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.
Before Jesus Built My Hotrod, before the Revolting Cocks were even a drunken mistake of an idea, before Thieves, Stigmata, and Dark Side of the Spoon, there was Special Affect. This 1980 one-off by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen (guitar) and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult’s Frank Nardiello aka Groovie Mann (vocals) is up-beat dark wave music for the curious at heart, and you wolves among the sheepish weeds. Brush up on the lyrics to the left then enjoy a rare video of the album’s title track, Too Much Soft Living.
When it comes to groundbreaking albums, no format is considered too outlandish to the avid collector. Take for example, Ministry’s 1990 live album, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live). I own it on compact disc, twice on vinyl (US pressings), and cassette (featured here, obviously). This is one of the few dubbed tapes I had kicking around the truck back in high school (I believe Operation Ivy’s Energy was the b-side), so when I ran across this genuine, slightly grubby tape at a thrift store a few years back, I couldn’t help but part with my hard earned $2.
In 1987, industrial-metal pioneers, the illustrious Ministry, teamed up with straight-edge mogul, Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi), for an ambitious, yet magnificently executed collection of hardcore punk-industrial hybrids. Calling themselves Pailhead, the short-lived supergroup released six tracks over three releases and a comp. Featured here is their first record, well, the 12″ version of it, titled I Will Refuse. It’s not surprising that the record received both a 12″ and 7″ release, catering towards both the industrial (12″) and punk crowds (7″) respectively. Swap out MacKaye for Jello Biafra, add a few years (1989), and you’ve got LARD, another, more long-lasting venture into the punk-industrial genre that these Pailhead fools almost single-handedly established. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. Check ’em out.
Thinking of remodeling your lackluster bedroom? Why not try some punk-infused industrial goodness, aka LARD?! Math lesson: 101. Q: Dead Kennedys + Ministry = ??? A: LARD! I can throw a stone, hell, SEVERAL stones, MULTIPLE times, at everyone I know, and I won’t find ANYONE who’s into this band. Sounds like I need a new group of friends, does it not? Truth and honesty shoved down your throat with not so much as a chaser… let the LARD begin…
It’s a love affair. Mainly Jesus, and my hotrod. So end the lethargic rants of Butthole Surfers’ frontman Gibby Haynes on this massive, mechanical incision on early 90s pop radio, 1991’s Jesus Built My Hotrod by Industrial deities, Ministry. The single includes a kickass remix on side A, dubbed the Redline/Whiteline Version which far outweighs the original. JBMH is classic Ministry and wasn’t featured on a proper studio album until 1992’s ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, or Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs. Not for the faint of heart, or for respectable people in general, JBMH encapsulates a bygone era of soul-crushing melodies Ministry hasn’t been able to match in over two decades. A classic to say the least.
So reads the warrior of accountabilities pin on the lapel of the heavily saturated, liver-wigged, bloodstained, and anti-patriot of yesterday’s future on the cover of Ministry’s 1996 album, Filth Pig. Scumbags reunite and cast your hollow vote for this season’s cosmetic romance, and paint those faces of joyful optimism and mirroring nationalism with the juice stains of filtered truth and industrial bruising.
I am in no way ashamed to admit that I went through a Ministry phase. I’m also not apologetic to concede that said phase lasted the good part of 14 years. I’ve witnessed their bone-crushing live act more than a few times, and was even fortunate enough to walk away from one show with a (purchased) autograph, and a “game used” drumstick. Ministry was, at one time, my favorite rage band. Now, she serves as a nostalgic milestone, whose chapter I’ll reread from time to angry time.
Burning Inside, the band’s 1989 single off their ass-kicking masterpiece, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, features 12″ remixes to both the title track, as well as fan-favorite Thieves, and offers a live cover of Skinny Puppy’s Smothered Hope. For a cool $6.99 from (what I remember to be) Second Spin back in Madison, WI, this copy of Burning Inside joined its industrial brothers and sisters in my then blossoming collection.
A classic track by a classic band in the throes of their heyday, Burning Inside is essential Monday afternoon listening material, and as with all Ministry records featured here, comes highly recommended.
Released on Mr. Jourgenson’s 13th Planet Records, Ministry’s 10th studio album, 2006’s Rio Grande Blood finds ol’ granpaw Jourgenson and crew picking up where they left off with the first in the Bush-bashing trilogy, 2003’s Houses of the Mole. Where as the latter pays homage, if only in name, to Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, the former gets the root of its title from ZZ Top’s sophomore album, Rio Grande Mud.
I hesitate to say that Ministry’s music has evolved over the past three decades, as they seemed to have hit a creative plateau around 1988 – 1992, but that in no way means that this wave, and the band’s current one, are anything shy of ass-kickin’, spit-shootin’, name-takin’ industrial metal.
