Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

8. PJ HarveyRid Of Me

Her first two records… I’m trying to think of words I’ve not used before to describe how fucking special and absolutely mind-blowing they were. I went to see her at King Tut’s in Glasgow, I think this was before her first album came out. ‘Dress’ was her first single, which was fucking amazing, and this song ‘Dry’ (which ended up on Rid Of Me) was on the 12" as a B-Side and I thought it was incredible. Its sexual frankness really, really spoke to me and I remember playing it in the record shop I was working in as well and the guy I worked with wasn’t shocked exactly, but he was very derisive of the whole thing, a sort of, "Ohh, she needs a fucking ride", that sort of shit but I was like: "Are you hearing what this woman’s saying?! She’d fucking kill you!" When we saw her play in Glasgow she was already playing the track ‘Rid Of Me’ and there was me and my mate standing down the front and this was when she’d be all dressed in black, hair tied back, big fucking boots, and it was fucking stunning. So fucking powerful and the band were fantastic, fucking spectacular. I don’t keep gig tickets at all but that is one I do have. I loved the first album, then it was announced that she was going to be making a record with Steve Albini and it was like "holy fuck"! This is the most perfect fucking union I could ever hear. Rid Of Me sounds so fucking alive and angry but yet tender and saying things that you just don’t hear an awful lot in songs. Rid Of Me inspired me to the degree that there was a sexual frankness to it, things like ‘Me-Jane’, where she’s talking about her period and just like "leave me fucking alone" and things like that and ‘Dry’, especially, the message of it and the frankness of it really spoke to me, in a sense I think the song might have started my whole fucking career. The idea that you can speak about sex frankly and it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or embarrassing, you’re allowed to say these things. It was a very feminine thing, women were singing about these things quite often but not with the frankness that PJ Harvey was. Men just didn’t write like this, they didn’t talk like this, it made me readdress the way men spoke about sex and love. It [sex in music] always seemed to be very poetic, and it wouldn’t really discuss the physical details of human relationships and I think the physical details are just as important as the emotional details. Rid Of Me is a fucking scream, from start to finish it’s an absolute rage. There’s a lack of metaphor in her records, she doesn’t try to hide anything or carve it up. It doesn’t matter to her. At this point in my life as a teenager I’d never heard anything like it. Shall we listen to it [‘Dry’], because it’s a fucking tune and a half…

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: John Parish,
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