I’m passing through a stage of recovering old albums I seldom listen to entirely nowadays. As you know, whenever I perform one of these dj’n nights, I’m in the middle of being old school, in the sense that I don’t play vinyl, but don’t use a computer either. I’m a 90’s girl, grew up when CD became consolidated as the universal format, thus 95% of my musical acquisitions are, as my granny used to say, the little discs. Thus, I often listening to singles when playing them in pubs, but not the album entirely.
When getting ready for the last session a couple of weeks ago I thought it might be a good idea to play some PJ Harvey’s stuff, and chose her second album. Pity in a moment o f confusion I was forced to play Rid of Me, rather than other great songs such as Rub Till It Bleeds, Legs or Highway ’61 Revisited. Anyway, the fact that PJ Harvey came back into my life accidentally, after the disappointment I experimented with the so much praised last album Let England Shake, was great, and brought lots of memories back, as usual 😉
Rid Of Me came out in 1993 (sheeeeit! Almost 20 years ago too!!! Getting old!) but sure I didn’t listen to it till end of 1994 or even early 1995. Remember a time when Internet didn’t exist, huh? Well, back then music was something that arrived to Spain with huge delay, rock bands which weren’t connected to MTV or more popular media were unknown and didn’t received any sort of promo, and coverage was minimum. Moreover, when I was 16, I was so broke, it took me long time to start buying rock magazines on monthly basis. I started purchasing singles issues, and second hand magazines featuring Pearl Jam mostly.
My boyfriend Joe’s cousin from Tenerife, Pablo, aka EvilMrSod, was our private musical guru. I think of it as something quite contradictory considering he was born and lived in an island, and the Canary islands are cursed by isolation and oblivion in many aspects. Perhaps most people were in such situation, but Pablo was and I know still is, one of the most passionate music fan, and he found his ways to get in touch with the reality of overseas, and the musical trends.
Pablo’s dad used to travel to the US, I think Miami was his main destination, on business trips. Don’t think he was Antonio Montana or Pablo Escobar, basterds, his job was related to a very established Tenerife folkie band named Los Sabandeños, who were very popular in Latin America. Thus, Pablo used to elaborate sheet lists of album requests so his father would buy the stuff for him. We were directly rewarded by him sending us parcels right after his father was back, packed with recorded tapes with all the new arrivals.
Whenever the topic of discussion regarding the sources of music knowledge when we were young and poor, I always mention Pablo as the guy who introduced me to many bands. Damn, I love Kyuss because he recorded me the 3 albums…awesome!
In those times when we were discovering and absorbing music recklessly, everything new could turn into the coolest stuff ever. Also we were really impressive, and among the gang, we used to spread the coolness at light speed.
We were already familiar with Tori Amos, L7, Babes in Toyland or Sonic Youth, but Rid Of Me was something different. It was an explosion of aggressiveness . Song structures were difficult, with uneasy changes, lyrics were rough, and her voice was unique. This image of mysterious woman, like a witch, sensual but raw, settled for many years, and for many years, the girl from Dorset was adored by many of us, as if she was some kind of goddess of the occult.
Her twisted songs couldn’t be labeled as rock, in its proper definition, nor punk, although in attitude she was kind of. You could notice blues roots in her work, but at the end of the day it was impossible to define her style. That alternative classification, so wide and barely defined became very useful in cases like this.
Nowadays she’s gained the respect of the media and her audience has increased, however I don’t see her as an icon of wildness and aggressiveness I used to think of her, and musically speaking, her freshness and roughness are mostly disappeared. PJ Harvey used to mean something dangerous and intense, and Rid Of Me, was the statement of what I admired from her.