PJ Harvey : Classic or Dud

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Lots to discuss here.

What do you reckon to "Stories from the City..." Return of Sheela-na-gig or a coffee-table Patti Smith?

Is "Rid of Me" her career high, or an overrated Albini dirge?

I can't decide!

Dr. C, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Don't know if there's a lot to discuss, you already presented exactly my feelings on La PJ's oeuvre. "Rid of Me" very good. That last one: coffee table Patti Smith. Oh yeah and some mildy interesting electronic stuff in between ;)

Omar, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Not really, Omar, I really can't decide whether PJ is still any good or not. That's why I'm interested to get some other views. On first hearing, 'Stories' was a huge let down for the first 6 or 7 tracks and then.... "You said Something" and "Kamikaze" reminded me how good she can be. The Thom Yorke track is crap. I found the 'mildly interesting electronic stuff' (Is this Desire?) actually VERY interesting if a little unfinished, and I was hoping that PJ would go further in that direction. Not so.

As for the other albums, I prefer "To Bring You My Love" to "Dry", "Dry" to "Rid of Me".

Dr. C, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I have vaguely undifferentiated love for her work, and I mean that in a good way. ;-) While I've listened to the earliest albums the most by virtue of the fact that, well, they've been around longer, I have yet to be disappointed by what she's doing (and she puts one good live show, methinks). _Stories_ was a wonderful surprise in that it reminded me exactly how great she can get.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

PJ Harvey is great. I don't really have anything more incisive to say about her. If this was Search/Destroy, I'd say Search: "Rid of Me" the album, "Four Track Demos", her live shows, 'Dress', 'Big Exit', 'Easy' etc. Destroy: Tiresome talk about her nervous breakdowns, much of "Dry", that's about it.

pihkalboy, Tuesday, 20 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

You can't decide? I can. Dud.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 20 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Dud, definitely. The melodies just don't "click" for me, and her voice is an acquired taste, I guess.

Jack Redelfs, Tuesday, 20 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I found "Rid Of Me" in a remainder bin once, for cheap, by Mr. Mod insisted that I not waste my money on it. In retrospect, I should have picked it up. Early stuff: classic. Later stuff: "Stories..." is good, but not mindblowing. While she's talented enough, her status as golden girl comes mainly from music critics attempting desperately to seem like they like female artists as much as guy artists. Also note that Mrs. Harvey's music has been known to exert the dread "Tori Amos- effect" over certain fans. Which both counts against the music and cements "classic" status.

Sterling Clover, Wednesday, 21 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I was this close to getting "Stories...", it was a bit of a slow period and I read some good things on the album, but somewhere in the shop I suddenly couldn't be arsed. Same thing happened with the Wookie album. It all seemed so neat and boring, the Prada shades, the black dress, a New York album, Thom Yorke song, return-to-geetarrr- form, the inevitable praise it was going to get from old fart NY critics. Why settle for ersatz Patti Smith when you accidently find a Dopplereffekt cd? Or am I really missing something important?

Omar, Wednesday, 21 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

New album is definately Patti Smith by numbers, a little strange move I think. Why? Postmodern pastiche? Eh? She is capable of so much more that covering this ground (again). Overproduced, and a slightly boring kind of sound. She's obviously classic though, the songs still hold up (even if I don't like them).

But I do like the new single 'Place Called Home'. A blantantly pop single, but you gotta love it.

Michael, Wednesday, 21 February 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

one month passes...
I though she was great, Is this Desire as good, if not better than anything the ever did. The first album remains the best on mind. New album, like the sky collapsing, first track sounds like U2, utterly ghastly ordinaryness. Even the fast tracks just seem to going through the motions.

Stephen Robinson, Thursday, 22 March 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

seven months pass...
My friend Christelle is a devout Harvey worshipper, I must admit that the heavy metal side of my likes the Rid of Me record (a brilliantly produced record), but the rest of her output doesn't stand out to me.

However, I saw her perform You Said Something on David Letterman show, and I have to say that that particular performance was one of the best television experiences I've had in my life. If you have a Harvey fan for a friend, ask them if they taped it and go see it with them. Truly trancendent.

Love, Jeff

Jeff Guidry, Wednesday, 21 November 2001 01:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

seven months pass...
come on now -- don't we have anything more to say?

josie, Monday, 8 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

yeah, I do: she's WAY more interesting than Patti Smith.

Justyn Dillingham, Tuesday, 9 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I loved "A Perfect Day, Elise" - the mysterious third-person narratives, the mildly industrial backing, the overall distanced effect that she goes for on that album and perfects on that particular track. Is This Desire? as a whole reeks of the Bronte sisters, and is all the better for it.

Tim, Tuesday, 9 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
Maybe time to revive this thread, though certainly there was enough over here:

"Uh Huh Her." Thoughts on the new PJ Harvey?

...to keep us going for a while.

However, talking about her as a whole -- I'm going through a relisten of everything building up to the show on Tuesday (might even dig up all the B-sides if I can manage it), and that meant Dry earlier (good songs, couple of great performances, strong without being compelling) and Rid of Me now (holy fuck what a great album -- what a *GREAT* album).

It seems to me that she's very easily slipped over the line that separates initially promising start to ever more unique figure to finally someone with an actual continuing career well over a decade while still remaining interesting, to me at least. And all on the same label still, eight albums on (allowing for the fact that Dry got picked up by Island here and counting the Parish collaboration). Not bad, more thoughts later...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 October 2004 03:01 (eighteen years ago) link

But is it art?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 October 2004 04:48 (eighteen years ago) link

Ned: Dapper, but you know it.

edward o (edwardo), Monday, 25 October 2004 05:26 (eighteen years ago) link

PJ and the band are on fire at the moment, one of the best live acts I've ever seen. Effortlessly upstaged a classic 'T in the Park' line-up this year, The Pixies not excluded.


Soukesian, Monday, 25 October 2004 06:40 (eighteen years ago) link

I played part of "Kamikaze" when I DJed on friday night. It was awesome. Drunk indie girl hugged me!

sometimes i like to pretend i am very small and warm (ex machina), Monday, 25 October 2004 07:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Okay, so today so far 4-Track Demos (yes, yes, a contrast to Albini and all but it actually works very well in its own right and I really like the songs that didn't make the final album cut) and right now To Bring You My Love (exactly why did I forget that "Long Snake Moan" was so spectacular again?).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 October 2004 15:47 (eighteen years ago) link

live she is even better than on record. saw her once in munich where i went to see giant sand. giant sand were good but she totally blew them away with a performance of an intensity i have rarely seen before. she rocks hard, she has the blues and she has the voice of a lioness. breathtaking.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Monday, 25 October 2004 17:58 (eighteen years ago) link

damn, this is making me really regret not seeing her at 9:30 club the other day for 20 bucks. I won't even mention what I went to see instead...

"Sheela-na-gig" has been on repeat for several days now in Winamp.

Richard K (Richard K), Monday, 25 October 2004 18:20 (eighteen years ago) link

alright i'm gonna 'out' myself as a fan (i said fan not stalker)

been with her stuff since 'sheela'

live performances in the past have been disappointing against the records *but* a recent live encounter proved her at the at the absolute apex top of her game. great tunes/performance/band the whole thing.

catch while you can...

john clarkson, Monday, 25 October 2004 18:35 (eighteen years ago) link

But PJ Harvey is a rockist!

Momus (Momus), Monday, 25 October 2004 21:05 (eighteen years ago) link


Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 October 2004 21:13 (eighteen years ago) link

"Long Snake Moan" is my favourite song on To Bring You My Love, Ned. The opening is stunning.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 25 October 2004 23:44 (eighteen years ago) link

That's for damn sure. And I even had the volume down and it stopped me in my tracks!

Dance Hall is indeed a very good album as you said over on the monster thread, but I think it's very subtle and requires a lot of relistening -- it's about the only album that the cover of "Is That All There Is?" aside I can't immediately recall a full song from it, even though I've heard it a lot. Hrm.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 October 2004 23:46 (eighteen years ago) link

Ok what heckle should I throw at her, tonight?

(if I were the "heckling type", which is not necessarily the case)

Thea (Thea), Monday, 25 October 2004 23:48 (eighteen years ago) link

Totally agree she is better live. For me records = hmmm, not bad. Live = Christ, I'm glad I went to this show!

Piers (piers), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 00:21 (eighteen years ago) link

Ok what heckle should I throw at her, tonight?

Hey, you better not. ;-)

Seeing her tonight, rah! Hm. Wonder if she'll mention Peel.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 14:21 (eighteen years ago) link

Ned, if you get up to the front, please demand that she play "Heart-Shaped Box."

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 14:26 (eighteen years ago) link

Well I see how I could...huh? ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 14:27 (eighteen years ago) link

Or "Trigger Cut," whichever. Kthxbye :)

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 14:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Sike, Ned. I don't know where those posts came from.

I say classic, if only for Rid Of Me (which I only own on tape and never can listen to for this reason, really really REALLY need to get it on CD), To Bring You My Love, and Uh Huh Her. Everything else is pretty good (Dry) to crap (Dance Hall).

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 14:34 (eighteen years ago) link

Is This Desire? is so damned murky. This isn't a criticism, it's more a wonderful weird surprise. What a strange, distanced album. I think it has something to do with Flood. Its peers would be Depeche's Ultra and Tricky's Pre-Millenial Tension.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 16:03 (eighteen years ago) link

Stories, meanwhile, is the trebly response, the weird nervous live wire most though not all of the time. Jittery, that's this album, like everything's a little too wound up and on the verge of shaking itself apart. It's really very good, and isn't as slick as some would say it is.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 17:15 (eighteen years ago) link

Ned - were you there, last night? I loved her and the show right down to her little striped socks and yes, it reminded me of how many strong songs she's given us over the years.

Thea (Thea), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 18:53 (eighteen years ago) link

No, not last night, am going tonight. To assuage Momus, I presume it will be nothing but Bjork covers done WITH Bjork.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 18:56 (eighteen years ago) link

Drat. Well I stood with John Lewis-formerly-of-KUCI, what do you think of that.

I wonder if she'll play the same set. If I weren't packing boxes I'd go again.

Thea (Thea), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 19:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Drat. Well I stood with John Lewis-formerly-of-KUCI, what do you think of that.

I'd imagine he was himself.

(Are you going to be at EJL's party on Saturday? If not, I will pout.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 19:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Moving, but will try to stop by. Nice that you'll be there.

Thea (Thea), Tuesday, 26 October 2004 19:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Great, great show. End of the main set -- a Fall cover in homage to Peel, "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" and a version of "Meet Ze Monsta" that was astonishing. End of the first encore -- "Is This Desire?," an impossibly fragile version.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 27 October 2004 16:01 (eighteen years ago) link

i saw her in santa cruz at the catalyst a few months ago and it was easily one of the best shows I've ever seen.

kyle (akmonday), Wednesday, 27 October 2004 16:11 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...
Loving the Peel Sessions disc right about now.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 9 May 2007 04:04 (fifteen years ago) link

Must be due some new material from PJ soon?

Soukesian, Wednesday, 9 May 2007 07:11 (fifteen years ago) link

That Peel Sessions disc is kinda incomplete, though, if I'm not mistaken. Didn't she once do "Long Time Comin'" for Peel? One of my favorite Polly performances ever, that.

JN$OT, Wednesday, 9 May 2007 07:51 (fifteen years ago) link

ha, i just dug some pj out for the first time in months at the weekend! dry - still awesome, the sheer energy of it is amazing. the bass on 'dress' is so deep.

lex pretend, Wednesday, 9 May 2007 08:03 (fifteen years ago) link

claseeck! surely.
Rid of Me + the 8 Track Demos are the peak!

edde, Wednesday, 9 May 2007 13:43 (fifteen years ago) link

A Woman, A Man: John Parish's Favourite PJ Harvey Recordings
^Great stuff

willem, Wednesday, 3 February 2021 09:39 (two years ago) link

The demo albums she's been putting out recently mostly go to show how fully formed her songs seem to have been from the start. The woman's a genius.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Thursday, 4 February 2021 01:24 (two years ago) link

I was dismayed to hear that my equal favourite album of hers, "Is This Desire?", was so traumatic for her to make.
Also found it telling that the Hope Six track wasn't described at all, just the logistics of the recording. She kind of lost me after White Chalk.

assert (MatthewK), Thursday, 4 February 2021 02:21 (two years ago) link

Fascinating read! I kind of love it that John is not even mentioning Stories.

I'm both very impressed and slightly disappointed by the TBYML and ITD demos - it's indeed amazing that these songs were pretty much fully developed while she was writing and demoing them at home BUT it makes for a less interesting listen than 4-Track Demos (which were so unlike Rid of Me).

I guess this might change with future volumes of the series - e.g. the LES and THSDP demos apparently were very minimal and the arrangements were developed while jamming the songs live in the studio (or rather church/art gallery) with the band - so they will be probably fairly different from the final versions.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Thursday, 4 February 2021 18:39 (two years ago) link

man the second record she did with Parish in 2009? DO NOT sleep on that, matthewk…that is a bit of a bummer that the creation of Is this Desire was so fraught…or is it? Isn't major creativity often fraught?

the Hope Six record is the only record she has ever made that I've actively disliked…but good grief these demo records are indeed staggering… like 80% of what you hear of the finished product of "A Perfect Day Elise," one of my favorite recordings ever, is right there in that demo… and when Parish talks about how there are two phases, the bare bones sessions and the expensive sessions, the latter were to gussy up "elise"…I wager "Catherine," the other one therein that I treasure, is intact from the former sessions…

veronica moser, Thursday, 4 February 2021 23:24 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

The demo of "To Bring You My Love" is so menacing

Joe Bombin (milo z), Saturday, 3 April 2021 19:08 (one year ago) link

I'm not a huge fan of the glossy production of Stories but the raw demo version of the album is pretty awesome. Such a strong collection of songs; I don't understand why Beefheart told her these were her weakest demos.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Saturday, 3 April 2021 20:04 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

The Let England Shake demos are out today and they're the best installment in the series so far IMO.


ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Friday, 28 January 2022 22:59 (one year ago) link

Oh man I hope they announce a b-sides collection please

Cow_Art, Saturday, 29 January 2022 04:17 (one year ago) link

I need to give that album another chance. I could never get into it - the concept never seemed to translate well into a great musical experience - but I was a big fan of her work and I know plenty of people love Let England Shake. It even got to #2 in the P&J poll, albeit in a weak year.

birdistheword, Saturday, 29 January 2022 21:03 (one year ago) link

(I should say, I'm still a big fan of her work, just not of her more recent albums.)

birdistheword, Saturday, 29 January 2022 21:04 (one year ago) link

Listening to Rid of Me and its still staggering!

JacobSanders, Saturday, 29 January 2022 21:26 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

never seen this before:


bulb after bulb, Sunday, 20 February 2022 18:32 (eleven months ago) link

Me neither! Seems like it was just before she made Dry.

LeRooLeRoo, Sunday, 20 February 2022 19:03 (eleven months ago) link

Not a bad song but the male frontman has serious ewww vibes

assert (matttkkkk), Sunday, 20 February 2022 21:06 (eleven months ago) link

everything is so cheesy til she starts singing! her voice cuts through the cheese, amazing!! 18 year old me loves to see it <3

Piggy Lepton (La Lechera), Sunday, 20 February 2022 21:40 (eleven months ago) link

two months pass...

A new interview in The Observer about her upcoming book (a narrative poem written in the Dorset dialect) offers this exciting tidbit:

She lets slip that she has a new album coming out next year and, although not supposed to be talking about it, allows herself to say: “I’m really pleased with it – and I’m my own harshest critic.”


ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Wednesday, 27 April 2022 17:10 (nine months ago) link

three months pass...

Loving recent Dylan, soundtracks by Sakamoto, and Greenwood and covering Leonard Cohen. Yup sounds like stuff PJ Harvey would like (in a good way)

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 August 2022 20:07 (five months ago) link

I was pleased to see a Mica Levi shoutout, they’re a criminally underrated artist for me

assert (matttkkkk), Monday, 22 August 2022 21:22 (five months ago) link

i appreciate her shoutout to rough and rowdy ways

Karl Malone, Monday, 22 August 2022 22:27 (five months ago) link

i appreciate her

mookieproof, Monday, 22 August 2022 23:16 (five months ago) link

She walked past me on Sunday (away from The Smile's set) at the Nick Cave All Points East in Victoria Park. Last time Nick Cave did one of these, Kylie appeared as a surprise guest, so I was absolutely convinced PJ was gonna come on for Henry Lee - but sadly not.

