PJ Harvey’s second album sounded like a cry for help.
Which was strange really since, on the surface at least, things seemed to be going pretty well. Her first two singles, especially “Dress”, and her debut album had been met with tremendous reviews and great acclaim from fans and the critics. Even better, she was loved by the legendary DJ John Peel, a man whose seal of approval could be the making of your entire career.
Those first records had been released by the relatively small London-based indie label Too Pure but such was their impact that Harvey soon found herself signed up by U2’s management team and handed a deal with Island Records. Things were surely looking good.
You would certainly never guess it from listening to “Rid Of Me ‘ though!
Throughout this album (or more accurately , aural exorcism) Polly Jean Harvey manages to sound like one very messed -up and confused lady indeed , haunted by inner demons , taunted by the voices in her head.
It all starts off very quietly, Harvey almost whispering in your ear,”tie yourself to me”. Before long however, we’re greeted by a feral blast of electric guitar and we’re off and running on a crazy trip through the mind of some deranged, spurned lover/stalker.
“You’re not rid of me” she intones, almost joyfully. It all sounds very much like she loves the chance to mess with this guy’s life, screw his head up big time. Soon she’s screaming at the top of her voice “Don’t you wish you’d never met her!”
You feel entirely drained at the end of it and that’s just track one, only twelve more to go……..
It’s amazing, powerful stuff (including a ferocious take on Dylan’s “Highway ’61 Revisited”) and it never lets up for the entire album really.
Special mention must go to the other two band members Robert Ellis and Steven Vaughan who’s playing manages to be both subtle and intense in equal measure . Same goes for the overall sound and feel of the record, a triumph of dynamics, courtesy of Steve Albini, sought out because Harvey so loved Pixies “Surfer Rosa” which he’d recorded a few years earlier.
PJ Harvey has made a few fine albums since “Rid Of Me” but she never quite pushed herself to such levels of emotional intensity again , hardly surprising really……
— Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland
All songs written by P.J. Harvey except “Highway ’61 Revisited” , written by Bob Dylan
- “Rid Of Me” – (4.28)
- “Missed” – (4.25)
- “Legs” – (3.40)
- “Rub ‘Til It Bleeds” – (5.03)
- “Hook” – (3.56)
- “Man-Size Sextet” – (2.16)
- “Highway ’61 Revisited” – (2.57)
- “50ft Queenie” – (2.23)
- “Yuri-G” – (3.28)
- “Man-Size’ – (3.16)
- “Dry” – (3.23)
- “Me-Jane” – (2.42)
- “Snake” – (1.35)
- “Ecstasy” – (4.27)
- P.J. Harvey – Guitar , vocals , cello , violin , organ
- Robert Ellis – Drums , percussion , vocals
- Steven Vaughan – Bass
- Recorded by Steve Albini
I was so much older then , i'm younger than that now.........