The The

The The were the brainchild of Matt Johnson, who formed the band after putting an advertisement in the music weekly NME asking for members influenced by Syd Barrett and Velvet Underground. With Johnson on vocals and guitar, Keith Laws playing synth and Peter Fenton-Jones playing guitar and violin, plus rhythms on backing tapes, the band made their debut at London's Africa Centre in 1979 supporting Scritti Politti. Various other members came and went as The The released their debut single “Controversial Subject”/”Black And White”, produced by members of Wire. In 1981 Johnson released a solo album, Burning Blue Soul, but kept The The alive as a duo with Laws and when Laws quit, Johnson continued on his own, using other musicians as and when he needed them. He finally got his reward in 1983 with the album Soul Mining, including the single “This Is The Day”, followed by the acclaimed single and album Infected in 1986. In 1988, Johnson recruited ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr for a new line-up of The The and further success followed with the 1993 album Dusk. Johnson continued to record with different line-ups on Hanky Panky (1995), an album of Hank Williams covers, and NakedSelf (2000), but has since primarily concentrated on soundtrack music. Reuniting with Marr, The The reemerged on Record Store Day 2017 with the new single “We Can’t Stop What’s Coming”, and a series of select tour dates in Europe and Australia ensued. In 2019, Johnson’s obscure 1978 solo album See Without Being Seen was reissued commercially on cassette tape, with a four-track sampler making its way onto streaming services. The same year, the group soundtracked the Gerard Johnson film Muscle, with the fruits of their labour eventually seeing a wider release in January 2021.

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