Saturday, 8 August 2015

Polly Jean Harvey

So.  P J Harvey.  Damn was it really only eight albums? It feels like eighty eight.  Achtentachtig!  It's like she's everywhere.  Somebody you forget when thinkign about your favourite records because she's as everywhere as Elvis.  Damn but I love you Polly Jean!

THE WHORE'S HUSTLE AND THE HUSTLER'S WHORE.  Polly Jean does rock and roll and she does it brilliantly.  I would love to cover this.  So would Emily.  Maybe one day.  Maybe one day soon.  For now though.  Love it.  P J Harvey at her best.

IN THE DARK PLACES almost my favourite song by her.  Another day it would be, but today, well who I am today is who I am.  Let it be said though, that this is a song I love.  It rips out my heart with a rusty bayonet and then buries me in beauty.

DOWN BY THE WATER is the song I hear in my head when somebody says, 'P J Harvey'.  It's not the first of hers I heard but that chorus about her lost daughter is beautiful, evocative and enough to drive me even crazier than I already am.

IS THIS DESIRE? Well yes it is.  Minimalist and beautiful.  That's the thing about Polly Jean.  Voice is good, yeah but the music comes not from musical instruments but from Polly Jean's Oh so human heart.

MAN SIZE takes a while to get going but it is full of perfect humour and perfect spirit and PJ's perfect sense of rock n roll timing and of course, her perfect voice, and words that make the paper bleed.

Hurts to leave out: Horses in My Dreams; One Line; Big Exit; Shame; Bitter Branches; White Chalk; The Words that Maketh Murder, and that's only the solo stuff.

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Twenty seven years old, and you know what, when she died, I hadn't a clue WHO Janis Joplin was, and that's okay, because I never knew who Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix were when they died either, or for that matter, Buddy Holly, Eddy Cochran, Ritchie Valens or even the Big Bopper.

And in retrospect, I never even knew who I was when I was twenty seven although I sure wanted to die.  I was writing and sending off to publishers these short stories and the nice people at Interzone would send kindly notes back explaining what was wrong with them and so I was getting a kind of education.  Unlike Fear Magazine and 2000AD who never sent stuff back despite the stamped self addressed envelope, which pissed me off.  But the letters from Interzone, they could be like the apprenticeship I wanted, a chance to practice and get good and get great and build a great career (even though every letter felt like they ripped out another little piece of my heart, cooked it and ate it). So I guess I graduated as a short story writer when Interzone wrote back and said, "This is a good story and moves along well but is not suitable for Interzone."  I died that day, twenty seven years old but unknown.  I got in the bath and cut my wrists wrong way and then began to make plans to blow myself up, if only I could think who to take with me. Never knew, never did, still here, still alive more than 27 years later.

So that makes number one pretty obvious.

1) PIECE OF MY HEART - I love this song so much that I would love to give it all fifteen points, but I guess that isn't possible, so it's just number one, with a bullet fit for a president.

2) BALL AND CHAIN - recorded at the Monterey Festival in 1967.  Love the intro, love Janis Joplin's voice.  Feel those weaponised teardrops flowing down like angel falls.  Oh my.  I can only watch, open mouthed and wait fro angels to fly in.  This is why it's unfair that I was only ten when she died and never got to wonder what she'd produce next.

3) SUMMERTIME - I love to sing this song myself when they'll let me, which pretty much means in the shower these days.  George Gershwin, an excellent composition, performed over and over by so many.  Here it's Janis and Jimi.  Rock music? Sure but this is exactly what jazz should be about as well! Love and Peace to the both of them.

4) TELL MAMA - Oh my goodness there's not much to say about this.  Watch the video.Be still my heart.  Emily loves this and she's screaming in my ears to make it number one.  Well sorry Emily, it's number four but that doesn't mean it ain't brilliant.  Janis plays fast and loose with the so called rules and makes those little notes sit up and BAYYYug.

5) I NEED A MAN TO LOVE - now just listen to this.  This was done when it was.  There was no reason for much of the seventies, for blue eyed soul, for disco, for Blood Sweat and Tears, for so much of the music that was around in the seventies (you know the kind, the stuff that in retrospect makes you imagine that music wasn't all THAT dire in the seventies).  There was no need for any of it, because Janis had done it all before. I pick this at number 5 as a generic track of hers, not a particularly brilliant one, but one that shows how damn GOOD Janis was.