Dry (album)

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Studio album by
Released30 March 1992
RecordedSeptember–December 1991
StudioThe Icehouse, Yeovil, United Kingdom
LabelToo Pure
PJ Harvey chronology
Rid of Me
Singles from Dry
  1. "Dress"
    Released: December 1991
  2. "Sheela-Na-Gig"
    Released: February 1992

Dry is the debut studio album by the band PJ Harvey, fronted by English singer-songwriter and musician PJ Harvey, released on Too Pure Records on 30 March 1992.[4] The album was recorded at The Icehouse, a local studio in Yeovil, United Kingdom. The first 5000 LPs and first 1000 CDs included demo versions of the album's tracks and Dry was subsequently released in the United States on Indigo Records in the US. Both versions were released in 1992. Dry was reissued on vinyl and CD in July 2020: an 11-track companion album collecting all of the demos titled Dry - Demos was also released on vinyl as a stand-alone record.


Speaking to Filter magazine in 2004, Harvey said of her debut album: "Dry is the first chance I ever had to make a record and I thought it would be my last. So, I put everything I had into it. It was a very extreme record. It was a great joy for me to be able to make it. I never thought I'd have that opportunity, so I felt like I had to get everything on it as well as I possibly could, because it was probably my only chance. It felt very extreme for that reason."


Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[6]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[7]
Los Angeles Times[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[12]
The Village VoiceA−[14]

Upon its release Dry received critical acclaim.[15] In a nine-out-of-ten review for NME, critic Andrew Collins called the album a collection of "clever, repetitive, low-slung guitar poems" and said "Polly dredges these sounds from the pit of her dissected soul and drags them out of her mouth with clenched fists."[9] Chicago Tribune reviewer Greg Kot referred to Dry as "jagged, lacerating and sexy in a disorienting sort of way" and likened the album to Broken English by Marianne Faithfull and Horses by Patti Smith; Kot awarded the album three-and-a-half-out-of-four stars, further stating "the best band out of the U.K. at the moment isn't another My Bloody Valentine guitar clone".[6] Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Billy Wyman described Dry as a "scorching portrait of the dark side of the female psyche" and an "uncompromising work of exhilarating, cauterizing beauty", awarding it an A+ rating.[7] Los Angeles Times reviewer Robert Hilburn gave Dry a three-and-a-half-out-of-four-star rating, writing that it "falls somewhere in between … an instant classic [and] a seductive calling card that signals the arrival of an extraordinary new artist."[8] Critic Robert Christgau In his Village Voice column described Dry as a "cloudy but essential feminist distinction between egoist bullroar and honest irrational outpouring", rating the album an A−.[14]

Retrospective reviews of Dry have also been largely positive. AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine summarised the album as "a forceful collection of brutally emotional songs, highlighted by Harvey's deft lyricism and startling voice, as well as her trio's muscular sound" in a four-and-a-half-out-of-five-star review.[5] Writing for Pitchfork, Laura Snapes said Dry "is a volcano and the scorched earth surrounding it, ripped with landsliding guitars, cowpunk mania, twisted blues, profound extremes, and power chords that hit like boulders dropped from on high."[10] The fourth edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide, published in 2004, awarded the album a three-and-a-half-out-of-five-star rating.[12]

Commercial performance[edit]

Dry peaked on the UK Albums Chart at number 11, remaining on the chart for a total of five weeks. A month prior to the album's release, its second single, "Sheela-Na-Gig", had peaked at number 69 on the UK Singles Chart.[16] Despite Dry's critical success in the United States the album did not chart on any mainstream or independent Billboard chart, however, "Sheela-Na-Gig" peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in September 1992.[17]

Dry was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry in March 2005 after shipments of 60,000 copies.[18] According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album had sold 176,000 copies in the US as of December 2005.[19]


In 1992 Dry was featured in several publications' year-end best-of lists. It placed at number 12 in Select's list of the best albums of the year,[20] number 18 in Spin's "20 Best Albums of 1992" list,[21] and was also featured in Q's "Recordings of the Year" feature.[22]

Dry has since been featured on several best-of-all-time lists. It was ranked number 70 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time" and number 151 on NME's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[23][24] Dry is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[25]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by PJ Harvey; all music is composed by Harvey, except where noted.

