Review Roundup: Ministry/Dylan/Rapture/Big Fish

News / Reviews / Vinyl Review / February 26, 2016

All four items in this review roundup come courtesy of Music On Vinyl. You can see their entire release history, along with what they have coming up, here.

Ministry — With Sympathy (1983)

Wow! This one caught me completely off guard, as I only know Ministry from their heavy industrial-goth albums like The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. I’ve read that band leader Al Jorgensen dismisses this album due to it’s synth-pop leaning, but I really enjoy it for what it is. Playing like a hybrid of early Depeche Mode and New Order, With Sympathy features programmed drums and synth leads over Jorgensen’s heavily emoted vocals. The pseudo British phrasing in his voice is a little cringy, but in context it makes sense. The first two tracks are the real winners here: “Effigy (I’m Not An)” and “Revenge.”

Packaging and Sound:

Music on Vinyl never skimps on packaging; With Sympathy is no exception. The 180-gram vinyl is housed in a high gloss, heavy stock sleeve and includes a paper insert with credits and a photo of the band. The sound quality is excellent, with very detailed bass and treble as you would expect from ’80s production. If you are a fan of Ministry or synth-pop, this is a worthy addition to your vinyl shelf.

Bob Dylan — Empire Burlesque (1985)

Hello darkness, my old friend…

If you had a chance to listen to my “Dylan in the 80s” Random Pull podcast series on Modern Vinyl, you’ll know that I have no love for this album. That being said, revisiting Empire by way of the Music on Vinyl reissue has been a pretty cool affair, and gasp I’m even starting to enjoy some of the songs on the album. Empire Burlesque is generally regarded as the weakest album of Dylan’s ’80s output, and while that’s still true here, at least the mastering, pressing and sound quality is absolutely top notch.

Packaging and Sound:

In a word: hilarious. That’s no fault of MOV though, oh no, this is all Bob’s doing. From the terrible gray suit jacket to the choose-your-own-font-adventure text, this stands in line with the worst cover art in Dylan’s varied discography. The packaging is solid though; the sleeve is heavy card stock and the vinyl is 180-gram, and there is a really silly looking paper insert with lyrics. It’s a much nicer pressing than the original release, with more clarity and depth, possibly due to better mastering.

Jessica Curry — Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture OST (2015)

On initial listen, I didn’t know what to make of this. I knew it was for a video game, but I had no idea just how intricate the choral sections would be. This is definitely not a cut and paste affair, some real thought went into the orchestration and production of this album. “Finding the Pattern” reminds me of a mix between Silent Hill and Final Fantasy, with more emphasis on melody than terror, while “Disappearing” plays like a more classically motivated Tim Burton. The soundtrack is exceedingly morose with very few specks of light, so make sure and go into it with a clear head and open mind.

Packaging and Sound:

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is part of MOV’s “At the Movies” section devoted to video game and movie soundtracks. The album comes housed in a thick plastic sleeve with the hype sticker stuck to the front. The back of the gatefold has a numbered stamp indicating what pressing it is out of the 500 run. The records are on 180-gram white vinyl with cream labels. The inside of the gatefold features a field of hay and swirling lights, which I’m assuming is artwork from the game. There is a 4-page insert that has lyrics as well as the game’s logo printed like a gatefold. The album plays and sounds like classical music, which is to say all the instruments and vocal parts can be heard individually with full clarity. The pressing sounds as good, if not better than its digital counterpart.

Big Fish — Music from the Motion Picture (2003)

Cause the man of the hour is taking his final bow,
Goodbye for now.

Full disclosure; I haven’t seen Big Fish yet. If the soundtrack is any indication of how good the movie is, I’ll be seeing it soon. The soundtrack/score begins with ’50s and ’60s pop music and ends with a gorgeous score by Danny Elfman. I’ve always loved Pearl Jam’s “Man of the Hour” and I think it’s the real standout from the pop music section. Moving into the Elfman score, it’s hard to pick a favorite. It’s easily some of the most thoughtful and tender music of his career, with a leaning towards celtic music and rhythms in spots. I really enjoy the guitar and violin interplay on “Shoe Stealing,” and the whimsy of “Twice the Love” hearkens back to Elfman’s Oingo Boingo days. It’s an incredible score and one of his finest to date.

Packaging and Sound:

The sound is crystal clear, with no rumble or surface noise detected. I played it front to back a few times and found myself getting lost in just how well it was mixed. The album is housed in a heavy plastic sleeve, which is common with the MOV gatefold releases. This record is also part of the “At The Movies” series and is individually numbered out of 1,000. The 4-page insert contains lyrics and images from the movie and the heavy stock gatefold has a series of movie stills in a collage. The real star of this release is the 180-gram black/blue marbled vinyl. It is absolutely stunning and plays like a dream. I would rank this release in the “must-own” category.

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Alan Miller
Alan is a songwriter and record store clerk living just north of Nashville, TN.

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