Twitch (Ministry album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ministry twitch.jpeg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 12, 1986
Ministry chronology
With Sympathy
Twelve Inch Singles (1981–1984)
Singles from Twitch
  1. "Over the Shoulder"
    Released: November 1985

Twitch[nb 1] is the second studio album by American rock band Ministry, released on March 12, 1986 by Sire Records. Recorded mostly in London and West Berlin during 1985, it was produced by the band's frontman Al Jourgensen and On-U Sound Records owner Adrian Sherwood. It stepped away from the synthpop-oriented form of their debut studio album With Sympathy (1983) and moved toward a darker, more aggressive sound, heavily influenced by industrial dance groups Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242.

Preceded by "Over the Shoulder", with an accompanying video directed by Peter Christopherson, the album was supported by a concert tour of North America, which was the first to feature Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin in the line-up, playing bass guitar and drums, respectively. The album was released to mixed reviews.

Background and production[edit]

Shortly after touring in support of Ministry's 1983 debut album, With Sympathy, Al Jourgensen and bandmates moved to Evanston, Illinois, and proceeded to record what was to be Ministry's second album with Arista Records. Amid differences on the upcoming recording's style, the band left Arista in Spring 1984, following a legal dispute, and returned to Wax Trax! Records, their original label.[1][2] In that year's Autumn, Ministry embarked on the tour of the East Coast with Belgian industrial dance band Front 242 as a supporting act;[3]: 645 [4] according to various accounts, Jourgensen began working on new music either during that tour or the same time With Sympathy was recorded.[5][6][2] In his 2013 autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels..., Jourgensen said that, during an aforementioned tour, Seymour Stein had attended several gigs trying to offer the band a new deal with his record label Sire Records, a Warner Bros. Records subsidiary. As various accounts state, Jourgensen declined an offer, recalling his experience with Arista, but eventually volunteered, setting conditions that Sire would give Jourgensen complete creative control over his work, and would give resources to buy a Fairlight CMI synthesizer, and also to support the Wax Trax! imprint; as Jourgensen put it in 2013, "it was kind of a personal sacrifice to keep that company rolling and allow them to keep signing bands."[7] By Summer 1985, Ministry released several non-album singles on Wax Trax!: “All Day”, “(Every Day Is) Halloween”, and “The Nature of Love”,[8][9] before getting signed to Sire.[10] By this point, Jourgensen remained the only official member of Ministry.[11][12]

Stein subsequently employed On-U Sound Records owner Adrian Sherwood as the record's principal producer, regarding his work with Depeche Mode on their 1984 singles "People Are People" and "Master and Servant".[13][14] Jourgensen, Sherwood, and Keith LeBlanc began work in Chicago in Spring 1985, before relocating in London-based Southern Studios;[11][3] the later sessions were held in West Berlin at Hansa Tonstudio.[13][15]: 20 [16][17] Recalling sessions in The Lost Gospels..., Jourgensen mostly regarded Sherwood for production advice, though he expressed dislike about his experience in London, citing cultural differences and conflicts with Sherwood's friends; also he admitted that can't "feel like this one's really mine because it's so Adrian Sherwood-influenced."[18][17]

Style and composition[edit]

Musically, Twitch is more abrasive and beat-driven than preceding Ministry releases, stepping away from the pop-oriented sound of With Sympathy, and incorporating elements from the growing industrial scene of the mid-1980s instead.[19][20][21][22] Various authors wrote that the album's overall sound is at times reminiscent of Ministry's contemporary acts in Europe, Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242.[nb 2] It is described as an electronica,[28] industrial,[29] and EBM/industrial dance record[30] which also contains material ascribed to the two latter genres,[26][31] as well as dance-pop,[32] dub,[33] eurodisco,[34][35] noise rock[36] and synthpop.[26] Jourgensen's English-accented singing, while carried over from With Sympathy, was approached with distortion effects.[35][25][37] Twitch was also the first Ministry record featuring use of sampling, which became one of Ministry's trademarks over the years.[27][26] The production also features the use of white noise and distortion.[35]

