In the last few months, Run Out Groove has continued an initiative to get recent classics from the new millennium onto wax. With deluxe packaging and heavyweight, colored vinyl pressings, the label’s limited-edition LP releases present Warner titles from the CD-era and beyond treasures in a unique and new way. Now, Greatest Fits, a 2001 compilation by industrial rock forerunners Ministry has received the Run Out Groove treatment with its first-ever vinyl appearance. The Second Disc was able to take a listen.
Chicago-based Ministry was founded in the early ’80s by Al Jourgensen. Originally part or the synthy new wave scene, the band switched gears by the middle of the decade to incorporate a newer, heavier musical aesthetic. With a blend of sometimes jarring synth textures, tape loops, drum machines, distorted instruments, and audio samples from pop culture, the group effectively drafted the blueprint for the industrial scene.
After one album on Arista in 1983, Ministry signed with Sire/Warner Bros., for whom the group would deliver eight albums. And though the industrial movement often catered to the underground, the group found some mainstream notoriety in the early ’90s when “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” became a Grammy-nominated hit. Naturally, it features among the 13 Sire/Warner-era tracks that make up Greatest Fits.
In addition to material culled from 6 studio ventures recorded between 1988 to 2001, the compilation also features live material and previously unreleased tracks. In fact, Greatest Fits kicks off with one such rarity, “What About Us?” Though it was excerpted in a scene in the 2001 Spielberg flick A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the full-length version is exclusive to Greatest Fits and makes its vinyl debut here. With its sludgy guitars, wild slide accompaniment, copious feedback and distorted vocals, “What About Us?” invites the listener in to the sometimes disorienting world of Ministry’s music. The blend of hard rock influences, musique concrete, and synth experimentation continues on “Thieves,” originally from 1989’s The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. One of many highlights on the compilation, the tracks features rapid-fire guitar lines and an array of sampled sounds, including the grinding of drills, gunshots dubbed onto the drum track, and dialog from R. Lee Ermey’s drill instructor character from Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. The song builds with a shouted lead vocal leading into a hectic and driving rock workout that is typical of many of the songs on this set: sometimes frantic, often intensely rhythmic, and always lyrically acerbic.
Recorded live in Perth, Australia in 1994, the 10-minute “So What” is hypnotic in another way. It features a siren-like slide guitar backing and a repetitive chiming melodic line also played on guitar. At first driven by a manipulated recording of a PSA film, the samples eventually blend in and interact with the delayed and effected lead vocal in a frantically delivered song that addresses government corruption, war, and the cultural effects of violence. Meanwhile, Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes provides lead vocals on the energetic, slide-guitar-filled “Jesus Built My Hot Rod.” The Grammy-nominated track combines the hard-edged qualities of and places them in the context of a driving, rock and roll send up. Complete with drag race car noises and nonsense babble, “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” at times evokes the spirit of ’50s rockabilly but with the sonic signatures of industrial speed metal. And with the hard-to-find 12″ single version of “Reload,” the fantastically odd cover of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” and a version of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaught,” it’s clear there’s no shortage of interesting material on Greatest Fits.
On the presentation front, Run Out Groove’s packaging of Greatest Fits is equally compelling. All the music in this limited-edition, numbered production is presented on two 180-gram LPs that were pressed at Record Industry. The first disc is colored light blue with black marbling, and the second clear with grey smoke. Each is placed in its own black, poly-lined inner sleeve and housed in a Stoughton-printed, tip-on gatefold sleeve. It’s a quality presentation that’s fitting for the quality music within.
There’s no doubt that Ministry’s work has had a lasting impact on the trajectory of music and Greatest Fits stands as a testament to the fact. When collected together, the 13 examples of their unique style offer an excellent overview of their pioneering work. Run Out Groove has created a beautiful, deluxe presentation, and a quality pressing that sounds great. What better way to enjoy Ministry’s Greatest Fits?
Limited quantities of Run Out Groove’s pressing of Ministry’s Greatest Fits are available on 2-LP colored vinyl from your local record shop or these fine online retailers: