Monday, March 08, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: PJ Harvey doing "50ft Queenie" (SOME OFFENSIVITY)

I like PJ Harvey, but she sometimes sounds stifled--by her devotion to the blues, by her own exquisite longings, by the sense that she's trying to live up to someone else's sound. Too many slow songs; too much atmospheric "building".

Not this song, though--this is pure untrammeled cocksmanship. Loose, funny, rocks like a force ten hurricane and lands a bunch of good lines. It's as irreducible and absurd as anything by Dylan or Howlin' Wolf (who she covered in '93) or Beefheart (who she interpolated in '95)--certainly more so than "Down By the Water," or the rest of her interminable "bluesy" album To Bring You My Love. (Except "Meet Ze Monsta"--that one's pretty cool.)

Best of all is her voice--Ms. Harvey's got one of those voices that can do about six different things, and each thing sounds better than the last. This song features her aggressive rockin' voice, with some desperate squeaking on top. (Not sure who's doing the squeaking in this video; I actually heard this song today on her 4-Track Demos album, where it's all her.) Her delivery of the line "Hey, I'm the kingoftheWORLD!" falls at some sweet spot in her range that's endlessly listenable.

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