Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cover Up

Band: Ministry
Album: Cover Up
Best song: Obviously, "Supernaut" is a classic. Ministry's version of "Radar Love" makes it far more listenable.
Worst song: "What a Wonderful World" is decidedly less than wonderful.

I'm glad Ministry is gone.

I love fellow Trevian Al Jourgensen's contributions to music, but he'd gone too far afield. His final three albums were simply Bush-bashing nonsense and his song for our beloved Blackhawks is an affront to anyone with ears. As he slinked off into the night last year, it was a sad epitaph to a great career.

Nevertheless, Jourgensen busted out some friends and put out a covers record. Certainly, covers records aren't that creative -- covers are other artists' work, after all. Cat Power's The Covers Record and Jukebox were met with some acclaim (well, The Covers Record was) and I, personally, always enjoy a good covers record. Indeed, a good artist takes a song and makes it his or her own. For an example, see Devo's "Satisfcation."

Jourgensen does this. Ministry's sound is absolutely distinct, from "Just One Fix " to "N.W.O." to "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" to the now infamous -- and included on this set -- version of the Black Sabbath classic "Supernaut." Punishing drums, heavy guitar and a wildly distorted vocal track make for the Ministry sound.

Pitchfork's Cosmo Lee called Cover Up "the afterparty for Ministry's career," which is strikingly fitting. Jourgensen's band has gone through a million different phases, but a strikingly short peak (in the early 1990s) and a taste for heroin led the band to continue to be cited in regards to all things industrial rock.

As usual, Jourgensen recruited a host of singers and collaborators -- the album artist is actually listed as "Ministry and Co Conspirators -- from various hard rock bands. Leadbelly's "Black Betty" -- made most famous by Ram Jam -- gets Jourgensen's vocals, but Amen's Casey Chaos hits the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," Fear Factory's Burton Bell does the Stones' "Under My Thumb," Prong's Thomas M. Victor hits Deep Purple's "Space Truckin" and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" and Golden Earring's "Radar Love" and "Bang a Gong" get Josh Bradford of the Revolting Cocks.

Despite all the singers, the sound is decidedly Ministry. The samples remain, the sound of metal clangs against itself, the guitars punish and the drums sound like a machine gun. Overall, it's delightfully Ministry, despite the familiar melodies (from other bands, of course).

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