Artist Spotlight: Jourgensen / Barker / Connelly / Rieflin (or; The Ministry Industrial Complex) [Part 3 of 10]

Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

Ministry – The Land of Rape and Honey (1988) / 1000 Homo DJs – Apathy (1988)

Ministry was full on doing batch recording over the past few years, then they would sort and decide what song belonged to which “group”. This is how you get Lard from Ministry outtakes. More on that later.

The only thing Ministry knew going into the studio when the process began, was that they knew what they didn’t want to make. There was no direction, there was no plan, it was just to create these blobs of nebulous music, and then form and shape into something half-way intelligible. Al Jourgensen claims, on more than one occasion, that he took the master tapes, and cut them into inch long pieces. Then, he stepped on them, rubbed coffee grounds on them, pissed on them, then reassembled them in random order, and that’s how the sound of The Land and Rape and Honey was born. No one has ever corroborated this, and I find it highly suspect.

The Land of Rape and Honey (the title was swiped from Tisdale, Saskatchewan’s city motto, where they were producers of rapeseed oil, and applied by to the album by bassist Paul Barker) was finally released on October 11, 1988, and saw another shift in the band’s sound. The album is covered in distorted, buzzsaw guitars (some live, some sampled), and Jourgensen’s vocals move from faux-English fop to robotic screaming and growling. It isn’t the total metallic attack that appears on Psalm 69 later, but it’s easy to chart a course of evolution from 1986’s Twitch to 1992.

I can remember finding this in a used bin, and picking it up. Someone who had heard Psalm 69 as their first exposure to Ministry, was probably unlikely to take to this (more on that later). I had already heard Ministry from a dubbed tape of In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (more on that later also, but my friend who let me listen to it said: “My grandma asks me what I’m listening to, I tell her Ministry, and she says, ‘Oh, that’s nice!’”), so I was familiar with “The Missing” and “Deity” (I hadn’t heard enough to hear the live “Stigmata” yet). Other than that, I had heard “N.W.O.”, and I’m sure who ever hocked this was expecting more of that sound. Truthfully, those first three tracks aren’t that far removed from the heavier side of things, and “Flashback” fits in there, too, but the middle is sample heavy and pretty damn weird. It’s not hard to see how someone in 1992 could be turned off, Industrial was still underground, Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine was out, but we were still two years from their mainstream breakthrough of The Downward Spiral.

After buying it, I was playing it after close at McDonald’s, and there was a real metal head girl who worked there. Her impression was, “I like it, but I wish they did something more vocal.”

Prior to Ministry touring for the album, Revolting Cocks embarked on a mini-tour to introduce the new line-up to the fans. The shows were an amalgam of hippies, goths, rednecks, and rivetheads, but all was not well. Tensions between Jourgensen and vocalist Chris Connelly were already mounting. “It was pretty obvious Al was unhappy in his choice of singers, and was trying to get me to leave of my own accord, thus saving him the bother of firing me,” Connelly said. “I was not about to leave and go back to Edinburgh defeated.”

Meanwhile, another couple side-projects were coming down the pike. Apathy b/w Better Ways was released under the name 1000 Homo DJs at some point in 1988. Later, in 1990, the project released a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” with a B-side called “Hey Asshole”. The two singles were released together on CD as Supernaut, also in 1990.

The span of the singles had Jourgensen, Rieflin, Viva Nova (who worked with Thrill Kill Kult), Jello Biafra, Mike Scaccia (in what is probably the first recording with the Rigor Mortis guitarist), drummer Jeff Ward, and… Trent Reznor. Reznor was the original vocalist on “Supernaut”, but because TVT Records had signed Nine Inch Nails, they blocked the release. Despite rumors that Jourgensen just heavily distorted Reznor’s vocals, he actually did re-record the vocals himself.  TVT did eventually allow the release of the Reznor vocal version after they bought Wax Trax! Records in 1992.

Lard – The Power of Lard EP (1989)

But hey, what about that Jello Biafra, huh? What a character! Well, guess what? Jourgensen and Biafra met after a Dead Kennedys show in Chicago, and Biafra wanted Jourgensen to remix something from an electronic artist he knew called Christian Lunch. Biafra arrived with the tapes, but for some reason they were unusable. They both then admitted to each other that they should just collaborate on new music together, just like a would-be couple in the climactic scene in a rom-com. Well, all is well, because now they can be together!

Built out of outtakes from The Land of Rape of Honey, yet not sounding anything at all like that album, Jourgensen had Biafra add vocals to some music that he had put together with Barker and Jeff Ward. Biafra had no real lyrics prepared, so he just threw something together. Biafra recommended naming the project Lard, because you could slap the word on anything and it would be hilarious.

Recorded in 1988, but released (sometime) in 1989, The Power of Lard was released on CD and twelve-inch vinyl. “The Power of Lard” is mostly a bunch of repurposed slogans, while “Hellfudge” is ranting as if Biafra is a televangelist.  The third and final track is “Time to Melt”, a thirty-two-minute dirge.

PTP – Rubber Glove Seduction (1989) / Acid Horse – No Name, No Slogan (1989)

Back before the mini-Cocks tour, Jourgensen gave Connelly two songs from something he was calling “Zoo Disco” to work on, most likely to keep Connelly busy. One of those songs became PTP’s B-side “My Favorite Things”, the other eventually became “Never Believe” from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. The A-side, “Rubber Glove Seduction”, likely began life as a RevCo track, but no one is really quite sure (the drugs were flowing a-plenty). After completing the track, Jourgensen, Barker, and Connelly decided it had a life of its own, and used the PTP moniker that Jourgensen had used to sneak music into Robocop without Sire’s interference.

But between the B-side and the A-side, came Acid Horse. Cabaret Voltaire were in Chicago working on Groovy, Laidback and Nasty, when their producer became sick with food poisoning. With nothing else to do, they dropped into Chicago Trax, where the Ministry camp had taken up residence. Even though they didn’t finish, they started what would become “No Name, No Slogan”. After Cabaret Voltaire returned to England, they finally sent back their finished mix of the track which became the B-side, while the Jourgensen / Barker / Connelly version became the A-side.

Next week: The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste