The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste

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The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
Ministry - The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste.png
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 14, 1989 (1989-11-14)
StudioChicago Trax Studios
GenreIndustrial metal[1]
Ministry chronology
The Land of Rape and Honey
The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up
Singles from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
  1. "Burning Inside"
    Released: November 7, 1989
  2. "So What"
    Released: 1990[2]

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste is the fourth studio album by American industrial metal band Ministry, released on November 14, 1989 by Sire Records. The music took a more hardcore, aggressively guitar-driven direction, with Jourgensen inspired by Stormtroopers of Death and Rigor Mortis to add thrash metal guitars to the album and subsequent Ministry releases.[3] As with most of Ministry's work, the album's lyrics deal mainly with political corruption, cultural violence, environmental degradation, nuclear war, drug addiction, and insanity.


Jourgensen recalled the band's state as dysfunctional and the album's production as "complete chaos and mayhem", which gave the band a level of artistic freedom impossible had they planned it.[4]:52 Jourgensen says that despite being a fan favorite, it is not among his favorites because of the condition he was in at the time; he was heavily into drugs during recording and had a poor relationship with his bandmates. In one instance, he chased bassist Paul Barker around the studio with a chair and hit him on the head with it because he "couldn't stand him anymore".[5] Jourgensen credited the era, the city, and the atmosphere at Chicago Trax Studios for the album. Bill Rieflin and Chris Connelly instead attributed the album's sound to the band's interest in technology.[4]:52

For pre-production, Rieflin said he and Barker watched films for a month, sampling anything that caught their interest. Instead of writing music, they all improvised individually, rarely collaborating with each other. Connelly compared it to exquisite corpse, a Surrealist technique in which an artistic work is created collaboratively without any of the participants having knowledge of the others' contribution. Rieflin cited "So What" as the only track to feature two musicians in the studio at the same time.[4]:52–53

After playing with the band on The Land of Rape and Honey's tour, Dave Ogilvie collaborated on this album.[4]:52 The New York-based rapper K-Lite sang vocals on "Test". Jourgensen said that Ministry and K-Lite had been recording songs at the same time at the studio. Both Jourgensen and K-Lite were impressed with the aggressiveness of each other's music, and Jourgensen invited him to contribute vocals for a track.[6] Rieflin had previously recorded drums and bass after he became frustrated waiting for the others to contribute music to the track; Barker said Rieflin played all the instruments on the song.[4]:56

The female spoken word part of "Dream Song" is a recorded conversation with Angelina Lukacin, Jourgensen's future, and now ex-, wife. Jourgensen had met her while on tour in Canada and, impressed with her entertaining personality, called her on the phone several times while working on the album. Jourgensen recalled the conversations as her "babbling about dreams and angels" while high.[7] Lukacin herself said "Dream Song" was a poem she wrote after having a dream about an angel. She did not know she was being recorded but enjoyed the song.[8]

The title of the album is a reference to the United Negro College Fund's slogan, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste". Jourgensen was further inspired by the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign. Rieflin said the other band members groaned when they heard it, but Jourgensen had final say in naming. According to Connelly, the album art was inspired by a television program Jourgensen saw where migraine sufferers painted images of their pain. The image itself was a picture of an x-ray from a studio receptionist's mother, who had been in a car accident and received a metal plate. Jourgensen said he wanted that as the album artwork as soon as he found out about it, but the other band members disliked it. Barker praised the concept but said the execution was poor.[4]:54


The album peaked at #163 in the US and was certified Gold by the RIAA for sales in excess of 500,000 units in December 1995.[9][10] "Burning Inside" reached #23 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks.[11]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[12]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[14]
Metal Storm10/10 stars[15]
MusicHound Rock4/5 stars[16]
Robert ChristgauB+[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[18]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8 / 10[19]

Music critic Tom Moon included the album in his book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, calling it "one of the great works of industrial music" and an influential album that is "way ahead of its time".[20] In rating it 4.5/5 stars, AllMusic reviewer Marc van der Pol described it as a "wonderful album" that avoids the clichés common to industrial rock.[12] Bill Wyman of the Chicago Tribune rated it 3/4 stars and called it Ministry's "best-sounding, most assured and consistent album".[13] The A.V. Club, though praising the album's other tracks, listed "Test" in their "24 songs that almost derail great albums", calling it "a novelty genre exercise from which Mind barely recovers".[21] The A.V. Club also wrote about "So What", including it on a list of the best songs written from the point of view of a crazy person. They called it "the most obvious and best-executed" of Ministry's songs about violent psychosis.[22]

Track listing[edit]

