We're still a rock band, and COVER UP is the Ministry party album."
On March 28, 2008, industrial rock pioneers Ministry kicked off their C U LaTouR in Vancouver, British Colombia, featuring the likes of Co-Conspirators: John Bechdel, Burton C. Bell, Tony Campos, Jimmy DeGrasso, Sin Quirin, and Tommy Victor. COVER UP was released on April 1 in order to coincide with the "farewell" tour, and the 12 tracks included therein are nothing short of genius borrowed from genius.
Personally, I have a hard time believing that we've heard the last of this band. It's just not like Al Jourgensen to keep his mouth shut indefinitely.
Walk with me, through the haunted wood lit only by strobe lights...
"Under My Thumb"
The Rolling Stones
One of the hottest songs in the tradition of Master & Servitude receives a sweaty, steamy makeover, courtesy of Al & the Crew, with the sweet assist going to Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell. The hungry guitars, reminiscent of the beloved PSALM 69 era in tone and texture, lead the way through the thick of the plot, while the vocals drip with a delectably sweet/sour Bell/Jourgensen combination. Simply unable to let me down, Ministry comes through with the unholy lyrical re-jig: “Her eyes are just kept to herself… Well, I can still fuck someone else.” This track is hot. White-hot.
"Bang a Gong"
Perhaps the most true-to-original-form of all the selections on the album, this song is sexy, snarly, and superfline! The beat takes on a punkier persona, as Josh Bradford of Burlington, Ontario post-hardcore band Silverstein steps into the vocalistic limelight. The bass drum is particularly fierce on this track, while the electric gee-tars project a decidedly gritty, guttural sound quality. The result is like lickety-split. But wait! There’s more! The next track promises to crank the thermostat even higher...
Bradford lends his vocal stylings again in this masterful re-working of the quintessential Golden Earring tune, which easily falls into my Top 3 picks on this album. One must understand that this is high praise, indeed, given that I had been previously exposed to a most-almighty version of this song, performed by black metal legend King Diamond, with his pre-Mercyful Fate band Black Rose (which is pretty much all that I listen to when tending to the Altar). About 100 x louder than anything that Radar Love’s original Masters could ever have envisioned for it; please be sure you are adequately prepared to handle the face-melting solo that rides like the RCMP! Thundering drum machines a-plenty, and they’re running at full capacity on this track.
King Diamond & Black Rose :: Radar Love (MP3)
From driving drum machines to hypnotic cowbell, Space Truckin’ sounded like something I wanted to skip through, until I came face to face with the breathtaking falsetto of Prong’s Tommy Victor. The beats are also pretty cool, with an energizing, RevCo-reminiscent twist! Now, hush! Falsetto is speaking.
This song could (and unfortunately, probably will) be used as an Athletic Event Crowd Revitalizer; it’s just that straight-up hardcore. This cover is Ministry at its loud, proud, barn-burning best.
Tommy Victor is back in the guitar/vox hot seat in Mississippi Queen, and you know what? I want to skip tracks again. I think it’s personal now, Tommy. Just leave.
"Just Got Paid"
This hard and fast cover of ZZ Top’s Just Got Paid kicked me in the stomach within the first 10 seconds of the track. Machine gun blast beats lay down a brutal rhythm, while a super-tight guitar riff whines sharply overhead. Jourgensen’s vocals are at their thick, throaty best here, showcasing his unique talent to near-fatally assault me in whatever mode of caterwauling he so chooses. There is no Guest Death Metaller assisting on this track; the voice you hear is that of Papa Al, my Sweet Baboo.
One-word summary for this track: whiplash. Featuring Casey Chaos of Amen, there is a latent energy present in this song which is very reminiscent of that which lives and breathes in Ministry’s gear head classic of religious proportions, Jesus Built My Hotrod. Mr. Chaos gets lost somewhere in the background, while the One-Begotten Jourgensen shrieks: “Let it roll… All night long.” Whatever you say, baby... I am in your command.
This song originally appeared on the first installment of NATIVITY IN BLACK. In spite of my deep hatred for bands who expect me to keep buying the same track over and over again as it appears on a multitude of releases, I am glad that this homage was dusted-off for the purposes of COVER UP. Al’s vocals of 10+ years ago are fresh, and crisp, and remind me of bygone days of cutting class to go smoke a joint down by the lake.
It’s not the catchiest, or the kickiest, or the heaviest, or the baddest, but for personal reasons, I like it the best. Ministry lends a whole new atmospheric quality to Bob Dylan’s tender ode to the fair sex. I grew up surrounded by Dylan’s vast repertoire courtesy of my Father, who I truly believe was a life-drinking nomad in a previous life (before he became My Dad). Given my degree of exposure and, in due course, worship of the iconic American songwriter, it was only natural that I should latch on to Ministry’s tart, almost desperate rendition released decades later.
Making its debut on the often overlooked and underrated FILTHPIG album in 1996, this track smacks of pure longing. The electric strings are left with a little more slack, while a humble acoustic cries more softly underneath. Enjoy it while it lasts, for this is one of the few times when Ministry’s guitars call to mind the sound of a kitty purring. Grinding, driving, and relentless is the almost-unbroken musical refrain, while Jourgensen convincingly begs the (modified) question: “Why wait any longer for the one you love when he’s standing over you?”
"What a Wonderful World"
Is it just me, or does every band cover this song any time a member of their lineup is getting ready to beef it, full throttle, into the Great Beyond? As much as I love it when Ally Dearest puts on his romantigrowl for me, I still have to pass on this song. I was never really moved by the original, nor am I moved by this one. It’s over, please let it go. Sure, 50% of Ministry's version is played at the speed of light, but the gushy lyrics remain intact. Therefore, it doesn’t even come close to rivaling the best version of this song in existence, recorded by Ghoul, one of the Kittster's favourite scary-metal acts.
The following 2 "hidden" tracks are also re-works of this "Wonderful" Armstrong hit. The 3rd and final "hidden" tune is something significantly more special.
John R. Bell (no relation to Burton C.)
A fan’s loving tribute to the greatest heavy/industrial rock band of all time.
5/5 Kitty Skulls = Pick of the litter!