6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly rewarding biography,
By A Customer
This review is from: PJ Harvey: Siren Rising (Hardcover)Having been a PJ Harvey fan for over a decade now, I was pleasantly surprised to learn plenty from this book. Contrary to what some would have you believe, there is a good smattering of first-hand interview and review material in here, notably Paul Cox’s fascinating recollections of Harvey’s signing and Too Pure period – the first time he has spoken so extensively on Harvey to my knowledge – as well as her former art tutor’s memories of her days at Yeovil. These were new to me, as were the excerpts from exhibition catalogues and the first published photographs of Polly’s sculptures (of which we hear so much but have seen so little).
True, much of Blandford’s material is gleaned from previously published interviews, but this is a mandatory path for any unauthorised biographer and I agree with Uncut’s summation of Siren Rising as a “superior and meticulous” work of that genre – there seems barely a review or interview he has missed since she first grabbed a guitar.
It is patently ridiculous to question whether or not Blandford has listened to Harvey’s music – his love of her work practically bleeds from the pages and I can’t be the only one who remembers his interesting study of her bootlegs in Record Collector years ago. The book also references the author’s interviews with Placebo, Tori Amos and Marilyn Manson to name a few, so to blindly deny the author’s ‘alternative’ music credentials hardly seems like the constructs of a decent piece of criticism (many enjoy commenting on the fact he once wrote about Britney Spears, but we all have to pay the bills so I guess that’s much like saying that a doctor who once treated a verucca can’t treat cancer, ie just plain stupid).
Sometimes as a reviewer it’s too easy to look for obvious flaws and dwell on those, but it’s lamentable that blinkered bandwaggoning should overlook the hard work that obviously went into this book It’s not the rich insight we might expect to hear from the lady herself, but I’m amazed that people would expect that from this unashamedly unauthorised work. What we have here is a fine balance of new research, archive interview compilation and appreciation. Take it for what it is and you won’t be disappointed. You might even learn something new . . .