Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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I loved the music on PJ Harvey's Dry, but half the words seemed pretty stupid. You know how women are--the compelling stuff can also be hyperemotional, self-indulgent, all that. So I swore I wouldn't let her sneak shit past me next time. Only, well, you know how women are--I love the music on Rid of Me (Island) twice as much. I mean, she could be singing Adrienne Rich outtakes for all I care. This spectacularly unvirtuosic record is so raw and loud and intense and headlong that the guitar gods are making room for a goddess even as we listen.

And while I can't tell you exactly what the songs mean, I'll vouch for the tone, which ain't for milktoasts. This is a woman obsessed with male sexual power (fine, right?) until the man misuses it, at which point she wants it for herself (oops). A few lines out of context, where I found them: "You were going to be my life," "I'll make you lick my injuries," "Douse hair with gasoline," "Let me stroke it," "Bend over Casanova," "I'm 20 inches long."

I call that bracing. If you call it daunting, maybe you'd best avoid Shanté's The Bitch Is Back (Livin' Large) as well. Whether she's dissing other distaff rappers ("Suckin' dicks and turnin' tricks to get a quick fix/While I was puttin' dope hits in the mix") or putting a price on her pussy ("It's all about the gimme-gimme/You say you want to get with the slimmy but Joe your jimmy ain't goin' in me"), she proves herself the hardest of the hard. And she's got beats to match.

Fast Cuts: Kanda Bongo Man's Soukous in Central Park (Hannibal) is a propulsive introduction to the high-energy soukous of the man who modernized Africa's predominant dance style in the mid-80s. The Auteurs' New Wave (Caroline) is a tuneful introduction to post-postmodern cynicism, U.K. style.

Playboy, Apr. 1993

Mar. 1993 May 1993