Is the world crying out for scraps of Ministry? I’d forgotten demo versions were an actual thing but here are a smattering , alongside remixes (!), live tracks (!!) and unreleased side-project oddities (bingo!). Well, there’s certainly a die-hard collective of fans and why wouldn’t there be – despite an abrupt-ish change in musical style, the changing fashions since their inception in 1981 and the staggering fact Al Jourgensen is still alive, their worshippers remain, and good for them.
This is not, by anyone’s claims, an ideal introduction to get into the band. For starters, we’re more or less dropped into their early dream-synth period, leaving you to offer a great many Hail Marys as the electronic sax wails over a 1983 demo of Game is Over – it is extremely proficient, catchy even, but ultimately best as a fascinating look at an often remarkable band tentatively dipping an elbow in the bath, as opposed to their better known iron-plated dive-bombs. Same Old Scene, a cover of Roxy Music’s somewhat unloved 1980 single, is symptomatic of their posture at the time – dragged to and fro by a fascination in particularly English sounds, yet determined to comment on American restlessness and injustice.
Live tracks are all pulled from a 1982 Detroit gig, ensuring a consistently clear sound, if a slightly one-dimensional peek at Ministry at such an early stage. Of course, the folly of this is that fans have had access to many of these treasures for many moons, spread out hither and thither, yes, but of perfectly acceptable quality, though there are some which are still of note. Of significantly more interest to many will be the Twitch-era track, I See Red and Self Annoyed, the latter song deploying the first signs of genuine anger and violence which would soon be commonplace. Of the three Revolting Cocks tracks here, aficionados will be delighted to finally own the much sought after Drums Along the Carbide, though the real gem is the previously banned version of Olivia Newton-John’s Let’s Get Physical, ideal to play when visiting the in-laws. 1000 Homo DJs dub remix of Sabbath’s Supernaut is as ludicrous in concept as it is dazzling brilliant, a full-blooded stomp that genuinely adds satisfying layers to the original .
The real reason for this album, other than to keep Wax Trax! afloat, is that the initial boxset of rarities released was of such an eye-watering price that many voted with their wallets. This release is a reasonable compromise, pressed on double clear vinyl and with a satisfying inner sleeve for sniffing purposes whilst listening.