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PJ Harvey


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce alternative rock with an uncompromising edge. (Neile)

Status:

Most recent release, Let England Shake (2011)

See also:

PJ Harvey's official site

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey

Comparisons:

Patti Smith. (Neile)

PJ Harvey reminds me very much of early Siouxsie and the Banshees before they sold out. (p00421@psilink.com)

i'm surprised no one has zeroed in on the obvious (to my ears) comparison of the pixies or the breeders, albeit a lot more abrasive than either of those two bands, which i attribute to the recording by steve albini. i'd liken polly to a more abusive patti smith with a gutsier band actually, for those looking for a reference point. (woj@smoe.org)

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

PJ Harvey is raw & ironic, her voice, lyrics and music all have an edge and that's what they're about.
     It's also worth noting that her b-sides are worth collecting—many of the songs and covers are the equal or near-equal of material collected on the albums. (Neile)

Her first album, Dry, is the best, but not always easy to find. For aggression and her lyrical coming of age, get 1993's Rid of Me—ferocious performance, despite a third-rate production job by Steve 'I hate the human voice' Albini. I consider To Bring You My Love her worst album, but by Harvey's very high standards, that's still pretty good. Song picks include 'Sheela-Na-Gig', 'Oh My Lover' and 'Dress' (from Dry); 'Rid of Me', '50ft. Queenie' and 'Rub 'Til It Bleeds' (from Rid of Me); 'To Bring You My Love', 'Working for the Man', 'Down by the Water' and 'C'Mon Billy' from To Bring You My Love. PJ Harvey's gift is that she has real musical chops—she's a classically trained vocalist, after all. Besides, she pays attention to structure and writes mature lyrics with a knack for verbal finesse and sophisticated diction. (4dm@qlink.queensu.ca)

PJ Harvey's music is a kind of music I cannot listen to while I work. This is because it seems impossible for me to concentrate when it's running. Anyone else got this problem? This is even more extreme with the 4-Track Demos CD (1993) from her. Nevertheless I like it quite a lot, for similar reasons as Alanis Morissette. (uli@zoodle.robin.de)

One of the most innovative experimental pop rock artists in existence. she is excellent, brilliant, intelligent, emotionally stunning. but she is NOT everyone's cup of tea, and each of her albums vary to a certain degree (though the themes are pretty consistent: emotional turmoil, anger, jealousy, mythology analogies, water imagery, etc., etc.) starting from her first album. some have classified PJ Harvey as angry woman music, but the truth is she is much more complex than that. bluesy, moody, angry, desperate, gorgeous, lush, brash, raw, bitter, and evocative are probably how i would describe her, but that isn't really doing her justice either.
     by far my favorite is her first album Dry. Rid of Me was excellent too (i don't mind Steve Albini's production) though i like 4-Track Demos better, especially since 4-Track Demos contains "Reeling", one of my fave songs by ms polly jean. of course i love Dryer/Demonstration (the demos to Dry) almost more so than Dry, but perhaps that is just me lying in my lo-fi gutter.
     To Bring You My Love, though, is the one that is probably the most accessible, perhaps the one that most should start with, but in truth i found the production horribly slick and overpolished (Flood's work makes it sound like a generic NINesque pop-industrial sound without any of PJ Harvey's brilliant guitar and energy burst that the early albums have). i won't comment much on her 4th collaborative piece with John Parish. i find it kinda bland, though the lyrics are excellent (of course, since PJ Harvey wrote the lyrics).
     Dry and Rid of Me are gorgeous and raw, and listening to 4-Track Demos, you can tell how PJ Harvey uses her guitar as an extension of herself. technically, she may not be at the same level as some of the other top guitar players in music, but i rank her highly because of the way she is able to emotively use said instrument.
     Plus those Björkheads out there HAVE to get their hands on their duet, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction". quite fun.
     i never really cared for anything post-To Bring You My Love...even though i keep on picking up her albums in hope that i will.... (iflin@speakeasy.net)

To Bring You My Love was one of my favorite albums of 1996, and I think it's her most brilliant album—it's blues for the millennium—in terms of concept and theatrics. It's maybe the best *blues* album I've ever heard. OK, make that modern-day blues (can't step on Johnny Lee Hooker's toes). But Rid of Me is my personal favorite for more visceral reasons). (Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

Perhaps one could think of her as the Tori Amos of gutsy rock. They are both strong, innovative singer-songwriter-musicians with four albums of new material each, critical success, devoted (but not huge numbers of) fans, great lyrics, musicality (the sheer number of instruments PJ plays is amazing; she also sculpts and does other artwork. She went to art school before delving into a music career.) They both have a sexuality present in their music and their artistry. And they're both AWESOME. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Consistently brilliant, individual and suitably awe-inspiring. (afries@zip.com.au)

Comments about live performance:

