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The The

The The was the guise of Matt Johnson, a mercurial singer/songwriter whose music ran the gamut from dance-pop to country. Born August 15, 1961, in London, Johnson was raised in the flat above his father's pub, the Two Puddings, a haven for well-known celebrities and criminals; he also became exposed to music at the nightclubs and dancehalls owned by his uncle, where he saw performers like Howlin' Wolf, the Kinks, and Muddy Waters. Johnson formed his first band, Roadstar, when he was 11; at the age of 15, he was hired as a tea boy for the DeWolfe music publishing company, and within three years, he was working in their recording studio as an assistant engineer.

After the demise of the duo the Marble Index in 1979, Johnson formed the first incarnation of The The with synth player Keith Laws; after playing their debut gig opening for Scritti Politti, the group issued its first single, "Controversial Subject," on the 4AD label in 1980. A year later, contractual obligations forced Johnson to issue the LP Burning Blue Soul under his own name; that year, he also recorded as a guitarist with the band the Gadgets, and The The contributed a track to the Some Bizzare Album compilation.

In 1982, The The -- now essentially a Johnson solo project, backed by a revolving coterie of musicians -- recorded the album The Pornography of Despair, which a dissatisfied Johnson chose not to release; a 1983 single recorded with Orange Juice's Zeke Manyika, "This Is the Day," formed the centerpiece of The The's proper debut, 1983's Soul Mining, an excursion into dance-flavored pop. Illness sidelined Johnson for much of the following year, and The The did not return until 1986's Infected, an eclectic commentary on the state of Britain in the modern world. Recorded with the aid of talents like Neneh Cherry, Art of Noise's Anne Dudley, and Swans' Roli Mosimann, Infected was also accompanied by an ambitious album-length video.

When The The returned with the dissonant Mind Bomb in 1989, they were once again a true band, with Johnson joined by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as well as bassist James Eller and former ABC drummer Dave Palmer. The same lineup remained for 1993's pared-down Dusk, but 1995's Hanky Panky marked yet another new direction when Johnson was joined by guitarist Eric Schermerhorn, keyboardist D.C. Collard, harmonica player Jim Fitting, and drummer Brian MacLeod on a brooding covers collection honoring the music of country great Hank Williams. Despite recording some material in 1997, Johnson didn't return with a new album until 2000's NakedSelf, which included Schermerhorn plus a new rhythm section of Spencer Campbell and Earl Harvin. Despite some touring during 2000 and much of 2001, the band dissolved.

Johnson continued to be busy, soundtracking several films over the subsequent ten years (including 2009's Tony and 2010's Moonbug), forming a publishing company to issue his father Eddie's memoir of life running a pub in East London, and occasionally releasing one-off singles. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Comments

the dusk cover is the second release, the disc set, where is the original cover?
he had it all, talent his story and awesome albums, too bad he stopped releasing.
justin11316
My day hasn't been perfect, but it just got a bit better.
this the true music that was ahead time my favorite memories being with friends and radio stations like kjjo 104.1 modern rock rev 105 the current
pegasi77
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days.
armsbyned
Sorry kids. This is real, real bad. People who sing like this shouldn't sing; it gives singing a bad name. Kindof bizarre to me how many people seem to like them. I find them to be completely unlistenable .
s.schmehl
Heard MJ on KEXP this morning....b r o u g h t back memories. I remember buying Soul Mining on cassette, just because of the band name, The The. Sill awesome 30 years later!!!
rossmachiner a c i n g
He did modern rock live on the radio which was an awesome acoustic set. Anyone have a link to it? I would agree on being underrated
Most people MJ- Michael Jackson

