The 10 best Ministry Songs according to Al Jourgensen

Ministry promo pic 2021
(Image credit: Nuclear Blast/Derick Smith)

With Ministry, Lard, the Revolting Cocks, numerous other side-projects and 30-plus albums to his name, Al Jourgensen is one of the most productive and long-lasting icons in the metal and industrial realms. From his early, record company-enforced role as a pretty-boy synthpop artist to his drug-fuelled, Bush and Trump-eviscerating Mad Al era of acerbic, industrial battery, Jourgensen’s career has produced everything from pounding anthems to addictive covers of Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, Rod Stewart and Oliva Newton-John. Choosing 10 of his most memorable songs from a bursting back catalogue, Jourgensen tells Hammer that this is by no means a permanent definitive guide to his colourful career: “There’s more to come, so this list will be obsolete within two years.”

Metal Hammer line break

Alert Level (Moral Hygeiene, 2020)

“That’s a new one and not just because I’m a promo-sexual and want to promote my new record Moral Hygiene, but I actually think the song is really good. This is number one on my list because we are at alert level now and people should start taking this seriously. Between that and the quarantine, you can’t be selfish anymore, you have to do what’s good for the community of all of us on this planet as opposed to doing what’s best for you in that immediate moment; whether it’s getting vaccinated or not giving a crap and not separating your garbage and littering, or driving too much with a gas-powered car. We’re now at a point in society that I think we really need to take this seriously.

As soon as I could, I got double jabbed and I wear my mask everywhere. I remember we played in Japan in 1993 and four out of 10 people walking down the streets in Tokyo were wearing masks, I’d never seen that before. It really hit home early last year when I went into my bank and everyone was wearing masks, it looked almost like a Salvador Dali painting. People in masks in a bank? Doesn’t that usually mean there’s a robbery in progress? Which one’s carrying a gun and which one has hostages? That’s when I knew this shit was real, it freaked me out and I was like, ‘This is fucking balls-out weird, man.’”

The Last Sucker (The Last Sucker, 2007)

“If you’re not concerned about the state of the world, then you’re in your own little world that doesn’t include us anyway. I like to be inclusive, and I like to think about other people burning up or drowning from climate change; I’m cognisant that I’m part of that world, this planet Earth, and other people that aren’t are really in their own little fantasy bubble. Good luck to them, that’s all I’ve got to say – there’s some heavy shit coming down the pipe and this is not over by any means, so of course I’m gonna squawk about that. Not only that, I have so many piercings in my eyebrows, I can’t close my eyes and I have to sleep with my eyes open... I spend my whole life going around with my eyes open and I look like an emoji half the time!”

Nursing Home (Dark Side Of The Spoon, 1999)

“I’ve chosen two from Dark Side Of The Spoon, Nursing Home and Supermanic Soul. Both Nursing Home and Alert Level have minimal lyrics that are put together well in a cadence where very few words are being said but you get the point.”

Supermanic Soul (Dark Side Of The Spoon, 1999)

My favourite vocal has to be on Supermanic Soul because I was at my breaking point when I recorded that. It’s not actually that great of a song but I did the vocals in front of David Bowie who happened to be in the other studio at the complex. He came in, sat in on our session and actually got to watch me sing that vocal. I was at my wit’s end at that point, I’d just pulled the needle out of my arm and I was just starting to get a nice buzz off my heroin, then in walks Bowie and his entourage. I was thinking, ‘OK, now what? Bad timing, dude! Let me have my high for 10 minutes before you come barging in!’ I was actually kind of annoyed but also like, ‘Ace, it’s David fucking Bowie!’ I’m not gonna be the person that tells David Bowie to leave my studio… come on, man, nobody’s that stupid!”

Just One Fix (Psalm 69, 1992)

“I’ve gotta go with this one because Just One Fix hooked me up with the artist William S. Burroughs.”

LiesLiesLies (Rio Grande Blood, 2006)

LiesLiesLies was such a fun song and video to make, and it kinda put my feet back on the ground thinking, ‘Yeah, Ministry can rock again’. There was a lot of upheaval there with Paul Barker leaving for a few years, that pretty much got us entrenched back into what we were supposed to do, so I love that song.”

Thieves (The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, 1989)

I’ve chosen this one because I’ve never had that many blisters on my hands from playing guitar on that song. It was brutal and that was long before you could put it in Pro Tools and autocorrect it; this is back in the days of tape and you had to get it right and I was the only guitar player there, so that one was pretty intense.”

Twilight Zone (AmeriKKKant, 2018)

“This has to go in my top 10 because that was a really great thing to start working with Arabian Prince and bringing that element of scratching into Ministry’s music, getting it back to more groove-oriented stuff was important to me."

The Land Of Rape And Honey (The Land Of Rape And Honey, 1988)

That’s the first time I really did intensive cut-up tape editing for a song and it was the first one we recorded for that album, The Land Of Rape And Honey. Editing like that was mind-blowing, it was a whole new way of doing music. Instead of trying to get your part right in the studios, you can just play whatever the fuck you’ve got and I’ll fix it later. In as far as the editing skills, that experience was important to me.”

The Fall (Filth Pig, 1996)

The Fall (Filth Pig, 1996)

I just remember when I wrote The Fall, I said to myself, ‘At my death services, this is the song I want played.’”

Ministry's latest album, Moral Hygeine, is out now via Nuclear Blast