The opening track, "Just Like You", is cited by Jourgensen as his “first real political Ministry song”.[16] “We Believe” is described as a "sequencer hammerlock"[36] and has been compared to the music of Nine Inch Nails.[38] "All Day Remix" is a re-worked version of "All Day", originally the A-side from Wax Trax!'s 1985 single which included “Halloween”; drummer Stephen George and bassist Brad Hallen, who quit the band after 1984, were still credited for their contribution to the original track.[39][40] "The Angel" features backing vocals from Jourgensen's then-wife Patty; though uncredited, their daughter Adrienne appears as a toddler in this track's intro.[41]


"Over the Shoulder" single and video[edit]

The sole single from Twitch, "Over the Shoulder", was released in late November 1985, and marked Ministry's debut on Sire.[42][43] The song is cited as an early example of electro-industrial,[44][45] and contains multiple layers of looped synthesizer parts along with distinctive heavy drum machine pattern along with Jourgensen's weak vocal approach, referred to by Billboard editors "as mannered as Scritti Politti heard over the telephone."[42][43][46][31][improper synthesis?] In the same magazine's "Dance Trax" column, writer Brian Chin described it as “a Bee Gees satire.”[47] In a later review published in the March 1986 issue of Spin Magazine, columnist John Leland praised Sherwood's work with Ministry's "typically banal ideas."[48]

The music video for "Over the Shoulder" was directed by Peter Christopherson.[nb 3][51][52][53] According to Jourgensen, the director hired two kids to steal a car, then filmed it. When the band asked to film in a store, the owner refused. The director allegedly paid the same kids to break into the store and trash it, and the band asked once again. The owner, needing money to pay for cleanup, agreed. Jourgensen said, "Everything that happened on that video was criminal."[50]

In 2000, the video of "Over the Shoulder" was featured on compilation album Tapes of Wrath;[44][54] the song was to be featured on a 2001 compilation album Greatest Fits, but was left off due to medium limitations.[55]


Following the release of Twitch the band commenced a four-month tour through the US and Canada with a new four-piece line-up; Jourgensen approached former members of the Blackouts—Roland Barker, his brother Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin—to join the band. Both Barkers performed keyboards and bass, respectively; Rieflin joined on drums.[56][57] Dave “Rave” Ogilvie, then producer of Canadian electro-industrial band Skinny Puppy, joined them as a sound engineer, while Frank Nardiello—future Thrill Kill Kult singer Groovie Mann—was a lighting technician.[58][59]


Twitch was released on March 12, 1986 by Sire and Warner Bros. Records. Shortly after, it entered Billboard 200 on April 4 for three weeks, peaking at No. 194. A new issue of the album was released on March 13, 1990, featuring tracks from the "Over the Shoulder" single.[60] As of February 2007, the album sold 138,755 copies in the United States.[61]

Twitched, an unauthorized 2003 release by Radioactive Records, is an allegedly alternate version of Twitch, featuring the track listing that the band is said to have intended it to have before the intervention of the record company. It includes previously unreleased alternative versions of tracks from the album.[38]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[27]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[62]
MusicHound Rock3/5 stars[63]
Robert ChristgauB-[64]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[65]
Spin Alternative Record Guide6 / 10[66]

Music critic Robert Christgau has described Twitch as "fleetingly gothic, marginally industrial, unrelenting in a vaguely threatening way, they shout "The world is ending" on a crowded dancefloor."[64] Ira Robbins of Trouser Press called the record as "the first steps into a murky swamp that subsumes Jourgensen's distorted, nearly spoken vocals within a pounding electronic rhythm onslaught," while stating: "Although much of this unsuccessful experiment throbs along dully, with haphazard intersections of good new ideas and bad old ideas, the militaristic "All Day Remix" offers a cogent demonstration of the direction Jourgensen is headed."[67] In a retrospective review, AllMusic critic Alan Escher has stated that "this sounds nothing like any of Ministry's other albums; listeners may hear how they became what they did." Escher also noted: "It's interesting though repetitive at times ("Crash and Burn"), and if you care to listen to Jourgensen's rants, he really does have something to say."[27]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Al Jourgensen.

