Diamanda Galás with John Paul Jones

The Sporting Life
(Mute)

In an interview with Celebritycafe.com, John Paul Jones said that someone asked him if he didn't think The Sporting Lifehad a Led Zeppelin influence. He replied, "Don't you think Led Zeppelin has a John Paul Jones influence? I was a quarter of that band." Indeed, Jones never seems to get his due, but this 1994 collaboration with vocalist/pianist Diamanda Galás is dripping with his demented genius. The experimental blues-rock here was an anomaly for Galás — who's always leaned more toward avant-garde, operatic, performance-art pieces — but Jones' deep, creepy bass lines provide the perfect backdrop for her powerfully psychotic, three-and-a-half-octave voice. Murderous and hilarious, the "love songs" here sound more like death threats. "Do You Take This Man?" is a six-minute spiel in which a woman stalks her husband, terrorizes him with knives and verbal abuse, then leaves him with, "Now I have to get off my knees, because I have some shopping to do." On "You're Mine," Galás sounds absolutely possessed, cackling like some demon out of The Evil Deadand wailing with wild abandon over an unsettlingly happy and upbeat Hammond-organ jingle. On the dirgelike "Lay Me Down," Galás' vocal acrobatics soar over the soothing tones of a lap steel guitar, quietly played by Jones, who's still sitting in the smoke and shadows for some reason after all these years.

 
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