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Song of the Day: PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake”


PJ Harvey appeared on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show this morning for an interview and performance. Unexpected, to say the least, considering that Harvey doesn’t even have anything new out to promote – but more than welcome, nonetheless.

With her forthcoming new album already written and reportedly being recorded now for a planned late 2010 release, Harvey dropped in to perform one of the new songs, “Let England Shake,” which she debuted at a secret show at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms on July 24, 2009. It’s a weird, curious song in which Harvey crafts her own autoharp-driven melody around a repeated sample of the Four Lads’ “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).” It’s the kind of off-kilter, strange, leftfield song that Harvey throws at you that at first you’re not sure what to make of but slowly realise it’s pretty brilliant.

The other new song Harvey debuted last summer, “The Last Living Rose,” also indicates that the new album, which follows 2007’s spectral White Chalk and 2009’s collaboration with John Parish, A Woman A Man Walked By, promises to be yet another interesting new chapter in a career that, as it heads towards the 20-year mark, seems to be ensuring its ‘classic status’ legacy with each passing new release. Harvey is yet to put out a dud record. Quite possibly she never will.

Things to look out for in this performance: i) Gordon Brown and Andrew Marr huddled together round a screen to watch PJ Harvey perform. Surreal. and ii) Harvey puts up her hand to someone off-stage/off-camera to stop the Constantinople tape. I wonder whether any numbskulls will complain to the BBC about “lip syncing.”

And here’s the interview too

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