Ministry and Co-Conspirators
While he’s sadly laid the Ministry name to rest, main man Al Jourgensen leaves fans with this final footnote, a covers compilation which he describes as a “Ministry party record.”
Judging by the track listing alone, which relies heavily on classic rock, glam, and old blues, it’s easy to assume that Uncle Al and fellow co-conspirators like Prong’s Tommy Victor and Fear Factor singer Burton C. Bell had a ball waxing nostalgic. The festivities kick off with a catchy, metal-meets-new wave overhaul of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” where Bell barks Jagger’s lyrics, guitarist Sin Quirin shreds the melodies, and Jourgensen provides the backbone with strings, twinkling keyboards and arena drums. In fact, Jourgensen seems content to switch it up with other vocalists and play more of a production role throughout Cover Up.
Regardless, the record bears Ministry’s signature sound through and through. By adding crunchy overdrive and pummeling kick drums to T Rex’s “Bang a Gong,” going psychobilly for Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” redo, and completely replacing Ledbetter’s “Black Betty” blues riffs with digitized speed metal, Jourgensen and company’s industrial-thrash approach is still firmly intact. Along with the new Ministry covers, the 11-song set revisits old-school ones like the sludgy, bass-heavy rework of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” (off of 1996’s Filth Pig) and the dance-friendly remix of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” (recorded under the 1000 Homo DJ’s moniker), the latter of which remains a goth club staple.
The band still manages to pull off a surprise or two, including Cover Up’s finale, a both touching and rousing send-up of “What a Wonderful World.” The first half of the seven-minute swan song, which includes Jourgensen’s guttural vocal homage to Louis Armstrong, sways with classic orchestration and arrangements reminiscent of the original before it quickly blasts into a full-throttle punk assault.
While this may seem the ideal, adrenalized ending for Ministry, Jourgensen awards fans who stick around for a few extra minutes with a brief, amusing a capella version of the band’s classic track, “Stigmata.” As the un-credited singer hams it up with his Rat Pack-style delivery, fans might find this to be somewhat of a puzzling, anti-climactic bow. But knowing Jourgensen’s penchant for taking the piss, he probably wouldn’t have bid adieu any other way.
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