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Ministry's "Last Tangle In Paris" CD/DVD review

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Ministry "Last Tangle in Paris" CD/DVD

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Ministry’s new live CD/DVD package is entitled Last Tangle In Paris, yet the industrial/metallic madness contained within wasn’t filmed in that French capital city - it was primarily recorded at the Vic Theatre On June 28 and 29, 2012, in main man Al Jourgensen’s more or less hometown Chicago. According to the liner notes, the titular reference to Paris is related to a health scare Jourgensen experienced at a show there on the same tour. Why exactly Ministry decided to reference that incident on a live DVD filmed in Chicago isn’t really explained in the notes, leaving one to wonder about its significance.

But that’s all part and parcel of Ministry’s mystique. Jourgensen and Co. stubbornly carve out their own path in ways that may at times seem flummoxing to outsiders, even to fans, without necessarily feeling the need to justify their acts, which may be simply a form of artistic license. Later on, reasons may become more clear through interviews or even Jourgensen’s recent autobiography. But that mystery is also part of what has made Ministry’s music so interesting. Layers of meaning are often buried beneath wordplay and massive distortion that leaves the listener with an experience that they can decipher in their own way.

Nonetheless, the video opens with the band entering the Vic backstage, with Jourgensen, looking worse for wear, complaining about how much he hates his job. Ministry followers will recognize that immediately as authentic, as Jourgensen is known for hating both his job and his fans. The feature runs for just under an hour and a half, and mostly consists of footage of the band playing live with scenes of the band in rehearsal cut in occasionally. Beyond that, the video also includes backstage footage and some interviews.

Throughout the feature, aside from Jourgensen, the figure that looms the largest here is guitarist Mike Scaccia, who died in December 2012, just as Ministry’s last (and purportedly final) album was being finished, 2013's From Beer to Eternity. The feature is dedicated to him, and there are several snippets of him either backstage or holding casual conversations at Ministry’s El Paso home.

As for the concert footage itself, which of course makes up the bulk of the feature, the sound is good and the camera shots have an appropriately grainy, handheld flavor. Ministry shows are about visuals as much as noise, and the band’s trademark light and video show is highlighted along with the obvious band and crowd footage. The tracklist consists heavily of latter-day material (“No ‘W’,” “Relapse) with a handful of classics closing out the set (“Just One Fix,” “Thieves”).

But that’s not all that’s included in Last Tango. The release is a CD/DVD package that comes with what amounts to a double live album of cuts recorded between 2006 and 2012. Disc one of the audio features latter-day tracks and disc two is an album’s worth of classic cuts. Several versions are available - there is the 2-CD and DVD digipak, BluRay and 2-CD Amaray, and 2 X vinyl Gatefold 160 gram configurations, fully digital audio and video, and as a simple CD package. They can be ordered from the band's online store.

The only area that is particularly lacking in the whole package is the extras department, despite the plethora of live concert material. The DVD consists of the feature and only the feature - no extras. There are interviews and backstage scenes interspersed with the concert footage, and the film occasionally cleverly cuts back and forth between rehearsals in El Paso and the band playing at the Vic. But it seems like more extras could have been included in the whole package.

While Last Tango is being touted as the band’s final live release... that may or may not be true. Until recently the band was considered (again) to be in retirement, yet Jourgensen recently announced there would be some more tour dates where the band would play From Beer... in its entirety. And while Jourgensen is still maintaining that there will be no more new Ministry albums... we’ll see what the future holds.

In the meantime, Last Tango in Paris altogether is an excellent package of material for fans who didn’t feel like showing up to the 2012 ‘DeFibriLaTour.’ And if it proves to be their final live recording, it's a fitting farewell.

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