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Monday, March 28, 2005

"With a name like 'Wax Trax,' it has to be good."

That was my mantra in 1988, when industrial music was in its golden age, and I was a sucker for anything released on the Chicago Wax Trax label. Most if not all of the label’s releases seemed to have some tie-in with Ministry’s main man Alain Jourgensen, whether as producer, vocalist, noisemaker. While Ministry’s output was fairly regular at this point, it seemed like a new side project was debuting monthly. One of these was a pairing of Jourgensen and indie/punk überlord Ian McKaye dubbed Pailhead.


Let’s do some quick math – Ian McKaye was the lead figure of the straightedge punk movement, which frowned upon drug use. Alain Jourgensen had a rep for being a walking pharmacy. This equation shouldn’t have added to much, and in terms of recorded output, it didn’t really. Pailhead, with McKaye on vocals and Jourgensen doing pretty much everything else, released a 7” and one EP. Both were later compiled onto one CD EP titled “Trait.”

I first heard Pailhead shortly after its release while shopping at Chris’ Warped Records, then the coolest record store in Northeast Ohio. I recognized the trademark Wax Trax lurching sound immediately and snatched it up. I recall it being one of Wax Trax’s first CD releases, alongside Acid Horse, Lard and Ministry’s “12 Inch Singles” CDs. For a few years, if it was on the Wax Trax label, I bought it, sound unheard.

Pailhead was interesting in that it presaged Ministry’s later forays into more metallic sounds, beginning one year later with “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.” In fact, both “Man Should Surrender” and “Don’t Stand In Line” end up sounding like they’d fit on that disc perfectly. Remember though, this was at least a full year before. Did McKaye influence Ministry’s future sound? Maybe. No? Who knows. It’s great anyway. And that’s coming from someone who, back in 1983, LOVED “With Sympathy.”

Download “Man Should Surrender”.
Download “Don’t Stand In Line”.

”Trait” did not chart.
Neither single charted. (I mean, really. C’mon.)
posted by John, 5:12 PM