As anyone could imagine, PJ Harvey live is just as much or more of a knock-out as she is on her albums. I highly recommend her live shows. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Any, depending on mood. To Bring You My Love or Is This Desire? may be the most accessible, especially for people coming to her music from more harmonic places. (Neile)

I think Is This Desire? is her best and most accessible album. Plus it makes a good starting point because it has the rockier songs like the early albums and also the more electronic sound of To Bring You My Love. It makes a good departure point for any of the albums. If I didn't get this first, I would get Dry. (JoAnn Whetsell) As far as PJ is concerned, I'd say a toss-up between To Bring You My Love and the album she did with John Parish, Dance Hall at Louse Point. They're her most personal albums to date (despite the latter being a collaboration with John Parish) and show the greatest stylistic diversity and sophistication. (beckwith@ime.net)

You must get her earlier work as well. I've listened to Dry, Rid of Me, and 4-Track Demos and was really taken by her ferocity and style, and her ability to transmit emotion. To Bring You My Love was tamer (blander?) and more bluesy, and put her more into the mainstream. (rholmes@cs.stanford.edu)

if you want to hear a portrait of un-controlled rage, check out her first two albums. Dry and Rid of Me are complete and utterly incredible in their display of raw emotions. i'm sure you'll be able to appreciate To Bring You My Love as well. it actually kinda reminds me of Björk's Homogenic in emotional mood. or maybe it is the production and electronic rhythms that evoke the comparison. dunno. have to process and listen to it some more. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Recordings:


Dry

Release info:

1992—Too Pure/Island—16355-5001-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong rock. Must have if you like alternative rock/punk. (Neile)

Group members:

PJ Harvey—vocals, guitar, violin
Stephen Vaughan—bass
Robert Ellis—drums, vocals, harmonium

Guest artists:

Ian Olliver—bass
Ben Groenvelt—double bass
Mike Paine—guitar
Chas Dickie—cello

Produced by:

Head/Harvey/Ellis

Comments:

This is powerful, addictive music and the lyrics match it. This album is a classic—I can't imagine ever not being interested in hearing this. (Neile)

this is very much a first album debut. i say this because her albums progressively get more polished and more produced (not necessarily a bad thing, but in my case, i like her more raw sound). Dry is a classic album, with songs like "Sheela Na Gig", "Dress", and "Oh Stella". pretty stripped down to the core, the songs are more like insights to someone's emotional state, than simple verse chorus verse songs. lyrics like "must be a way that i can dress to please him, it's hard to walk in a dress, it's not easy, spinning over like a heavy-loaded fruit tree, if you put on, if you put it on..." or "look at these, my child bearing hips, look at these, my ruby red ruby lips...". PJ Harvey again and again deals with issues of growing up as both a sex object and as sexual being.
     for when i am bitter, sad, and angry, and slightly amused at myself too for feeling all those things (people tend to overlook ms polly jean's sense of humor) and want to sing along. "i'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair...". (iflin@speakeasy.net)

This is an *essential* buy for my collection. For the sheer emotional intensity and the rawness and power of music this one has few equals! I happen to think that PJ never quite matched the achievement of Dry; the second one was almost as good, but by the third one I began to think she was losing the plot :(. But Dry—yes, I give it 10 out of 10. (afries@zip.com.au)

Ah, now THIS is a car album! It stays in my car, and there is nothing like driving down the highway singing "Sheela-Na-Gig" loudly. This album gives me energy. I found out today what Sheela-Na-Gig refers to— a Celtic sculpture of a woman revealing her genitalia while laughing maniacally. A fitting image for PJ Harvey indeed. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Rid of Me

Release info:

1993—Island Records—314-514 696-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong rock. Must have if you like alternative rock/punk. (Neile)

Group members:

P J Harvey—guitar, vocals, cello, violin, organ
Robert Ellis—drums, percussion, vocals
Steve Vaughan—bass

Produced by:

"Recorded by Steve Albini, except 'Man-Size Sextet' recorded by Head/Harvey/Ellis"

Comments:

This album takes the music of Dry one step farther. A little less melodic than Dry but just as wonderful/powerful, even more raw. (Neile)

I'm not sure what to say about this one other than I like it, but not love it. (MIHARKI@indsvax1.indstate.edu)

I love the attitude and voice more than the music. The video for "50 Foot Queenie" really hooked me. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

Quite hard stuff, but quite nice. The only problem with PJ's music is that I cannot listen to it while I work—I completely lose my concentration on the work I'm doing. This is even worse than with Diamanda Galas. (uli@zoodle.robin.de)

Steve Albini's production certainly creates a memorable wall of sound. an extension in theme and sound of Dry, Rid of Me has a much more grungified feedback-laden wall of sound approach, much thanks to Steve Albini's production. PJ Harvey sounds literally like she is drowned in the avalanche of noise, and is desperately singing with all her might to be heard. at times this works wonders for the songs, and at times it can be annoying. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I have sort of a personal dislike issue with Albini, because of, as they say, "what he did" to Rid of Me...although I do love the album, it's the songs I love, not the production. And how in the hell are you supposed to be able to make the sound so muddled and nasty when you're only credited with "recording", Steve? Have mercy.... (John.Drummond)

