Seventeen-Years ago today, Ministry released their live album Sphinctour, a collection of tracks recorded on their 1996 world tour in support of the album Filth Pig. This was Ministry’s third solo album, while not their most popular, it does provide a time-capsule moment into the live performance of a band at the height of their powers.
This live performances is absolutely precise and perfectly represents the Ministry full, vast sound of chaos and noise. It is thoroughly un-dubbed, no studio tinkering in the process aftermath.
Recorded direct to the two-track system, this is the sound of Ministers naked and raw, spitting fire under the glare of a spotlight.
The collision of industrial intensity and thrashed- out guitar cranks is enough to unsettle the nerves as the listener is pulled into the world of Al Jourgensen. The real magic to this release is how much better the Filth Pig tracks sound in a live setting, at times transcending the studio release. It may not be for everyone but Sphinctour has become an essential Ministry release.
1. "Psalm 69" (Elysée Montmartre, Paris) 5:04
2. "Crumbs" (Congress Center, Stuttgart) 3:54
3. "Reload" (Convention Center, Albuquerque) 2:33
4. "Filth Pig" (Varsity Arena, Toronto) 6:30
5. "So What" (The Warfield, San Francisco) 9:45
6. "Just One Fix" (Aragon Ballroom, Chicago) 4:38
7. "N.W.O." (Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles) 6:04
8. "Hero" (Gaswerk, Hamburg) 2:38
9. "Thieves" (Mercer Arena, Seattle) 5:14
10. "Scarecrow" (Jesolo Beach Festival, Venice) 7:56
11. "Lava" (Dour Festival, Brussels) 8:43
12. "The Fall" (Brixton Academy, London) 8:02
13. "Stigmata" (Roseland Ballroom, New York) 9:14
Track 5 and 13 not included on CD release
Al Jourgensen - vocals, mandolin ("Reload"), harmonica ("Filth Pig"), guitar ("Just One Fix", "N.W.O."), production
Paul Barker - bass guitar, keyboard bass ("The Fall"), production
Rey Washam - drums
Louis Svitek - guitar
Duane Buford - keyboards
Zlatko Hukic - guitar
Kevin Burke March 2019
Today, 39 years ago, Joy Division released "Licht und Blindheit" (Light and Blindness). Originally released on 18 March 1980 by the French label Sordide Sentimental as a France-only single release. It was limited to 1578 copies and featured the tracks Atmosphere (A-side) and Dead Souls (B-side).
Following the death of Ian Curtis in May 1980, "Atmosphere" was released as a single along with She’s Lost Control.
The single was re-released in 1988 to coincide with the release of the Joy Division compilation album Substance. The video that came with this re-release of Atmosphere was directed by Anton Corbijn.
Copies from the one and only original numbered limited edition pressing have been traded for prices well over €1000 on the internet. So, if you happen to come accros this record on a recordfair, it's more likely you found one of the nine bootleg pressings that have surfaced in the following decades.
Atmosphere - Lyrics
Walk in silence
Don't walk away, in silence
See the danger
Don't walk away
Walk in silence
Don't turn away, in silence
Worn like a mask of self-hate
Confronts and then dies
Don't walk away
People like you find it easy
Naked to see
Walking on air
Hunting by the rivers, through the streets, every corner
Abandoned too soon
Set down with due care
Don't walk away in silence
Don't walk away
(Bernard Sumner / Ian Curtis / Peter Hook / Stephen Paul David Morris)
The ripple felt around the globe in 1977 from New York to London, The Ramones to The Sex Pistols, the aggression and angers built in the youth culture could not be contained any longer and the last remnants of the hippy dream was extinguished with a flamethrower of angst.
The Radiators From Space landed at the right time and the right city, cut with a blade of stinging guitar into the right audience.
They had inspiration, the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, the lack of jobs in the cities, the depressive atmosphere was finally given a voice, an album, suddenly an anthem grew from the littered streets. The album, 'TV Tube Heart' is an unequivocal masterpiece, make no mistake, and they did on this recording, the perfection lies in the imperfect delivery.
Not well honed or soaked with perfection, but then again neither is life. This is what the album mirrored in a time capsule of angst, Dublin- in -1977 and the atmospheric, downtrodden mood of the inner city.
The album opens with the distorted screech of feedback but nobody cared about the delivery as they got caught up in the speeding juggernaut of free speech.
