In late 1983, after completing the With Sympathy tour, Ministry hunkered down at Pierce Arrow Recorders in Evanston, IL, to write and demo new music. Four songs were tracked in what would be just about the last gasp of the band’s first incarnation. The band’s singer/guitarist/keyboardist Alain Jourgensen, keyboardist Robert Roberts, and drummer Stephen George were joined by touring bassist Brad Hallen to work on the songs “The Game Is Over,” “Let’s Be Happy,” “Same Old Scene,” and “Wait,” none of which were ever officially released.
Which may have been because the band was about to change dramatically. Founding keyboardist John Davis was already out, and Roberts would exit for good soon after these sessions, and while George and Hallen would remain on board in diminishing capacities, appearing last in a remix of song that made its way onto the Twitch LP, Jourgensen’s increasing interest in the danceable industrial music typified by Cabaret Voltaire was steering Ministry away from the dark synthpop they’d been pursuing, and towards the much more aggressive sound of the band’s lasting fame. But from what one can hear of those four dead-end demos, Ministry may well have evolved satisfyingly even without such a major sea change. Here’s “The Game is Over.” It’s never been heard before—I couldn’t even find it bootlegged, and believe me, I hunted. It’s of a piece with all of Ministry’s early work, but, and perhaps this is due to the prominence given bassist Hallen, it feels more organic and flexible than With Sympathy, and more in line with the band’s live recordings from that era.
That, and the other three songs from that session, and an additional METRIC SHITLOAD of early Ministry/Jourgensen material will be available in a big posh pile called Trax! Box. The 7xCD/1x12”/64-page book set builds vastly on the older Early Trax and Side Trax compilations and last year’s expanded reissue of Twelve Inch Singles 1981-1984 in an endeavor to collect ALL of Jourgensen’s Wax Trax!-era material, and so includes not just rare Ministry music, but complete discographies and rarities from Revoting Cocks, the Ian MacKaye collaboration Pailhead, whose Trait E.P. still ranks to me as one of the greatest things MacKaye has ever touched, 1000 Homo DJs, whose cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” is fucking legendary, and so on. It will also include a 12” E.P. featuring a1982 Ministry concert that MAY in fact be the live recording DM told you about in this post a year and a half ago—the track sequence is identical. The release will be a limited Record Store Day exclusive, so unfortunately, issuing label Cleopatra Records isn’t taking pre-orders. If you go for it, give a flipper a nice shiny black eye for me. “Accidentally,” of course. Using your elbow gives you plausible deniability. (I am not a lawyer. That was not legal advice.)
Since it looks like once this box set drops there won’t be much more unreleased early Ministry left to mine for DM posts, I may be out of excuses to return again to this pet subject—as much as I loved the band in its industrial phase, its first era is far more interesting than the unfairly crappy rep it’s been saddled with would suggest, and given an opportunity to talk about it, I’ll take it! So since this could be it, I’ll go out by sharing this complete concert. It’s the Minneapolis stop on the With Sympathy tour. Enjoy.
Much gratitude to Rob Roberts for his help filling in details for this post.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Unless it’s horizontally’: Revolting Cocks cover Olivia Newton-John’s ‘(Let’s Get) Physical’
Ministry’s first video was for a song that has never been released. Until Today. Sort of.