Monday, 14 October 2013

The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen

Al Jourgensen has done an incredibly large amount of drugs, however he has never let that get in the way of him making some incredibly good music. What it has got in the way of is him making an autobiography that is going to have much variance beyond the "did A, did a lot of drugs, did B, did a lot more drugs..." cycle or raise many questions beyond 'How much more debauched can this lifestyle possibly get?' and 'How the hell is he not dead already?'. It's also got in the way of believing a lot of what is said, as Jourgensen admits to being utterly void of memory about many chunks of his existence whilst being adamant about juicy details of him slagging people off, which Jon Wiederhorn manages to deal with by getting the other side of the story from a lot of people who were also there and in the firing line.

This is not to say that reading it makes you dislike Al Jourgensen his childhood story gives some sympathetic background as to how he ended up as he did and he is refreshingly honest about the bad things he has done, without being apologetic or pious. It's also not to say that his story is dull, as he gives some interesting insight into several major counter-culture individuals, including Timothy Leary during the later part of his life. It's just that if you were looking for something about the music or the performances of Ministry you are bang out of luck as he can't remember about 80% of his recording career and he hates live performances so doesn't really want to talk about them. What you have got is a junkie tale with a lot of punches, some amusing tales of self-destruction, and an insight into how the recording industry can be a horrible and abusive place. You also have an a scan into the mind of one of the few geniuses of industrial musical and a true survivor of rock, as well as a rock autobiography without any of the faux-sleaze pseudo-chic or self-important complaint that the genre normally spews out (Looking at you, Motley Crue).

In the end I'm really not sure if I can encourage you to read this book or not: I know that around halfway through I mostly carried on reading due to the 'what will he do next?' freak show factor rather than any actual interest in what was going on, but at the same time there were always sections that left me laughing and eventually happy that I had stuck it out to the end. It's well written, well researched (other than the contentious bits) and not a bad read once you get past the subject matter. Ministry fans will read it regardless of what is said, though I doubt it will give any greater or lesser appreciation of the music to them, so I guess it boils down to 'how much do you care about the music of Ministry' and 'do you want to read the story of a very amiable junkie'.
Post a Comment