Ministry have been a cornerstone of the industrial scene for over 30 years now. The band led by Al Jourgensen has seen many changes in musical direction as well as personnel, but has always pushed the boundaries of what man and machine can do. These days Jourgensen can be quite dismissive, and often disparaging of his earlier work while still finding the sound he wanted and being pulled in directions he may not have wanted to go. But that does not invalidate that early work and 'Trax! Rarities' released through Cleopatra Records celebrates that period through a collection of live tracks, demos, unreleased mixes and otherwise rare side-project cuts across four sides of clear vinyl.
Side A consists of early live tracks recorded in Detroit back in 1982 with the band sounding comfortable and commanding as they power through their take on new wave and synthpop in a surprisingly good quality capture of the band at their most melodic.
Side B continues the early innocence with five unreleased demos meant for the stylistic successor to 'With Sympathy' but eventually dropped for the darker industrial style explored on 'Twitch'. 'Same Old Madness' and 'Same Old Scene' particularly standout from the bunch.
Side C starts with a couple of harder 'Twitch' style tracks in the forms of 'I See Red' and 'Self-Annoyed' Both of which illustrate the transitional sound between the dance-friendly sound of 'With Sympathy' and the much darker and harder albums to follow. Following on from those are two cuts from the most successful Ministry side-project to date Revolting Cocks with 'Fish In Cold Water' and a banned version of '(Let's Get) Physical'.
The final side of the album explores some more side-project works with offerings from PTP, Pailhead, the super rare 'Drums Along the Carbide' from Rev Co. and 1000 Homo DJs – OK it's just another remix of 'Supernaut', but a good dub remix is always a nice addition.
OK, while everything on here isn't necessarily unknown or unreleased – the 'Trax! Box' has already seen a lot of this material included – it is still a more affordable option and to be fair pulls out some real gems that may have otherwise got lost in the mix.
This is a release aimed squarely at the hardcore Ministry fans out there, but is a nice collection nonetheless and worthy of being pressed onto vinyl. While 'Trax! Rarities' may not deliver any major revelations, instead the way it is compiled makes it is a nice illustration of an artist's stylistic progression changing from a behind-the-scenes perspective.