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Book Review: ‘Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen’ by Al Jourgensen with Jon Wiederhorn

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In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, there was nothing quite like Ministry. By the time of their third album, The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), they were serving up a mix of guitars, samplers, and beats that defined the second generation of industrial music. Al Jourgensen was the driving force, and he tells all in his new memoir Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. As a longtime fan of the band, I have heard some stories over the years, but usually passed them off as gossip. None of them came close to what was really going on behind the scenes though. This is a rock and roll tale that is dirtier than that of Motley Crue’s The Dirt.

Jourgensen was born in Cuba, on October 9, 1958, to what he describes as something of a young party girl. When Castro took over, they moved to the U.S. It sounds like the relationship between him and his stepfather was not easy, and Jourgensen turned to music and drugs. Those have been twin obsessions for him ever since the late ‘70s.

The Lost Gospels is different than a lot of books by recovering addicts, in that Jourgensen makes no apologies for his lifestyle. He is off hard drugs, but kind of leaves the door open about alcohol. This is not really an “I have seen the light” type of situation. Actually I find this approach refreshing, because the struggle to stay sober is a daily one, and he obviously knows it.

There is a sobriety-related element to the book that I found relatively inspired though. These are the “Intervention” chapters. There are 11 of them in all, including the final one with Jourgensen himself. These chapters feature interviews with people who are or were deeply involved in his life. They appear throughout the main body of the book’s 18 chapters, depending on who the person being interviewed is. The first of these is with Ed Jourgensen, his stepfather, and comes after chapter two. Other interviewees include Jello Biafra, Gibby Haynes, Luc Van Acker, and Jourgensen’s wife, Angelina Lukacin-Jourgensen, among others.

As Jourgensen’s opening quote says, “If you remember the ‘90s, you weren’t there.” Well, that may be true, although what I remember was music by Ministry such as Psalm 69 (1992) and Filth Pig (1996). The excessive rock life he was living gets a little old after a while, but maybe that is just his way of telling it. He certainly does not glamorize it, which is one thing that the previously mentioned The Dirt kind of did, I felt.

He does seem happy now, with a wife who loves him, and having gone “independent,” now is now in full control of his career. Co-writer Jon Wiederhorn does a good job of keeping things going, and there is certainly no grandstanding on the part of Jourgensen. Considering the source, The Lost Gospels feels far more open and honest than I expected. Fans of Ministry will undoubtedly snap this right up, but I could see an attraction for recovering rock fans also. A good job by all.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • gkubrick

    have always dug Al, though not always kept up with his music. saw him a few years back on a farewell tour. sounds like an interesting book

  • MadonnaSteppedInWhatDogsMake

    It’s certainly glamorizing the lifestyle..and it’s also likely 85% total BS, but it’s also an amazing tale and great read. Can’t recommend it enough, its hard to put down. You’ll wind up liking Al much less than you thought you did, which is the one honest part of the book, he is a piece of crap, but a talented one that made some great music– not that he cares what we think.