This is perfect when I'm feeling angry or aggressive, or I just want to get my blood pumping. Favorites are "50Ft Queenie," "Rub 'Til It Bleeds," "Me-Jane," (Bob Dylan's) "Highway '61 Revisited," "Missed" and "Rid of Me." Oh, that album opener, with its change from quiet murmur to rock-out guitar-'n-drums intensity. This is sheer emotion, raw, edgy, in-your-face. This is, as far as I'm concerned, the ultimate exercise music. It never fails to pump me up. (JoAnn Whetsell)


4-Track Demos

Release info:

1993—Island Records—314-518 450-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong rock

Produced by:

"All songs written and recorded by PJ Harvey"

Comments:

A lot of repeated material (understandable) with Rid of Me, less production, but also good. (rholmes@CS.Stanford.EDU)

4-Track Demos were selected demos from the Rid of Me session (along with demos that didn't make Rid of Me). It is worth getting just for the song "Reeling", and to hear PJH sing "i want to eat grapes, bath in milk, robert de niro, sit on my face..." the full-band version of the song is nearly as good as the demo (the full-band version was later released as a b-side). other stand out tracks include "Man-Size" "50 Foot Queenie" and "Legs". "i might as well be dead, but i could kill you instead." i couldn't have said it better myself. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I just couldn't get into this. It was too raw, the sound too...brutal, for lack of a better word. Still, it's interesting, and essential for fans, to hear these songs before their Rid of Me versions. But be forewarned: It's strong stuff. (But then again, that's what why we listen to pj, isn't it?) (JoAnn Whetsell)


To Bring You My Love

Release info:

1995—Island Records—314-524 085-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong rock

Group members:

Polly Jean Harvey—vocals, guitar, organ, piano, vibes, chimes, bell, Hammond organ, marimba, percussion

Guest artists:

John Parish—percussion, guitar, drums, organ
Joe Gore—e-bow, guitar
Jean-Marc Butty—drums, percussion
Joe Dilworth—drums
Mick Harvey—bass, Hammond organ
Pete Thomas—string arrangement
Sonia Slany—violin
Jules Singleton—viola
Jocelyn Pook—viola
Sian Bell—cello

Produced by:

Flood, Polly Jean Harvey and John Parish

Comments:

Polly meets Flood in industrial noise terror shock! Or something like that. Polly rids herself of the guitar-angst hell she was descending into and reinvents herself as a sort of post-nuclear female Nick Cave, only much more interesting. Her former band might disagree, but they gave their careers for good music. As expected, it sounds like a Nine Inch Nails remix album, but the songs and lyrics are superglue strong and sound even better live. This is the beginning of the rebirth of PJ. (ahoran@ozemail.com.au)

PJ Harvey is wonderful (though i am not taken by this NIN-ish album and blame flood, the producer, for that—not that i don't like NIN, but i bought the album thinking i might get "sheela-na-gig" and instead got head like a hole). wassup with that? i really can't stand the production. when i listen to the album it is sooooo slick and so Flood-produced. It has that heavy industrial slick sound (pounding bass, rhythmic noises) throughout it. this isn't to say i totally dislike it. i can see why someone who has never heard earlier PJ Harvey might be attracted to the album.
     *sigh* i guess i just miss the crunchy guitars and primal screams. I for one like Rid of Me better (though again the production annoyed me...give me Dry anyday).
     ah well...it is PJ Harvey and for that i am happy. Unfortunately i don't think To Bring You My Love is REALLY good, and i hope PJH will do another demo release—i would love to hear what this album sounded like before Flood got his goofy hands on it.
     Still, To Bring You My Love is her most polished breakthrough album. those who first discovered PJ Harvey via this album love this one to death, and don't like her first two as much. the brash bleeding guitar play (that i love) were replaced by keyboards, organs, and drum machines. ah well. we all have to evolve eh? and it still is a cracker of an album if you take it for what it is, instead of trying to recall past sounds (which in truth is for the best, i wouldn't want a repeat of the first two albums anyway...who would?). this album is also much much more accessible in sound as well. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Well, I've loved her stuff since the first album, and I definitely love this—it's far more bluesy and less guitar-driven than Dry or Rid of Me but it showcases her voice perhaps even better than they do. Basically, if you like the single "Down by the Water" you'll like the rest of the album. Gutsy performing and songwriting in with PJ's inimitable powerhouse voice. Though I have a fondness for Dry, her albums just keep getting better & better, and she doesn't repeat herself. PJ going bluesy is brilliant. I give her points for doing just what the hell she wants to do and doing it so well. (Neile)

Gritty and tough rock'n'roll. (dbucak@netaxs.com)

My first venture into the "world of PJ". It's not bad. A definite harder edge than most other stuff on this list, but it's an edge that helps with the right mood. For me, a definite mood collection. (Matt.Bittner)

