Twitch (Ministry album)

Last updated
Ministry twitch.jpeg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 12, 1986
Genre EBM
Industrial dance
Label Sire
Ministry chronology
With Sympathy
Twelve Inch Singles (1981–1984)
Singles from Twitch
  1. "Over the Shoulder"
    Released: November 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [2]
MusicHound RockStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [3]
Musician positive [4]
Robert Christgau B- [5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [6]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 6 / 10 [7]

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.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Ministry (band) American industrial metal band

Ministry is an American rock band founded in 1981 by Al Jourgensen in Chicago, Illinois. Originally a synth-pop outfit, Ministry's sound changed as they became one of the pioneers of industrial metal in the late 1980s. The band's lineup has frequently changed throughout its history, with the exception of Jourgensen who is the band's main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Notable musicians who have contributed to the band's studio or live activities include Paul Barker, Martin Atkins, Bill Rieflin, Chris Connelly, Nivek Ogre, Mike Scaccia, Rey Washam, Paul Raven, Tommy Victor, Roy Mayorga, John Bechdel, Jason Christopher, Tony Campos, Burton C. Bell and DJ Swamp.

Sire Records is an American record label that is owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.


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.

Peter Christopherson English musician

Peter Martin Christopherson was a musician, video director, commercial artist, designer and photographer, and former member of British design agency Hipgnosis.

Paul Gordon Barker, also referred to as Hermes Pan, is the former bass guitarist, producer and engineer of the industrial metal band Ministry from 1986 to 2003. Prior to Ministry, Barker provided bass for the Seattle post-punk ensemble The Blackouts alongside future Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin and his brother, one-time Ministry touring keyboardist/saxophonist Roland Barker, from 1979 until 1985.

William Frederick "Bill" Rieflin is an American musician.

Background and production

Shortly after touring in support of Ministry's debut album, With Sympathy , Al Jourgensen parted ways with Arista Records, and returned with the band to Wax Trax! Records as of mid-1984. [8] 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; [9] :645 [10] according to various accounts, Jourgensen began working on new music either during that tour or the same time With Sympathy was recorded. [11] [12] [8] 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." [13] By Summer 1985, Ministry released several non-albums singles on Wax Trax!: “All Day”, “(Every Day Is) Halloween”, and “The Nature of Love”, [14] [15] before getting signed to Sire. [16] By this point, Jourgensen remained the only official member of Ministry. [17] [18]

<i>With Sympathy</i> 1983 studio album by Ministry

With Sympathy is the debut studio album by American rock band Ministry, released on February 10, 1983 by Arista Records. 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.

Al Jourgensen musician

Allen David Jourgensen is a Cuban-American singer-songwriter, musician and music producer. Closely related with the independent record label Wax Trax! Records, Jourgensen has an active musical career that spans four decades, and is best known as the frontman of the industrial rock band Ministry, which he founded in 1981 and of which he remains the only constant member. He was also primary musician of several Ministry-related projects, such as Revolting Cocks, Lard, Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters. He has also produced and/or recorded with numerous other artists, including The Reverend Horton Heat, Prong, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, The Blackouts, Alan Vega, Iggy Pop, Adrian Sherwood, Jello Biafra and others. Jourgensen is regarded as being one of the most prominent figures of industrial music,</ref> influencing numerous other groups and musicians, both in alternative and industrial-associated acts.

Arista Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment and previously handled by Bertelsmann Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for Columbia Records. Until its demise in 2011, it was a major distributor and promoter of albums throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Today, the label's reissues and catalogue releases are handled by RCA Records and Legacy Recordings.

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". [19] [20] Jourgensen, Sherwood, and Keith LeBlanc began work in Chicago in Spring 1985, before relocating in London-based Southern Studios; [17] [9] the later sessions were held in West Berlin at Hansa Tonstudio. [19] [21] :20 [22] [23] 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." [24] [23]

On-U Sound Records is an English record label known for releasing its own unique flavour of dub music since the 1980s. The label was founded by Adrian Sherwood in 1979/1980 and is home to acts such as Tackhead, Dub Syndicate, African Head Charge, The London Underground, Little Annie, Creation Rebel, Mark Stewart, Gary Clail, New Age Steppers, Audio Active, Asian Dub Foundation, and the dub collective Singers & Players.