Twitch – vinyl edition
1."Just Like You"Adrian Sherwood5:03
2."We Believe"Sherwood5:56
3."All Day Remix"
  • Jourgensen
  • Sherwood
4."The Angel"Sherwood6:06
5."Over the Shoulder"Sherwood5:13
6."My Possession"Sherwood5:05
7."Where You at Now? / Crash & Burn / Twitch (Version II)"
  • Jourgensen
  • Sherwood
Twitch – CD edition (additional tracks)
8."Over the Shoulder" (12" Version)Sherwood6:46
9."Isle of Man" (Version II)Sherwood4:30
Twitched – 2003 unauthorized release
1."Just Like You"5:06
2."We Believe"5:55
3."The Angel"5:55
4."Isle of Man" (Ver. 1)3:29
5."Over the Shoulder"5:05
8."Twitch" (Part 1)3:49
9."The Angel" (Short Version)4:31
10."Over the Shoulder" (Extended Version)6:43
11."Isle of Man" (Ver. 2)4:34
12."Twitch" (Ver. 2)2:01


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Twitch.[68]


Additional personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
The Billboard 200[69] 194


  1. ^ The album was named as the reference to an amphetamine called "Wiz", which was prevalent in Europe; Jourgensen was using it during sessions of Twitch in London, and so he did later during sessions of Revolting Cocks album Big Sexy Land in Brussels (Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 59).
  2. ^ Various authors, writing on Ministry and Twitch in particular, considered the album's sound to be influenced by that of Cabaret Voltaire[23][19][24][25][26] and Front 242.[27]
  3. ^ In various interviews, Jourgensen believes the director to be either Christopherson[49] or Storm Thorgerson.[50]


