It's rare that any band has one great live album in their catalogue, much less two, but count Ministry among those few. Their 1990 live album, In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up, is widely regarded as among the greatest live albums of the alternative 90's and 2002's Sphinctour serves as further testament to their renegade live performance.
Mostly drawing on material from 1992's Psalm 69 and 1996's Filth Pig, the live album contains 11 tracks recorded in 11 different cities across the globe. What's more, the band rarely plays the majority of these tracks in their current live set. Consequently, tracks like "Crumbs," "Filth Pig," "Hero," and "The Fall," stand as historic live recordings from this era of the band.
Frontman Al Jourgensen and then-sidekick Paul Barker were rounded out on this tour by guitarist's Louis Svitek and Zlatko Hukic, keyboardist Duane Buford, and drummer Rey Washam. Regardless of the turnover in band members, everyone is spot-on in these recorded performances, often sounding like they've all been playing together for decades.
Album opener "Psalm 69" is a giant, ugly beast of a song that segues into the Melvins-ish sludge of "Crumbs." The back-to-back punk of "Hero" and "Thieves" (from 1989's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste) is as satisfying as any of the material from In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up, and makes the argument that whatever era or lineup, Ministry is a live band to be reckoned with.
Classics like "Just One Fix," "N.W.O", and "Scarecrow," from the Psalm 69 album, retain the power that made them the darlings of 1992's Lollapalooza tour and shows that despite some inner turmoil, the band never missed a step. Following this tour, the band rarely played the haunting "The Fall," which is a damn shame. Nevertheless, we should all be grateful we have it on this disc for posterity.
Along with the reissued CD Digipak's for Animositisomina and Houses of the Molé, Sphinctour is a must-have album for any Ministry fan. My only complaint is that this CD doesn't contain "So What" and "Stigmata" that appeared on the DVD version on its initial release.
Sphinctour Track Listing:
01. Psalm 69
04. Filth Pig
05. Just One Fix
11. The Fall