This album is just as dark and wounded as their previous ones, but with a new producer—NIN/Depeche Mode/Anna Domino's Flood replacing Nirvana's Steve Albini—it's not as raw. Seamless, bluesy, and haunting, To Bring You My Love weeps rather than rages, though just as operatically. (lissener@wwa.com)

I was never really into her stuff, but this is excellent. It has also made me want to hear more of her music. (lombaeg@donald.interpac.be)

I recently bought the limited edition double CD which also includes the B-Side CD. To Bring You My Love is slowly growing on me, but I still don't like the tracks with the distorted vocals. I really can't get into the B-sides, that's really hard stuff, unbearable. After the first 10 seconds I always skip over to the next track. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

To Bring You My Love" is the most "commercial" of her albums, if anything she does could be called that; I like it as well but it is a marked style departure. (rholmes@CS.Stanford.EDU)

I think PJ Harvey is underrated by the public. She is a "critics' darling" who doesn't seem to sell many records! I bought To Bring You My Love because of what music critics whom I respect said about it, and—WOW!—they weren't kidding!! It's incredible. I mean, it's not a record one can really warm up to. It's not cozy and it's not meant to be. It is what it is for people who are in the mood for something intelligent, sinister, depressed and depressing. It's a portrait of barely-controlled rage. A postal worker on the verge!! Not something to appeal to every taste but still, it SHOULD have sold better than it did. It deserved a better fate. (loefflep@mis.finchcms.edu)

Rolling Stone named this album of the year for 1996, and it was in that article that I discovered PJ Harvey. It's a really good album, but in my opinion, it's her weakest, or at least my least favorite. There are great songs ("To Bring You My Love," "C'mon Billy," "The Dancer," "Send His Love To Me") Wait a minute...I was just going through the track list, and I realized that I love almost all of these songs. Why don't I listen to this album more often??? I guess my one complaint about it would be that, while it's a great collection of songs, it's not a great album, at least not the way Dry or Rid of Me or Is This Desire? are. There's something about those albums that works phenomenally well despite less successful songs. By any definition, To Bring You My Love is still a great album, just not quite up to par with PJ's other work, in my book. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Is This Desire?

Release info:

1998—Island Records—314-524 563-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong rock

Group members:

Polly Jean Harvey, Mick Harvey, John Parish, Rob Ellis, Eric Drew Feldman, Jeremy Hogg, Joe Gore

Guest artists:

Terry Edwards—trumpet
Richard Hunt—violin

Produced by:

Flood, Head & Polly Jean Harvey

Comments:

I think it's fantastic. Polly's music becomes both more accessible and more haunting. I miss some of the hard rockers of old (i.e. "Long Snake Moan"), however the new areas she explores more than make up for it. The intricate ballads are beautiful, my faves being "The Wind", "Catherine", "The Garden" and *especially* "The River", one of the most beautiful and sad songs I've ever heard. Meanwhile I really like the textured rockers like "A Perfect Day Elise", (was a brilliant, brilliant single which should have been huge.) "Joy" (churn!) and "No Girl So Sweet". The only weak track in my opinion is "Electric Light", which is too slow and tuneless, especially coming on the heels of the much better ballad, "Catherine".
     The sound is really interesting—it's nice to see artists facing the "electronica" age in innovative ways. Here Polly makes beats and industrial churns sound as natural, mystical & emotive as her big old guitar.
     I'd say it's definitely on par with To Bring You My Love at least (and so makes it my equal favourite!). (afinney@ozonline.com.au)

I find Is This Desire? an excellent progression from her last album. I loved her last album. Top 2 or 3 in my list of cds that year. Her voice is better than i remember. After it locks in it gets better and better. At least for me it did. (FAMarcus@aol.com)

I don't think Miss Polly Jean is capable of making a bad, or even slightly mediocre, album. I agree that Is This Desire? is her most mature record, musically. She just keeps reinventing herself with new sounds, and it always seems so natural. I'm going to echo everyone by saying the "The River" is my fave track, but I'm also very fond of "The Wind" and "A Perfect Day Elise."
     Anyone who hasn't picked up Is This Desire? yet, it's a must. She's the only artist I can think of who hasn't ever disappointed with any new venture, as in other artists I love who have strokes of genius and never quite live up to that again or at least don't reinvent themselves in a fully realized way. (Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

Is This Desire? is definitely one of my favorites of this year. When I first listened to it, I only liked "The River" (which is one of PJ's best songs ever), "Angelene," and "A Perfect Day Elise." But it's now one of those albums I feel compelled to play over and over even though I have new stuff I should be listening to instead. It just took a while to wrap my brain around some of the less immediately accessible songs.
     PJ has taken the electronic sounds she played with on To Bring You My Love and gone one step further. As much as I liked To Bring You My Love, this album is even more mature musically. The lyrics are also very different from her previous work. Before, they were usually in the first person. But now she has taken a more character-driven approach. In interviews, she has mentioned how focusing solely on lyrics on Dance Hall at Louse Point, her collaboration with John Parish, really helped her hone her craft. And, it shows on the new album. I'm glad she keeps experimenting because she's getting more interesting with each new album. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

