PJ Harvey
Rid Of Me


5.0
classic

Review

by Jeremy Fisette USER (34 Reviews)
December 4th, 2008 | 40 replies | 14,815 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rid of Me is truly her finest work, and shows each integral side Harvey has to offer.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Dorset-native Polly Jean Harvey (better known by her androgynous stage name, PJ Harvey) has been making music since 1992. She started out as an angry girl who spun out words that a lot of singers at that time wouldn't have dared. Songs about sex were frequent contenders, and it was almost never in a nice or sweet way ("You leave me dry!" she yelps on one of her earliest numbers, "Dry"). Despite this, Harvey rose to meet great success, releasing album after album to great reviews and phenomenal fan support.

Her first three albums, Dry, Rid of Me, and To Bring You My Love, (all released in a short four-year period from 1992 to 1995) were and still are highly regarded and heavily praised. And for good reason. Harvey exuded a confidence, with a voice that told us she was the boss. She was a woman in the music business, but stronger than most, and stronger than a few wanted her to be. Her debut Dry was a raw, carnal exploration of everything from slightly frightful sex ("Happy and Bleeding") to utter blissfulness ("Water"). However, her 1993 sophomore album, Rid of Me, is truly her finest work, and shows each integral side Harvey has to offer in one neatly wrapped 50-minute package.

The first five songs are nearly perfect. Opener "Rid of Me," one of her trademark songs, is one of the best she's ever recorded. With topsy turvey production values, it goes from quiet acoustic playing and a voice barely above of sneering whisper, to a noisy clamorous rocker. On first listen, the shift is completely unexpected, and on repeat listens, you feel the kinetic energy building, just waiting for the break. The tension this song raises is never recaptured. This doesn't mean the rest of the record is bad though...

"Missed" and "Legs" follow the opener, with greatness. "Missed" is one of the more accessible songs, with Harvey's pleading growing a little more insistent over the course of the song. It ends on a dime, leading in the wails and cries of the desperation of "Legs," which contains the great closing line, "I might as well be dead / But I could kill you instead!" This line does a good job of representing how confident and strong the woman belting these tunes out is. There's a power in her voice, which is far from perfect, by the way. The way it careens up and down and swerves into all the right places is what renders it so fantastic, as on the acidic Adam and Eve-inspired "Snake," where she begs for Adam to forgive her, claiming "the snake / put it / in front / of me," the staccato delivery (which is used more than once) enhancing the impact.

Things trip up slightly with"Man Size Sextet" and "Highway '61 Resvisted," the former being an oddly placed string-sextet version of a later highlight, and the latter being an ineffective and uncompelling cover of a Bob Dylan song. She has such a strength elsewhere, that is just baffles me as to why there's a cover song in the midst of her personal madness. These songs are listenable, and hardly apt for skipping, but, luckily, they're also back-to-back, and only sandwiched by the greatness of the other tunes, like the rollicking and powerful "50 ft Queenie," which was the album's first single. The chorus at the end repeats 4 times, increasing her size each time ("You come measure me / I'm 20 inches long" and it eventually grows to the titular number.)

This album isn't devoid of sexuality, either. The conclusion of the opening track has a nearly-breathless and enraged Harvey in falsetto, shrieking "Lick my legs, I'm on fire / Lick my legs of desire!" It's an awkward moment, portrayed as it should be. "Dry" (which is the title track of her first album, but for one reason or another didn't get put on a record until her second release) is a pleading, slightly upsetting song that appears to be about the inability to have an orgasm. ("You leave me dry!" as mentioned earlier.) The sexual nature of these tracks can be disturbing, but its never without passion or meaning, which, for me, makes it almost admirable.

"Ecstasy" closes out the set, and is also one of the disc's highlights, vocally, lyrically, and musically. It is one of her best vocal performances as she yells without screaming, and song seems to be a happy one for a change (she is "in ectsasy" and she's "flying, hitting heavens high"). This is cut bittersweetly by the last chorus when she sings "I'm begging you, look at me / In ecstasy" implying that no one is noticing how happy she is, no one is caring. The musical outro is a rightful finale, with a grind and a slide and a twist all all in one, mirroring the frenzy of emotions that rolled out in the 50 minutes before it. It's a defining moment, when you realize she's done singing, and you don't even mind that she's relinquished the mic.

The ubiquitously irritating aspect of this record, which is the poor recording, rendering each song quieter than the song actually is, requiring you to turn the volume way up, can actually be ignored. In fact, even the few missteps don't deter too much from the overall perfection of the album. And in the end, some of these songs are heavy, and can be offputting for those unwilling or unready to hear such subjects sung about so bluntly. However, for those who are willing, and for those who are ready, this is an incredibly rewarding listen.


Key Tracks: Rid of Me, Missed, 50ft Queenie, Ecstasy



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user ratings (229)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
December 4th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Fantastic write-up, man!
I actually think Stories is her best, but you put across your point really well.

Bleak123
December 4th 2008



1902 Comments


i want to listen to this woman so she can make me horny with her sex songs

i jk, good review & i'll check this out

AtavanHalen
December 4th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Her horny songs are SO good.

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys! I am actually kind of proud of this one. I think it's my best.

And.. Bleak123....... her songs are not the type of sex songs to make you horny. If anything, it might make you not want to have sex. Haha.

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha oh man.

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I like Stories, but I actually find it bland. She said her goal was to make everything as pretty as possible, and she did it. Each individual song is fine, and Big Exit and Kamikaze are definitely the best, but when I listen to the thing as a whole, I get a little bored. Just my opinion. (Which is funny, because my 2nd favorite album by her is White Chalk. =P)

PunkItUp
December 4th 2008



207 Comments


good review. i really, really like this album. it knocked me over the first time i heard it and still does. so basic and primal and raw. Dry is one of the best things i've ever heard. the song on here i mean. its just so damn awesome. the title track is rockin.' the whole thing is just the blues like i've never heard the blues. misery never sounded so good or been less miserable

Bleak123
December 4th 2008



1902 Comments


And.. Bleak123....... her songs are not the type of sex songs to make you horny. If anything, it might make you not want to have sex. Haha.

i dont think that's possible lol

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ha. well, .. it might frighten you a bit.

um..er.. forget it. hahaha.

AtavanHalen
December 4th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'm definitely considering upping the rating on this.

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha do it! =P

PunkItUp
December 4th 2008



207 Comments


it must be done!

although a 3 ain't bad if its a "high" 3. as in good



PunkItUp
December 4th 2008



207 Comments


from atavanHalen's sound off:

Horrible recording and production quality are the main detractor from the record

i always thought that was a pretty good thing considering the record. i like the way it soundsThis Message Edited On 12.04.08

AtavanHalen
December 4th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I don't mind "raw" music, per se, but sometimes the recording quality on this is just terrible.
Anyways, upped. This is really good.

jeremologyy
December 4th 2008



263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The recording quality is particularly bad on "man-size" but i don't mind. if you turn up your speakers you hear all that's meant to be heard.

thanks for all the compliments, guys.

Kiran
Emeritus
December 5th 2008



6000 Comments


For some reason I don't have any full PJ Harvey albums, only a couple songs. I might start with this one.

Roach
October 29th 2009



2149 Comments


I think the production on this is fine tbh, idk what problems you guys have with it.

AtavanHalen
October 29th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's hard to hear at times

Roach
October 29th 2009



2149 Comments


Turn those speakers up up up

letenglandshake
December 7th 2009



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it's rob ellis who sings the "lick my legs..." bit



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