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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 Garden’ (From the Is This Desire demos)
As I mentioned, Is This Desire was made over two lengthy sessions, with almost a years’ gap between them, which I think led to a kind of disjointed album with some of the songs being unnecessarily reworked.

The bulk of the first session took place in a small studio in Yeovil, so it was much more Heath Robinson setup, and the second session, most or all of it took place in a huge expensive London studio, so there were differences in the technical capabilities of the studio, but the same musicians basically in both sessions and same producers and engineers. 

Do you feel that using those studios gave it a different feel or energy or was that just about time? 

In this particular case I’m not sure it made much difference. The thing that made the most difference was that Polly probably changed during the making of it, as I said, she wasn't very well for a long time in the middle. I think it was hard for her over that huge amount of time to maintain focus. There’s nothing wrong with Rob [Ellis]’s arrangement of ‘The Garden', and I love his arrangement of ‘Joy’ on the same album – but for me the demo was perfect. Haunting, understated, and incredibly moving. I’m so glad to see this version finally get a release.