Friday, February 28, 2014

Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen by Al Jourgensen with Jon Wiederhorn

(hb; 2013: autobiography)

From the inside flap:

"The high octane, no-holds-barred memoir by the legendary godfather of industrial music and Ministry founder Al Jourgensen . . . is both ugly and captivating, revealing a character who has lived a hard life his way, without compromise.  Al Jourgensen, one of the most innovative and prolific artists to pick up a guitar, a mandolin, harmonica, or banjo, or to sit at a 90-channel SSI console, wanted to be a musician, yet became a rock star.  And fame and fortune almost killed him.  An IV drug abuser from the age of 15, Jourgensen delved deeper into heroin, cocaine and methadone and alcohol for 22 years before cleaning up, straightening out, and finding new reasons to live.

"During his career, Jourgensen has explored multiple avenues of electronic, industrial, metal, punk and even country music with Ministry, The Revolting Cocks, Lard, and others.  Along the way he engaged in all of the rock 'n' roll clichés regarding decadence and debauchery. . .  Despite his addiction and debauchery, he created seven seminal albums, including the hugely influential classics: 1988's The Land of Rape and Honey, 1989's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and 1992's platinum blockbuster Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & The Way to Suck Eggs. . ."


This is one of my all-time favorite rock biographies.  Jourgensen, with the help of co-author Wiederhorn, tells his life story in an unapologetic, no-bullcrap manner, with lots of raunchy verve, humor and self-aware observations (this latter element is something that many people seem to lack in their day-to-day lives).  This adds zing to this fast-moving book, which is one of the rawest, craziest autobiographies I've read.

There will likely be some tempest-in-tea-cup controversies regarding Ministry: Jourgensen not only dishes dirt about himself, but those around him - Robert Plant, Ice-T, William S. Burroughs, Henry Rollins, R. Kelly, Trent Reznor, Jello Biafra, Timothy Leary, and others, including his longtime bandmate Paul Barker.

There's lots to laugh at, lots to be horrified by and lots to admire here; if you're a fan of rock/music autobiographies, pick this up.  You may not want to hang around Jourgensen when he's in full-tilt crazy mode, but he tells smart - if especially dark - entertaining stories.

Ministry is worth owning if you're not easily offended and easily grossed out, a member of the Grammar Police, or expecting detailed explanations of where some of your (possibly) favorite songs came from.

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