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Music Review: Ministry and Co-Conspirators – Cover Up

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It was just last September that Ministry released what was to be their final album, The Last Sucker. It was a final finger-flip at the Bush administration while delivering some high energy industrial thrash.

Jourgensen has never been a figure to shy away from saying exactly what was on his mind, and after more than a quarter century of ruffling feathers, the industrial mainstay chose to close out his Ministry career on a strong note, taking firm aim at his latest target, George W. Bush. Now, despite the promise of the end of Ministry, it appears that Al has one last gift for his legions of fans, and another way for the curious to ease their way into the Ministry sound. It is a covers album, of course. The last refuge of a band nearing the end, joining the likes of Poison, Tesla, and Queensryche, all having released similar albums in the recent past.

Cover Up stands head and shoulders above the releases from those other acts. Granted, the styles are considerably different. Yet, there is a similarity in that each of them have been around for awhile, each has achieved a good deal in their careers, and they have been on something of a decline. What makes Cover Up better than those other collections? Easy. Al knows this is the end of the road and this is just a way to go out while having some fun. It shows another side of Ministry, that they are not always the political, button-pushing force they have been for the past few years. It demonstrates Ministry knows how to throw down for the beer drinking party set. This is an album to put on, turn up, and just rock out to. It is not for the serious minded, nor is it for anyone looking for musical depth. This is a flat out party album, nothing more and nothing less. What are you waiting for?

Al and company set their sights on a collection of classic rock songs that bring out the rock and roll groove in all of us. While each of the eleven cuts is instantly recognizable, they are blended with that just as recognizable Ministry edge, filled with a flurry of drums, heavily distorted guitars, and an industrial edge that can only come from one band. Cover Up also features a few guest stars, most notably are Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory and Tommy Victor from Prong, both adding their vocals to the mix.

The song selection is about what you would expect when mining the goldmine that is the catalog of classic rock. The album kicks off with The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb (feat. Burton C. Bell)." It takes the classic sounds and adds a healthy dose of distortion. From there we move onto a catchy take on the T. Rex classic "Bang a Gong." There is no way to avoid getting into the classic riff. Next up is Golden Earring and the road rock classic "Radar Love," a song which saw a resurgence in the late 80's thanks to a popular cover by White Lion.

Other highlights include a fast and furious version of "Black Betty" and zippy take on Mountain's "Mississippi Queen (feat. Tommy Victor)." However, the song that has the take the cake is ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid," which has been amped up, sped up, and churned into a death metal grind. Definitely a memorable and unique take on the rock hit.

Besides all of the new covers, there are a few that appeared on other albums. The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" appeared on The Last Sucker, Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" (credited to 1000 Homo DJs) was on the first Nativity in Black compilation, and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" appeared on Filth Pig.

The album closes with "What A Wonderful World," where it takes on a direge-like tempo before kicking into a punk take for the second half. Now, the two versions are separated into their own hidden tracks on the end of the disk, which bring the album to total of 69. Track 23 is the mellow version; track 44 is the punk version, with plenty of silence in between.

Now, rest assured, there is a special surprise in track 69, and no it is not another song. It is one final F U to the Bush administration, in true Alien Jourgensen fashion.

Bottomline. Not really a good album, but there is no denying the fun that is contained within. Ministry completists will want it. Non-fans could use it as an introduction to the sound prior to journeying back to Psalm 69 or The Land of Rape and Honey. It is a party album, through and through. Yes, Ministry knows how to rock and leave the politics aside.

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