I feel like I've seen a few reviews that felt this album was too much of a rehash and not much of a step forward for her. I picked it up anyway, in part because I'm a sucker for bonus disc packaging (a local chain had a version with a second disc containing "A Perfect Day Elise", "The Northwood", "Sweeter Than Anything", "The Bay", and "Instrumental #3"). Anyway, I completely disagree with the reviews I'd read. I too think it's a really strong, dense rewarding album. I agree completely with the praise it's been getting here. neal)

I sort of lost interest after To Bring You My Love...but after I managed to wrap my head around the concept of PJ's sound based around something else than raw guitar/bass/drums combo I have to admit this is a stunner! The comparison that occurs to me is that this is like Lesley Rankine of Ruby with less shrill anger (that sometimes sounds a bit by-the-numbers to me) but more genuine menace. Top stuff! It continues to blow me away.(afries@zip.com.au)

PJ Harvey just gets better and better with every album for me. I love this album—it's far more subtle than she has been before but just as gripping. (Neile)

Her most accessible album and her best, in my opinion. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

it is a bit of a combination of the previous two albums. not as driving and rhythmic as To Bring You My Love nor is it as spaced out and moody as Dance Hall at Louse Point. it lands somewhere in the middle. stand out songs are definitely "The Wind" where PJ Harvey's whispering voice is haunting and enrapturing. i haven't fully processed it yet, but i think i like it more than To Bring You My Love or Dance Hall at Louse Point, though not as much as Dry or Rid of Me. for some reason as well the song "A Perfect Day Elise" sounds like it could be a Cure song. not sure if i like that or not. produced by Flood, PJ Harvey, and Head (does anyone know who Head is?). "The Wind" is additionally produced and mixed by Marius de Vries (who helped William Orbit with Madonna's album Ray of Light). (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I think this is my favorite of hers. It's probably the one I play most often, anyway. I find it the most "mellow" of her albums, but being this is PJ Harvey mellow, it's still quite gutsy. I think she uses her voice in different and very interesting ways here (ie the whispering on "The Wind," the far-away softness/almost whisper of "Catherine," and the sing-scream of "No Girl So Sweet"). I'll echo everyone and say that stand-out tracks are "The Wind," "The Garden," "The River," and "A Perfect Day Elise." I also really love "Angelene" and the title track. Can half an album really be stand-out? YES! It is that stellar. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I like Is This Desire much better than To Bring You My Love. But at least I'm able to listen to them all the way through—I haven't been able to get through an entire PJ Harvey disc before this. (meth@smoe.org)


Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea

Release info:

2000—Island Records—314-548-144-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

PJ Harvey—vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, maracas, piano, djembe, e-bow

Guest artists:

Mick Harvey—drums, harmonium, bass, percussion, accordion, keyboards, organ, backing vocals
Rob Ellis—harpsichord, tambourine, drums, electric piano, synth, piano, vibes, bells, "gamalan" keyboards, backing vocals
Thom Yorke—keyboards, vocals, backing vocals (appears on 3 tracks)

Produced by:

PJ Harvey, Rob Ellis, and Mick Harvey

Comments:

Today I went out and bought PJ Harvey's new album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea...and I just want to say that I LOVE it. It is by far my favorite album by them (her). It's just SO easy to listen to, compared to Rid of Me or To Bring you My Love (which I also love). It's the album I've been wanting PJ Harvey to make for awhile now! I can't get enough of it. (RocketsTail@aol.com)

Ms. Polly Jean has done it again! I am so psyched to have this new album. Especially after having to wait a whole extra week for it. And unlike many of you lucky ducks out there with mp3s, I had no prior musical tidbits. I even stopped in the record store on my way to work even though I was already late, just to get my hands on it.
     And what a great album! Much in the same style as Is This Desire? but with a somewhat harder edge, and back in the trio format of her early days (although a 4th person, Thom Yorke, does appear on 3 songs). And I love how some of her growl-singing and some of those classic PJ wail/scream/moan sounds are back.
     I played it twice in a row last night (all I had time for). And I can't wait to go home and play it again. And again. (JoAnn Whetsell)

the new Pj Harvey is less impressive than her early stuff but superior to her album with John Parish. i enjoy it very much. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Once again, Ms. Polly Jean has delivered the goods. On this album, her rock edge is much more accessible than as it appeared on Rid of Me and 4 Track Demos. I've noticed a lot of U2 elements in her sound on this record. It's not surprising, considering she always works with the band's producer, Flood. Her sound continues to evolve and the change always suits her. (ToriCure@aol.com)

