Gift guide



Early Trax (Rykodisc)


Side Trax (Rykodisc)

It's easy to drop a pencil on post-punk's ground zero, where heavy metal met disco, and draw a line outward: Almost any trajectory will take you to a Ministry project. That's the point of Rykodisc's Early Trax, a compilation of the band's Eighties-era 12-inch singles. The brainchild of Cuban-born, Chicago-based Al Jourgensen, Ministry began as a synth-laden studio outfit and almost immediately spun off the Revolting Cocks into the industrial avant-garde. On Early Trax, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish "Every Day Is Halloween" from any standard dance club mix, but there it is: mid-Eighties Ministry sounding as innocuous and perky as late-Seventies Boney M. Still, it's a delight hearing Ministry's Eighties singles ("I'm Falling," "Overkill") picking up momentum and weight until songs like 1984's "He's Angry" and "Move" deliver their menacing counterpunch. The companion disc, Side Trax, highlights Jourgensen's side projects. Some, like Austin's short-lived Buck Satan & the 666 Shooters, vanished in a heroin haze. Others, such as Pailhead (with Fugazi's Ian MacKaye), 1000 Homo DJs (with Trent Reznor and Jello Biafra), PTP (with Chris Connelly), and Acid Horse (with Cabaret Voltaire) sound like Ministry with guest vocalists. Potent stuff. Jourgensen's expansive vision makes 1000 Homo DJs' "Apathy" as vital as Acid Horse's "No Name No Slogan," and PTP's "Show Me Your Spine" (from RoboCop) as arresting as Pailhead's brutal "No Bunny." What's most intriguing is that Jourgensen, one of the extraordinarily gifted composers and producers in the rock pantheon, seems to have an endless catalog of past, present, and future projects. And he's still busy connecting the dots.

(Early) **.5

(Side) ***

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