22 February 2006

Overlooked Albums from the 90's - #20

Psalm 69 by Ministry

After a few less well-known albums recently, I think it's time to get back to an album some people are familiar with. An album that will incite some discussion. Something to get people going "huh, you like what?" or "what do you mean overlooked?" or "hell shit YES, Ministry RULES". My guess is that a few people I know, or who are reading this, have once owned this album only to forget about it, or sell it, or something else along those lines. Or maybe you always steered way clear of Ministry and the kinds of freaks who listen to them. Well, whatever your feelings are, or have been, about Psalm 69 (once fully known as Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs) there's one thing that is certain: the album flat out ROCKS.

Now, this isn't your average Led Zeppelin, or Metallica, rocks-out-the-jams kind of music though. No, when I say that this album rocks I mean it in the nastiest, most sincere kind of way. It's like biting into a lit lightblub, getting pretty badly electrocuted, and then chewing on the glass for a while before spitting out the whole bloody mess in George Bush's face. It's the kind of album that could inspire Eeyore to start hitting the meth with Tigger and form a rock band just so they could trash the shit out of Pooh's house. Yeah, something along those lines. It used to make for some great pre-game music back when I was playing defensive end on my high school football team and I think THIS is the album I would be listening to REALLY loudly on my iPod to get psyched up if I was an iPod listening Olympic snowboarder. Needless to say, it's a long way away from the first song I ever heard by Ministry, the synth-poppy "Everyday is Halloween".

Psalm 69 is a perfect blend of rock, metal and industrial. I'm sure the album would appear on any list that took a good look at the best industrial albums ever released but I can't say that I've really ever heard anyone honestly consider this as a great album outside of those circles. To me, it is right up there with The Downward Spiral as the two albums that are the pinnacle of industrial rock and that (sadly) had so much to do with influencing (popular) crappy nu-metal.

AllMusic says:

Easily one of the most anticipated albums from that year, especially after Nine Inch Nails had helped bring industrial metal to the mainstream with the success of the overtly Ministry-worshipping Pretty Hate Machine, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs represented the high point of Alain Jourgensen and Paul Barker's incarnation as loud-as-hell electro-thrashers. The pump had been primed the previous year with the fierce "Jesus Built My Hot Rod," featuring Gibby Haynes from Butthole Surfers on vocals ranting over a galloping molten explosion of beats and feedback. Presented in a slightly edited version here, it's still the high point of the album, while a reworked version of its B-side, "TV Song" (here called "TV II" and with Jourgensen on vocals instead of Chris Connelly), also makes for some good noise. Throughout, however, Ministry as a unit shows their facility for straightforward, brutal noise crossed with clinical, on-the-money arrangements, whether it's the collage of crowd-riot samples bubbling throughout "N.W.O." or the chantings of Christian praise on the title track. As a role model for any number of nu-metallers down the road, Psalm 69 is often terribly underrated, but where Ministry succeeds while so many failed easily has to do with sheer vitriol only slightly tempered by the overwhelming hugeness of the songs. Consider the massive impact of the drums on "Just One Fix" as they lead into tightly wound, downward-spiral riffing or the hyper-speed clatter of "Hero" and "Corrosion." Jourgensen's rasped lyrical visions of a corrupt America, drug addiction, mindless patriotism, and religious hypocrisy aren't per se revelatory, but anyone who lived through the Bush years -- either father or son -- might find plenty to sympathize with. Secret highlight: "Scarecrow," which takes the massive slow pound of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" and takes it to a strung-out, harrowing new location.
As you probably realize, this is not your typical EAR FARM pick. People who know me might not have guessed that I used to listen to this album. Used to listen to it a lot. In fact, listening to it again these past few days I'm pleasantly surprised to hear all of these songs again, but proceed with caution. This music very well could make your ears bleed and isn't for all tastes, namely some of those who I know are reading this site. If you're still with me though, go listen NOW.

Listen:
  • "Just One Fix"
  • "Hero"
  • "Jesus Built My Hotrod"

Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM
#19 - Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column

if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list

Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s

21 comments:

Satisfied '75 said...

aww man, I loved this one when it came out. I think i was a sophmore in high school.

Matt said...

yep, 10th grade for me too...or, i think the summer after 10th grade actually. saw them at Lollapalooza that year too.

