Music Dump – PJ Harvey, “Dry (1992)

07 Sep

So the good news first. the latest NITcast is finished (pending a road test/play this evening). If you are lucky then it should be bouncing around in your craniums tomorrow. I think yu will like it. Probably one of the best downer mixes I’ve made yet.

But now onto more pressing matters. Namely music, and the possession of it thereof. Now if you’ve been aware of culture and music in general, then you’ll be aware that PJ Harvey won last night’s Mercury music prize for her latest album, “Let England Shake”. It’s a perfectly fine and melodic album, although I did find the weighty themes of “Lost Albion”, War, Empire etc just a tad unsubtle, as in like a brick, and it kind of has been done before. But hey, she was in many way probably the best one on the list to win with only Metronomy coming close.

So it’s with this in mind that for this weeks music dump, we’re taking it waaaay back to where it all began for Polly, with her debut album from 1992 DRY.

“Dry” is a very different album to Harvey’s most recent album, with its harpsichords, hand harps and ethereal folkisms. There is a barely contained guttural noise with the dirty bass, bottom level  guitars and raw, fierce vocals that sung about dark sexual desires and compulsions. When the songs kick into full force, it’s like dealing an out of control horse, the way it gallops and thunders through the speakers.

But it’s the powerful vocals of Harvey that you notice at the fore. At the time, Harvey was working on the idea of a powerful pagan-inspired form of female expression through her music. With songs like “Sheena-Na-Gig” (named after the figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva) talking about “Child bearing Hips” and “Washing that man right out of her hair”, and “Victory” telling the “Boys to push it hard” they conveyed a woman who possessed both a rampant sexuality and also a sarcastic tone at the males around her. Harvey also courted controversy by her posing naked and unshaven on the cover of the NME. Now while this may seem a little quaint these days, at the time it caused a fair bit of a stir among the readership with regard to her sexual politics. As for a 15-year-old emotionally retarded me at the time, I definitely found her beguiling, but also a bit scary. A bit like a human preying mantis, it seemed she would entice you over, then once she had her fill, tear you asunder. I listened to her tracks and thought that no woman had ever made sounds like that before. Note this was before finding the likes of Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon and other female centred bands in my later teen years.

Harvey would go on to refine her stage and musical persona over later albums, but DRY is very much a fully formed album in its own right anda vastly underrated album from the early 90s.

You can try DRY HERE

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Download, music


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