Eyeball Kicks, Wednesday, 31 August 2022 11:04 (five months ago) link

Her Instagram has been a sea of photos old and new lately.

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 31 August 2022 11:16 (five months ago) link

Argh, I want a b-sides collection!!! Was hoping that would finish off the reissue series.

Nervous about a new album because Hope Six was such a disappointment.

Cow_Art, Wednesday, 31 August 2022 13:14 (five months ago) link

John Parish said in a recent interview that the new album is recorded but not mastered, will be out some time next year, and is closely tied to her new poetry book Orlam (i.e. the song lyrics are poems lifted from the book—which means an album in the Dorset dialect), so we know that at least thematically it will be miles away from Hope Six.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Wednesday, 31 August 2022 16:01 (five months ago) link

A B-sides and rarities box set coming this month!!!!!!! My finances, already perilous, are screwed, but fuck it, this is a dream come true!


Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:12 (five months ago) link

Already working out the stuff that's missing though... fuck

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:14 (five months ago) link

e.g. Claudine the Inflatable One but loads of others

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:16 (five months ago) link


Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:19 (five months ago) link


Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:20 (five months ago) link

I'll take it though!

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 5 September 2022 19:21 (five months ago) link

Oh man! I don’t even know a lot of these songs, so excited

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 5 September 2022 19:32 (five months ago) link

yeah, buncha stuff on the last two LPs i’ve never heard of. this is exciting!

donna rouge, Monday, 5 September 2022 20:10 (five months ago) link

This is good news but so many demos there vs so many songs (esp from films, TV series) missing.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 6 September 2022 01:19 (five months ago) link

No Wang Dang Doodle?

Cow_Art, Tuesday, 6 September 2022 01:22 (five months ago) link

Exciting, and yes, I could think of 20 other rarities that should be here, as well as live stuff, covers, guest features etc. but I'm glad at least these are being released in one place. Record 2 and 3 in particular just look like strong, pretty cohesive albums that will warrant repeated listening.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Tuesday, 6 September 2022 09:21 (five months ago) link

Despite all the amputations, I am so stoked for this. For the most part I’m clueless to her rare tracks and whatnot, so this is a lot of extra PJ for me to absorb.

Cow_Art, Tuesday, 6 September 2022 13:18 (five months ago) link

As someone said upthread and I find myself saying too often these days, I hope there’s a CD version.

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 6 September 2022 20:05 (five months ago) link

excuse my ignorance, but how much overlap does this have with all the demo records that have come out in the last couple years?

bulb after bulb, Thursday, 8 September 2022 14:28 (four months ago) link

excuse my ignorance, but how much overlap does this have with all the demo records that have come out in the last couple years?

― bulb after bulb

There's no overlap.

The "Missed", "Dry", "Me-Jane" and "Highway 61 Revisited" demos were not included on 4-Track Demos, and the "Cat on the Wall" and "You Come Through" demos were for some reason omitted from Uh Huh Her - Demos.

Everything else is non-album material B-sides, B-side demos, random rarities, etc.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Thursday, 8 September 2022 14:56 (four months ago) link

vinyl only then?

StanM, Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:21 (four months ago) link

xp thanks! amazing (and great) that there's so much still there after the demo records.

bulb after bulb, Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:29 (four months ago) link

vinyl only then?

― StanM

3CD and digital too!

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Thursday, 8 September 2022 16:19 (four months ago) link

oh great! thanks!

StanM, Thursday, 8 September 2022 17:30 (four months ago) link

I almost pre-ordered the CC version yesterday, then realized that the most basic shipping option was more than the cost of the set.

So: I’ll be looking for this in a local record store.

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 9 September 2022 13:44 (four months ago) link

four months pass...

the b-sides/rarities/demos collection is so fucking good. it's the only thing i've been listening to for a few days

na (NA), Thursday, 19 January 2023 16:34 (two weeks ago) link

what is the deal with "maniac"? very similar arrangement to "down by the water" but a completely different (and great) song

na (NA), Thursday, 19 January 2023 16:41 (two weeks ago) link

I was about to post a similar comment. Maybe I'm burned out on "Down...," but I might prefer "Maniac."

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 19 January 2023 16:46 (two weeks ago) link

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