Ministry: Side Trax

Lance Teegarden

Pailhead, 1000 Homo DJs, PTP, and Acid Horse tracks all on one CD.


Side Trax

Label: Rykodisc
US Release Date: 2004-10-12
UK Release Date: 2004-10-11
Amazon affiliate

Today it feels like this took place sometime late in the Jurassic period, but squeezed somewhere in between Eddie Vedder's choreographed but still seemingly dangerous scaling of the lights rig during "Alive," and the Red Hot Chili Peppers setting their hard hats ablaze -- they would upgrade from Arik Marshall to Dave Navarro and to light bulbs two years later -- Al Jorgensen and Ministry came on as the sun went down and stole the show from both venerable acts; a standout of an under-whelming Lollapalooza '92 tour.

The show was at the Jones Beach Amphitheater in Long Island, N.Y., and I saw what I thought to be a pretty good lineup. This included the Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush playing in the daylight hours, Ice Cube and the Jim Rose Circus Show, but truly, the only thing memorable was Ministry: outlandish, provoking without the burden of thought, and unrelenting. They were fresh off the release of Psalm 69 (arguably their best release up to that point) and were gaining some momentum thanks to MTV and the Gibby Hayes-assisted "Jesus Built My Hotrod." It was a time, you'll remember, when the industry saw dollar signs in alternative rock, and the 11,000 or so in attendance that night were treated to skulls and crossbones flying across the stage on dress carts, monster men, fey devil worship and as one writer once stated, "enough bite to feed a third world country."

It may have not been 144 million years ago, but today Al Jourgensen has soldiered on after Ministry's major label-dom came to a screeching halt with 1998's Dark Side of the Spoon. Ministry is now a Sanctuary recording artist and Jourgensen has given his longtime loyalists a treat with Side Trax, a Wax Trax compilation that compiles all four of his '80s side projects -- Pailhead, 1000 Homo DJs, PTP, and Acid Horse -- onto one CD. (Side Trax was simultaneously released with three Revolting Cocks releases and Early Trax which cobbles together Ministry's early singles on Wax Trax along with four unreleased tracks. All releases have been remastered.)

Six Pailhead tracks start off the record, which teams Jourgensen with Ian Mackaye of Fugazi and Minor Threat. "Man Should Surrender" is a chillingly effective opener with a dense groove that lurches forward through a minefield of electronic bleeps and guitar crunch. The rest of Pailhead's offerings follow a similar path, and are skeletal, almost minimalist, compared to some of Ministry's more kitchen-sink productions. "Don't Stand in Line," "I Will Refuse" and "Ballad" have a wonderfully anachronistic feel, making Pailhead a real treat. Things get even better with four tracks from 1000 Homo DJs: "Apathy" has that unpleasantly neurotic dance vibe going for it, "Better Ways" is an industrial rock dirge with Richard Butler/John Lydon vocals, and the DJs' cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" (featuring Trent Reznor) is probably the best thing on Side Trax. Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys then joins the after party to contribute his voice to the amusing throwaway, "Hey Asshole".

By the time it gets to PTP, Side Trax is peeling off its industrial rock tendencies and going strictly for the underground dance crowd. Revolting Cocks-like tracks "Rubber Glove Seduction" and "Favorite Things" prove to be far from memorable excursions, though "Favorite Things" does have Jourgensen cooing the line, "Soft and gentle, sentimental…" which is just as hilarious as you think it might be. Side Trax finishes up with PTP's "Show Me Your Spine" an unreleased track from the movie Robocop which features Orge from Skinny Puppy, but might give you a headache if you're prone to them. Acid Horse, the final collaboration featuring Ministry and Cabaret Voltaire, gives us two different mixes of one song.

So without any outtakes, B-sides, or moonlighting compilation, Side Trax is hit and miss, but it strikes the mark enough, which should be satisfactory for most Ministry fans. One of the truisms of all side projects is that an artist does tend to become a little less self-aware and less likely to edit himself or herself, for better or worse. Side Trax is a case in point for the better: for all its indulgences, it's one of the more interesting compilations of the year.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.