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4.7 out of 5 stars
Dry
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2004
Upon its release in spring 1992, Dry was hailed as one of rock’s most stunning debut albums by the press, and 12 years later it still sounds as striking and relevant as ever. Music like this will never date, fade or grow old. It will always sound this vital, powerful and alive. Independently recorded in her native Yeovil on a shoestring budget of £5000, and issued on the underground label Too Pure, it introduced a puzzled rock scene to its most exciting newcomer in many years.
From the bruised, abraded guitar tones and exasperated sigh of opener Oh My Lover, this record is a jarringly fresh and immediate listening experience. The single Sheela Na Gig is a stone-cold classic and remains an audience live favourite to this day; its Carrie-inspired refrain of “He said wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean/He said please take your dirty pillows away from me” still manages to shock with its directness. The lyrics are ugly/beautiful poetry of the highest order – check out lines like “Petals green cover me in all my shame” in Fountain, and hear Polly Jean sing them like her life depends on it. It closes with the Biblical baptism/drowning epiphany of Water - a big, bluesy, stomping rocker powered by chunky buzzsaw guitar and chugging double bass.
If I had one minor criticism, it would be that the mastering and lo-fi sound mix of Dry is a bit too quiet for my liking. You need to blast the volume way up for full enjoyment of this one. But that problem can be very easily sorted. And besides, the raw bedroom production adds to the spirit of the record. Forget about rubbish like Linkin Park and get a load of this instead.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2001
Polly Jean Harvey and her band had the musicall press in awe with this stunning debut and it is easy to see why; raw-nerve vocals, abrasive harmonies and uncompormised song structures present you with 11 pure, unglossy masterpieces. It has kind of a bluesy early alt-rock feel so may take a while to get used to if you are not used to that kind of music.
Pj's songs are snappy and variable in structure. The cd opens with the a loving wail of "oh my lover, don't you know it's all right, you can love her, you can love me at the same time" and includes quite a few classic lines.
In short its the kind of music you'd expect if Bob Dylan had a sex change, listened to a Pixie's record and then picked up a guitar.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2000
Sometimes you come across an album which makes you reconsider your whole view of the music scene, and this is the one that did it for me. Polly Harvey's lyrics are deeply personal and dramatically intense - lines such as "Ease myself into a body bag" suggest that perhaps PJ isn't an entirely happy bunny. But then, neither is she depressed within these songs to a degree that the album becomes oppressing.
In a world where 'experimental' becomes unlistenable, PJ Harvey takes it in her stride. Screeching violins which manage not to be unbearable, faux-naïf lyrics such as "I dreamt of a man / He fed me fine food / He gave me shiny things", and of course her vocals themselves. How can you fail to be taken in by this near perfect album, which successfully paved the way for further masterpieces such as "To bring you my love" and "Is this desire?"? This album converted me to the genius of PJ Harvey, and I implore you to order it RIGHT NOW so your life can be a bit more sinister, and amazingly also that little bit brighter.
Stand out tracks : Sheela-Na-Gig (Passionate and Rhythmical) and Plants and Rags (wailing violins that still manage to be tuneful? How do she do it?)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
P J Harvey is mainly known for her Mercury Music Prize winning album "Stories From The City, Stories from The Sea" but "Dry", her debut, is for this reviewer the best thing she has ever done. On its release the nascent Harvey was perceived as some kind of seer, her sexual ambiguity and mixture of scabrous rock and gender politics led to her being dubbed the "Indie Madonna". While quite prepared to utilise her sexuality (Debate has raged whether the photo of her on this album naked in the bath was mere titillation) she has never been as explicit as Madonna, indeed who has? , and has maintained some of her mystique. Are we really, nearly 15 years down the line, any wiser about her? Mind you , there is an image that would get people talking.
Spurious connections aside "Dry "is a remarkable debut. It lives up to its title in so much that it's an arid sounding album. Guitars chaff against each other like hessian on a cheese grater. It's like the recording studio had been filled with a dozen de-humidifiers, sucking the moisture out of the air. The songs crackle with tension and urgency so tracks like "Victory"; "O My Lover" "Happy And Bleeding" are alive with a tangible dramatic frisson. Emotionally it's raw, red of claw and tooth. The superb "Dress" connects with a character in turmoil, and is performed in a real hurry, almost as if the band can't get it out quickly enough. "Joe" approximates thrash metal while "Sheela Na Gig" is the nearest to pop / with it's rallying sing-a-long "You exhibitionist "chorus. Cello's screech with more innervated abrasion on "Pants And Rags".
To record an album "Dry" in the technical sense means to do so without adornments , reverb effects etc, and that is maybe where the albums title comes from as it's produced with an uncomfortable harsh in your face quality. Or it could be a reference to some thing all together more intimate which would be more in keeping with the album thematically.
P J Harvey has gone on to become artistically venerated, and rightly so, but for me this is her finest album, closely followed by "Rid of Me". While you could argue, probably quite convincingly, that musically she has progressed and that her persona has become more sophisticated "Dry "carries more of an emotional punch. Its coarse dynamics and seething undercurrent of anger and frustration make it her most honest work.....in all probability. As is so often the case an artist's debut leaves the subsequent catalogue, in terms of quality and impact high and .....you guessed it, dry!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes an album of great rock songs is all you want from an album and this is what Dry is. Every song on here is a memorable, exciting, raw and intense voyage into Polly's throbbing young heart - and if you've picked up on her as a result of her last few albums, you may be surprised by the youthful voice on this record. I think it's still her best album 12 years after its release and is probably the best place to start a collection of her music.
In terms of the sound quality, this is a record that could really do with the old ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED treatment - I find that I have to play it a few notches louder than all my other CDs, which must be blamed surely on the mastering process. So come on EMI - get Polly's debut remastered tout suite! Even if it does mean paying an extra fiver - upon its release of course, this version'll be available for a pittance, so you can snap it up then without stretching the purse strings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2010
After cutting her teeth touring Europe with friend John Parish's band Automatic Dlamini in the late '80s and early '90s, Polly Jean Harvey struck out on her own in 1991 and what became her debut album, 'Dry,' came together pretty quickly. Playing their first gig together in April of that year, Harvey (guitar), Rob Ellis (drums), and Steve Vaughan (bass) were soon signed to Too Pure and debut single "Dress" was released in October.

Dorset-born Harvey grew up on a rural sheep farm and listened to her parents' record collection, including Dylan, Howlin' Wolf, and big influence Captain Beefheart, and the growling, rasping blues riffs are all over 'Dry,' which was recorded on a small budget in the autumn and winter of 1991 in Yeovil, Somerset. Owing to the low budget and lo-fi approach, the sound quality on the album is not stellar but it lends it its own raw, ramshackle charm. It bristles with energy and is alive with raw blues-rock power.

One thing that makes the record so unique is the fact that Harvey's influences are often American but her music is positively English, with her simple vocal delivery and intriguing lyrical concerns. She doesn't shy away from singing about some unusual topics, and appropriates Biblical imagery in the tradition of the blues greats. Of all her records, 'Dry' has a simple, rustic sort of charm, perhaps because here, at 22, Harvey still sounds so young. The arrangements and production are basic, but they convey the mood of the material perfectly.

"Oh My Lover" is a stodgy, mid-tempo opener before the pace ratchets up with the spiky "O Stella" and portentous, superb lead single "Dress." The album's other single, "Sheela-Na-Gig," is similarly energetic and alive, but Harvey also shows how deft she can be on "Happy and Bleeding," which shows more of her writing finesse, and the violin-accented "Plants and Rags." Harvey continues to play much of the material in concert, including the anthemic power chord rock of "Victory" and the unorthodox one-two punch of "Fountain" and "Water," which look ahead to some of Harvey's writing developments over the next few years.

As far as writing and performances are concerned, 'Dry' isn't quite on the same level as some of Harvey's later records, but no other PJ Harvey record has the same simple charm. It's lo-fi, it's raw, but it's sparky and powerful and wonderfully alive. She would cement the intensity on her next album, Rid Of Me, but this debut announced the arrival of an exciting new talent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2004
I wish I'd had this album earlier. Catchy, rhythmic, & beautiful all at once. How can you not want to jump around your room like a crazy person to 'Dress', or sing soulfully to 'Plants and Rags'? A definite all-time favourite album.
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on 23 October 2008
Polly Jean Harvey rocks and rocks some more. We all know this. It's a universal fact. Dry is a testament to how much, how hard she does this. It's short, brief but powerful. Her voice, beautiful but crazed, is the sound of feminine protest. But these songs are not one dimensional angry anthems. These are songs of crushing desire, red hot burning truth and exquisite despair. Listen to PJ, straining, crawling through sadness in "Plants and Rags". Listen to her triumphant in "Sheela Na Gig". Listen to her roar in Dry.
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on 7 June 2008
I have a few of pjs albums now and this has to be my favourite 40 mins of grungy like music. One of the few albums i own where i can listen to all the way threw, unlike some of pjs other albums where i'm skipping threw some tracks.
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on 15 April 2013
one of the classics that i listened to over and over.up tempo and low , highs and lows, this is my second copy.moody but strong this album has genius written all over it.
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