Me MJ- Matt Johnson
Damn fine Piano lead.
secglc2
Matt Johnson - Pure lyrical and musical genius. I was fortunate to see his band with the Cranberries as the opening act in Denver way back when.
Soul Mining, what a GREAT album!
One of the most underrated singers and songwriters, ever. Wish he was still doing music, but he seems to have stopped and is now running a cool (but non-musical) political blog. Miss his voice, music and insight into sound and true musicality.
mccombs9
Awesome band!
Thethe hanky panky is a great album.
budbud00
Bestest Band ever!
lung shadows ripped off to form HURT - NIN.. give it a listen.
Was introduced to The The in the 80's by the boyfriend at the time...best thing he ever did for me.
I saw The The in 1987 in London. Great show! He took requests and I screamed for him to play Uncertain Smile. He replied back, Well, that's an old one, then played it beautifully.
The great beatnik poet Lawrence Ferllengetti would have loved this band.
The The ignites a lingering sensation of uncertain emotions!
The The is one band that "Infects" me to the core... The contrast from Mind Bomb to Dusk is one of sheer delight and mental deconstructi o n . I have always described Mind Bomb as an album that makes you cry b/c of the state of the world, religion, love, and death and how it explodes while Dusk looks at all the same aspects within yourself and how the world implodes. I can't listen to just one song! I cry everytime I listen to either continuously . "Uncertain Smile" is my all time fave!
milosdad
Hanky Pank is a record I buy for all my friends. Never had the chance to see The the live but I have most records and I go through phases where I play them over and over. Something about them that just envelopes my moods.
Pandora we need "Infected" one the best albums from the 80's
funkylowlife
SAW THE THE WITH DEPECHE MODE YEARS AGO LOVED THE ALBUM DUSK, WHAT HAPPEN TO THEM??? WOULD DEF. GO SEE AGAIN!
life in nyc = a million shows, dusk tour at cbgb's 1 of top 3 ever (other 2: sonic youth also at cb's , swervedriver at the mercury ) wish we could see matt more than once every 10 yrs or so (and that goes for swerves too).
take me back to '85 please
Johnny Marr on guitar on Dusk was a plus
Yes the tour that acompanied the Dusk album in 93' was supperb as I was lucky enough to see the show twice in 3 months while they were circling the U.S. twice that summer and fall, the first loop as they headlined their own show & the 2nd loop as they opened for Depeche Mode on the devotional tour (both were super excellent shows)both were in Sacto, Cali. but the 1st was at the4 end of july at the Crest theatre, downtown Sacramento and I met him after the show. Super nice guy! My friend and I ra
stellarviole t
tough to pick a favorite, though I, too, saw them on tour w/Dusk - stood a mere 5 feet away from Mr. Johnson @ Venus - frightening how prophetic "Armageddon Days" turned out to be; love the Hank Williams stuff; "Infected" is infectious & probably one of the only songs with the word 'scrotum' in it; "Uncertain Smile", in addition to a great guitar riff has one of the best 'air piano' solo opportunitie s outside of classical music
Saw them live in Berlin when Dusk came out. I was a wee boy of 17 at the time. Army brats get a lot of opportunitie s . . . I enjoy The The and Dusk a great deal.
I LOVE The The. Dusk was one of my favs when it came out. I still will listen to it in one sitting. WONDERFUL album.
The The put on the best live show I ever saw, and I saw the Kinks and the Who in their heyday. (Yeah, I'm old). This was in the early nineties shortly after Dusk was released.
I thought I was the only one who knew about The The!
infected is there, just click on soul mining, then THE THE, the title, and you will find the album, somehow is not linked...
i i love love these these guys guys
soul mining is where it's at and the re-mix of this is the day on that dockers commercial is the sh it
Yeah!! Where is Infected??? hmmmmm.....
bnewman58
Yeah, where's Infected?
Where's "The Infected"??? ? ? ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Mind Bomb is on Pandora now!
the the is great. we need some mind bomb because armageddon days are here again lol
holdenalix
I went to NYC to see them @ irving Place and it was the best show I have ever seen I was right up frount for the whole show
Pandora! We want to hear Mind Bomb!
I had the same Shoreline experience as stubbsz. Fortunately I saw them a few years earlier at the Warfield in San Francisco. Outstanding show! There is a video of that same tour circulating out there somewhere.
mind bomb i wanna hear good morning beautiful and gravitate to me. Where is mind bomb?
a lyric genius, and a visionary, everything is brilliant, each one a different piece, I still enjoy "Infected" after repeated listening, there are a few weak spots with some of the other releases, but still worth listening.
eek no mindbomb nor infected. Burning Blue Soul needs to be here to.

I had a rough experience when i got my only chance to see them live (shoreline, Mountain View CA) They has some monitor speaker issues and couldn't hear themselves.. . they didn't fix the issues and bailed. I listen to two snorefests from New Order and then left with 40% of the audience.

Still would see them(him) if i had the chance though
Mind Bomb Is Mat's magnum opus. This must be subjugation.
This artist profile apparently hasn't been updated in years, and refers to the artist in the past tense, as though Matt were dead.

I've been a huge fan since '86, and believe his most recent full-length release, "NakedSelf", to be his best.
I saw him open for some other band shortly after the Dusk release. I bought tickets for a show after NakedSelf was released, but the concert was canceled. Haven't heard of any the The tours since.
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