John Peel Wiki

"Well, I don't know how important the Mercury Music Prize is, but I'm glad that PJ Harvey won it."
(John Peel, 18 September 2001)


Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, composer and occasional artist. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments including piano, organ, bass, saxophone, and most recently, the autoharp ... (read more at Wikipedia)

Links To Peel

It is now clear that Peel played PJ Harvey for the very first time on 15 September 1991 (and, as Harvey herself has confirmed, he was the first DJ to do so [1]). He opened the show of 28 September 1991 with the single Dress. He played it again on 29 September 1991, when he read out the press release. His enthusiasm for her sound was fired up at this time and remained at white heat for her entire career. John reviewed the single for Melody Maker[1], commenting on "the way Polly Jean seems crushed by the weight of her own songs and arrangements, as if the air is literally being sucked out of them...admirable if not always enjoyable." [2] It was later selected for the Peelenium 1991.

Harvey sent John her demo tapes "before anyone had heard what I was doing," and this led in the autumn of 1991 to her eagerly awaited first session. Peel later revealed that Harvey's first attempt at recording a debut session wasn't aired due to her disatisfaction with the results. A second session was arranged and this produced the debut proper. [3] The DJ and the artist became great friends, even sharing a mutual admiration for Captain Beefheart. He describes having lunch with her and being so nervous that he talked through the entire meal, resolving to keep quiet on the next such occasion. [4] Rough Trade in Germany described her as "England's newest goddess", a description that obviously resonated with John since he used it to describe her 12 years later. [5] It seems that she had a similar effect on him to Clare Grogan: he claimed one of her single covers threatened to make him faint, and his main memory of her live appearance at Cardiff Coal Exchange was the boots she was wearing.

Polly's 1996 session with John Parish (after a long gap when Peel tried unsuccessfully to get past her management and record her for the programme) was the first ever recorded at Peel Acres. Ken Garner notes that Peel and Harvey were nervous in each other's company due to their mutual reverence, and the interview sections were "halting". Nevertheless, "the interior intensity of the performance was arresting" and the claustrophobic setup produced an "astonishingly dense and ferocious" sound. (Garner, K., The Peel Sessions, BBC Books 2007, p.154.)

When Polly appeared on 'Keeping It Peel' on 16 December 2004, she dedicated her last song, You Come Through, to him.

Festive Fifty Entries

PJ Harvey is the fifth most successful act in the history of the Festive Fifty during Peel's lifetime, according to Mark Whitby in The Festive Fifty (Nevin Publishing, pg 151), using David Gedge's formula of one point for a 50th placing and 50 points for a chart-topper, additionally weighted to discount the effect of multiple entries of the same song in all-time lists. This puts her behind only New Order (4th), the Smiths (3rd), Wedding Present (2nd) and Fall (1st).

At the same time, she could be considered the unluckiest of all Festive Fifty artists, having reached #2 three times (including twice in consecutive years) without making number one (until the 2011 Festive Fifty placed 'Let England Shake' at the top).


PJ Harvey - Dress



PJ Harvey - Good Fortune

Good Fortune


Nine sessions. The first was later selected as one of the 125 Best Peel Sessions. The fourth was the first to be recorded at Peel Acres.

All of the first session and a variety of tracks from other ones are available on The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 (CD, Island, 2006). Session #1 was first released on Too Pure - The Peel Sessions (Various Artists, 10", Strange Fruit, 1992). 'Water' from #1 was also included on Radio Daze - The John Peel Sessions (Various Artists, cassette, Vox Magazine, 1992).

1. Recorded: 1991-10-29. First broadcast: 03 November 1991. Repeated: 29 December 1991, 12 September 2001

  • Oh My Lover / Victory / Sheela Na Gig / Water

2. Recorded: 1992-09-22. First broadcast: 23 October 1992. Repeated: 25 December 1992

  • Highway 61 Revisited / Me Jane / Ecstasy

3. Recorded: 1993-03-02. First broadcast: 12 March 1993. Repeated: 22 May 1993

  • Primed And Ticking / Claudine The Inflatable One / Wang Dang Doodle / Naked Cousin

4. Recorded: 1996-09-05 (Peel Acres). First broadcast: 21 September 1996. No repeats.

  • Taut / Snake / Losing Ground / That Was My Veil

5. Recorded: 1996-10-15 (live from Broadcasting House, Manchester). First broadcast: 15 October 1996. No repeats.

  • City Of No Sun / Un Carcia / Autour / Urn With Dead Flowers / Covil War Correspondent

6. Recorded: 1998-09-23 live: First broadcast: 23 September 1998. Repeated: 25 February 1999

  • The Garden / My Beautiful Leah / Catherine / Perfect Day Elise / Electric Light / Taut

7. Recorded: 2000-11-10. First Broadcast: 20 December 2000. Repeated: 16 August 2001

  • This Wicked Tongue / Somebody's Down Somebody's Name / Kamikaze / Beautiful Feeling / Nickle Under The Foot

8. Recorded: 2004-05-20 (live at Peel Acres). First broadcast: 20 May 2004. No repeats.

  • The Letter / Uh Huh Her / Cat On The Wall / Evol / Shame

9. Live from Maida Vale 3 as part of Keeping It Peel Night: 16 December 2004. No repeats.

  • Horses In My Dreams / Fountain / You Come Through.


