Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

7. PJ HarveyRid Of Me

It’s definitely the most important PJ Harvey record for me, and it’s another album that sat in my Walkman for such a long time. I think I probably listened to side two of Rid On Me about 100 times in a row. It was similar to discovering Public Enemy for the first time. I was quite young when I heard it, in terms of my sexual life, if you like, and there’s something so sexual about it without being explicit. And the fact that you could do that, and she was choosing to do that, was mind-blowing. I think a lot of the women who made music at that time were trying to write stuff that was very powerfully personal but, apart from maybe Liz Phair, I don’t think any of them succeeded to quite this extent. It’s such an abrasive record, and so brave and energetic and vibrant, but with a very restricted colour palette. It feels like she’s saying a lot emotionally with a very restricted palette; it’s like her guts are hanging out. She’s spoken about the personal stuff that was happening while making the album, and it really is a warts ‘n’ all type of record and a tough listen, but it’s also really pop at the same time with songs like ‘Yuri-G’ or ‘Man-Size’ or ’50 FT Queenie’. She’s always been incredibly uncompromising. She’s managed to use her personal life as fodder for her music, but it’s also restrained and considered, and even though you think you’re getting to know quite a lot about her, it’s still always couched in veils.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: John Parish, Aidan Moffat
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