Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen( 5 out of 5)


Maybe you’ve heard of this little band called Ministry? They’ve been around a couple of years, played some little tunes, flashed some devil horns, raised a little hell? Understatement of the century! Al Jourgensen is lead singer of Ministry, the prominent American industrial wrecking machine formed in the 1981. He’s also had a number of side projects, most notably Revolting Cocks, Lard, and Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters. Al’s recollections are beyond entertaining. There is no sashaying around gold glitter ashtrays, no mamby pamby excuses for his behavior and substance abuse issues, no socks and sandals. What you get is a very intelligent memoir. The book is jam packed. And by that, I mean, there really is no letup in any of the stories he shares with those lucky enough to read this book.  There are so many enjoyable parts of this book; it’s hard to find just one, so I’ll share my many favorite parts. It’s so hard to condense the delight you get from reading this book, into a few measly paragraphs.

Al’s been in the music industry since 1981. He is not a fan. Given the stories surrounding the disaster known as With Sympathy, Sire Records, and Arista, among others, you cannot blame him. The thing you cannot help but admire( and there are many things in this book ) about Al is that no matter how bad his substance abuse issues, he still managed to get all of his albums made,  his tours finished, and new material written, new bands forged. His work ethic never quit. If he really liked him before, that made me love him all the more. His personal shit never got in the way of his professionalism. That’s incredibly hard to find in the music industry in ANY decade.  It certainly didn’t effect his productivity- the man has put out over 25 albums in his career. Hey Motley Crue, you can’t claim that! Ted Nugent can’t even claim that. That’s saying something.

Anytime you mix the music business, groupies, hard drugs, and animated personalities, some shit is going to fly. Some urine and other bodily fluids also may do so, sometimes in Super Soakers . Al’s stories show the proof is in the whiskey. And the coke. And the heroine. And hell, whatever else they could get their hands on at that time.  There’s no censorship with these stories, friends. If you have an easily offended bone in your body, don’t pick this book up. You’ll trash it, and it doesn’t deserve that. It deserves to be read, laughed at, and enjoyed by those of us who are not easily offended, are music fans, and like a music biography that doesn’t puss out. There are a lot of knockdown, dragged out, drugged out stories with some notable ladies and gents: Jello Biafra, Gibby Haynes, Trent Reznor, GWAR, El Duce, Layne Staley, Timothy Leary, Anthrax,  Henry Rollins, William S. Burroughs (great story there) , even Madonna (those two encounters are hilarious). I am sure I’m missing some.  There’s a veritable who’s who of cool and fool( Clive Davis, my suspicions are confirmed) in his adventures. There is a shock value in the book that is off the charts, I won’t lie. I would be lying if I said I didn’t find all of it absolutely hysterical, because it is!

Another thing that Al’s book has are the “interventions”. The fact that those little vignettes are titled as thus, shows even more that Al has quite a sense of humor and awareness of how far down the rabbit hole he’s gone and the fact that he’s still here, and chooses to let those who have been with him through hell and back tell their side of the stories, is awesome. I especially enjoyed Angie and Mike Scaccia’s tales, although Scaccia’s is downright freaky, given that he mentions dying on stage, and did just that months ago.  Jello and Gibby’s just go to show how they’re really blood brothers with Al. Their voices, their humor, so similar to Al’s that they could truly be related in some bizarre blood fashion. It’s a refreshing format change that I didn’t expect in the book, so score up another positive toward reading this bible of sin.

Beneath all the acrimony( aka Paul Barker. For some reason, I keep thinking of him as Bob Barker. Apologies to Bob Barker) and the brutality, Al Jourgensen is a sarcastic, intelligent man who’s been through hell of his own making and returned to fight another day. He’s also a human being. As much as the strobe lights are blinking and spoons are lit throughout his story, you sense there’s a real man there who’s not making any apologies for his past misdeeds, but is trying very hard to live a normal, hermetic life(I’m with you on that not leaving the house unless you absolutely must, Al) the remainder of his years. You realize from reading about his unsteady relationship with his stepfather, the dissolution of his first marriage, his current marriage to Angie(who no doubt saved his life on so many levels, you can’t begin to count them all), and his relationship with his daughter, that he has some very deep personal stuff to work through, and his narratives in those parts don’t go on for very long. Likely this is too personal for public consumption, and he just chose to work through it by writing about some of his regrets in how he’s dealt with his personal life. Al the human being, to me at least, is as likable, if not more so, as Al the raging heroin user, Al the artist who just wants to do the creative process and the hell with all the middlemen and record company politicking, or any of the sides of this dynamic personality.  Another thing I really enjoyed was Al’s kinship with his dog Lemmy(Lemmy! Excellent) and how much he relates to his dog. You can’t despise a man who loves his dog that much. You simply can’t. And if you do, well, you can suck it.

I’ve said for many years now that I would find it difficult to find a music biography that would top Motley Crue’s  The Dirt. Consider it done.



~ by generationgbooks on July 14, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: