With Sympathy

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With Sympathy
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 10, 1983
StudioSyncro Sound Studios, Boston
55:59 (2012 re-release)
  • Vince Ely
  • Ian Taylor
Ministry chronology
With Sympathy
Singles from With Sympathy
  1. "Work for Love"
    Released: January 1983
  2. "I Wanted to Tell Her"
    Released: April 1983
  3. "Revenge"
    Released: September 1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[2]
I-Mockery4.5/5 stars[3]
MusicHound Rock2.5/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[5]
Spin Alternative Record Guide3 / 10[6]

With Sympathy is the debut studio album by American rock band Ministry, released on May 10, 1983 by Arista Records.[7] The group was formed in 1981 by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Al Jourgensen, with drummer Stephen George being the most notable member of its initial lineup.

Background and recording[edit]

In late 1981, Jourgensen was living in Chicago and involved in its underground scene. He began to write and record songs in his apartment, using a newly-bought ARP Omni synthesizer, a drum machine, and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. At one point, a demo tape featuring the song "I'm Falling" gained the attention of Wax Trax! Records label co-founder and co-owner Jim Nash. Impressed by the demo, Nash offered to record its material professionally and to assemble the touring band, which Jourgensen named Ministry. In Chicago-based Hedden West studios, Jourgensen, with co-producers Jay O'Roarke and Iain Burgess, recorded Ministry's first recording, a twelve-inch single featuring tracks "I'm Falling", "Primental" and "Cold Life".

Simultaneously, Jourgensen assembled the band's first live line-up, the five-piece group including Jourgensen himself on vocals and guitar, bassist Martin Sorenson, keyboardists Robert Roberts and John Davis, and drummer Stephen George.[8] Jourgensen and Roberts state that their mutual friend Paul Taylor had to perform in the original line-up, but, according to Jourgensen, refused after getting sick and proposed to invite Roberts instead.[8][9]

While touring the Midwest and the Northeast during 1982, Ministry received some commercial success with "Cold Life".[10][11] Consequently, the band gained attention of Arista label executives, who chose to sign them. With Sympathy was recorded in autumn 1982 with producers Vince Ely and Ian Taylor at the Synchro Sound studios in Boston.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

On release, With Sympathy received positive critical reviews. Rolling Stone noted that any lack of originality in the synth-pop concept was "hardly worth complaining about, because Ministry manages to do something many far more innovative bands neglect: they write catchy dance songs."[5] The review further observed that Jourgensen's singing was "charged with anger, passion and glee–real emotions instead of the vocal posturing so common in synth-pop." The album also achieved commercial success, peaking at number 94 in the Billboard 200 and selling more than 100,000 copies in the United States by 2007. The album was promoted with three singles—"Work for Love", "I Wanted to Tell Her", and "Revenge"—and the three-month tour. A music video was made for the single "Revenge".

Retrospective impressions by Al Jourgensen[edit]

Following the tour's completion, Jourgensen's dissatisfaction over his record deal led the band to depart Arista in early 1984. Jourgensen later disowned the album, maintaining that he was pressured by Arista management into producing the album in the then-popular synthpop style, which is in contrast to the harder industrial and heavy metal sounds he developed afterward.[13] He further elaborated that Arista prevented songs being featured on the album that were written in 1982, which would later be seen on the band's subsequent releases (The Land of Rape and Honey and Twitch).[14]

However, there are reports of Jourgensen saying in the 1980s that when he discovered hardcore music, his musical direction simply changed, and the claimed pressure from Arista is not mentioned,[15] a statement he repeated in the documentary film Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records.[16] Additionally, video of local concerts that Ministry performed in Chicago a few years before to their signing with Arista show them playing synthpop and dressed in new wave styles.

Jourgensen assumes a false English accent for all of the songs, for which he also later expressed great disliking;[17] however, his ex-wife Patty stated in a 2013 interview that it was a homage to bands he liked.[18] Former keyboardist Robert Roberts refuted the claims that Jourgensen was forced by Arista to "make the record cheesy", saying that the finished product was simply watered down and didn't properly capture the band's live sound.[19]


After having been long out of print (with Jourgensen claiming for years that he had destroyed the master tapes) the album was reissued in 2012 by Eastworld Records, with three bonus tracks.[20]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Alain Jourgensen, except "I Wanted to Tell Her" by Jourgensen and Shay Jones.

With Sympathy — Standard edition
1."Effigy (I'm Not An)"3:51
3."I Wanted to Tell Her"5:29
4."Work for Love"4:44
5."Here We Go"3:21
6."What He Say"4:04
7."Say You're Sorry"4:18
8."Should Have Known Better"4:31
9."She's Got a Cause"3:33
  • "What He Say" was renamed "Do the Etawa" on the European release.[21]:28
  • The European LP releases has the 7" remix of "I Wanted To Tell Her", instead of the US album version. All CD versions use the US album version.


Credits adapted from the liner notes of With Sympathy.[22]

Chart positions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Carlson, Dean. "With Sympathy - Ministry". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). "Ministry". Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5 (3rd ed.). Muse UK Ltd. pp. 3692–3693. ISBN 1561592374 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ -RoG- (2008-03-27). "Weekly Stoplight - With Sympathy". I-Mockery.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Considine, J.D. (September 29, 1983). "Ministry: With Sympathy : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. No. 405. Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  6. ^ Weisbard, Eric (1995). "Ministry". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  7. ^ Zaleski, Annie (May 10, 2018). "35 Year Ago: Ministry Release Disavowed Debut, 'With Sympathy'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 49–50.
  9. ^ Roberts, Robert. "Session with Roberts". Prongs.org (Interview). Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  10. ^ Coupe, Stuart; Baker, Glenn A. (1983). The New Rock’N’Roll. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0312572107 – via the Internet Archive.
  11. ^ Best, David (January 5, 1990). "Building On Success". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 51–52.
  14. ^ "Ministry's Al Jourgensen once charged a fan $1000 to sign With Sympathy". Metal Hammer. December 21, 2017.
  15. ^ Azerrad, Michael (December 2, 2012). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316247184.
  16. ^ Nash, Julia (2018), Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records
  17. ^ Jourgensen, Al (July 9, 2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306822186.
  18. ^ "Session with Patty Jourgensen". prongs.org. 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Session with Roberts". prongs.org.
  20. ^ "Ministry - With Sympathy". The Ideal Copy.
  21. ^ Greene, Jo-Ann (April 2, 1993). "Ministry". Goldmine (scans). Vol. 19 no. 7 (331). pp. 26, 28, 32, 38, 40. ISSN 1055-2685 – via Prongs.org archive.
  22. ^ With Sympathy (Media notes). Ministry. Arista Records. 1983. AL 6608.CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. ^ "Ministry - Charts & Awards - Billboard Albums". AllMusic.
  24. ^ "Ministry - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". Allmusic.
  25. ^ "Ministry - I Wanted To Tell Her". charts.nz.


External links[edit]