PJ Harvey

Strychnine Ballroom: Live at Louse Point

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Compared to the shelf-stacking overkill of her conventional tours, PJ Harvey's low-key emergence alongside bandmate/guitarist John Parish understandably provoked a mere handful of collectible titles; after all, the duo performed a mere handful of shows to promote it. Rather, the whole Louse Point project appears simply to have been a way of letting off steam, which means that regardless of Polly's then-future plans, what you hear here is all you're gonna get. Reverting PJ to the Patti Smith prototype her early work suggested she had sprung from, the bulk of this disc recaptures the sometimes taut, and often surprising, highs and lows of the original Louse Point album. The live setting (LA2 in London) and the occasionally gruff sound do add a touch more immediacy, but there are few genuine shocks in store. Rather, Harvey and Parish stick rigidly to the studio blueprint, deviating from the original track order just once, dropping three songs and bringing in only one non-album cut, the insistent "You Bet I Got Trouble." Bonus material, taken from two of Harvey's own To Bring You My Love-era U.K. TV/radio performances, needs no introduction; it has appeared on several other releases, both official and otherwise, and anyone who cares enough about PJ to hunt this title down will probably already have all six tracks elsewhere. Its inclusion is a nice gesture, but ultimately, a meaningless one. Rather like Louse Point itself.

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