Up until this point we were subject mainly to the lush sounds of progressive rock, organ and keyboard driven music with complex structure and melodies, when this album arrived it dragged away that format from the streets of the capital and replaced it with simplicity, of two guitars, one set of drums, one singer and one bass player, the only organ to be had been held back behind a ripped, dirty pair of jeans.
This was music so basic it could easily be repeated when young kids picked up instruments and so its influence spanned across a generation of musicians, not to put together a punk band but to play an instrument and in turn finding another type of escapism. This was the cause and reaction in its most direct form held together with the glue of; Philip Chevron, Pete Holidai, Steve Rapid, Jimmy Crashe and Mark Megaray.
The signing to the UK Label Chiswick in 1977 was a turning point and meant distribution outside of the island, within the island however the debut single 'Television Screen' became the first and one of the few true punk releases to break the Irish top twenty, proving their arrival was well-received, not just by critics but the actual buying public, heightened by their support of fellow Irish man Phil Lynott and his band Thin Lizzy on their Bad Reputation tour across the UK.
Then there is the follow-up, sometimes they do not match the intensity of the debut album, they lack at times the hunger, in this case however it is the opposite. With the departure of forming member Steve Rapid, which only led to a shortening of the name to simply the Radiators and under the watchful eye of Bowie supremo Tony Visconti the now four piece reconvened to record the staggeringly brilliant 'Ghostown'.
A concept album of sorts, drenched with heavy theme of society, force-fed paranoia and the isolation felt through the working classes; 'Who Are The Strangers', ‘Walking Home Alone Again', every note licked the grime from the streets of Dublin in the 1970s and was immediately hailed as one of the most important releases of the era. An importance not translating In sales and the band dissolved shortly afterwards after a relocation to London in an attempt to heighten the public attitude towards the band.
The following is a brief Question and Answer session with Pete Holidai, guitarist with The Radiators From Space and The Trouble Pilgrims.
What drove you as a person to the punk style of music? Was there a particular event you witnessed, a band or even a particular song?
PH;”My first real Interest in music was the Glam-Rock era of the early seventies T. Rex, Bowie, Roxy Music in particular-guitar music that was full of energy was always a style I was drawn to although like most 'Punks' we like the occasional tearjerker”.
Do you feel that The Radiators debut album ‘TV Tube Heart’ is more so a result of the environment than any outside musical influences?
“It was recognized by the UK press as an Irish version of Punk where our anger was focused at our reality...the church, the politician, the guard and the other so called pillars of society..we needed to be free from their shackles of emotional oppression”.
What do you think is the high-point in the career of The Radiators?
”All of it. The very fact we created and lead the scene in Ireland before leaving these shores to seek our fortune just like those before us..’TVTH’, ‘Ghostown, ‘Trouble Pilgrim’ and ‘Sound City Beat’ is our legacy”.
Looking back do you feel The Radiators achieved what they set out to do?
”Yes we did, we helped kick this God-forsaken island into the 21st century”.
Why do you think that a band who brought out an album of such a high quality as ‘Ghostown’ did not make it bigger?
”The reality is you need major financial backing to reach the bigger audience via marketing etc...however we were released in all the major territories via licensing deals”.
The sensational release by the Trouble Pilgrims ‘Dark Shadows And Rust’ is available on Vinyl and CD for their website.
Kevin Burke - February 2019
Cut from the same cloth as U2, the Virgin Prunes were anything but a replica, to the the photograph U2 presented the Virgin Prunes were the negative, a dark cloud of invention against the dense fog of rock which hung thick in the late 70s.
In late 1982 the Virgin Prunes dived headfirst into a world of insanity, sculpting a vision of madness to enslave their new-found audience in ‘Hérésie’. The most adventurous band to rise out of the post-punk era struck gold very early on in their career, the Virgin Prunes are the anomaly in music, avant-garde, anti-commercial, hard to replicate and highly original.
To coincide with the debut album, “....If I Die, I Die”, the Virgin Prunes were commissioned by Yann Farcy to record an album for release through his label; L’Invitation Au Suicide, this dark work of experimental music would push the barrier of mainstream sound over a cliff with a celebration of disturbing gothic mastery.
The resulting album was to become ‘Hérésie’, a double ep set, one side a studio recording from their home at Windmill Lane Studios Dublin, Ireland, the other side a live recording taken from a performance at the Rex Club in Paris in June of that year.
Although primarily released and promoted for the French market the album found a much wider appeal originally as an import and towards the end of the nineties it finally found a release through Mute in the US and UK.
