Minimalist industrial (the best kind), in all its Wax Trax! Records glory (though, it did not need said label’s social nuances to successfully flourish). 1988’s three-track EP, Idiot is an adventurous (and repetitive) introduction into Paul Barker’s debut (Ministry / Blackouts) side project, Lead into Gold. Only releasing one LP (1990’s Age of Reason), Lead into Gold was a short-lived, heavily weighted shadow, worthy of your next vacation from the scowling reality that is 2017 “America.” I’d suggest you listen with caution, but such a warning would fall upon deaf and ignorant ears.
Lead Into Gold, wait for it… on gold vinyl! Finally, an official vinyl release of Lead Into Gold’s (Paul Barker) Low and Slow 12″! Previously only existing as a test pressing (roughly only five copies), this gold vinyl release of the now 24 year old record is limited to 500 copies and is sold directly through the label, Wax Trax! Records. Sure, $16 is a bit much to pay for four tracks, but new Lead Into Gold certainly warrants excessive spending.
I was elated when I finally found my copy of Lead into Gold’s only full length, 1990’s Age of Reason. Like a child on Christmas unwrapping musical bliss, or something like that. I scored a sealed copy for super cheap online some, wow, 10+ years back. There is a bridge… there is water… and there has been a lot of that water… anyway, one needs to be in a very specific, sharp-minded and angry mood to fully enjoy this industrial masterwork. Today, I was that one. Enjoy with caution.
Victorious, self-promoted back-patting often follows a discovery of unrelated mediums. My fandom of all things Wax Trax!, (X-Ministry member) Paul Barker, and kickass covers first drove me, at nauseating high speeds, to the Lead into Gold (aka Paul Parker) three-track EP, Chicks & Speed: Futurism. Thinking little-to-nothing of the embossed “chick with speed” cover upon its immediate acquisition, set up a cloud parting, heaven’s light-shining, all-aware, and never forgotten moment of connection and instant recognizable correlation some several (possibly three) years later.
I’d heard Georges Bizet’s legendary opera, Carmen, several times prior, although I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint when and where, but this ear-ingesting fact is unimportant. What’s profoundly relevant is the striking similarity, i.e. blatant ripping off (homage?) of the 1955 Columbia Records (CL 735) discharge by André Kostelanetz and His Orchestra to the 1990 Wax Trax! Records release. Nowhere during the opera’s IV acts does the swelling drama invoke even a hint of the Chicago based American industrial offered by Lead into Gold, and nowhere throughout the 19 minutes of Chick & Speed: Futurism is a hint of Carmen revealed.
The struggles to continue the lifelong search of the ever-illusive relation between these two albums marches on, and perhaps always will, but the journey’s soundtrack, as well as its alluring cover art, certainly is provocative.
1988, with all its impotence and social frustrations, was a pretty damn outstanding year for music. Today we’re going to focus on (albeit very briefly because, let’s face it, I’ve got things to do) two outstanding works of Industrial fusion helmed from the prolific production due that was once known as Luxa Pan Productions. Very quickly, for those of you who have been living in a K-Mart dressing room for the past 25 years, Luxa Pan (Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, respectively) were the monikers of Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker. Sorry to be redundant for those to whom this fact is obvious… moving on.
In 1988, Ministry (Jourgensen/Luxa, Barker/Pan & crew) released the consciously alarming The Land of Rape and Honey. Also released in 1988 was Trait by Pailhead. Luxa Pan Productions was/is known for their excessive side projects, and their teaming with Minor Threat/Fugazi frontman, Ian MacKaye to form Pailhead is one of these bountiful side gigs.
Ok, so, FINALLY getting to the meat and potatoes of this damned post. Take a look at the pic of both covers at the top. Both albums were released the same year (1988), and both featured masterminds Jourgensen and Barker. Do the covers seem a bit similar to you? Something like a mushroom cloud, right? “Yes?” You reply with a vague tone. Ok, now take a look at the pic below.
By converting to grayscale and inverting the colors to The Land of Rape and Honey, you can clearly see the stark similarity between these two covers. I’m racking my brain on what this could mean. Did the boys just dig an ambiguous mushroom cloud image, enough to reproduce it on two different album covers by two “different” bands? Maybe. Did their excessive drug use drain them of their creative juices leaving them to repurpose an old idea? I don’t think so.
Here’s my thought. 1988 opened the door for a tsunami-sized wave of creative output by the Luxa Pan team (focusing solely on albums released between 1988 and 1993), and this mushroom cloud was a symbol for an explosion of releases that would define the career of both Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker.
Allow me to briefly break it down: Three albums by Revolting Cocks (You Goddamned Son of a Bitch, Beers, Steers, and Queers, and Linger Fickin’ Good), three albums by LARD (LARD, The Last Temptation of Reid, and Pure Chewing Satisfaction), a release by PTP, two released by 1000 Homo DJs (Apathy, and Supernaut) three by Lead into Gold (Idiot, Age of Reason, and Chicks & Speed: Futurism), four albums by Ministry (The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, In Case You didn’t Feel Like Showing Up, and Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs) and finally, two releases by Pailhead (I Will Refuse and Trait). So, if my overly simplified calculations are correct (and they probably aren’t), in the span of only six years, Luxa Pan Productions produced a total of 18 albums. The mind boggles in its feeble attempt to process this information.
Whether these covers were foreshadowing the brilliant work of two insanely talented musicians, or it was simply an overanalyzed coincidence, 1988 ignited a bonfire under Luxa Pan Productions, the flames of which are still burning strong to this day.