Speaking in a new interview, Costello discussed seeing Harvey play the title track to her 1994 album, but then when he heard the final version of her second LP he wasn’t impressed.
“I remember seeing PJ on The Tonight Show. She stood there with just a guitar and did ‘Rid Of Me.’ It was like seeing Howlin’ Wolf on Shindig! So great,” Costello told Pitchfork. “And then I got the record, and it was nowhere near as good, but it didn’t matter. For me, the record sounds like shit.”
“That guy,” he continued — referring to the album’s producer Steve Albini — “doesn’t know anything about production. He might be the second-worst producer of a great record after Jimmy Iovine, who totally fucked up Darkness On The Edge Of Town. It sounds like Bruce [Springsteen] is in a fucking shoe box full of tissue paper.”
“And that’s why ‘4-Track Demos’ is 20 times the version of the songs on the album, in terms of intensity and intent,” Costello said, referring to Harvey’s demo album that arrived five months after ‘Rid Of Me’. “What matters is her, what PJ is doing. There’s nobody like her.”
PJ Harvey. CREDIT: Xavi Torrent/Redferns
The iconic 1979 album’s reissue arrived on November 6 and includes demos, B-sides and seven notebooks with new linear notes from Costello. As well as this, the boxset also includes handwritten lyrics, rare photos and nine pieces of vinyl.
The new boxset was preceded by the release of Costello’s new album, ‘Hey Clockface’, which was released on October 30.
While the rest of the songs on ‘Hey Clockface’ were recorded in Helsinki and Paris, ‘Newspaper Pane’ was written and produced in New York by composer/arranger Michael Leonhart, with the help of guitarist Bill Frisell, while Costello contributed his lyrics and vocals from a “westward hideout,” according to a press release.
Meanwhile, the David Lynch Foundation has announced details of a virtual benefit concert next month, featuring performances from the likes of Elvis Costello, Graham Nash, Sting and Kesha.