I saw this short-lived supergroup at the Knitting Factory (RIP) in Hollywood back in “the day.” Surprisingly, I was one of only a handful of people in attendance (including a leather jacket-yielding Bill Rieflin). Seeing a post-Ministry Paul Barker play with Tomahawk and The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison in what appeared to be little more than a gig practice was mind-blowing. An intimate experience such as this was 1) not expected, and 2) one that I’ll never have the pleasure of witnessing again. Unfortunately, the band only released the one studio album (in compact disc form only, no less) with 2007’s The Spoils on Fuzz Records. It’s worth seeking out, if you’re into the whole aggressive, industrial-alt-rock thing, which if you aren’t, it stands to reason that you should be questioning everything you ever thought you knew.
Pre-orders of the latest single from Lead Into Gold (aka Paul Ion Barker) came with this numbered and signed screen printing. It’s good to see the 30+ year old logo is prominently showcased front and center. According to my online sources (Paul Barker’s Facebook page), there are three sets of 82 prints. Mine reads 74/82-3, which means it’s 74 of 82 from the third set. Little pleases me more than to see a 59-year-old Industrial rock icon rehashing an obscure handle which now spans three decades. I look forward to more from this legendary musician.
Ministry’s 2003 studio album, Animositisomina FINALLY gets a vinyl release courtesy of UK’s Let Them Eat Vinyl. This 14-year-old album would be the last collaboration between industrial icons Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, also known as Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan. This was my go-to album whilst delivering pizza to the west side of Madison, WI before I moved back to California, and I am, without a doubt, ecstatic about its first-ever vinyl release.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, the power of LARD… three tracks, clocking in at just over 37 minutes, and the feeble-minded, tight-rolled pant leg sporting, baseball card collecting, 9-year-old version of myself would never be the same.
Now, keep in mind that it wasn’t until my college years that I was exposed to the all-star match-up between the repetitious poundings of industrial metal Godfathers, Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, and the politically motivated snarls of Dead Kennedys’ frontman, Jello Biafra. I chuckle to myself in wondering what my 9-year-old self would have thought of this album upon hearing it back in 1989 when it was first released. I probably would have had a nervous breakdown and gone missing for three or four days. Oh, what could have been?
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.
Officially titled ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, Ministry’s 1992 release is often referred to by its alternate banner: Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs. Industrial Metal’s junky grandfathers, Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker (Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, their respected aliases as music producers), close out their undeniable stint of groundbreaking Industrial Metal with this, the third major release by the Jourgensen/Barker brigade. Ministry had been releasing New Wave BS since 1983, but it’s unlistenable. They REALLY didn’t start until Barker joined in 1988. “We call it, the departure point.” – Bruce McCulloch
Starting with 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey, and continuing with 1989’s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, 1990’s In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (their live, and best in my opinion), and finally with 1992’s ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, Ministry single handedly created the iconic Industrial Metal sound. Pretty boy Trent Reznor and his vastly inferior NIИ be damned! About the only ups Mr. Reznor had was that he could control his heroin habit, thus granting him more commercial success. (I still can’t take Nine Inch Nails seriously, but I will admit their viral campaign for Year Zero was pretty amazing.)
ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ starts with the Grammy nominated N.W.O. (losing out to pretty boy’s Wish), followed by Just One Fix (the 12” cover to this single features the William S. Burroughs painting, Last Chance Junction and Curse on Drug Hysterics, btw).
Track 3 is the second in the TV series. A collection of various samples from obscure television shows set to a bed of Industrial thorns. TV III, the non-album track on 1995’s The Fall single is arguably my favorite Ministry song, but that’s a post for another time.
Track 4 features samples from the hit 80’s cartoon, G.I. Joe, and is titled, Hero. Jesus Built My Hotrod follows, then comes arguably the only skippable track on the album, track 6’s Scarecrow. This unfortunate cloud is quickly lifted and all but forgotten by the title track, Psalm 69… clearly the climax of the album.
Corrosion and Grace round out the album, offering well deserved breathers after an intense, Industrial workout.
ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, or Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs is by far not Ministry’s best, but it does neatly sum up an unparalleled 5-year adventure, unimagined by anyone before, and untouched by anyone since.