01 May 1992: A happy John introduces a 'mystery guest', who turns out to be P. J. Harvey. She plays two tracks live. [2]

  1. Highway 61 Revisited
  2. Rid Of Me

01 April 1999: Peel 60th birthday gig with Echo & The Bunnymen, at the Improv Theatre, London, recorded same night

  1. Dry
  2. Man Size
  3. Legs
  4. Angelene
  5. C'Mon Billy
  6. Rid Of Me
  7. Teclo
  8. Send His Love
  9. 50Ft Queenie
  10. Oh My Lover

26 October 2000: Live from One Live at The Coal Exchange, Cardiff. Repeated 13 February 2001.

  1. This Wicked Tongue
  2. The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore
  3. Send His Love To Me
  4. Good Fortune
  5. A Place Called Home
  6. Hair
  7. One Line
  8. Mansize
  9. Big Exit
  10. Kamikaze
  11. This Is Love
  12. Dry
  13. Somebody's Down Somebody's Name
  14. This Mess We're In
  15. 30 Miles

06 September 2001: recorded live at Reading Festival

  1. The Sky Lit Up
  2. The Whores Hustle Hustlers Whore
  3. Good Fortune
  4. You Said Something
  5. This Wicked Tongue
  6. This Is Love
  7. Somebody's Down Somebody's Name
  8. Big Exit

29 June 2004: Live from Glastonbury

  1. Big Exit
  2. Harder
  3. The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore

Other Shows Played

The list below was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive and may be incomplete. Please add further details if known.

(JP: "It's a sad reflection on our times that the success of that will depend very much on what PJ Harvey looks like, even in 1991. If she looks suitably waif-like and in need of male protection, in the eyes of her beholders anyway, then it'll probably do very well. Either way, I have no idea what she looks like and I don't especially care, because I think it's a great record.")
(John is perplexed by Rough Trade Germany's description of Harvey as "Englands neue göttin," which translates as "England's new goddess.")
(JP: “At this very moment, according to my calculations, the woman of my dreams should be heading south from Norwich where she will have been seeing PJ Harvey in concert at the Waterfront: I wish I could have been there meself.”)
(JP: “Part of my contractual agreement with the BBC before doing these programmes was that I should be allowed to play every afternoon a record by PJ Harvey, and here's this afternoon's.”)
(JP: “It's time for our PJ Harvey slot and we thought we'd play safe by playing you the single again. This is 50 ft Queenie. The twang's the thang.”)
(JP: ‘This is PJ Harvey. You probably know this off by heart by now anyway. It’s probably number one in the charts. To be honest with you I should know but I don’t. This is from the 4-Tracks Demo album. One of the more bizarre performances on there. One of me favourites too.’)
(JP: "The women Sid Perks would have called, I’m afraid, Poll Doll, PJ Harvey.... and it would be nice if she would come into our studio and do a spot of hollering before she became so mega we lost sight of her altogether."’)
  • 05 March 1994 (BFBS): Wang Dang Doodle (12 inch – Man-Size) Island
  • 25 August 1996: Victory (LP: Dry) Too Pure
  • 07 September 1996 (with John Parish): Taut (album - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 08 September 1996 (with John Parish): Urn With Dead Flowers In A Drained Pool (album - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 14 September 1996 (with John Parish): Civil War Correspondent (album - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 15 September 1996 (with John Parish): Heela (CD - Dance Hall At Louse Point)' Island (JP: "She’s [Polly Harvey] gonna be at Peel Acres to do a programme next Saturday afternoon. [I’m] Putting garlic around the windows - just to be on the safe side. You take every precaution.")
  • 15 September 1996 (BFBS) (with John Parish): That Was My Veil (LP-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 15 September 1996 (BFBS) (with John Parish): Urn With Dead Flowers In A Drained Pool (Modena) (LP-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 15 September 1996 (BFBS) (with John Parish): Civil War Correspondent (LP-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 21 September 1996 (BFBS) (with John Parish): Heela (CD-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island (JP: "A considerable return to form, I think.")
  • 22 September 1996 (with John Parish): Is That All There Is? (LP - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 23 September 1996 (BBC World Service): (JP: "And I mentioned last week that Polly Harvey and John Parish had been down at my house recording one or two songs, versions of songs form their new LP, in order for them to be broadcast on my domestic programmes. And it was a wonderful sunny day and they sat in this very room playing and singing and myself and my family sat on the road outside - there's not an awful lot of traffic goes past - and as they were recording one or two kind of country things happened. A very large baler(?) went past, and I think probably turned up on the tape as well, and our dog Bernard was spectacularly and noisily sick on the road outside as well, and that could be on the tape too. It is certainly not on this track from the LP, though.")
    Heela (LP - Dance Hall at Louse Point) Island
  • 28 September 1996 (with John Parish): Rope Bridge Crossing (CD – Dance Hall At Louse Point ) Island Records
  • 05 October 1996 (with John Parish): The City Of No Sun (album - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 10 October 1996 (BFBS) (with John Parish): 'Rope Bridge Crossing (CD-Dance Hall At Louse Point)' (Island)
  • 14 October 1996 (with John Parish): That Was My Veil (album - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • November 1996 (FSK) (with John Parish): Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil (CD - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • November 1996 (FSK) (with John Parish): Is That All There Is? (CD - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 17 November 1996 (BBC World Service) (with John Parish): Urn With Dead Flowers In A Drained Pool (LP - Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island
  • 28 December 1996 (with John Parish): Taut (CD-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island FF#23
  • 28 December 1996 (with John Parish): That Was My Veil (CD-Dance Hall At Louse Point) Island FF#17
(JP: "Well, I don't know how important the Mercury Music Prize is, but I'm glad that PJ Harvey won it.")
(JP: “She remains a goddess of course.” He then plays 30 seconds of song again by mistake.)

See Also

External Links

  1. No edition of the Melody Maker featured Peel reviewing singles in late 1991, but he did review singles for the NME on 5th October 1991. This may be an example of referencing the wrong music newspaper by some writers and journalists.
  2. Since this was intended for Peel's programme and his listeners, it should properly be considered her second Peel session, although Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions omits any mention of it.