John Peel was the first DJ (as was so often the case) to play PJ Harvey, and she recorded some of his favourite sessions for him over the years. The compilation -from 1991, to his untimely passing in 2004- has some of her best work, completely raw and unadorned. There’s a cheeky cover of the blues belter Wang Dang Doodle, prompting the legendary DJ to chuckle live on air: “I wonder what snot- juice is?! “
The blistering Naked Cousin, almost a rawk pastiche, nonetheless has gothic imagery that may have appealed to Harvey’s future collaborator and, briefly a romantic partner, Nick Cave, with its savagery and humour.
And low-key songs Water and You Come Through reveal a more vulnerable side, pointing to Harvey’s more introspective, if no less passionate, pieces.
These are among the finest of any Peel sessions, and Polly almost became one of the *Ravenscroft family. It’s hard to believe that it is almost twenty years since the great broadcaster passed away. He, like Polly Jean Harvey, was an absolute trailblazer.
*Peel ‘s real name