Alternative rock fans may laud Steve Albini for his work on such classic records as Nirvana’s In Utero and the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa – but he’s yet to earn the same regard from Elvis Costello, who blamed the revered engineer for making PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me sound “like shit”.
Costello shared his thoughts with Pitchfork during a new interview, where he discussed music that influenced his life. Arriving on the topic of PJ Harvey, the guitar icon pulled no punches describing his dismay at Albini’s production of Rid Of Me.
“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 said. “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.”
He continued, “That guy [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 [Bruce Springsteen’s] Darkness On The Edge Of Town.”
In the same interview, Costello heaped praise on Harvey’s 4-Track Demos, which included eight demos from Rid Of Me, saying the former is “20 times the version of the songs on [Rid Of Me], in terms of intensity and intent.”
He added: “What matters is her, what PJ is doing. There’s nobody like her.”
This year, UMC/Island and Beggars announced a comprehensive vinyl reissue campaign for PJ Harvey’s entire discography.
Meanwhile, Elvis Costello’s 31st studio album Hey Clockface released on 30 October 2020. In a review, Guitar.com called the record “Reflective, explorative and at times absolutely inspired”.
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