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"Strange Clubfellows" (JPJ w/Diamanda & JP/RP mention)


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"Strange Clubfellows"

New York Times Nov 9, 1994

by Neil Strauss

John Paul Jones, the former Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist, is scheduled to begin his first American tour since the band broke up 14 years ago. But he won't be performing with his former bandmates Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, who will be reinterpreting old Zeppelin songs on their own tour next year sans Mr. Jones. And he won't be playing stadiums either. Instead, he will be at the downtown club Irving Plaza performing avant-garde songs with the local singer and performance artist Diamanda Galas.

"I may miss the private plane," Mr. Jones said, speaking by telephone from Berlin, "but on the other hand, I'm much more interested in new, alternative music now."

Since Led Zeppelin's demise, Mr. Jones has received countless offers to work with what he described as "tedious formula rock bands." Though he recently produced a live acoustic comeback album for the 1970's Zeppelin-influenced pop group Heart, he has spurned most of those requests, preferring to collaborate with more cutting-edge bands and artists like the Butthole Surfers, R.E.M., Brian Eno and Ms. Galas.

"I first heard of Diamanda when my wife bought her 'Wild Women with Steak Knives' album in 1983," he said. "I was immediately impressed with her voice, and the power and the emotion. Our backgrounds are very similar. We both played in our fathers' bands when we were starting out, and we're both great fans of classical music, jazz, blues, Mediterranean music and Arabic music. A mutual friend suggested that we should work together, and I think she wanted to do a rock record."

The result, an album called "The Sporting Life" (Mute), is a lighthearted change of pace from the confrontational and challenging song cycles dedicated to people with AIDS that Ms. Galas has been performing since 1984.

Ms. Galas, also in Berlin, said: "I think that if you get together and decide to do an album called 'Homicidal Love Songs,' which is what I originally wanted to call it, you've got to have a sense of humor. What makes this album possible in terms of lyrics is real life experience. Every single song, and John knows it, too, has a particular person in mind with whom I have had various provocations and entanglements."

One can't help but wonder whom Ms. Galas has in mind when she sings "let's tie him up and cut him -- and then let's kill him" on the album's title track, but she isn't telling.

Though the pair don't perform any Led Zeppelin songs on the album, Ms. Galas said that she'd be singing the Zeppelin nugget "Communication Breakdown" in concert.

Mr. Jones, who was neither invited to perform with Mr. Page and Mr. Plant nor informed of the reunion in advance, said he was skeptical about continuing to perform Zeppelin songs. "It was a great band and I'm very proud of what we did," he said, "but it has its place."

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, by the way, seem to be having some trouble planning their first American tour together since their Led Zeppelin days. With the fate of the hockey season still undecided, a source said, the group is unable to confirm dates in arenas in several key cities, including New York. Originally conceived of as a 50-date trek from February to April, the tour might have to be extended, with the duo playing smaller theaters in the spring and outdoor theaters in the summer.

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I saw JPJ with Diamanda.... I had no idea who she was. I just went to see them because of JPJ.... I was front and center and was absolutely shocked when she started performing. Knowing I was going to see JPJ, I could not have imagined that was the concert I was going to see.

Interesting to hear him talk about not playing Zeppelin. They didn't play any when I saw them but at one small point in the concert I swear he teased us with a quick lick of a Zeppelin bass line.. I want to say Dazed and Confused, but I can't quite remember which song it was.

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  • 6 years later...

Phoenix New Times article link: Good Golly, Miss Galas! Singer Diamanda Galas and John Paul Jones Give Rock The Crowbar Enema It So Richly Deserves -


Gammage Auditorium Tempe, AZ. Friday December 2, 1994.


Edited by luvlz2
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Phoenix New Times article link: Good Golly, Miss Galas! Singer Diamanda Galas and John Paul Jones Give Rock The Crowbar Enema It So Richly Deserves -


Gammage Auditorium Tempe, AZ. Friday December 2, 1994.

One of my favorite articles/interviews of all time. It has the best quote ever!

"A lot of people have gone to this album saying, 'Oh, it's Led Zeppelin-influenced,'" says Galas. "Well, do they ever stop to think that maybe Zeppelin was John Paul Jones-influenced?"

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  • 4 years later...

It was exactly 25 years ago I was witnessing this from Right Orchestra Row T Seat 16 (on the aisle) at the sold out Veterans Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood. Diamanda Galás & John Paul Jones was quite the unexpected pairing when their collaboration "The Sporting Life" dropped in 1994.

When the tour was announced it would be John Paul Jones's first live tour since the demise of Led Zeppelin (coincidentally also on Dec. 4). Apart from a film score and producing the Butthole Surfers and a few other bands, Jones had been pretty silent since 1980.

The audience was a mix of Zepheads and Diamanda devotees. I was probably one of the few who was there for both artists, having known of Diamanda from her earlier albums and having seen her live previously.

Galás was striking, as usual. You cannot forget that voice. But it was also a unique setting for her...less formal and  ritualistic and more informal and let-your-hair down crowd-friendly. Plus, just seeing John Paul Jones back in action on bass and slide guitar was glorious.

The setlist was mainly their album and Galás songs. The only Zep tune I remember was "Communication Breakdown" for the encore. Don't remember who opened the show...Loreena McKennitt?

Incidentally, this concert marked the beginning of a four-year stretch of great shows at the Veterans Wadsworth Theatre. With UCLA's Royce Hall out of commission from  damage caused by the 1994 earthquake, Goldenvoice and other promoters started using the Wadsworth as an alternative Westside venue until the Royce Hall was repaired and reopened in 1998.

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I was stoked the moment I learned I'd be able to see John Paul Jones for the first time in my town since the demise of Led Zeppelin and immediately got tickets and their CD and CD single. I first learned about the collaboration and tour dates from the Phoenix New Times, it had a two page article and interview with ticket information. I ended getting tickets in the front row. The venue was the Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ, a great sounding small venue, what a treat to see them there. The concert completed my list of seeing all remaining members of Led Zeppelin in one form or another at least once.

There was a person sitting a few seats away from us who kept weirdly moving around and making funny noises and Galas confronted them saying STFU or something, kind of funny. I remember the encore Jones gave the audience a big look and pointed his finger upward just as they went into Communication Breakdown it was cool. 😄

Immediately after the show I asked and was allowed to go to the dressing room of Ms. Galas; the door was open and I stood at the entrance and asked if it was possible to get an autograph from John Paul Jones and Ms. Galas turned and looked at me and told me John Paul Jones would be coming out to meet fans and pointed me which direction to go, she was very nice about it.

There was a small crowd and John Paul Jones and the band came out and greeted us. I told him I'd heard he was producing a live album for Heart called 'The Road Home' and asked him how it was coming. He looked at me and with a big grin said 'I've just finished it!' I asked him to sign my ticket and he did. He was very nice.


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