1."Oh My Lover" 3:57
2."O Stella" 2:36
3."Dress" 3:16
4."Victory" 3:16
5."Happy and Bleeding" 4:50
6."Sheela-Na-Gig" 3:11
7."Hair" 3:45
8."Joe"Harvey, Rob Ellis2:33
9."Plants and Rags"Harvey, Ellis4:09
10."Fountain" 3:52
11."Water" 4:32
Total length:39:54
1992 limited-edition Demonstration CD[26] bonus tracks
12."Oh My Lover" (Demo version, 1991) 2:30
13."O Stella" (Demo version, 1991) 3:16
14."Dress" (Demo version, 1991) 3:17
15."Victory" (Demo version, 1991) 4:19
16."Happy and Bleeding" (Demo version, 1991) 4:44
17."Sheela-Na-Gig" (Demo version, 1991) 3:15
18."Hair" (Demo version, 1991) 3:37
19."Joe" (Demo version, 1991)Harvey, Ellis3:16
20."Plants and Rags" (Demo version, 1991)Harvey, Ellis3:32
21."Fountain" (Demo version, 1991) 3:05
22."Water" (Demo version, 1991) 4:32
Total length:78:55


All personnel credits adapted from Dry's album notes.[27]

PJ Harvey Trio
Additional musicians
  • Ian Olliver – bass (3, 5)
  • Ben Groenevelt – double bass (3)
  • Mike Paine – guitar (9)
  • Chas Dickie – cello (9)
Technical personnel
Design personnel


Chart (1992) Peak
UK Albums (OCC)[28] 11
Chart (2001) Peak
French Albums (SNEP)[29] 149
Chart (2020) Peak
Norwegian Vinyl Albums (VG-lista)[30] 3


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Carew, Anthony. "Definitive Alternative Albums: PJ Harvey 'Dry'". About.com. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  2. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (24 April 2011). "PJ Harvey: 'I feel things deeply. I get angry, I shout at the TV, I feel sick'". The Observer. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  3. ^ "PJ Harvey". The New Yorker. 20 August 2001. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  4. ^ "PJ Harvey on 'Dry' run". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 5. 27 February 1992.
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Dry – PJ Harvey". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b Kot, Greg (3 September 1992). "P.J. Harvey: Dry (Indigo)". Chicago Tribune. tronc. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b Wyman, Bill (2 October 1992). "Dry". Entertainment Weekly. No. 138. Time. p. 59. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  8. ^ a b Hilburn, Robert (26 July 1992). "Pop Music: PJ Harvey, 'Dry' (Indigo)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  9. ^ a b Collins, Andrew (28 March 1992). "PJ Harvey – Dry (Too Pure)". NME. Time UK. Archived from the original on 12 October 2000. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b Snapes, Laura (14 August 2016). "PJ Harvey: Dry". Pitchfork. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  11. ^ Aston, Martin (June 1992). "PJ Harvey: Dry (Too Pure, PURE 10)". Q. No. 69. Bauer Media Group.
  12. ^ a b Hoard, Christian (2004). "PJ Harvey". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 368–69. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  13. ^ Perry, Andrew (June 1992). "PJ Harvey: Dry". Select. No. 24. Ascential. p. 72.
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (20 October 1992). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  15. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (3 April 2016). "PJ Harvey: a singular talent, she dances to her own tune | Profile | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  16. ^ "PJ Harvey | Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  17. ^ "PJ Harvey – Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2012. NB User must define search parameters either by entering "PJ Harvey" into Keywords, selecting "Artist" from Search by and clicking Search or by entering "Dry" into Keywords, selecting "Title" from Search by and clicking Search.
  19. ^ Caulfield, Keith (27 December 2005). "Ask Billboard: The Legend of Polly Jean". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  20. ^ "Planet 1992: What Happened and Where Were You?". Select. Ascential. January 1993.
  21. ^ Marks, Craig (31 December 1992). "PJ Harvey, Dry (Indigo/Island) – The 20 Best Albums of 1992". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  22. ^ "1992: Recordings of the Year". Q. Bauer Media Group. December 1992.
  23. ^ Staff writer(s) (22 March 2013). "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  24. ^ Staff writer(s) (25 October 2013). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 200-101". NME. Time UK. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  25. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (5th ed.). London: Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-8440-3714-8.
  26. ^ Dry and Demonstration (Album notes). PJ Harvey. Too Pure. 1992. PURECDD010.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  27. ^ Dry (Album notes). PJ Harvey. Too Pure. 1992. PURE 10.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  29. ^ "Lescharts.com – PJ Harvey – Dry". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  30. ^ "Vinyl 2020 uke 30" (in Norwegian). topplista.no. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  31. ^ "British album certifications – PJ Harvey – Dry". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 October 2021.

External links[edit]