It is though an album of sublime anarchy and immense art, never replicated again by the band, a stretch too far into the abyss that it may have started to stare back at Gavin Friday and the rest of the Prunes.
The music contained within however is devastatingly good, interesting and surprisingly at times addictive, for example the track “Rhetoric” a mixture of Faust meets Bowie in a playground of weirdness;
“Spit into his eye,
Seeker Save His Soul.
Crawling in Pain”.
The music is not as powerful as on the debut and the standards recorded worked much better onstage with the visuals of Guggi and Friday bringing the theatrics to the music.
Here though, there is a low-point with the accordion driven “Down The Memory Lane” which is out of place slightly against others such as the sublimely macabre of “Loved One”;
“Sitting on the carpet
Playing with a gun”.
There is a train of thought that the extremity of the live shows did not translate to the studio, those slight touches of magic were lost which is why the second disc is so crucial here.
For the live recording the Prunes deprived themselves of sleep by some reports in a way to bring themselves to the point of madness or rather the right frame of mind to create a recording such as this, wether that is folklore or not this is the better side of the set by far as it pushes the audience and no doubt the listener to the brink of insanity.
The stage performance was always crucial to the Virgin Prunes, it was here that the creature finally sprang to life in a well-honed show, the influences of Joy Division, PiL and even Krautrock comes to the surface. With dolls heads and dead animals which would not look out of place at an Alice Cooper show, this though was in the name of art more so than shock.
The mastery of Dik Evans guitar work is critical in galvanizing their live sound against the thundering bass playing of Strongman (Trevor Rowan brother of second vocalist Guggi) which make the versions of “Pagan Lovesong” and “Theme For Thought” overtly raw and delivered with the intensity the band became famous for.
The “Walls Of Jericho” is blistering with Evan’s guitar chiming throughout, here Virgin Prunes cut-loose in full, sonic attack.
If there is anyone who is unfamiliar with the Virgin Prunes this is not the place to start, think of easing yourself in gently with one of there more accessible studio works, however, if you start to discover the Prunes this is where your journey will inevitably lead as this is a band hitting an abstract style of brilliance seldom seen within the modern music spectrum.
Today, 35 years ago, Siousxie And The Banshees released the single Swimming Horses!
Today, 35 years ago, Siousxie And The Banshees released the single Swimming Horses (16.03.1984) which was taken from the band's sixth studio album Hyaena. The song was co-written by Steven Severin and Robert Smith (The Cure)
The 7" B-side featured Let’s Go while the 12" version also feartured a third song called The Humming Wires.
Upon release Siousxie explained to British music magazine Melody Maker what events inspired her to write this song:
“This song is based on a programme I saw about a female version of Amnesty, called 'Les Sentinelles'. They rescue women who are trapped in certain religious climates in the Middle East, religions that view any kind of pre-marital sexual aspersion as punishable by death – either by the hand of the eldest brother in the family, or by public stoning. And there was this instance of a woman whose daughter had developed a tumour, and, of course, gossip abounded that she was pregnant. The doctor who removed the tumour allowed her to take it back to the village to prove that, no, it wasn't a baby – but they wouldn't believe her. The woman knew her daughter would have to be stoned to death so she poisoned her, out of kindness, to save her from a worse fate. Now this organization has all these escape routes for women like her, mainly through the elder brother who pretends to have killed them. But once they've been saved, they can never go back. So the song starts, "Kinder than with poison..." I also used the imagery of "He gives birth to swimming horses", from the fact that male sea horses give birth to the children, so they're the only species that have a maternal feel for the young. It was, I suppose, an abstract way of linking it all together without being sensationalist. I remember just being really moved by that programme, and wanting to get the sorrow out of me.“
Swimming Horses - Lyrics
Falling in your, falling in your arms
Fish on a line, learns to live on dry land
Thrown back again to drown
Kinder with poison
Than pushed down a well - or a face burnt to hell
Feel the cruel stones breaking her bones
Dead before born
Words fall in ruins - but no sound
She's dying of your shame - she maimed by your paw
He gives birth to swimming horses
Fish on a line, walking on dry land
But, back in the water to drown we drown
Floating in sky
He gives birth to swimming horses
Take a ride on the tide with the assassin at your side
The weightlessness under water -- forgets in slow motion
And washes pointless tortures
He gives birth to swimming horses
Floating in sky like fishes can fly through your arms
Songwriters: Robert Smith / Siouxsie Sioux / Steven Severin