With Sympathy

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With Sympathy
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 10, 1983
RecordedNovember 1982–March 1983
StudioSyncro Sound Studios, Boston
55:59 (2012 re-release)
  • Vince Ely
  • Ian Taylor
Ministry chronology
With Sympathy
Singles from With Sympathy
  1. "Work for Love"
    Released: January 1983
  2. "I Wanted to Tell Her"
    Released: April 1983
  3. "Revenge"
    Released: September 1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[2]
MusicHound Rock[4]
Rolling Stone[5]
Spin Alternative Record Guide3 / 10[6]

With Sympathy is the debut studio album by American industrial band Ministry, released on May 10, 1983 by Arista Records.[7] 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. The album was briefly re-released overseas as Work for Love.

Background and recording[edit]

In late 1981, Jourgensen was living in Chicago and involved in its underground scene. He began to write and record songs in his apartment, using a newly bought ARP Omni synthesizer, a drum machine and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. At one point, a demo tape featuring the song "I'm Falling" gained the attention of Wax Trax! Records label co-founder and co-owner Jim Nash. Impressed by the demo, Nash offered to record its material professionally and to assemble the touring band, which Jourgensen named Ministry. At Chicago's Hedden West Studios, Jourgensen, with co-producers Jay O'Roarke and Iain Burgess, recorded Ministry's first material, a 12" single featuring the tracks "I'm Falling", "Primental" and "Cold Life".

Jourgensen assembled the band's first live lineup, a five-piece group including Jourgensen on vocals and guitar, bassist Martin Sorenson, keyboardists Robert Roberts and John Davis and drummer Stephen George.[8] Jourgensen and Roberts state that Roberts' inclusion in the group occurred because their mutual friend Paul Taylor was ill and unable to join.[8][9]

While touring the Midwest and the Northeast during 1982, Ministry received some commercial success with "Cold Life."[10][11] The band gained the attention of Arista label executives, who chose to sign them. With Sympathy was recorded in Autumn 1982 with producers Vince Ely and Ian Taylor at the Syncro Sound recording studio in Boston.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

On release, With Sympathy received mixed to negative reviews. However, Rolling Stone noted that any lack of originality in the synth-pop concept was "... hardly worth complaining about, because Ministry manages to do something many far more innovative bands neglect: they write catchy dance songs."[5] The review further observed that Jourgensen's singing was "... charged with anger, passion and glee–real emotions instead of the vocal posturing so common in synth-pop." The album achieved commercial success, peaking at number 94 in the Billboard 200 and selling more than 100,000 copies in the U.S. by 2007. The album was promoted with three singles—"Work for Love", "I Wanted to Tell Her" and "Revenge"—and the three-month tour. A music video was made for the single "Revenge."

Retrospective impressions by Al Jourgensen[edit]

Following the tour's completion, Jourgensen's dissatisfaction over his record deal led the band to depart Arista in early 1984. Jourgensen later disowned the album, maintaining that he had been pressured by Arista management into the then-popular synth-pop style, which is in contrast to the harder industrial and heavy metal sounds that he would later develop.[13] He compared the experience to that of Milli Vanilli.[14] Jourgensen has described the album as a "sonic abortion."[15] He also claims that Arista had prevented songs that he had written in 1982 from appearing on the album; these tracks would eventually appear on The Land of Rape and Honey and Twitch.[16]

However, according to Ian MacKaye, with whom Jourgensen formed Pailhead, Jourgensen discovered hardcore music after his synth-pop work,[17] a statement that Jourgensen repeated in the documentary film Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records.[18] Former keyboardist Robert Roberts refutes claims that Jourgensen was forced by Arista to "make the record cheesy," saying that the finished product was simply watered down and did not properly capture the band's live sound.[19] Additionally, video recordings of Ministry concerts in Chicago several years before their signing with Arista show the band playing synth-pop and dressed in new wave and dark wave styles.[citation needed]

Jourgensen assumes a false English accent for all of the songs, for which he later expressed regret.[20] His ex-wife Patty stated in 2013 that doing so was an homage to bands that he had liked.[21]

Jourgensen has since made peace with the album, saying that "... because of that record I wouldn’t be who I am today. I think without that record, I wouldn’t be as much of a fucking maniac douchebag. So I’m thankful for it now."[22]

In June 2023, Jourgensen announced that Ministry would re-record four tracks from With Sympathy: "Revenge," "Effigy," "Work for Love," and "Here We Go." The new versions will be "a lot more guitar-driven, but not metal."[23]