I haven't had this very long, but I already know it's very, very good, and I like it a lot. It's not as slick as either of her last two releases, but neither is it too hard-edged like Dry and Rid Of Me, neither of which I have ever been able to listen to. It's great driving music. I've become quite addicted to it recently. It's been living in my car, and I just can't get enough of it. Great stuff. (meth@smoe.org)

the latest is, on first and second hearing, my fave of her albums, narrowly beating out To Bring You My Love. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

She continues to impress. I haven't lived with this one long enough, but I'm pretty sure it'll be a keeper. Strangely, I don't really see it as a hugely different from Is this desire. Perhaps that's because her personality is just so strong, style and production pale into insignificance? (afries@zip.com.au)

It's a wonderful rough pop album, full of great PJ Harvey vocals and for the first time I can really hear the Patti Smith influences in her work. A great album. (Neile)

the new Pj Harvey sounds damn tasty. less impressive than her early stuff but superior to her album with John Parish. i enjoy it very much. it keeps stunning me. she is soo good its scary. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

great. the songs sound happy these days. however, for some reason, i don't listen to this all that much. i love it every time i hear it, however. (sketches@earthlink.net)

I enjoyed it a lot. Given the borrowing from two of my favourites (Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), I probably couldn't help but like it. (dlw@sympatico.ca)

Oh yes, and I think the new PJ Harvey album is brilliant. Love it. Love it. Love it. (marlantigone@yahoo.com)

a babystep backward for her somewhat but still awesome enough to merit inclusion in my best of the year. (John.Drummond)

My favorite PJ Harvey CD is Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. I am fully aware that sometimes I live on Opposite Planet. (meth@smoe.org)


Uh Huh Her

Release info:

2004—Island Records—B0002751-02

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

PJ Harvey—vocals, instruments

Guest artists:

Rob Ellis—drums & percussion, backing vocals on "Who the F—?"
Head—backing vocals on "Who the F—?" and "The Letter"
Evelyn Isaac—backing vocals on "No Child of Mine" and "The Darker Days of Me & Him"

Produced by:

PJ Harvey

Comments:

help me, please.
     the main predecessors i hear are 'wicked tongue', the abrasive not-particularly-melodic extra track on her last album, and the pared back and powerful 'to bring you my love' (the song, not the album). the music is all very similar instrument-wise—grungey guitars, distorted voice, care that things not be perfectly in tune, casual strummy bits, so that even though the simplicity and focus is similar to to bring you my love (the album), there isn't the variation to cast identity onto the individual songs.
     it feels a bit like cd-rs i've made of her b-sides, except the looseness and murkiness here might be the result of lots of effort rather than a short recording period. dunno—haven't read any press.
     i've got something akin to faith in pj's music—other than stories i've never been bored by her, and i can still admire that album and understand how it can be the favourite of many people. every album before is this desire mesmerised me and ended up amazing me; that feeling wasn't always immediate, so I've got hope here :)
     'it's you' and 'cat on the wall' and 'shame' and 'the letter' are my favourites right now. there are a few short scrappy song-snippets which annoy me—short unfinished pieces work if you need breath from the intensity or ornateness of the surrounding music (I like the mini-songs on Throwing Muses albums), but the intensity here is just abrasiveness and loudness, not power.
     right now, that is. my mind is changing. my feet are beginning to tap. my fingers pause mid-type to tap out the beat.
     'the end', dedicated to vincent gallo, gives no clues—when it comes to throwaway instrumentals, this one comes out tops.
     there are some seagulls. mangey bastards.
     surely this album has been released somewhere else in the world—please tell me how much you love it, and i'll learn to love it :) (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Not sure how I rate the new PJ. Half the time I think it's lazy rather than lo-fi, stuff she tossed off in a couple of hours without much thought. Other times I think not. I prefer the second half to the first, bar "Shame", which is brill. The rest sounds like offcuts. Still, I've got a few months to get used to it. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

I've listened to Uh Huh Her a few times now, and I still can't wrap my head around it. I have trouble hearing it as a whole album rather than as individual songs. The whole thing sounds like a cross between the rawness of 4 Track Demos and the spare beauty of To Bring You My Love. With lots of crunchy, grungey guitars.
     I like some of them quite a bit, mostly the more melodic ones like "The Slow Drug." "Pocket Knife" and "The Darker Days of Me and Him" both sound like they could have come straight from To Bring You My Love, and I like them a lot. I shrug at "Who the F—?" It doesn't offend me but doesn't draw me in either. I find it a bit childish.
     But what bothers me is how little it all affects me. PJ's music usually has an intensity that I love (and occasionally hate). I haven't listened to Uh Huh Her much, not because I'm avoiding it, but because it simply hasn't called me to listen to it. Maybe it hasn't had enough time to grow on me yet, but PJ's previous albums didn't need much time at all. I guess that's what I find most disappointing. I would have preferred PJ make an album I dislike rather than one I simply don't mind. (JoAnn Whetsell)

