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Sunday Old School: Ministry

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Band Photo: Ministry (?)

More often than not with heavy metal bands, many fans will say how much they preferred a band’s early work, often saying the first album was the best and that the band changed their style too much later on. The latter is certainly true of Chicago’s, Ministry, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a Ministry fan who’s favourite album was “With Sympathy.” This album was the first from the band, who formed in 1981 from the ashes of Special Affect, which also featured Groovy Mann, later of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and unlike their later work which heavy metal fans are more familiar with, was a synthpop record, much more in the vein of such bands as Depeche Mode or the melodic pop stylings of Spandau Ballet. The album was a slow seller but nevertheless was able to reach the 90s position in the Billboard album charts.

After parting ways with band member Stephen George, Ministry founder Al Jourgensen performed more or less as a solo artist for the next Ministry record, “Twitch.” While it was still an electronic record, the album contained a heavier and darker tone and once again placed Ministry in the Billboard album charts, though only just this time, reaching a peak position of 194. Following, “Twitch,” Jourgensen began to become interested once again in playing the electric guitar and brought in Paul Barker and William Rieflen of The Blackouts for the next album, “The Land of Rape and Honey.” The record was a huge critical success and featured one of Ministry’s most popular songs, “Stigmata,” which was featured in 1990 film, Hardware. The use of electric guitars on the album made for a more metal approach to their music, which continued and was embellished on the next record, “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.” The album fared a little better than “…Rape and Honey,” earning it the number 163 spot on the Billboard album charts, one place higher than it’s predecessor

Following a live CD and home video, “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up,” and a host of side projects including Revolting Cocks, Ministry got to work on what is perhaps now regarded as their biggest album to date, “??F????T,” or as it is more commonly known, “Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs.” The record broke the band into the mainstream with two top twenty singles in “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” and “N.W.O,” as well as reaching the number 27 spot in the Billboard album charts and earning a high chart ranking in New Zealand. The proper name of the album is translated Greek for “head 69” with both of these terms being slang for oral sex, as was the English name “The way to succeed” (suck seed) “and the way to suck eggs” referring to the sixty nine position in sex. Following the lengthy touring and needed break in support of the album, the group got together in 1994 to record their next release, “Filth Pig.” “Filth Pig” was considered something of a failure, as it was met with mostly negative responses from critics and didn’t sell as well as, “Psalm 69” despite being the band’s highest charting album in the States, where it reached the peak position of 19. Their next album, “Dark Side Of The Spoon,” was also met with lukewarm reactions, though it did earn the band another Grammy nomination for the song, “Bad Blood.” The group’s success continued to dwindle over the next few years, releasing a compilation and live album before their next release of new material, “Animositisomina” in 2003 which only reached 157 in the album charts.

However, in 2004, the band launched into what was to become a very personal and vicious attack on the Presidency of George W. Bush with the album, “Houses of the Molé,” which apart from the single, “No W,” was notable for having every song on the album start with the letter “W.” The album did not chart and the group left Sanctuary Records as a result, but they still continued their attack on the American President with their next album, “Rio Grande Blood,” which was released in 2006. This album would gain recognition three years later when three of it’s songs, “Palestina,” “Khyber Pass” and “Fear (Is Big Business)” were used in the acclaimed film, “The Hurt Locker.” The record also continued Ministry’s tradition of sampling, though this time they spliced together quotes from President Bush to make it sound as though he was admitting to war crimes and acts of tyranny.

Although the band seemed to be rejuvenated by their contempt, Jourgensen announced that the band’s next album would be their last, claiming that he had other things to do and that since he thought a Democrat would win the next Presidential election, he should step down, claiming he “writes real shitty music when a Democrat’s in office.” And so it was the band released, “The Last Sucker” the next year and launched into a year long tour to promote the album and say “farewell” to the fans. The tour, appropriately dubbed, “C U LaTour,” was notable for comprising mostly of songs from the group’s latest three albums, before finishing with a few old songs and a cover, usually “What A Wonderful World,” an apt way to say goodbye. To date, Ministry have been as good as their word, having not performed a show since July 19th 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. Jourgensen has been busy with his label, 13th Planet Records and has vehemently denied any speculation about the band coming out of retirement. Whether or not Ministry ever do return isn’t important however. What should be noted is that the band were truly masters of their craft, leaving behind several fantastic songs and unique memories for anyone who ever got to catch them perform live.

Ministry - "Revenge"

Ministry - "Just One Fix"

Ministry - "Stigmata"

Ministry - "Let's Go"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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17 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Ministry"

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R10's avatar

Member

1. R10 writes:

Good write up,Oz. Never was a huge fan,but i bought that Psalm album back in the day because of the vid NWO. If i remember correctly,the culled snippets of George 1 in that one. Jesus Built My Hotrod was pretty damn good also. Never really paid much attention to Ministry after Psalm.

# Jul 17, 2011 @ 6:09 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks man. Yes they used sound bites from Bush Sr. back on Psalm 69 too, but I believe they were direct quotes, as opposed to on Rio Grande Blood where they fused quotes from Dubya together to say things like, "I am a brutal dictator."

# Jul 17, 2011 @ 6:31 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Snake_Boy's avatar

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3. Snake_Boy writes:

Yeah, man, great article. I wish Ministry would come back, but too bad it ain't gonna happen.

# Jul 18, 2011 @ 11:27 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Blindgreed1's avatar

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4. Blindgreed1 writes:

Nice piece Oz.

