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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for all the family
Dance Hall at Louse Point is probably the most underrated, misunderstood and little-heard item in the whole Polly Jean Harvey catalogue. Upon its low-key release it was overlooked by many Peej lovers who assumed it was merely a minor collaboration with some obscure bloke. I won’t pretend to be an expert on her less famous co-writer and co-producer here, John Parish,...
Published on 14 Feb 2004

versus
4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an overly arty album with some good moments
the first thing you notice about this collaboration with multi-instrumentalist John Parish is the music's self-consciously difficult aspect, which gets irritating by about the fourth track. Parish is a versatile guitarist, however, and has some interesting ideas - check the first main song "Rope Bridge Crossing", which, when you get past Peej's spoken word...
Published on 26 Jun 2001


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for all the family, 14 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
Dance Hall at Louse Point is probably the most underrated, misunderstood and little-heard item in the whole Polly Jean Harvey catalogue. Upon its low-key release it was overlooked by many Peej lovers who assumed it was merely a minor collaboration with some obscure bloke. I won’t pretend to be an expert on her less famous co-writer and co-producer here, John Parish, although I know he played on two of her own albums and has also produced records by Eels, Sparklehorse and Giant Sand. On this album he wrote and played all the music, she sang and wrote the lyrics. While it’s not a full PJ Harvey album per se, Dance Hall at Louse Point still constitutes some of her most daring, challenging and adventurous work to date.
The musical core of this collaboration is swampy, sweaty delta blues, but it also manages to incorporate elements of folk, goth, free jazz and lo-fi electronica into the mix. Twangy bottleneck guitars, twinkly atmospherics and creepy church organ are the order of the day. Parish’s stark, ambient soundscapes are the perfect foundation for PJ’s unique vocal experiments – she doesn’t simply sing these songs, she acts them out in full diva style. On tracks like City of No Sun, Urn With Dead Flowers in a Drained Pool or the extraordinary Taut, she howls in a screeching falsetto that’s scary enough to raise the dead; it’s at once painful and exhilarating to behold. Rope Bridge Crossing is my favourite song on the album – a hauntingly powerful, impassioned dream sequence where Harvey’s spoken-word poetry and vivid imagery meet their match in Parish’s drawling, stuttering guitar blues. That Was My Veil is a gorgeous, heartbreaking acoustic ballad without a trace of sentimentality. Civil War Correspondent is a hushed, mournful dirge of almost religious force; it rolls past like a stately funeral procession. Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil is a beautiful stream of dreamy, ambient reverb.
I fully agree with the scottmoose78. This one is a difficult listen that takes time to sink its claws in and bears numerous rewards for those who are patient enough. At first I didn’t quite know what to make of this project, but now I find it spellbinding. Don’t foolishly dismiss this album because it doesn’t meet your expectations on a first listen. It’s a hidden gem well worth exploring.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, startling and oddly beautiful, 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
Dance Hall at Louse Point is an excellent and often unfairly overlooked collaboration between the Dorset rock queen and her long-time collaborator John Parish. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this is late-night mood music of the highest order.

The lo-fi, stripped-down production and Parish's stark musical backing perfectly compliments some of Harvey's rawest vocals to date. Throughout the record she swings dramatically between different vocal registers, from angelic choirgirl falsetto to creepy whisper to shredded gut howls, as if she's role-playing different characters for each song. She sings every song on this album with a demonic, throat-clenching intensity that's almost frightening. City of No Sun and Taut are not for the faint-hearted!

Songs like Rope Bridge Crossing and Civil War Correspondent are poetic, dreamlike and chillingly beautiful. That Was My Veil is a break-up song of bitter sexual jealousy and bruised vulnerability. Heela mixes a spaghetti western vibe with bluesy Led Zeppelin swagger, and on this track Polly's shrieking, androgynous falsetto actually sounds like Robert Plant as she pleads with a voodoo healer to exorcise her body of an obsessive love; musically, Heela builds relentlessly towards a climax of subsonic bass shudders and layered slide guitar assault. Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil is a lingering dirge that crawls along at a turtle pace until the three-minute mark, when it stuns you with a reverb-drenched guitar break that is luminously beautiful, suddenly filling the record with blinding white light.

Dance Hall at Louse Point is not the most immediately listener-friendly work in PJ Harvey's back catalogue. To be frank, it took me at least four or five listens before I really fell in love with it, but it was well worth the effort. With this album, Harvey and Parish take us on an astounding journey into the musical heart of darkness. Take a chance on it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, nerve-shreddingly passionate blues at its very finest, 2 Jan 2002
By 
S. Lindgren - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
I give five stars without the slightest hesitation -however, if you're looking for an easy commercial album, I would suggest looking elsewhere, as neither Polly Jean, or her long-standing collaberator John Parish are noted for there interest in such musical fields, being more concerned with creating something artistically stimulating. Suffice to say, they have succeeded, with the interesting expedient of splitting the work entirely in half, Parish writing and performing the music, with Polly writing and performing the lyrics / vocals.
Dance Hall is a darkly fascinating folk / rock / blues production. At points mournful and introverted, the next moment ballistic with both music and Polly's voice hurtling like a banshee through the octaves, its raw, uncompromised feel sets it firmly apart from the mainstream. Apparently, it was intended to be the musical / auditory accompaniment to a coreographed visual production that never came off -a pity, as that would have been a highly interesting event.
Structurally, the album is raw, loose, and abstract thanks to Parish's (excellent) music, reminicent of early King Crimson in some of its more unusual textures and bass-lines, whilst Polly is at her best in providing some genuinly disturbing lyrics with her usual frightening intensity. Despite the apparant lack of structure, after the several listens neccessary to appreciate the twisted subtalties in music and lyrics, the tracks begin to gel and the listener is dragged into a convoluted labyrinth of dark dreams. This is a very deep album, born of artistic genius. Enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of her best!, 14 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
One of her best! A must buy! Get this album!
Raw, passionate, PJ Harvey at her best.. I love this album!
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4.0 out of 5 stars COULD OF BEEN BETTER., 25 Feb 2013
By 
A KERSHAW (Horsham, West sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
This is still a good album but no where near as good as the other album that polly did with john parish. But if you are a hardened p j harvey fan like me then you'd but it anyway.Still a very under estimated artist.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dance Hall at Louse Point, 27 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
There are 12 songs on this album. Of these there were 4 I particuarly liked. City of No Sun, That was my Veil, Civil War Correspondent and Taut. City of No Sun and That was my Veil were on the old but vital subject of a relationship that breaks down or threatens to. Of these That was my Veil was the more conventional but sung with good lyrics, tune and great passion it succedes. City of No Sun with its huge changes of pace and tone is more innovative. I did not like it the first time I heard it but on the third hearing I thought it was a very fine song.
The song Taut is a reminder that a relationship breaking up is not the worst thing that can happen to it. The lyrics and the performance of them are mad but strangely it made me very happy to listen to it.
Civil War Correspondence has a fairly self explanitory title but is beutifuly realised.
The other 8 songs are not so good. Perfectly respectable but they did not seriously move me. They include the only cover in the album Is That All There Is? a good cover but it adds little to Peggy Lee's definitive cover of this song with that singer's much stronger sense of life experience.
Girl sounds like part of a good song, while the title track 'of the album' is an instrumental.
In short this is a good album but not a great one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars PJ Harvey & John Parish Magic, 26 Sep 2010
By 
Mr. J. A. Reeks "JAR" (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
I've been listening to PJ Harvey since I bought the first Cd, Dry when it come out. Here is someone who is not scared to do different things. I am a big fan and find everything she does exciting, and I can't wait for what she's going to do next. Put John Parish in the mix doing the music as well and it's fantastic. Track one 'Girl' is like an introduction to John with PJ in the background (welcome to the CD) Track two 'Rope Bridge Crossing' is just great. Quite Bluesy. 'City Of No Sun' took me a while to get into, but your find with this Cd that the more you listen to it the better it gets. 'That Was My Veil' was the first song that I fell in love with.'Urn With Dead Flowers In A Drained Pool'is good. This track I can hear quite clearly John's influence. Track six 'Civil War Correspondent' is another song I fell in love with on the first listen. 'Taut' this one took a while to get into, but I absolutly love it now. 'Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil' Polly's voice is just great on this track and John's style of playing comes through.'Heela' this is a good driving song. Great bass line in it and John on vocals as well.'Is That All There Is?' My favorite track. Peggy Lee had a hit with this in the sixty's I think (don't quote me on that) Also a few other people have done it, but in my opinion this is the best version. 'Dance Hall At Louse Point' This instrumental took a while to get into, but again, it grows on you. 'Lost Fun Zone' another one that took a while.
This is the first John Parish & PJ Harvey CD the second one 'A Woman A Man Walked By is better, but if you want to go on a journey you've got to start at the beginning. PJ Harvey is Excellent but so is John Parish. After listening to this CD I had to find out more about him. They go back a long way which is probably why they work so well together. His CD's are worth checking out. For me, listening to his CD's and getting into his style made me listen to 'Dance Hall At louse Point with new ears. He is in my opinion underrated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MY FAVOURITE PJ HARVEY ALBUM, 30 Oct 2009
I REALLY LOVE THIS PJ HARVEY ALBUM.

It is quite distinctively 'different' from her others.

Worth buying for the track 'Taut' alone: showcasing Polly at her most 'DEMENTED' - FAB! But there's not a single track I dislike.

This album is kind of 'sparse' and 'barren' whilst at the same time managing to be 'comforting' & 'intimate'. If you're a Siousxie fan: it occupies a simillar place as 'Kaleidescope' does in her back-catalogue

Nearest PJ comparisons: NOT a 'belter' like either 'Stories from the City....' or 'Rid of Me' but more of a Left-Field version of either 'To Bring You My Love' or 'Is this Desire'.

An album I play in those 'slightly dark, reflective' moments & as such it fulfills a unique and treasured place in your record collection.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good album from P.J., 6 Mar 2003
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
This is quite good. Theatrically melodramatic, and themed with an almost comic-book darkness it stands up there with most of what Polly Jean has done. The inclusion of a cover version of the Leiber & Stoller classic "Is That All There Is?" should give an indication of what to expect. Interesting, entertaining and musical.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an overly arty album with some good moments, 26 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
the first thing you notice about this collaboration with multi-instrumentalist John Parish is the music's self-consciously difficult aspect, which gets irritating by about the fourth track. Parish is a versatile guitarist, however, and has some interesting ideas - check the first main song "Rope Bridge Crossing", which, when you get past Peej's spoken word poetry, is actually a good song. Also good is the stripped back folkiness of "That Was My Veil". She sings beautifully up against the acoustic track, but the song bizarrely descends into Mariah Carey-esque wailing, which Polly doesn't pull off. Songs like "Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil" take repeated listens to yield their considerable charms, while others "Urn with dead flowers..." are just lumpen, pretentious dirges. There are other good moments though. The twisted fairground of "Is That All There Is", and "Heela's" rolling bassline both hit the spot. "Taut" is interesting; squealing guitars, urgently whispered vocals and a chorus that wails 'Jeeeeesus save me'. When the clattering, random drums kick in and Peej urges 'Can I tell you something?' the track kind of makes you feel sick, which is impressive, but the track teeters between being genuinely scary and just ludicrous. The best song is "Civil War Correspndent" where Peej's voice builds from gentle entreaty to a gravelly intensity over a plaintive organ part and heartbeat drumbeat, becoming the album's most powerful moment. "Dance Hall at Louse Point" is both musically and lyrically more complex than Harveys solo work, which is ultimately the albums downfall, as this often translates into a lack of focus and an overt drive at pretentious experimentalism.
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