PJ Harvey’s Cover of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” Is Even Spookier Than the Original
It takes a special kind of artist who can take the work of a musician as inimitable as Nick Cave and make it their own. If there’s anyone who is up to that task, it’s the illustrious PJ Harvey, who deconstructed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” for the Peaky Blinders soundtrack.
“Red Right Hand,” from the 1994 album Let Love In, might be Cave’s most recognizable song, thanks in part to its use in as the opening theme song for the 1920s British organized crime drama. The title is a reference to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Cave’s baritone drives the song’s ominous tone.
Leave it to Cave’s onetime collaborator and former love Polly Jean to record a spookier version of the track, with the help of U2 producer Flood. Harvey’s sparse interpretation of the song is buoyed by her signature rasp and a bare yet haunting piano arrangement. It’s no small feat to take a work by a guy who looks and sounds like a vampire and somehow ratchet up the dread. Harvey’s cover appeared in Peaky Blinders during Season 2, but is just now getting a proper release. Peaky Blinders’ fifth season dropped on Netflix on October 4.
Harvey’s cover is included on the Peaky Blinders Soundtrack, a double CD and triple vinyl collection, which drops on November 15. Other artists on the soundtrack include Iggy Pop, Laura Marling, and Radiohead.
“You just know when a song is Peaky,” series lead Cillian Murphy told NME. “The artists are outsiders. They have resisted the tyranny of the mainstream, shall we say?”