Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 10/1/01 w/ Additional Edits.
When the 1990s Alternative rock scene broke through, the scene helped showcase new female acts who stormed the male-dominated rock scene by kicking them in the ass. From grrl riot bands like Bikini Kill, L7, and Babes In Toyland through singer-songwriters like Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, and Liz Phair. Another new female star of the alternative rock scene is an English singer-songwriter whose abrasive style made men nervous and even gave MTV cartoon heroes Beavis & Butt-head saying “This chick is weird”. Her name was PJ Harvey. After riding the critical acclaim of her 1992 debut album Dry, Harvey had caught the attention of many young females who had enough of slick-pop acts like Paula Abdul and Martika. Harvey came in with an abrasive rock style with her harsh tales of being a woman. In 1993, she released what many considered an alternative rock masterpiece titled Rid of Me.
Recorded with producer Steve Albini (famous for his work with Nirvana's In Utero), Rid of Me is an album that is harsh yet powerful album that is sprawled by Harvey’s angst-ridden lyrics and abrasive guitar style. With bassist Steve Vaughn and drummer Robert Ellis as part of her band, Harvey belts in a powerful album that bring her to the stratosphere of alternative rock and became their diva.
Rid of Me starts off with its title track that starts off quietly when she whispers until Robert Ellis’ drums come and the song starts to rock out as Harvey’s vocals become louder and more angst-ridden especially at the end of the song as she sings loudly. Missed is a melodic-rock tune that shows Harvey’s vulnerability as a vocalist where she sings about a man she’d broken up with the chorus of “No, I’ve missed him”. Legs is an excellent song that features Harvey’s vocals at an emotional and powerful range with her melodic-fuzz guitars with Steve Vaughn’s brooding bass and Ellis’s consistent drumming. Rub ‘Til It Bleeds is a five-minute brooding track that is highlighted by Vaughn’s brooding bass hooks and Harvey’s ominous vocals that becomes angst-ridden as she belts in a powerful guitar assault. Hook is a powerful track that features powerful drums from Ellis and distorted guitar tracks from Harvey who brings in an angry approach to her vocals that makes the song harsh and uncomfortable.
Man-Size Sextet is a string-orchestra track that is performed by Harvey on a cello and violin with percussion by Ellis on the track that is filled with angst lyrics about men sung viciously by Harvey. Highway ’61 Revisited is a Bob Dylan cover that is partially distorted from Harvey’s vocals and guitars with Ellis’ drumming and Vaughn’s bass and the song are re-done in a more abrasive approach. 50 Ft. Queenie is an extremely abrasive track that features powerful drum tracks from Ellis, brooding bass from Vaughn, and harsh guitar assaults from Harvey who proves that she’s not just a great vocalist but an excellent guitar player. Yuri-G is another fast guitar-driven assault that features angry vocals from Harvey and fast drum tracks from Ellis. Man-Size is another classic track that starts off as a slow, melodic track until sprawling guitars come in as Harvey belts in these powerful vocals as if she’s angry about some guy.
Dry is a slow rocking track that features Harvey bringing in a powerful guitar solo backed by the solid rhythm section of Ellis and Vaughn. Me-Jane is a lovely bass-driven track that features quirky bass and guitar tracks that turn into an abrasive, angst-ridden tune of anti-machoism. Snake is a punk-rock track that features fast guitars and drum tracks filled with angst and power in Harvey’s vocals that sound very mean and unapologetic. Ecstasy is a powerful, hard-rocking track that showcases Harvey’s guitar style that is a mix of punk and country-slide guitar approach along with her angry vocals and Ellis’ powerful drum performance.
Rid of Me is an excellent masterpiece from PJ Harvey. The abrasive and powerful approach to the album is what makes this album an essential collection for alternative rock. The album became a huge hit in the U.K. and was a huge cult success in the U.S. Harvey achieved her status as a new queen for alternative rock but she was just getting started. On her next full-length release, she would become the alt-rock diva and blow the mind of both fans and critics alike. Rid of Me is a perfect album for the angry young woman that needed something that is sugar-coated pop.
PJ Harvey Reviews: Dry - 4-Track Demos - To Bring You My Love - Dance Hall at Louse Point (w/ John Parish) - Is This Desire? - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - Uh Huh Her - The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 - White Chalk - A Woman A Man Walked By (w/ John Parish) - Let England Shake
(C) thevoid99 2011