The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

A Woman, A Man: John Parish's Favourite PJ Harvey Recordings
Jennifer Lucy Allan , February 3rd, 2021 08:42

As PJ Harvey continues a major series of vinyl reissues of her incredible discography, her long-time collaborator and friend John Parish guides Jennifer Lucy Allan through his favourite 13 of her recordings


‘The Ministry Of Defence’ (From The Hope Six Demolition Project)
Intense, disturbing, showing off the power of the huge band that recorded and played the album live – also featuring the authoritative voice of Linton Kwesi Johnson.We recorded Let England Shake in an old church, and Polly had really liked the process of recording not in a studio. So when we were discussing Hope Six, Polly's first proviso was that she didn’t want to record in a studio. Her first idea was an art gallery, so we started looking around, and Somerset House came back with their proposal – they had a big space that we could build a studio in and record it there. Polly then said, well if we're going to record in a gallery why don’t we have people come and watch us while we're doing it? Flood and I initially felt, oh my god, how’s that going to work?! Quite quickly we realised it would be an interesting challenge – it could be great, could be problematic, but we've never done it before, so let's give it a shot. Obviously it ended up being technically much more difficult and expensive than we'd imagined it was going to be, but it was a great experience. We built a room within a room that had one way glass, so we couldn’t see out but the audience could see in, and hear what was going on. When people came in they didn’t know what they were going to hear, some people probably saw 45 minutes of tuning up, and others saw a fantastic live performance.