  1. ^ Phillip, Elizabeth (1985). "Chicago / Local Scene Reports". In Robbins, Ira A. (ed.). The Rolling Stone Review. New York: Scribner's. p. 188. ISBN 0713716274.
  2. ^ a b Zaleski, Annie (May 10, 2018). "35 Year Ago: Ministry Release Disavowed Debut, 'With Sympathy'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Fontenoy, Richard (1999). "Ministry". In Buckley, Jonathan; Duane, Orla; Ellingham, Mark; Spicer, Al (eds.). Rock: The Rough Guide (2nd ed.). London, New York: Rough Guides. pp. 645–646. ISBN 1-85828-457-0 – via the Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 58, 75.
  5. ^ "Interview With John Soroka". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  6. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 52.
  7. ^ Masuo 1996, p. 71; Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 58.
  8. ^ Greene 1993, p. 28; Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 56–58; Reed 2013, p. 236.
  9. ^ Rod Smith (March 27, 2014). "Wax Trax: An Introduction". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Popson, Tom (July 26, 1985). "The Wax Trax Method Of Making Records". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Wolanski, Coreen (March 1, 2003). "Ministry - Nothing Exceeds Like Excess". Exclaim!. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  12. ^ Huey, Steve. "Ministry". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Adrian Sherwood / On-U Sound". Test Pressing. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Greene 1993, p. 28.
  15. ^ Moore, Paul (1992). "Keith LeBlanc" (interview; scans). Technology Works. No. 13. pp. 16–25. Retrieved May 11, 2018 – via Imgur.
  16. ^ a b Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. XXIX.
  17. ^ a b Acharya, Kiran. "Revolting Lots: Al Jourgensen's Favourite Ministry Albums". The Quietus. p. 13. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  18. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 64–66.
  19. ^ a b Finley, Kathleen (April 4, 1986). "Twitching techno-pop solo". The Villanovan. 61 (19). Retrieved October 16, 2018 – via the Internet Archive.
  20. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (June 1986). "Ministry: Twitch (Sire)". Short Rock Takes. Musician. Vol. 7 no. 92. p. 90. ISSN 0733-5253.
  21. ^ Masuo 1996, p. 71.
  22. ^ Brooks, Jeffrey S. (2017). "Chapter 5: The Evolution of a Revolution". In Terri N. Watson; Jeffrey S. Brooks; Floyd D. Beachum (eds.). Educational Leadership and Music: Lessons for Tomorrow's School Leaders. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 9781681238579 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ "TWITCH — Ministry — Sire 25309..." Album Releases. Cash Box. Vol. 49 no. 39. March 15, 1986. p. 12. ISSN 0008-7289. Retrieved May 14, 2018 – via the Internet Archive.
  24. ^ Dubin, J. D. (April 7, 1986). "Success On The Dancefloor". The Varsity. 106 (51). p. 18. Retrieved October 16, 2018 – via the Internet Archive.
  25. ^ a b Knowles, Christopher (2010). The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll. Berkeley, California: Viva Editions (Simon and Schuster). p. 236. ISBN 978-1-57344-405-7 – via Internet Archive. But Ministry's second album, Twtich (1986) saw singer/leader Alain Jourgensen dropping the synth-pop and hijacking the songbook of industrial dance pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, complete with pounding drum machines, sampled noises, and half-whispered, English-accented vocals.
  26. ^ a b c d Stanton, Mike (July 26, 2016). "Fourculture Classics #6 – Twitch". Fourculture Magazine. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c d
    • Esher, Alan. "Twitch - Ministry". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
      • Print version* "Ministry". All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide To Popular Music. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine. San Francisco: All Media Guide / Backbeat Books. 2001. pp. 264. ISBN 0879306270 – via the Internet Archive.CS1 maint: others (link)
  28. ^ Angle, Brad (December 1, 2007). "Ministry: Track Record". Revolver Magazine. Retrieved April 27, 2018. While Ministry wouldn't perfect their trademark wall-of-guitar-and-sample style until later albums, Twitch’s hard-edged yet danceable electronica was a turning point for the band.
  29. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). "Ministry / Chapter 33: Industrial and Grindcore". Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Foreword by Joe Satriani; edited by Jon Eiche. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9. He released a strictly industrial album in 1986, Twitch...
  30. ^ Kretsch, Ron (June 10, 2013). "Early Ministry KICKED ASS". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved May 16, 2018. The consensus narrative of his main band Ministry’s career trajectory holds that after an early anglophile period that’s as big of a let’s-pretend-it-didn’t-happen embarrassment to most their fans as Pablo Honey is to Radiohead snobs, the band really got started with the industrial dance masterpiece Twitch.
  31. ^ a b Chillingworth, Alec (August 18, 2016). "Every Ministry album, ranked from worst to best". TeamRock. Future Publishing. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  32. ^ Robbins, Darren (March 12, 2006). "Ministry: With Sympathy vs. Twitch". Pop Dose. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  33. ^ Eddy, Chuck (April 2010). "Industrial Metal". Spin. Vol. 26 no. 3. p. 91. Retrieved July 4, 2018. Anglophile synth-pop poseurs bucking for Spandau Ballet’s MTV minutes on their earliest records, Al Jourgenson’s Chicago outfit shape-shifted twice during the 1980s. First, letting Adrian Sherwood soak them in dense dub on 1986’s Twitch, then deciding they could sound meaner than Big Black — which they couldn’t, but nice try!
