Ministry ‘Trax! Rarities’ Review: Compilation of rare Ministry recordings from their 1980’s Wax Trax! era.
Though most fans of industrial metal pioneers Ministry associate them with the sonic assault that brought them notoriety in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there’s a subset of listeners who pine for a return to the early 80’s synth-pop and dance-friendly origins of Al Jourgensen and his host of collaborators.
The release is a compilation of B-sides and deep cuts from their stint on Chicago’s Wax Trax! label, including several previously unreleased recordings, which covers the group’s more melodic output while also documenting their transition to aggressive industrial.
In addition to vintage material from the group, the release is also peppered with several songs from other Al Jourgensen-lead projects including, PTP, Pailhead, 1000 Homo DJ’s and Revolting Cocks.
The 2-disc set kicks off with live cuts from a Detroit performance in 1982, including tunes like the Soft Cell-esque Love Change and the anti-Reagan screed America (both of which feature Jourgensen’s faux-British vocals at their most flagrant).
I See Red (from the 1986 Twitch sessions) show how Jourgensen was unafraid to embrace funky textures within his clinical electronic template, while Self-Annoyed hints at the darker sonic detour he would take in the late 80’s, featuring guttural vocals over a daunting beat while sampling his own material (Destruction off 1988’s landmark The Land of Rape and Honey).
Revco fans will find the rarity Drums Along The Carbide of great interest, along with their uncensored cover Olivia Newton John’s Physical, while Fugazi lovers will find his collaboration with Jourgensen on Pailhead’s Don’t Stand In Line (Dub Mix) compelling. 1000 Homo DJ’s Supernaut also gets the dub treatment, and while a Black Sabbath cover with Reggae elements sounds like an odd proposition, it works in weird and wonderful ways.
Trax! Rarities is essential listening for Ministry completists, a fun nostalgia ride through one of the most unusual musical evolutions of the 20th century.