One of the best of 2004. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

I liked this a lot better than I was expecting to. I think it's time for me to come to terms with the fact that in my old age I'm liking hard-edged crunchy stuff a lot more than I used to, so I should probably pull out Polly Jean's first two CDs and give them another try. Maybe I won't find them completely unlistenable any more. (meth@smoe.org)


B-sides ep

Release info:

2004—Island—B0003538-02

Availability:

Limited Edition, but still easy for find used

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for PJ Harvey fans

Comments:

This is a six-track limited edition collection of songs that didn't make it onto Uh Huh Her—these are wonderful songs, highly listenable. Even her b-sides are worth having and listening to: wrenching, emotional, wholly PJ. The only track I don't don't really love is "Bows & Arrows", mosly because it's the kind of thing she has done much better other times and places (yeah, it's a b-side). "The Falling" and "Stone" are treasures, and I'm very fond of the 4-track "Who The F***." (Neile)

The Peel Sessions 1991–2004

Release info:

2006—Island/BBC—B0008016-02

Availability:

Widely

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for PJ Harvey fans

Group members:

PJ Harvey—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Rob Ellis—drums, vocals (1991, 1993 sessions); drums, keys, backing vocals (2000 session)
Stephen Vaughn—bass (1991, 1993 session)
John Parish, guitar, keys (1996 session)
Eric Drew Feldman—bass, keys, backing vocals (2000 session)
Tim Farthing—guitar (2000 session)
Margaret Fielder—guitar, cello (2000 session)
Josh Klinhoffer—guitar (2004 tribute)

Produced by:

Mike Robinson (1991, 1993 sessions); Alison Howe (1996 session); Simon Askew (2000 session); Andy Rogers (2004 tribute)

Comments:

These are wonderful versions of PJ Harvey's songs. As soon many people have noted, John Peel has a way of discovering bringing out the best in so many artists. This just a small selection of the extensive number of sessions PJ Harvey did for Peel, and is essential for anyone fan of PJ Harvey. Lovely! (Neile)

White Chalk

Release info:

2007—Island—B0009972-02

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

PJ Havey—vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, zither, bass guitar, keyboards, hamonica, broken harp, cig fiddle

Guest artists:

John Parish—drums, vocals, bass guitar, banjo, acoustic guitar, percussion, wine glass
Eric Drew Feldman—piano, opitgan, vocals, mellotraon, keyboards, mini-moog
Jim White—drums, percussion
Nico Brown—concertina, additional vocals (10)
Andrew dicskon, Briget Pearse, Martin Brunsden, Nick Bicat—additional vocals (10)

Produced by:

Flood, John Parish, and PJ Harvey

Comments:

In some ways this is a total shift for Pj Harvey, yet in others it seems inevitable for someone who has continually reinvented her music to reach this kind of raw, delicate yet harsh music. Some listeners won't like the turn she has taken her, and it took me a while to grow to love it as much as I do, as it's not easy listening (though when has any of her music not required an openness to rough beauty?). The sound feels more stripped-down and vulnerable, though again PJ Harvey's music has frequently sounded both of these things. (Neile)

Stellar. It's is a delicate, immersive, intimate beauty (and a harder sell, since people who are big PJ Harvey fans seems to have trouble imagining her doing something this gentle and lovely). (jzitt@humansystems.com)

One of the best of 2007. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

One of my top CDS of 2007. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

While I admire the album more than I actually like it, I acknowledge its genius. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Let England Shake

Release info:

2011—Vagrant Records—6 01091 06512 3

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

PJ Harvey—vocals, auto harp, saxophone, guitars, zither, violin

Guest artists:

John Parish—drums, trombone, xylophone, Mellotron, Rhodes, guitars, percussion, vocals
Mick Harvey—piano, bass harmonica, drums, organ, Rhodes, bass, percussion, guitar, xylophone, vocals
Jean-Marc Butty—drums (3, 6, 10), vocals (3, 5, 6, 12)
Sammy Hurden—additional vocals and arrangements (8, 12)
Greta Berlin, Lucy Roberts—additional vocals (8, 12)

Comments:

Simply a stunning release. Interesting for its vocal technique, subject matter (war, imperialism, environmental degradation), and use of samples. I've listened to it every day since I got it (usually several times) and I still can't describe it, but I absolutely love it. (JoAnn Whetsell)

While I love the music—some of PJ's best songwriting here—I find the high, scratchy way she uses her voice through most of this gets on my nerves. Intellectually I understand why this is appropriate for the music and hope that I get over this, because damn I want to like it, the tunes and lyrics are so brilliant and hooky. (Neile)

For my money, Let England Shake is her best and most startlingly original album since To Bring You My Love. While White Chalk definitely signaled a welcome change of direction after, in my opinion, a string of generic and/or disposable rock albums from her, this takes that other-worldly approach and brings it back home with a vengeance. It's the first PJ Harvey album I can't stop listening to for many, many years. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

One of the best albums of the year. (stjarnell@yahoo.com, onyx@vianet.ca)


Further info:

An iTunes Originals album featuring songs and conversation was released in 2004.

