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PJ Harvey - The Peel Sessions 1991 - 2004

PJ Harvey, The Peel Sessions 1991-2004

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AS PART of a month of commemorative events to mark the second anniversary of the death of inspirational broadcaster John Peel, the BBC is releasing a handful of CDs comprised of recording sessions from some of the DJ’s favourite artists.

One of the most notable is PJ Harvey, who joins Pulp, House of Love and Siouxsie and the Banshees among the established line-up.

Available on CD and vinyl formats, PJ Harvey’s Peel Sessions takes in the period from 1991 to 2004 and comprises 12 tracks chosen by Polly herself.

These include early versions of songs on her debut album Dry (1992) as well as a selection from her seventh, Uh Huh Her, which was released in 2004.

Explains Louise Kattenhorn, producer of The John Peel Show: “Harvey recorded many sessions with John over the years. John loved them and was thrilled to have Polly record so many for him.

“He considered her a wonderful artist and they were great friends. It’s therefore fantastic that they’re coming out on CD. I think he’d be very proud.”

Anyone who recalls the Sesssions at the time they were recorded is sure to be just as excited, as are the die-hard Harvey fans who have long considered the singer-songwriter to be among the leading artists of her generation.

For it’s clear from listening to the album that Harvey enjoyed recording the session and gave her all for Peel. The raw, gutsy sound that is synonymous with the Harvey name – and which was a feature of Uh Huh Her – is one of the most striking features of the Sessions, which positively reverberate with the artist’s energy.

Highlights include Oh My Lover, which opens proceedings, and a rousing version of Naked Cousin recorded in 1993.

A 1996 recording of Losing Ground features some blistering guitar and another belting set of vocals, while an acoustic version of You Come Through, from 2004, showcases one of the highlights from the Uh Huh Her session with her vocals at their most strident.

For fans of both Peel’s musical taste and Harvey’s gutsy style, this is a downright essential release.

Track listing:

  1. Oh My Lover
  2. Victory
  3. Sheela Na Gig
  4. Water
  5. Naked Cousin
  6. Wang Dang Doodle
  7. Losing Ground
  8. Snake
  9. That Was My Veil
  10. This Wicked Tongue
  11. Beautiful Feeling
  12. You Come Through