  34. ^ "Ministry, 'Twitch'; Producer: Adrian Sherwood; Sire 25309". Album & Single Reviews. Billboard. Vol. 98 no. 12. March 22, 1986. p. 78. Retrieved May 16, 2018 – via Google Books.
  35. ^ a b c Sheffield, Rob (December 1992). "Ministry". Artist of the Year: Runners-Up. Spin. Vol. 8 no. 9. p. 60. Retrieved May 16, 2018 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ a b Chin, Brian (April 19, 1986). "Dance Trax". Billboard. Vol. 98 no. 16. p. 41. Retrieved May 16, 2018 – via Google Books.
  37. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 64.
  38. ^ a b Greg Prato. "Twitched - Ministry". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  39. ^ Reed 2013, p. 237.
  40. ^ Kretsch, Ron (March 25, 2015). "'The Game is Over' Previously unreleased Ministry song from 1983". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  41. ^ "Session with Patty Jourgensen". 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  42. ^ a b "Ministry: Over The Shoulder". Album & Singles Reviews. Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 47. November 23, 1985. p. 67. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 28, 2018 – via Google Books.
  43. ^ a b "12' Reviews". Dance. Cash Box. Vol. 49 no. 24. November 23, 1985. p. 20. ISSN 0008-7289. Retrieved July 4, 2018 – via the Internet Archive.
  44. ^ a b Gomes, Whitney Z. "Tapes of Wrath". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  45. ^ Rollman, Hans (August 6, 2015). "Ministry: Trax! Box". PopMatters. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  46. ^ Carey, Jean (July 6, 2006). "Stainless Steel Providers". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  47. ^ Brian Chin (December 14, 1985). "Dance Trax". News. Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 50. p. 51. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  48. ^ John Leland (March 1986). "Ministry: 'Over the Shoulder' with b/w 'Isle of Man' and 'Twitch' (Sire)". Singles. Spin Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 11. p. 37. Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Google Books.
  49. ^ Jourgensen, Al (January 2005). "Interview de Al Jourgensen (Ministry), pour la sortie de House Of The Molé Paris, fin mai 2004.". Metalorgie (Interview) (in French). Interviewed by Mikki Fajito. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  50. ^ a b Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 65.
  51. ^ "End credits". Tapes of Wrath (DVD). Warner Music Video. 2000.
  52. ^ Liggeri, Domenico (2013). Musica per i nostri occhi: Storie e segreti dei videoclip (electronic book) (in Italian). Giunti. ISBN 9788858761106 – via Google Books. Nell’86 i Ministry per Over the shoulder lo lasciano delirare con i concetti allo stesso modo in cui loro lo fanno con i suoni, consentendogli di descrivere minuzio come due giovannissimi ladri rubano un’istigazione a delinquere, facendo poi compiere al cantante un furto con effrazione in un supermercato , quindi tendando la metafora tra una macchina distrutta dalla sfasciacarozze e l’apertura di una scatoletta, legando il tutto con il tema ricorrente delle galline in batteria: se ne potrebbe evincere che come atto di ribellione all’omologazione sociale sia giustificato perfino commettere reati.
  53. ^ Horan, Anthony. "Ministry - Tapes of Wrath - DVD Review". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  54. ^ Mühlmann, Wolf-Rüdiger. "Ministry: Tapes of Wrath". Rock Hard (in German). Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  55. ^ Barker, Paul (June 28, 2001). "Ministry". Ink19 (Interview). Interviewed by Kiran Aditham. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  56. ^ Popson, Tom (March 28, 1986). "Adventures With Ministry In The Land Of Majors". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 29, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  57. ^ Greene 1993, p. 32; Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 68.
  58. ^ "Session with Robert Roberts". n.d. p. 5. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  59. ^ Scaccia, Mike (July 13, 2012). "Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia on Rigor Mortis, Psalm 69 and his friendship with Al Jourgensen". Westword (Interview). Interviewed by Tom Murphy. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  60. ^ Greene 1993, p. 32.
  61. ^ Neilstein, Vince (2007-02-07). "I come bearing a gift: Ministry's official soundscan numbers". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  62. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). "Ministry". Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5 (3rd ed.). Muse UK Ltd. pp. 1155–1156. ISBN 1561592374 – via the Internet Archive.
  63. ^ 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.
  64. ^ a b "CG: Ministry". Christgau, Robert. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  65. ^ 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 Internet Archive.
  66. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  67. ^ Robbins, Ira. "Ministry". Trouser Press. Archived from the original on May 20, 2020. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  68. ^
    • Twitch (vinyl sleeve). Ministry. Sire Records. 1986. 9 25309-1.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
    • Twitch (CD booklet). Ministry. Sire Records. 1990. 9 25309-2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  69. ^ "Twitch - Ministry". Billboard.