PJ Harvey The Peel Sessions (1991-2004)

pjHarvey had some 60 songs to choose from and the collection is fairly balanced, offering listeners a chance to hear her perform live versions of album and unreleased cuts as well as the classic "Wang Dang Doodle."

 

(BBC, Island)

As couples go, PJ Harvey and John Peel could not have been more comfortable. They were joined together by their quietness and their shared love of music. Peel, the amazingly laidback and humble host on BBC Radio 1 for nearly 35 years, introduced the British public and the world to new alternative music through his radio program and especially through what became known as the Peel Sessions. Artists would perform live in studio or at Peel's home studio (with his wife and children often present), revealing the true essence of their songs and brilliance. Peel was a mentor and early supporter to hundreds of bands that became legend. On his untimely death in late October 2004, there was shock and sadness in the music community.

Polly Jean Harvey was one of the artists who felt the loss deeply. PJ Harvey understood Peel as well as he did her. She, too, is quiet and humble, often retreating to her farm when not touring or recording, but fiery and brilliant onstage.

Harvey visited Peel's show often from the start of her career until his death. The BBC has just released 12 tracks from the sessions: four from 1991, two from 1993, three from 1996, and one from the Peel tribute show December 16, 2004. While each song shows why Peel admired Harvey and helped her career, several of the songs taken from albums are particularly sharp, especially "Snake" which offers a fang-bearing Harvey at her best.

Harvey had some 60 songs to choose from and the collection is fairly balanced, offering listeners a chance to hear her perform live versions of album and unreleased cuts as well as the classic "Wang Dang Doodle." The inclusion of "Naked Cousin"  from the Crow soundtrack, good but not a standout, seems to be a signal that there is more to come. I will live in hope that there will be at least one more PJ on Peel release to include some of the other diamonds that I am sure are in the BBC vaults. B+ | Jim Dunn

For more information on John Peel and PJ Harvey, please visit Keeping It Peel.

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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