DVDS

  • PJ Harvey On Tour—Please Leave Quietly (2006)
  • The song "Down By the Water" is featured on the DVD Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge collection, Volume 3 (2006)
  • Let England Shake: 12 Short Films by Seamus Murphy (2011/2012)
COMPILATIONS
PJ Harvey appears on a number of compilations. An early compilation (with fellow members of the Too Pure Records roster, Th' Faith Healers and Stereolab) is a BBC radio Peel Sessions collection called Strange Fruit: Too Pure—The Peel Sessions. (1992). Other recordings only available on compilations include:
  • "Who Will Love Me Now" on the Darkly Noon soundtrack (1996)
  • "Wind-Up," "Daddy," and "Rest Sextet" on the Spleen soundtrack (1996)
  • "Naked Cousin" on The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack (1996)
  • "Losing Ground" on the benefit album The Inner Flame (1997)
  • "Ballad of the Soldier's Wife"* on September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill (1997)
  • a live version of "C'mon Billy" on MTv 120 Minutes Live (1998)
  • a live version of "Civil War Correspondent" on a WHFS Radio benefit album (1998)
  • "The Faster I Breathe, the Further I Go" on The Book of Life soundtrack (1999)
  • "Nickel Under the Foot" on Cradle Will Rock (1999)
  • "One Time Too Many" on the Batman Forever soundtrack (1995) and the Six Feet Under soundtrack (2002)
COLLABORATIONS
Collaborations include:
  • "Color Me Grey" and "River of Diamonds" with The Family Cat on their album Furthest from the Sun (1992)
  • "Hollow," "Putty," "Horse," "Raw," and "What's Fair" with Automatic Dlamini on their album From Diva to a Diver (1992)
  • "Baby in a Plastic Bag" with Grape on Maths and Passion (1992)
  • "Your Last Friend in This Town," "Just a Working Girl," "We're Making War," "Right to Fly," and "Into Deep Neutral" with Moonshake on their album The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow (1994)
  • "Henry Lee" with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on Henry Lee (1996)
  • a cover of Mel Torme's "Zaz Turned Blue" with Eric Drew Feldman on the compilation Lounge-a-Palooza (1997)
  • "Broken Homes" with Tricky on his album Angels With Dirty Faces (1998)
  • "Love Too Soon" with Pascal Comelade on The Book of Life soundtrack (1999) and on Comelade's albums Monofonicorama—Best-Off(?) 2005–1992 (2007), Rocanrol per Males Arts (2009), and La Catedral d'Escuradents (2009)
  • "Piano Fire" and "Eyepennies" with Sparklehorse on their album It's a Wonderful Life (2001)
  • Hitting the Ground (reprise)" with Gordon Gano and Frank Ferrer on Gano's album Hitting the Ground (2002)
  • "Powdered Wig Machine" with Josh Homme on the NME sampler Rock 'n' roll riot. Vol. 2, Down the front! (2003)
  • "Hit the City" and "Come to Me" with Mark Lanegan on his album Bubblegum (2004)
COVERS OF HER WORK
Covers of PJ Harvey's songs include:
  • "Teclo" by Minefield on their album War Machine (2003)
  • "To Bring You My Love" by Paul Kelly on the No Man's Woman compilation (2007)
  • "Who the F—k" by Two Bands and a Legend on their self-titled album (2007)
  • "Rid of Me" by Black Light Burns on their album Cover Your Heart and the Anvil Pants Odyssey (2008)
  • "Dress" by Dead End on their album Good Moaning (2009)
  • "This Is Love" by Eric McFadden on his album Pull a Rabbit Out of His Hat Tribute, Vol. 2 (2010)
PJ Harvey tributes include:
  • Vitamin String Quartet's album The String Quartet Tribute to PJ Harvey (2004)
  • The Polly Jeans' album Dress—The Ultimate Tribute to PJ Harvey (2009)
  • Little Fish's album A Tribute to P.J. Harvey (2009)
  • 50ft Queenies' album A Salute to PJ Harvey (2010)
  • The Domestics' "PJ Harvey Song" on their album Re:Live (2005)
  • Tono and the Finance Company's song "PJ Harvey Is On the Stereo" on their Fragile Thing EP (2010)
BOOKS
PJ Harvey is featured in numerous books, including:
  • She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll by Gillian G. Gaar (2002)
  • El Pop después el fin de pop: Entrevistas by Pablo Gil (2004)
  • I'll Take You There: Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence by Bill Friskics-Warren (2005)
  • PJ Harvey: Siren Rising by James R. Blandford (2006)
  • Bring the Noise by Simon Reynolds (2007)
  • Women Singer-Songwriters in Rock: A Populist Rebellion in the 1990s by Ronald D. Lankford Jr. (2010)
  • Tunes: A Comic Book History of Rock and Roll edited by Vincent Brunner (2010)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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