1."Thieves"Alain Jourgensen, Paul Barker, Chris Connelly, Kevin Ogilvie5:02
2."Burning Inside"Jourgensen, Barker, William Rieflin, Connelly5:20
3."Never Believe"Jourgensen, Barker, Connelly4:59
4."Cannibal Song"Jourgensen, Barker, Connelly6:10
5."Breathe"Jourgensen, Barker, Rieflin, Connelly, Ogilvie5:40
6."So What"Jourgensen, Barker, Rieflin, Connelly8:14
7."Test"Jourgensen, Barker, Rieflin, K. Lite6:04
8."Faith Collapsing"Jourgensen, Barker, Rieflin4:01
9."Dream Song"Jourgensen, Barker4:48



"Burning Inside"[edit]

"Cannibal Song"[edit]


  • "Opening musical sequence (first 30 seconds)" - taken from the film Cry Freedom.

"So What"[edit]

  • The dialogue spoken during the song ("You have had all that money can give you", "Kill for a thrill", etc.) is from the judge's summing up at the end of the Ed Wood-scripted film The Violent Years.[22]
  • "Go ahead!" and the laughter sample are from the film Scarface.

"Faith Collapsing"[edit]

  • The song was inspired by a sample from Fahrenheit 451, and the band brainstormed from there.[4]:59 Other samples include 1984 ("There have been spontaneous demonstrations by party workers, voicing gratitude and joy" "You are the dead...").

"Dream Song"[edit]



Additional personnel[edit]

  • Bill Rieflindrums, programming, background vocals (8)
  • Mars Williamssaxophone (4)
  • Chris Connelly – lead vocals (3, 4), background vocals (5, 6)
  • The Grand Wizard (K. Lite) – vocals (7)
  • Joe Kelly – background vocals (1)
  • Kyle McKeough – background vocals (6)
  • Jeff Ward – background vocals (5)
  • Dave Ogilvie – background vocals (5, 8), engineer
  • The Slogan God (Tommie Boyskee) – vocals (7)
  • Bobbie DiBartollo – background vocals (8)
  • Angela Lukacen – vocals (9)
  • Keith Auerbach – engineer
  • Jeff Newell – engineer
  • Julian Herzfeld - engineer
  • "Dog" – cover design
  • "Ill" – cover design
  • Maura – cover design
  • Tom Young – cover photos
  • Tom Baker – mastering


  1. ^ Shuker, Roy (2004). Popular Music: The Key Concepts (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 0-415-34770-X – via the Internet Archive.
  2. ^ "Ministry So What (Single)". Spirit of Metal. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  3. ^ Jourgensen, Al; Wiederhorn, Jon (2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels (2 ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 93.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Dick, Chris (November 13, 2011). "Brain Damage: The Making of The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste". Decibel. No. 85 – via issuu.
  5. ^ Jourgensen, Al; Wiederhorn, Jon (2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels (2 ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 97.
  6. ^ Fuentes, Danny (December 20, 2018). "Ministry's Al Jourgensen Is a National Treasure". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Jourgensen, Al; Wiederhorn, Jon (2014). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. Da Capo Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9780306822902.
  8. ^ Jourgensen, Al; Wiederhorn, Jon (2014). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. Da Capo Press. p. 203. ISBN 9780306822902.
  9. ^ "The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste - Ministry". Billboard.
  10. ^ "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15.
  11. ^ "Alternative Songs: Week of February 3, 1990". Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  12. ^ a b van der Pol, Marc. "The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste - Ministry". AllMusic. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Wyman, Bill (January 4, 1990). "Ministry The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste Sire..." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). "Ministry". Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5 (3rd ed.). Muse UK Ltd. pp. 3692–3693. ISBN 1561592374 – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ jupitreas. "Ministry - The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste review". Metal Storm. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Christensen, Thor (1999). "Ministry". In Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds.). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (loan required). Detroit: Visible Ink Press. p. 762. ISBN 978-1-57859-061-2 – via the Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "CG: Ministry". Christgau, Robert. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  18. ^ McLeod, Kembrew (November 2004). "Ministry". In Brackett, Nathan (ed.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 544. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  20. ^ Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company. p. 505. ISBN 9780761149415.
  21. ^ "The turd in the caviar: 24 songs that almost derail great albums". The A.V. Club. December 27, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  22. ^ a b "I'm a nut: 24 songs sung from the perspective of crazy people". The A.V. Club. June 14, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  23. ^ Kelly, Chris; Twells, John (October 20, 2013). "The mind is a terrible thing to taste: the insane life of Ministry's Al Jourgensen". Fact. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  24. ^ "Is It 'Punk'? No. Is It 'Old Punk?' No. 'New Wave?' No, but Feel It Rocking!". The New York Times. October 20, 1991. Retrieved June 17, 2017.