0 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
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)
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.
[Kevin Burke 2019]
Today, 35 years ago, Depeche Mode released its fifth studio album Black Celebration!
On 17 March 1985, Depeche Mode released its fifth studio album Black Celebration through Mute Records. The album further cemented the darkening sound created by Alan Wilder. The album reached the fourth place on the UK Albums Chart, making it the group's highest-peaking album of the 1980s decade in their native country. Three years after its release, Spin ranked it at number 15 on its list of "The 25 Greatest Albums of All Time".
Four singles were taken from this album, ‘Stripped’, ‘A Question Of Lust’, ‘A Question Of Time’ and ‘But Not Tonight’ and released throughout the following year.
Upon its release Black Celebration received mixed critics in the British press. Melody Maker's Steve Sutherland brought the album down and wrote that Depeche Mode came off as "pussycats desperate to appear perverted as an escape from the superficiality of teen stardom”, also Sounds published a similar unsparing review criticizing chief songwriter Martin Gore's "adolescent fragments of despair". NME on the other hand praised Black Celebration's "perfectly constructed jigsaw melodies" and concluded "When the songs address topics other than the composer's state of mind – as on the evocative exploration of loneliness that is 'World Full of Nothing' – Depeche Mode sound like a lot more than just a high tech, low-life melodrama”…
Nevertheless the album entered the charts all over the world with some of its highest peaks in Switzerland (1st position, Swiss Hitparade), Germany (2nd of the Top 100), UK (4th of UK album) and Sweden (5th Swedish Top list). It also received Platinum in Germany (500.000 copies sold) and Gold in the US (500.000 copies sold).
But since then Black Celebration has been regularly reappraised in retrospective reviews. In 2007, when the album was re-released Rolling Stone magazine referred to the album as an "instant classic for the band's fans" that at the time of its release had seemingly been "utterly ignored by everybody else".
Depeche Mode (1986)
- Alan Wilder
- Andrew Fletcher
- David Gahan
- Martin Gore
Black Celebration LP (1986)
01. Black Celebration 4:55
02. Fly on the Windscreen – Final 5:18
03. A Question of Lust 4:20
04. Sometimes 1:53
05. It Doesn't Matter Two 2:50
06. A Question of Time 4:10
07. Stripped 4:16
08. Here Is the House 4:15
09. World Full of Nothing 2:50
10. Dressed in Black 2:32
11. New Dress 3:42
On 16 March 1987, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their cover version of Iggy Pop's 'The Passenger', it was recorded for their 1987 all-cover-versions album Through the Looking Glass. The band revamped the song by adding brass arrangements. Released as the second single from that album, it peaked at number 41 in the UK singles charts.
Iggy Pop later praised their version and stated: "She sings it well and she threw a little note in when she sings it, that I wish I had thought of, it's kind of improved it [...]. Also the horn thing is good."
It was released as 7" and 12" vinyl by Polydor.
The Passenger - 7" - Tracklist
A. The Passenger 4:06
B. She's Cuckoo 4:16
The Passenger - 12 " - Tracklist
A. The Passenger (Llllloco-motion Mix) 8:00
B1. She's Cuckoo 4:15
B2. Something Blue 3:54