Muslim Unity said...

I thought your blog had something to do with genetic engineering in a scary way. I am against all those immoral things.
Ear Farm- I am glad it isn't! Keep up the good peaceful work!

Trevor Jackson said...

I'll echo that sophomore year shout-out. I had the "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" single and made my friends listen to it every time they got in the car. It was years before I finally read Joyce Carol Oates's story "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and learned that the speech at the beginning (on the single version--"where you were is gone . . .") was not a Jorg-original.

I thought I'd stick with "Land of Rape and Honey" through the years as my favorite Ministry album, but "Psalm 69" is the one I revisit. Great post.

rgsc said...

"It's the kind of album that could inspire Eeyore to start hitting the meth with Tigger and form a rock band just so they could trash the shit out of Pooh's house"

Best Minsitry description ever.

That album is like a punch in the face. It knocked me on my ass and when I crawled to my feet again I had a new understanding of the world. A much darker one. My initial reaction was the same as trevors - Land of Rape and Honey is my favourite - now I think I will have to blow the dust off them both and revisit them.

Love this series. Keep it up.

ZombieSilas said...

The loudest most insane band I have ever seen.

NWO is a great song.

God love Ministry.

I remember when Land of Rape and Honey came out. Up to that point the Insutrial sound had yet to be defined with such clarity.

Cz said...

The Wedding Present?! I saw them perform when I was at Late Night With Conan O'Brien back when I was still in HS. They were definitely pretty cool. I somehow started talking to one of their friends who was travelling with them and got great seats... poor mom had to sit way up top!

ZombieSilas said...

Oh yeah, don't ask me how I figured this out, but if you take that cd case and kinda fan it left to right in front of your face, it looks like the angel on the front and back cover is flying.

Try it.

Seriously.

Try it.

Matt said...

i had a hard time picking three songs to post on here because i love them all so damn much and yeah "NWO" is one of my favorite album openers ever.

"it looks like the angel on the front and back cover is flying."

haha.

Chandni said...

Awesome man you are my guru

David said...

so it wasn't just me...

this album still comes out every once in a while, and when it does... it scares me a bit. in a good way.

especially the screams of "just one fix"... criminy!

Robby said...

One of the top 10 (possibly 5) albums to get pumped to. I spent many summers skating to this album.

Naarayan said...

Thats cool..will get a hold of these songs and will definitely post back on what my thoughts are..

Cheers
Naarayan

Duke of Straw said...

Love the album but where is the best song? "Scarecrow" an epic if there ever was one.

Matt said...

well, i was torn over which songs to post but I had to leave off some of my favorites to give incentive for people to go out and actually buy the album.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a blogger, but my list of mp3s going through these blogs rocks. I've been searching for ministry for a while now. Thank Jeebus for Ear Farm.

You rock
gummby @ myspace

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

This is a hell of a list of overlooked albums, so I'm just going to jam another one in their which you seem to have overlooks (my, haven't 200 people already done this to you?) Where is Loveless by My Bloody Valentine? It's magnificent, and it's got your name all over it.

Note should be taken, I grew up to Psalm 69.. What an album.

Silicone Dreamer said...

Ministry- Not so over looked. Jesus Built my Hotrod was the 3rd highest selling single of all time from Warner Brothers. (As of the mid 90's)

If you are REALLY looking for the pinnacle of industrial rock, look no further than Skinny Puppy's The Process.

It's woefully overlooked, and light years ahead of anything Trent, or dear Uncle Al could ever come up with.

If nothing else take a listen to Hardset Head, transport yourself back 11 years ago and think about this song being released as the radio single.

I love Ministry and all (thinking about this record transports me back to my jr year of HS) but I'd really like to think that some peeps might appreciate the craftsmanship of The Process.

Sange said...

I really like your site a lot. I like the music you post. I like the band In Flames and among other harder bands that are out. Feel free to stop at my site anytime... www.theinnocencewithin.blogspot.com


Laters,

sange

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

It came to me yesterday, that Scarecrow sounds incredibly similar to How Soon Is Now by The Smiths... They are nothing alike in style but at their heart they are the same.. Knowing you to be a raging Smiths fan I had to post here...

Go listen and tell me if you agree.

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