# Jul 18, 2011 @ 11:35 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar

Writer

5. Rex_84 writes:

It's a shame Al feels the New World Order is solely a device of the Republicans.

# Jul 18, 2011 @ 1:50 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

6. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks guys. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wouldn't be surprised if Ministry were to return someday though.

# Jul 18, 2011 @ 2:18 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
OlafBerzerker's avatar

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7. OlafBerzerker writes:

Nice read Oz. I remember psalm 69 dropping , crazy times.

# Jul 18, 2011 @ 10:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

Member

8. WOLF7 writes:

Ahh... Ministry!!!! One of my fav bands EVER!

Ministry and Al Jourgensen... an interesting story that should be turned into a movie. It's got it all: the money, women, sex, fast cars, the works... to fights, drugs, addictions, bankruptcy, depression and sadly deaths of 2 band members (Jeff Ward, William Tucker).

For those who are only familiar with Psalm 69, do yourself a favor, go listen to "Mind is a terrible thing to waste". It's a classic!

I don't think we'll ever get Ministry back, but fair enough, they've "made great albums and crappy albums" (in Al Jourgensen's words), great they ended their career by making great albums after the mid-late 90s low drug period ( Filthpig, Dark Side of the Spoon).


Btw, there are plenty of "borrowed" vocal samples all over Ministry's stuff other than Al's best buddy Mr Bush;

A few examples: The "turn right, turn right" you hear on N.W.O is none other than Dennis Hopper on Apocalypse Now.
The scream on "You know what you are" is taken from the very end of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, screamed by "the ugly".

Exciting, eh? More extremely important info everybody needs to know ;)

Good job, Oz!

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 4:55 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

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9. WOLF7 writes:

correction...and the classic album is of course "Mind is a terrible to thing to Taste"... ;)

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 4:59 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

10. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks again guys! Wolf, there's another former Ministry member that's sadly no longer with us, Paul Raven, also formerly of Prong and Killing Joke. Your wish for a Ministry film came true recently because a feature length documentary film, Fix, premiered recently.

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:23 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

11. Cynic writes:

Wait, so am I the only one who thinks "Filth Pig" is an amazing album? Maybe I just haven't heard much other Ministry apart from their newer more metal stuff but man, how can you beat a song like "The Fall"?

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:25 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

12. Diamond Oz writes:

I'm sure "Filth Pig" has become better liked in time, but when it came out it wasn't met with a great reception. Wolf, thanks, I never knew what was being said at the beginning of N.W.O. Me and my friends always used to shout "Terry! Terry!" at that part :P

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:36 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

Member

13. WOLF7 writes:

Cheers Oz!

Damn! Paul Raven, of course. How did I forget... :(

The "Fix" is finally out? Definitely gotta see that one. I believe it's mostly a documentary of the "Filthpig" tour no? Well, surely it'll cover all the things I mentioned... ;)

Cynic, actually you have a damn good point. Filthpig is actually quite a kickass album when I think of it... Reload, Filthpig, Lava, The Fall, Crumbs.
It's just that both Filthpig and Dark Side leave me with the feeling "is this the best you could do?"

But, I guess at that time, it was the best they could do, considering Al said he was a "heroin zombie" back in the mid-late 90s.

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:58 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

14. Cynic writes:

Yeah I suppose it does have some filler moments, but definitely has some pretty special and individual moments and production.

That said, I guess I'm still a bit of a recent Ministry convert then (Filthpig, Rio Grande Blood) so guess I'm lucky that if I like the so-so album I'm gonna have a lot of fun getting to the good stuff! Cheers to you and Oz for pointing me towards more of this evil.

# Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
musicologist's avatar

Member

15. musicologist writes:

When Ministry's opened with "Let's Go" on April 1st '08 @ the Fillmore, SF, I thought it was one of the best show starters ever. I also remember openingband Meshuggah's drummer hitting harder than most anyone I've seen

# Jul 27, 2011 @ 3:29 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

Member

16. WOLF7 writes:

^ Ministry and Meshuggah together. Now That makes me jealous!! Meshuggah's probably my fav band on this earth right now and Ministry will always be in my top 5.

Cynic, no probs mate! And it'd be a shame if Ministry would be remembered only - if at all (!) - by "Just One Fix" and "Bad Blood", which was of course on The Matrix soundtrack.

In my opinion, If you wanna know 'the real' Ministry, these are the albums to check out (in this order as well):

1. Mind is a terrible thing to waste (it's got the late 80s NIN / Skinny Puppy sound, yet the hard hitting guitars are there)

2. Land of Rape and Honey (just as evil as the title might suggest. Yet.. I still prefer "Mind is", don't even know why. Equally as good)

3. Houses of the Mole (much much better than the overall critics may suggest. Here you notice Ministry going towards more and more guitar driven band sound, distancing themselves from the Industrial sound)

Approach with causion: Animositisomina, Dark Side of The Spoon. There are some great tracks on both, but especially 'Dark Side' leaves me wondering... on what planet were you guys on making This???

Best avoided: Cover Up, Undercover. 2 cover albums. Just Ministry versions of the tracks, but all of the tracks simply lack fire, IMO. Got both of the albums, And Never Ever listen to them.

So there! Also Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker are cool albums, but not Ministry's best.

# Jul 27, 2011 @ 11:59 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
weasel321's avatar

Member

17. weasel321 writes:

1) psalm 69
2) land of...
3)mind is...
my top three....

# Jul 30, 2011 @ 10:35 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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