The Mind is A Terrible Thing to Taste… it’s not like chilled monkey brain, toast, or a pear. What you’re looking at are Brazilian and US pressings of Ministry’s 1989 masterpiece. Exactly half the contents of 1990’s live effort, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live), Mind is home to some of Ministry’s most prolific efforts: Breathe, Burning Inside, So What, and the resounding, Thieves. Food for thought… give Ministry a shot.
1988 was a good year for Ministry, and the quote, unquote, twelve-inch, maxi-single (of only two songs), Stigmata, highlighted the aggressive enthusiasm of its umbrella, The Land of Rape and Honey, and still serves as one of the best Ministry songs to date, some 26 years later. Yeah, that’s right… Stigmata is 26 years old, and Al Jourgensen, believe it or not, is still alive. Image that shit.
Anyway, a classic, with any given redefinition.
As far as Lard is concerned, it really doesn’t get much better than 1989’s The Power of Lard. “Pity the poor trainer, in the stable when the racehorse farts,” “It’s ok to run out of butter in Zambia, just smear squashed caterpillars on your toast,” and “Poison Oak really is the aphrodisiac of the Gods” are just the red hot tip of the frozen iceberg found within the band’s debut track.
Fast forward to 2000 with the release of the band’s 2nd EP (three tracks). Their fourth and final release, 70’s Rock Must Die unfortunately features more tongue than cheek, and is by far the band’s ill-fated gift. For you see, there really is no bad Lard album, track, phrase, loop, what-have-you, there’s just spitfire Industrial brilliance, and their other stuff.
A few days ago we had an earthquake here in Southern California. Initially it was monitored as a 4.7, and then was downgraded to a 4.4. How a conscious-inducing seismic anomaly can be reduced in mere hours is beyond my pre-K comprehension. Anyway, my girlfriend and I have, what I believe to be, a rational and logical understanding about what to do when the planet has a seizure. She finds the closest doorway, and I rush to the record wall to keep it from falling. Makes perfect sense to me, although death by records is not necessarily something my GF is keen to. After our 4.7 (or 4.4, depending on what wizardry of scientific evaluation you trust) we regained composure, picked up a few things that the Earth apparently wanted on the floor, and we went along about our day.
Among the debris of gravitational plunging, was a drumstick I luckily acquired from a Ministry concert during their 2003 Fornicatour (that’s what it was called). It had been resting above the doorframe to the office, opposite the drumstick from a Har Mar Superstar show I’d seized sometime in 2007 (my only two concert acquisitions). Since this was the first quake I had witnessed to knock anything over, the image of that beat-up baton lying helpless on the floor stuck with me. So now, I drop it here, like it has been dropped before, first from the stage to my outstretched arm, then to the floor from that early morning tremor. Beware of tumbling matter, kids, for when drumsticks fall from the sky, anything is seemingly possible.
It’s not entirely difficult to consider this Seattle-based foursome adequate participants of the late 70s, early 80s sewer-like wave of repressed energy, known today as punk, or as my Mother likes to call it, “the Devil’s music.” Missing, or rather, subdued is the raw, misguided anger found in Los Angeles and San Francisco based punk acts of the time. In its place resides the mature, but no less angry, rhythmically brilliant 1/3 new wave, 1/3 minimalist indie-rock, and 1/3 punk-influenced musicianship that somehow gets lost amongst the 33-year-old haze that was 1980.
Blackouts (here losing the The… on a side note and completing having nothing to do with this post, do you remember The The?) consisted of future RevCo, Ministry, R.E.M. (you read that right), Pigface, KMFDM (to name only a few) drummer Bill Rieflin, Roland Barker (brother of Revco, Ministry, Lead into Gold, Lard, PTP, Acid Horse, U.S.S.A. bassist Paul Barker… who would join this band immediately following the release of this EP), as well as Erich Werner and Mike Davidson, of whom I know virtually nothing about. Phew! That’s a lot of band-name dropping there, but you can begin to see the overall scope of this band’s, and subsequently, this EP’s brilliance. Or, maybe you can’t and you’d much prefer the screeching yelps of Katy Perry, or God forbid, Madonna! Either way, this 4-track EP comes highly recommended and should prove for an interesting listen if nothing else.
There is a distinct level of sophistication found throughout the three tracks on Revolting Cocks’ debut 12” No Devotion that is only hinted at on Ministry releases from the same label (Wax Trax! Records) in the same year (1985). There is something much more nefarious and menacing here than say, Everyday (Is Halloween), or even Over the Shoulder (both Ministry releases, and both released in 1985). The Nature of Love (again, Ministry… you can see where my head has been lately) comes close, but is lacking that fiendish push into classic industrial / EBM territory. Perhaps No Devotion, with its three tracks clocking in at 22 minutes, benefits largely due to the fact that RevCo, at this time, was a bit of a Wax Trax! Records supergroup. Consisting of Front 242 head, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker (surprisingly, Alain Jourgensen is isolated as Producer and not an official Cock), this preliminary incarnation of the ever-evolving band would only release one other record as a three piece, their first full length, 1986’s Big Sexy Land. After that, Richard 23 left, and Ministry mainstays Bill Rieflin, Paul Barker and Chris Connelly became official Cocks. The band would change again in 1993, then yet again in 2006, but that’s a topic for another time.
