Ever sit back and look at your record collection of a favorite artist and consider which albums are the best? So do we! Rank & File is our way of telling you which albums are great and which ones are garbage (at least in our opinion). There are really no correct answers here, it’s all just a matter of taste, but inevitably, there will be parts of the list that you will completely disagree with, so make sure to let us know how you would rank the albums. Of course, when compiling a ranking system such as this, there have to be some guidelines in place. For Rank & File, they are:
- No E.P.’s (with rare exception)
- No Singles
- No live albums
- No remix albums
- If an artists discography is huge (i.e. Rolling Stones, Prince) only the top 5 will make the cut.
I just finished reading the new book, “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” and figured it would be a great time to do a Rank & File for Ministry. The book is a great read, especially for any Ministry fan, but it’s even enjoyable for just the casual fan. There are stories about people that Al has worked with throughout the years; some good (Mikey Scaccia), some bad (Paul Barker/Chris Connelly) and some just downright disgusting (Courtney Love, like that’s a surprise.) The book is a no-holds barred account of Al’s life and career as the founding member of Ministry. Sure, Al comes across as an asshole for a good chunk of it, but it’s interesting to read his perspective on certain events, especially his thoughts surrounding his past work. As most Ministry fans know, Al hates his introduction to music, but it floored me to read about how he felt about all of his other records. Usually, I write a Rank & File when an artist has a new record coming out, and although Ministry has a new record titled …From Beer To Eternity coming out September, 6 2013, Al’s book inspired me and I figured I would jump the gun a bit and reflect on my favorite Ministry records from the past!
6. Houses of the Mole (2004) / Rio Grande Blood (2006) / The Last Sucker (2007) (3-Way Tie):
So yeah, admittedly, I’m breaking the rules here by having not just a tie, but a three way tie. But I’ve always felt these records worked really well as a trilogy. Honestly, the songs on the albums are fairly interchangeable and could work well with each other. Anytime I just picked one of these albums, it just didn’t seem right not to include all three. When it was announced that Houses of the Mole would no longer feature work from longtime bassist Paul Barker, I was concerned that Ministry wouldn’t be the same. Instead, the band went balls to the wall and released arguably the most aggressive record of their career. Rio Grande Blood was a great follow up album that continued down the same path (and had the best album art ever), but when The Last Sucker was released, it blew me away. The production quality on that album is fucking massive (finally, a good sounding snare drum!) and it was one of the last albums the great Paul Raven played on. Fantastic way to end the “Trilogy.”
5. Animositisomina (2003):
I was surprised to learn from Al’s book that next to With Sympathy, this album was his least favorite of all of Ministry’s catalog. He explained that he was coming off of pretty much every drug in the book when this album was written and recorded, so Paul Barker had to take the reigns for Animositisomina. This was one of the last albums that I went to go buy at midnight at the record store (a practice I wish more stores still did) and I remember being floored listening to it on the way home. There was an urgency with Animositisomina that didn’t exist with the previous few albums and there were even some really cool surprises like the hillbilly swing of “Broken” and the electro buzz of “Impossible.” The tour behind this album was really great too. The band played a whole bunch of cool shit that time out. It’s really too bad Al hates this album so much, cause there is some amazing stuff to be found here.
4. Psalm 69 (1992):
I imagine that anyone reading this list is probably wondering what the fuck is wrong with me at this point. Isn’t this supposed to be Ministry’s seminal album? Isn’t this supposed to be their masterpiece? Well sure, in many ways it is, but not in my book. Really, I was just too late to the party to appreciate this album when it came out. I didn’t even pick this up until a few years after it’s release, so by that time, I was working my way backwards in the catalog instead of growing with it. On top of that, this is probably the Ministry album that I’ve heard the most throughout the years, either on the radio, concerts or just sitting down to listen to it. Now that doesn’t take anything away from what Psalm 69 is (amazing) instead, it just knocks it a few spots down on my list. I’m sure you’re shaking your head in disgust right now, but that’s what the comments section is for. Get to it!!!
3. Dark Side Of The Spoon (1999):
Now that this is above Psalm, I’m sure the shit talking will really begin! It seems like everyone (the band included) really hated Dark Side, but I don’t see why. The album is easily the most diverse thing the band has ever released. Although it was an incredibly dark record, there were some really cool sounds to be found. The fucking breakneck pace of “Supermanic Soul” stands up next to anything Ministry has released in terms of sheer heaviness, “Bad Blood” is still to this day the bands best sounding song (and coolest video) and the saxophone and banjo interplay with the heavy as fuck bass line in “Nursing Home” is without compare. People were pissed that Ministry did something different, but in my opinion, different was exactly what they should’ve done. I wish more bands would take risks to create something different instead of merely shitting out the same record year in and year out.
2. The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (1989):
Similar to Psalm 69, The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste is just a little played out in my book. I’ve listened to this album back and forth, sideways, in pieces and multiple times in one sitting. I love this album from beginning to end, but at this point in my life, it’s just a bit played out (aside from “Thieves.” I could listen to that shit on repeat for days.) The reason Mind is so high up on this list isn’t necessarily for its content, but for what it brought to me in the long run. Through Mind, I discovered the work of Chris Connelly, Bill Rieflin, and Ohgr (which in turn helped me discover tons of new and exciting music.) This album is probably one of the earliest times I can remember sitting down and really digesting the liner notes, challenging myself to find out more about the people that created this album that I loved. Would I have found those all of those artists that I love to this day without Mind? I’m sure I would’ve eventually, but this record really enabled that to happen.
1. Filth Pig (1996):
Weren’t expecting that were you? Look, Filth Pig was the first Ministry album I bought on its release day, so I’m sure there’s a special place in my heart for that reason. On top of that though, it really works as a nice bridge between the mechanized chaos of Psalm to the more experimental dirge of Dark Side. Elements from both albums are present and molded into one tidy package with Filth Pig. Of course, Al fucking hates this album and most of Ministry’s fans at the time did too (and still probably do.) But since I was just getting on board around this time, it worked its way to the top of my list. Also, Filth Pig taught me about the possibilities of heavy music. It eased me into the idea that electronics could add to music, not be a hindrance to it. Also, at that age, I always associated “heavy” music with speedy, thrashy shit like Slayer. It didn’t occur to me until I heard the song “Lava” that “heavy” could also groove and be slow. To this day, that has got to be one of my favorite guitar riffs ever and it doesn’t even need speed or technicality to kick ass. Heavy. As. Fuck.
Just Missed The Cut: With Sympathy (1983), Twitch (1986), The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), Relapse (2012)
What do you think? How would you rate Ministry’s albums? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to follow Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter!