There are several things going on in the recently released The Peel Sessions (1991-2004) from PJ Harvey. The first of them is the most important.
Rarely do we get a release that centers on outtakes, radio sessions, or such interest unless bands are of a U2 status. The fact that we have such a disc in hand from a notable name not mainstream is fairly remarkable. It bodes that in the declining physical disc purchase market, that a return to such important artist-centric releases could help bolster the drop of sales. Additionally, it puts significant artist works into the hands of true fans, the collectors at large.
The second thing is the fact that it builds on the legend that is John Peel, an important BBC DJ that emphasized the artist in ways that many DJs never took the time to. Getting his notoriety with the Peels Sessions on BBC Radio with the likes of Pink Floyd, Lennon, and Bowie amongs hundreds of others, The Peel Sessions have shown an importance recognized the world over and for decades (read his biography courtesy of BBC Radio).
Thirdly, with the passing of John Peel and the possession of these tapes from PJ Harvey sessions, it becomes a tribute and a love letter to one of the most effectual DJ s in Rock’s storied history.
PJ Harvey is one of Rock’s most important old-school artists, the new Patti Smith of this generation. When you listen to PJ Harvey tunes, you get a genuine feel of periods long left to gather dust but that still seems to influence heavily. Pick up any Patti Smith album from the ‘70s and ‘early ‘80s, and then listen to a PJ Harvey album, and you’re stunned at the “joined at the spirit” karma of the two.
But if you really want to hear greatness, you need go no further than The Peel Sessions: 1991-2004. In this album you’ll hear a raw power that is only spoken of in hushed tones, as if speaking of greatness that is too fantastic for words. With 12 cuts from 5 session periods (1 of them a tribute; Peel died a little over a month before the final session on this album), the heat from this album may really be too intense. But one thing is for sure; there is not a miscue on any cut on this album.
This is a definitely a 5-star album for the sheer beauty of it. Do I need to say more? I encourage all labels to follow this Island Records lead and, once again, give the serious music fan the music that transcends and defines like this one does.