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4.7 out of 5 stars25
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 February 2004
Yes, that's right. Rid of Me has to be one of the hardest-rocking, most kick-ass, most anti-pop records I've ever heard. It is an absolute masterpiece of bile and anger, violence and hate. It's so extreme that it feels less like a rock album than a volcanic exorcism of personal demons. Rarely have I heard so much rage and power harnessed onto tape. It is truly exhilarating.
Rid of Me is PJ Harvey's second album, released just a year after her critically acclaimed 1992 debut Dry. Whereas Dry sounded naïve, youthful and almost innocent, the follow-up has a much harder edge to it. The sound is brutally raw, the lyrics are more bitter and wise, the anger is sharper and more pointed. It's a more thrillingly extreme affair all round. Steve Albini's in-your-room production is absolutely perfect for bringing out this nasty side of PJ. He's worked with Pixies and Nirvana; in an interview at the time, PJ explained that she wanted Albini to record them like a live band, so that you could feel the instruments pounding away before you with every hacking guitar riff and thunderous drum kick.
The shocking title track is a Fatal Attraction-style revenge fantasy about a scorned, obsessed lover tormenting her old flame. It starts slowly as a barely audible whisper before exploding into noise at the chorus ("Don't you wish you never never met her!") and building to an unforgettable climax of "Lick my legs I'm on fire, lick my legs I'm desire"), repeated over and over like an unholy mantra. 50Ft Queenie is a sneering, mocking cock-rock parody with a laugh-out-loud chorus of "Hey I'm the king of the world, you oughta hear my song/You come and measure me, I'm 20 inches long". The shrieking two-minute explosion of Snake tells the story of Adam and Eve from a fierce new perspective. Me Jane is a domestic spat between Tarzan and his ladylove, complete with animal whoops, manic guitar riffage and some of the most exciting drumming in recent rock history. Man-Size refers to sodomy, iron knickers and setting fire to her hair. Legs is about cutting someone's legs off. Need I continue?
Musically, the main reference points this time around seem to be punk, blues and Sixties/Seventies classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (whose standard Highway 61 Revisited is covered here in jaw-dropping style). PJ's screaming vocals are unforgettable, morphing from man to woman to animal; her guitar playing has a ferocious intensity matched only by Steven Vaughan's thudding five-string basslines and Rob Ellis' astonishing drumwork (he bashes those cymbals harder than any other drummer around). And in the song Missed, there is one beautiful moment of tenderness amid the fury.
Rid of Me is a crucial purchase for anyone who wants to know anything about hard rock. It may freak you out at first, but give it time and you'll grow to love its crazy heart.
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on 18 January 2002
This is the blues! The blues plugged straight back into the electrifying jolt of it's originators, by-passing the soulless, staid, and indulgent meanderings of Clapton and his ilk. The blues made vital again.
Produced by underground hero Steve Alibini, who would later produce Nirvana' 'In Utero', Polly's voice and the guitars are pushed right to the front of the mix in a feral howl. The guitar parts are superb, the slide playing in particular used to strking effect as it had been decades earlier by Elmore James.
The music, all anguish, heartache and obsession, is for the most part echoed by the lyrics, but there's also a dark humour at work here, which too often goes ignored in (male) critics rush to stereotype PJ as the hysterical woman.
Purely and simply a fantastic album, and one that reclaimed a legacy for too long despoiled.
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on 2 July 2001
This is currently my favourite PJ Harvey album, though I think that says more about my current state of mind than the consistently high quality of all of Polly's recordings, my advice is to buy them all really. I think the line "I might as well be dead, but I could kill you instead" sums up Rid Of Me to me, the fine line between unbearable heartbreak and murderous hatred. This is music which is equally enjoyable whilst viciously stabbing pins into a voodoo doll, or exhaustedly crying yourself to sleep again. Polly understands the fine line between love and hate; "Did I tell you you're divine?" and "you snake, you dog, you flithy liar". This is frankly an essential album for anyone who has ever been hurt, in other words an essential album for everybody. Buy this, you will not regret it
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on 31 March 2014
After I had listened to the album succeeding this one, the lukewarm To Bring You My Love (which I loved initially but slowly grew to realise it is actually fairly dull), I decided to move backwards in time to one of Polly's more "raw" albums, as called so by many critics. And oh, i was not disappointed.
