PJ Harvey Bonus! Mentors & Muses

 

Over the years, PJ
Harvey has had a host of gifted collaborators, literally and spiritually. Here
are a few. (Read also: our interview with Harvey.)
– Fred Mills, editor

 

 

Rob Ellis

As drummer, backing vocalist and string arranger on Harvey’s first two albums,
Ellis was a key component of her early sound. Since then they’ve intersected
frequently, including Harvey
guesting in ’96 on Ellis’ debut release under the Spleen name and he appearing
on several of her records. Ellis has a knack for the distaff: most recently he
produced stellar albums by Dot Allison and Anna Calvi.

 

 

John Parish

Since 1995, the producer/multiinstrumentalist has been a Harvey mainstay both live
and on album, including the new Let
England Shake
; the duo also has two jointly-credited records, 1996’s Dance Hall at Louse Point and 2009’s A Woman a Man Walked By. He’s got three
solo releases, while his list of scoring, production and collaboration credits
is extensive. Among them is…

 

 

Howe Gelb

…and Gelb’s Arizona
band Giant Sand. The Parish connection led to an introduction at a 2001 U2
concert (Harvey was the opening act), and upon accepting an invitation for a
brief desert vacation she not only wound up on 2002 GS album Cover Magazine, she also was the
surprise guest at a show, leaving gig-goers (yours truly included) gobsmacked
as Gelb and Harvey’s blitzed through X punk classic “Johny Hit and Run Paulene.”

 

 

Nick Cave

He’s not the only Bad Seed in her life; Mick Harvey has
appeared on various albums since 1995’s To
Bring You My Love
. But Cave was Harvey’s
paramour in the mid ‘90s, and she also made a star turn on Bad Seeds classic Murder Ballads. No word on whether the
romance and break-up directly inspired any subsequent PJH releases, but her
ghost is all over Cave’s 1997 release The
Boatman’s Call
.

 

Captain Beefheart (pictured at top)

Trainspotter alert: references both overt and veiled to
the late Don Van Vliet may be found on Harvey
albums, in the sonics, lyrics and even album titles (there’s an ‘85 DVV
painting named Woman and a Dog Walked By).
In interviews she’s never been shy about her admiration for him, and it’s known
that the two corresponded and spoke on the phone, Beefheart reportedly offering
feedback on her songs.

 

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