Back in the early days, during the promotion of the first couple of albums, whenever PJ Harvey took to the stage for a gig or made a rare live TV appearance her appearance wasn’t that far removed from a 20-something indie-student going to the local union. Hair swept back and held in place by an Alice band and everyday clothes such as baggy black jumpers, leggings or jeans, all rounded off with a pair of trainers or Doc Martens.

She was determined to let the music do the talking and image was secondary.

But that all changed dramatically during the recording of the LP To Bring You My Love which was released in February 1995. I don’t think I was alone in being gobsmacked when I first caught sight of the promo for the lead-off single.

Long flowing black hair. Bright red lipstick around a mouth that pouted at the camera. A ruby-red designer dress that showed a vamp with a gorgeous figure. High heels. Slinky dancing. PJ submerged underwater. A vision of absolute loveliness.

It really should have been a massive hit and deserved much more than the paltry #38 it achieved in the UK.

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Down By The Water

Over in the States, it was a different story – the single was massive on the US Modern Rock chart partly because the video, unsurprisingly, was on heavy rotation on MTV. It was clear that PJ Harvey had decided to play along with the game, and the image was every bit now as important as the songs.

Here’s your b-sides:-

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Lying In The Sun
mp3 : PJ Harvey – Somebody’s Down, Somebody’s Name

Oh and interesting to note that the sleeve of this single would probably get banned nowadays thanks to the cigarette in Polly Jean’s right hand. Strange how much some things have changed in the past 20 years.

6 thoughts on “WOW

  1. Saw her at Glastonbury that year. She was resplendent in a bright-pink catsuit, thick black eye makeup and bright-red lippy. She looked dead scary but absolutely amazing. I think the sound and mood of that album played a part in her image change though. It was less of a guitar album, more experimental – dirty, sexy and more than a little frightening.

  2. I well remember when Peel played her first record on BFBS and I thought “now, that’s really good, but no-one will take care, as usual!”. The next time I came to London there were posters of her all over the Tube … amazing!

  3. Gobsmacked is definitely the right word to describe my feelings about PJ’s amazing transformation, though I always thought she was beautiful. And any initial worries I had about her “selling out” after seeing her new look were quickly allayed by the quality of the material she was producing. Definitely one of the true greats.

    I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I fancy a cigarette!

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