The album opens with the spectacular title track, which begins with the line "Tie yourself to me". A creepy but spectacular song, which ends with a voice screaming "lick my legs, I'm on fire". Although nothing throughout the rest of the album reaches the unhinged brillance of the title track (which supposedly caused a music journalist to crash her car), the album is filled with some great raw punk songs like "Snake", "Legs" and the string-led "Man Size Sextet" (which is somehow a punk song even with strings, although there is a guitar-based version minus the "sextet" part later in the album), as well as more conventional hard rock songs like "Missed", "Dry" and "Yuri-G".
My favourite song on the album is prehaps the heavy, femenist rocker "Rub Till it Bleeds", which features some of the coolest, most ominious guitar at the beginning, then explodes into a flood of defiance, as Harvey howls "can you believe me, I'm calling you weak?". A truly inspiring song, if you can ignore the sexual overtones.
This album isn't without it's faults, though. I find "Legs" to be fairly boring, and the cover of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" does not do the original justice. The album redeems itself, though, pulling out a string of great songs in the second half which ends with the four minute "Ecstacy".
Some may find this album "raw", and I suppose it is, but that does not stop it from being thoroughly entertaining and actually fairly accessible (by my standards anyway). So listen. And then listen to "To Bring You My Love" for comparison, and see which one makes more of an impact.
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on 30 August 2009
Also my favourite PJ Harvey (although To Bring You My Love runs it close) the mixture of visceral rage, dark humour and musical discord here is as intoxicating as it is disorientating. I can think of only a few other albums as uncompromising in sonics and sentiment, (The Holy Bible, White Light White Heat, the work of bands like Butthole Surfers and Albini's own Big Black).

It's odd to think of 'recorder' Steve Albini polishing an artist's sound, but that sort of what he's done here. Wheras Dry has great songs but sounds a little like a collection of demos, Rid of Me explodes from your speakers. It has the most perversely extreme dynamics of any record I can think of. The intro the opening title track is so quiet that if I'm listening from another room, I'll turn up the stereo just to be able to hear it; at which point Harvey unleashes a riff of such blistering volume as to make your neighbours hate you forever.

Although this is in many ways a 'difficult' album the riffs here are so infectious that, along with other reviewers here, I think any lover of hard rock will instantly take to it. But it's not just big riffs; Man-Size Sextet foreshadows the more restrained but equally discomfiting sound of Harvey's next two albums. Using only Harvey's voice and Psycho-style strings; it is utterly terrifying.
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on 12 May 2007
OMG this album scared me when I heard it recently, on going through to discover what exactly PJ Harvey is (if anyone can say). This is as different as can be from the semi pop tones of Stories of the City. It's kind of scary, angry but very sad with a lot of undeniable truths there and matched with a lot of hard rock/punk music being bashed out and some deliberate screaching, shouting, synthed vocals that really confuse you as you can't fit it into your understanding memory slot easily. It really scared the pants off me, probably as it took me by surprise. I do feel kind of tired just listening to it, exhausted myself from the energy. I can't think of many comparrisons but musically Nirvana style really strikes me and maybe the Cranberries as it was early 90s with more blatant sexual references - inadequacies, needs, in there. It doesn't rhyme, there isn't an obvious pattern, it isn't even in tune and goes from deafening to can't hear it but god, this is uncompromising, original work. I'm not sure if I like it, but it's undeniably challenging, amazing stuff!
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This is P J Harvey's finest hour. From the opening shrieks of "lick my legs of desire" through to the warped tones of "Ecstasy", this is what West Country music should be. No-one should ever question Polly Harvey's genius with this as a basis. Absolutely amazing, whilst being scary at the same time. Wonderful. Enough said.
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on 8 January 2011
PJ is soooo awesome i cannot wait for her 2011 solo comeback, so hope she returns to the genre of her earlier albums with lines such as "I'll make you lick my injuries", she is just an inexpressibly good artist!
Please buy this album and listen to some good music for once!
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on 2 May 2009
I've owned this album since it's release and was lucky enough to catch her live the same week. Along with the Cure's Pornography, it really is one of the most fabulously 'ugly' pieces of music i've had the pleasure of enduring! I remember at the time of release there was talk of her having a nervous breakdown whilst the album was being written - you can feel it! It's one of those musical journey's that leaves you physically exhausted at end! Used to make me cry actually. If your interested enough to be reading this then buy it!
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on 20 February 2005
'Rid of Me' does not contain any poor tracks as you get with most albums. This is one of PJs finest! Having only recently becoming hooked on PJ I bought all of her pre-Stories CDs in one go and was soon hooked!
This is a very intese album and sucks you in with PJs vocals being either intimate or spitting fury. Mix in a bowl with punky guitars, ear-drum busting drumming and a certain rawness that makes it sound like they are playing in the next room and what you get is the perfect album!
All in, ace!
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