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Over the Shoulder

"Over the Shoulder"
Song by Ministry
from the album Twitch
  • "Isle of Man" (Version II)
  • "Twitch" (Version II)
ReleasedNovember 1985
Length6:44 (single version)
5:13 (album version)
Songwriter(s)Al Jourgensen
Producer(s)Adrian Sherwood
Music video
“Over the Shoulder” on YouTube

"Over the Shoulder" is a song by American rock band Ministry, from their second studio album, Twitch (1986). Written by frontman Al Jourgensen, produced by Adrian Sherwood, and released in November 1985 as a 12-inch single, it was the band’s first recording after signing with Sire Records;[1][2] the accompanying music video was directed by Peter Christopherson.


"Over the Shoulder" has been described as early example of electro-industrial,[3][4] as well as synth-pop[5] and synthrock.[2] On Twitch, it is the fifth track with a length of five minutes and thirteen seconds;[6] the single version is six minutes and fourty four seconds long.[7][2] Musically, the song contains multiple layers of looped synthesizer parts along with distinctive heavy drum machine pattern and Jourgensen's weak vocal appoarch; Billboard editors compared this approach with music of Scritti Politti and Bee Gees,[1][8][2] while Miami New Times' Jean Carey wrote that the song "sounds like a giant mosquito"[9][10] In the same magazine's “Dance Trax” column, writer Brian Chin described it as "a satire." In the later review for the March 1986 issue of Spin Magazine, columnist John Leland praised Sherwood's work with Ministry's “typically banal ideas.”[11]

The single version of "Over the Shoulder" and "Isle of Man" were included as additional tracks on compact disc edition of Twitch in 1990;[12]:32 the song was also to be featured on a 2001 compilation album Greatest Fits, but was left off due to medium limitations.[13]

Music video

The music video for "Over the Shoulder" was directed by Peter Christopherson.[14][15][16] It consists of footage of two teenagers stealing a car, trashing a grocery store, making a nails-and-gasoline omelet, and driving off with no apparent consequence.[9]

According to Jourgensen, the director[nb 1] hired two kids to perform actions featured in the video. When the band asked to film in a store, the owner refused. The director allegedly paid the same kids to break into the store and trash it, and the band asked once again. The owner, needing money to pay for cleanup, agreed. As Jourgensen put it, "Everything that happened on that video was criminal."[18]

In 2000, the video of “Over the Shoulder” was featured on compilation album Tapes of Wrath.[3][19]

Track listing

1."Over the Shoulder" (12" Version)6:44
2."Isle of Man" (Version II)4:33
3."Twitch" (Version II)1:59


Credits adapted from liner notes of Twitch.[6]


  1. ^ In various interviews, Jourgensen believes the director to be either Christopherson[17] or Storm Thorgerson.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Ministry: Over The Shoulder". Album & Singles Reviews. Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 47. November 23, 1985. p. 67. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 10, 2019 – via Google Books. Thundering beat boxes and vocals as mannered as Scritti Politti heard over the telephone; label debut for the adventurous band.
  2. ^ a b c d "12' Reviews". Dance. Cash Box. Vol. 49 no. 24. November 23, 1985. p. 20. ISSN 0008-7289. Retrieved August 2, 2018 – via the Internet Archive.
  3. ^ a b Gomes, Whitney Z. "Tapes of Wrath". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 2, 2018. Tapes of Wrath taps into the rise and demise of this innovative and aggressive Chicago horde: from early aggro ('Over the Shoulder,' 'Flashback') to the top of the slag heap ('Burning Inside,' 'Jesus Built My Hotrod') into eclectic obscurity ('Lay Lady Lay,' 'Bad Blood').
  4. ^ Rollman, Hans (August 6, 2015). "Ministry: Trax! Box". PopMatters. Retrieved August 2, 2018. [...] there’s also the fervent environmentalism of the catchy early electro-industrial tune 'Over The Shoulder.'
  5. ^ Stanton, Mike (July 26, 2016). "Fourculture Classics #6 – Twitch". Fourculture Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Twitch (vinyl sleeve). Ministry. Sire Records. 1986. 9 25309-1.
  7. ^ “Over the Shoulder” (vinyl sleeve). Ministry. Sire Records. 1985. 0-20401.
  8. ^ Brian Chin (December 14, 1985). "Dance Trax". News. Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 50. p. 51. Retrieved February 28, 2018 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b Carey, Jean (July 6, 2006). "Stainless Steel Providers". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Chillingworth, Alec (August 18, 2016). "Every Ministry album, ranked from worst to best". TeamRock. Future Publishing. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  11. ^ John Leland (March 1986). "Ministry: 'Over the Shoulder' with b/w 'Isle of Man' and 'Twitch' (Sire)". Singles. Spin Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 11. p. 37. Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Greene, Jo-Ann (April 2, 1993). "Ministry" (scans). Goldmine. Vol. 19 no. 7 (331). pp. 26, 28, 32, 38, 40. ISSN 1055-2685 – via archive.
  13. ^ Barker, Paul (June 28, 2001). "Ministry". Ink19 (Interview). Interviewed by Kiran Aditham. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  14. ^ "End credits". Tapes of Wrath (DVD). Warner Music Video. 2000.
  15. ^ Liggeri, Domenico (2013). Musica per i nostri occhi: Storie e segreti dei videoclip (electronic book) (in Italian). Giunti. ISBN 9788858761106 – via Google Books. Nell’86 i Ministry per Over the shoulder lo lasciano delirare con i concetti allo stesso modo in cui loro lo fanno con i suoni, consentendogli di descrivere minuzio come due giovannissimi ladri rubano un’istigazione a delinquere, facendo poi compiere al cantante un furto con effrazione in un supermercato , quindi tendando la metafora tra una macchina distrutta dalla sfasciacarozze e l’apertura di una scatoletta, legando il tutto con il tema ricorrente delle galline in batteria: se ne potrebbe evincere che come atto di ribellione all’omologazione sociale sia giustificato perfino commettere reati.
  16. ^ Horan, Anthony. "Ministry - Tapes of Wrath - DVD Review". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Jourgensen, Al (January 2005). "Interview de Al Jourgensen (Ministry), pour la sortie de House Of The Molé Paris, fin mai 2004.". Metalorgie (Interview) (in French). Interviewed by Mikki Fajito. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 65.
  19. ^ Mühlmann, Wolf-Rüdiger. "Ministry: Tapes of Wrath". Rock Hard (in German). Retrieved March 15, 2018.


  • Jourgensen, Al & Wiederhorn, Jon (July 9, 2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306822186 – via the Internet Archive.

External links