Every once in a blue moon I’ll get trapped amongst the early Wax Trax! Records releases, which usually leaves me with a raging headache and the smell of whiskey on my breath, but every time I’m more than happy to welcome the comfort of anger and disgust that inevitably comes along with some of the pinnacle releases of the industrial movement.
I’ve set the new-wave-turned-dangerously-industrial wheels in motion, so why stop now? I can picture you penning an extensive list of (possibly legitimate) reasons exactly why to stop, but I’ll ignore that. I assure you, this won’t turn into the Ministry-all-you-can-eat-buffet hour. It’s just that I’m currently locked inside this early-Ministry shmorgishborg and I’m enjoying these hidden new wave masterworks as though it were my first time. You can imagine my excitement… or, you can’t… but NOW you can.
Released in 1983 (or 1982, depending on your source), Work for Love was one of three singles from early-Ministry’s debut album, With Sympathy (the others being I Wanted to Tell Her and Revenge). I’m in love with the cover art almost as much as I am with the mind numbing catchiness of the song. This single houses three, that’s right three versions of the track, Extended, Short and Dub, and believe it or not, you really don’t have to work very hard to fall in love with this 30-year-old gem (I’m sorry).
Editor’s note: I’ve been in a digitizing mood lately, so if there is anything you guys want that I may have on vinyl, email me and I’ll rip it for you. For some self-loathing reason, I thoroughly enjoy the process.
It’s the first rather cold day here in LA (if that isn’t the oxymoron to end all oxymorons), and it feels amazing. So, what may seem as a bit of a stretch for some (I’ll ask those to remain silent), today’s choice for the daily platter-player is the appropriate Cold Life EP by early-Ministry. I specify early-Ministry because the contents of the first seven or so years of the bands output sounds NOTHING like the music we’ve all grown to love and admire.
Those expecting the obsessive rage and severe crunch of Ministry circa: 1988-1996 (and beyond for that matter) will be extremely shocked (and instantly irate) upon first listen, and will demand a throw down claiming this new wave, funk noise is not Ministry at all. Well, my fellow tender meatheads, you’d lose that battle. Like a spitting, swinging light in the damp and musty basement of industrial music history, signs of classic Ministry illuminate in stabby bursts throughout these four, groove-happy tracks. They may be suffocated by early 80s synth-pop, but believe me… they’re there.
A must for the diehard Ministry fan, or the casual fan of the progressive lineage of industrial music as a whole, Cold Life, upon further spins, is not near as bad as it first seems, and after the cloud of fury subsides, it’s actually an extremely enjoyable listen.
If you were stranded on a remote island (that conveniently harbored electricity, speakers and a bomb-ass turntable), and you were only allowed to pick three albums with which to spin for your remaining, ocean-gazing days, what three albums would they be?
For me, the first two albums were no-brainers. Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Choosing the proper versions, both albums are double LPs (1998’s Grand Royal reissue and 2011’s mono/stereo split), so you’re already a leg up on the island dwelling competition. The third and final album requires much more, overanalyzed thought. Do you play it safe and pick Abbey Road? What about The Beatles, also known as the White Album? Or, do you skip the 12” format altogether and grab your favorite song, which just happens to be a post-hardcore thrasher by the obscure Wisconsin band, Defacto Oppression? Certainly NOT an easy decision to make (in this overly voluptuous hypothetical), second-guessing is sure to follow after the inevitably dreadful decision is (finally) made.
Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska garnishes some thought, but would probably be far too depressing… after all, these three albums will help feed, or deter the fact that you are, after all, stranded on a remote island. Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan is a considerably strong candidate, but would immediately be my number four pick. Bizarre Ride II (The Pharcyde), In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live) (Ministry), This is Tim Hardin (Tim Hardin… duh), and Circa: Now! (Rocket from the Crypt) are all, exceptional lily pads on this thought pond, but none of them make the distinct cut.
London Calling (The Clash), Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen), Singles – 45’s and Under (Squeeze), Energy (Operation Ivy), Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses), which would easily be my number five pick, Black Monk Time (The Monks), and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys) all lay floating in the salted sea of “never to enjoy again.” Damn, this post is depressing.
And the winner goes to… The Shape of Punk to Come… the quintessential soundtrack to my evasive youth wins the number three spot, and with little hesitation, I might add. Refused’s best, and another double LP, this top three has quickly turned into the top six, and would respectfully demonstrate, and/or adequately demolish my headspace for the rest of my delusional life. To pick three out of 2,800 is certainly NOT an easy gesture… if asked again tomorrow, I’d have a completely different roster. Oh, the joy, and immediate pleasure of viable options.