algorithmic tendrils.