On August 24th, 2023, Ministry performed "Revenge" live for the first time since 1984 in Dallas, Texas.[24]


With Sympathy was out of print for many years, and Jourgensen claimed that he had destroyed the master tapes. In 2012, Eastworld Records reissued the album with three bonus tracks.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

"Effigy (I'm Not An)" was used in a scene in HBO's Euphoria, Season 2, Episode 3.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Alain Jourgensen, except "I Wanted to Tell Her" by Jourgensen and Shay Jones

With Sympathy — Standard edition
1."Effigy (I'm Not An)"3:51
3."I Wanted to Tell Her"5:29
4."Work for Love"4:44
5."Here We Go"3:21
6."What He Say"4:04
7."Say You're Sorry"4:18
8."Should Have Known Better"4:31
9."She's Got a Cause"3:33
With Sympathy — 2012 Eastworld re-release (additional tracks)
10."I Wanted to Tell Her" (Extended Mix)7:03
11."Revenge" (Remix)6:19
12."A Walk in the Park"4:58
Work for Love – European edition
1."Work for Love"4:44
2."Do the Etawa"4:04
3."I Wanted to Tell Her"5:29
4."Say You're Sorry"4:18
5."Here We Go"3:21
6."Effigy (I'm Not An)"3:51
8."She's Got a Cause"3:33
9."Should Have Known Better"4:31
  • "What He Say" was renamed "Do the Etawa" on the European release.[26]: 28 
  • The European LP release has the 7" remix of "I Wanted To Tell Her" instead of the U.S. album version. All CD versions use the U.S. album version.


Credits adapted from the liner notes of With Sympathy.[27]

Chart positions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Carlson, Dean. "With Sympathy - Ministry". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). "Ministry". Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Vol. 5 (3rd ed.). Muse UK Ltd. pp. 3692–3693. ISBN 1561592374 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ -RoG- (2008-03-27). "Weekly Stoplight - With Sympathy". I-Mockery.
  4. ^ Christensen, Thor (1999). "Ministry". In Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds.). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (loan required). Detroit: Visible Ink Press. p. 762. ISBN 978-1-57859-061-2 – via the Internet Archive.
  5. ^ a b Considine, J.D. (September 29, 1983). "Ministry: With Sympathy : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. No. 405. Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  6. ^ Weisbard, Eric (1995). "Ministry". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  7. ^ Zaleski, Annie (May 10, 2018). "35 Year Ago: Ministry Release Disavowed Debut, 'With Sympathy'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 49–50.
  9. ^ Roberts, Robert. "Session with Roberts". Prongs.org (Interview). Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  10. ^ Coupe, Stuart; Baker, Glenn A. (1983). The New Rock'N'Roll. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0312572107 – via the Internet Archive.
  11. ^ Best, David (January 5, 1990). "Building On Success". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 51–52.
  14. ^ Acharya, Kiran. "Revolting Lots: Al Jourgensen's Favourite Ministry Albums". The Quietus. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  15. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon. Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. 2013.
  16. ^ "Ministry's Al Jourgensen once charged a fan $1000 to sign With Sympathy". Metal Hammer. December 21, 2017.
  17. ^ Azerrad, Michael (December 2, 2012). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316247184.
  18. ^ Nash, Julia (2018), Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records
  19. ^ "Session with Roberts". prongs.org.
  20. ^ Jourgensen, Al (July 9, 2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306822186.
  21. ^ "Session with Patty Jourgensen". prongs.org. 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  22. ^ O'Neill, Christina (29 April 2016). "Al Jourgensen: Ministry's first album made me the maniac douchebag I am today". MetalHammer. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  23. ^ Parker, Lyndsey (June 16, 2023). "Ministry's Al Jourgensen exclusively reveals plans to re-record long-disavowed 'With Sympathy' songs". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved June 18, 2023.
  25. ^ "Ministry - With Sympathy". The Ideal Copy.
  26. ^ Greene, Jo-Ann (April 2, 1993). "Ministry". Goldmine (scans). Vol. 19, no. 7 (331). pp. 26, 28, 32, 38, 40. ISSN 1055-2685 – via Prongs.org archive.
  27. ^ With Sympathy (Media notes). Ministry. Arista Records. 1983. AL 6608.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ "Ministry Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  29. ^ "Ministry Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  30. ^ "Ministry - I Wanted To Tell Her". charts.nz.


External links[edit]