Adrian Maxwell Sherwood is an English record producer specializing in the genre of dub music. Sherwood has created a distinctive production style based on the application of dub effects and dub mixing techniques to other forms of electronic dance music and popular music outside of the genre. Sherwood has worked extensively with a variety of reggae artists as well as the musicians Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbish and Skip McDonald. Sherwood has remixed tracks by Coldcut, Depeche Mode, The Woodentops, Primal Scream, Pop Will Eat Itself, Sinéad O'Connor, and Skinny Puppy. Within his role as a record producer, he has worked with a variety of record labels, however his most well-known label is On-U Sound Records, which he founded in 1979. Sherwood has been a member of the band Tackhead. As someone who considers himself tone deaf, the producer focuses on making sounds and noises rather than melody.

Depeche Mode English band

Depeche Mode are an English electronic band formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980. The group currently consists of a trio of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher (keyboards).

Style and composition

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. [25] [4] [26] [27] 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, [32] industrial, [33] and EBM/industrial dance record [34] which also contains material ascribed to the two latter genres, [31] [35] as well as dance-pop, [36] dub, [37] eurodisco, [38] [39] noise rock [40] and synthpop. [31] Jourgensen's English-accented singing, while carried over from With Sympathy, was approached with distortion effects. [39] [30] [41] Twitch was also the first Ministry record featuring use of sampling, which became one of Ministry's trademarks over the years. [1] [31] The production also features the use of white noise and distortion. [39]

Cabaret Voltaire (band) British music group

Cabaret Voltaire are an English music group formed in Sheffield in 1973 and initially composed of Stephen Mallinder, Richard H. Kirk, and Chris Watson. The group was named after the Cabaret Voltaire, the Zürich nightclub that served as a centre for the early Dada movement.

Front 242 band

Front 242 is a Belgian electronic music group that came into prominence during the 1980s. Pioneering the style they called electronic body music, they were a profound influence on the electronic and industrial music genres.

Electronica encompasses a broad group of electronic-based styles such as techno, house, ambient, jungle and other electronic music styles intended not just for dancing.

The opening track, "Just Like You", is cited by Jourgensen as his “first real political Ministry song”. [22] “We Believe” is described as a "sequencer hammerlock" [40] and has been compared to the music of Nine Inch Nails. [42] "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. [43] [44] "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. [45]

Nine Inch Nails American industrial rock band

Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN, is an American industrial rock band formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988. The band consists of producer and multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, as well as English musician Atticus Ross. Over the course of their three-decade existence, the band has signed with several major labels, the current being Capitol Records, under the name The Null Corporation.

Stephen 'Stevo' George is a former drummer and one of the founding members of the American industrial rock band Ministry. George performed on the band's earliest recordings, including their early singles for the Wax Trax! record label, and their debut album, With Sympathy, released in 1983. He was the drummer for the short-lived pop band Colortone. Since then, George has become a successful producer and mixer, working with many pop artists who have sold gold and platinum records.


"Over the Shoulder" single and video

The sole single from Twitch, "Over the Shoulder", was released in late November 1985, and marked Ministry's debut on Sire. [46] [47] The song is cited as an early example of electro-industrial, [48] [49] and contains multiple layers of looped synthesizer parts along with distinctive heavy drum machine pattern along with Jourgensen's weak vocal appoarch, referred to by Billboard editors as "Scritti Politti heard over the telephone." [46] [47] [50] [35] [ improper synthesis? ] In the same magazine's "Dance Trax" column, writer Brian Chin described it as “a Bee Gees satire.” [51] In the later review for the March 1986 issue of Spin Magazine , columnist John Leland praised Sherwood's work with Ministry's "typically banal ideas." [52]

The music video for "Over the Shoulder" was directed by Peter Christopherson. [nb 3] [55] [56] [57] 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." [54]

In 2000, the video of "Over the Shoulder" was featured on compilation album Tapes of Wrath ; [48] [58] the song was to be featured on a 2001 compilation album Greatest Fits , but was left off due to medium limitations. [59]


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. [60] [61] 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. [62] [63]


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. [64] As of February 2007, the album sold 138,755 copies in the United States. [65]

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. [42]

Track listing

All tracks written by Al Jourgensen.

Twitch– vinyl edition
1."Just Like You" Adrian Sherwood 5:03
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


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Twitch. [66]


Additional personnel

Chart positions

Chart (1986)Peak
The Billboard 200 [67] 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 [28] [25] [29] [30] [31] and Front 242. [1]
  3. In various interviews, Jourgensen believes the director to be either Christopherson [53] or Storm Thorgerson. [54]

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    • Twitch (CD booklet). Ministry. Sire Records. 1990. 9 25309-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  66. "Twitch - Ministry". Billboard .