Diamanda Galás

You Must Be Certain of the Devil

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Originally issued as a 45 rpm 12" on Restless Records, You Must Be Certain of the Devil was, at the time, Galas' most song-oriented and rockish release and would remain so until her collaboration with John Paul Jones. Though inconsistent, at its best it reveals her as a remarkably strong and effective regular singer (if that term may ever be applied to her), delivering bluesy, hook-filled songs with drive and conviction. This is seen both in her chilling, re-worded version of "Let My People Go" and, most effectively, in the remarkable "Let's Not Chat About Despair," possibly the most piercing, eyes-wide-open song about AIDS, its symptoms, and societal prejudice against sufferers ever recorded. Other tracks are less successfully realized, including the simplistically sarcastic circus atmosphere of the title track and her overly pyrotechnic rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The highs outweigh the lows, however, and make this both a vital pickup for Galas' fans as well as an excellent entry point for those interested in her work who are coming from rock. PJ Harvey fans might find this album especially revelatory.

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