Island - 2003 - 49 minutes

They were never meant to become this big. When Josh Homme gathered the friends and fuzz pedals for the first Desert Sessions in 1997, only the most devoted to his former band KYUSS were in on the secret. But since then Homme has given us Queens of the Stone Age, released two genius albums and found himself collaborating with the likes of Martina Topley-Bird and UNKLE.

So now the sessions are on a major label, attention is as big as if they were a full Queens' record and to crank their profile even higher, PJ Harvey is one of the co-conspirators. So much for a few days with a drum kit in the middle of nowhere.

In the past, Homme's use of these get togethers to riff test future material meant having to take the memorable and throwaway in the same spirit. But newcomers shouldn't worry too much - the presence of Harvey on '9 & 10' has made him and everybody else up their game.

Here, Homme's gift for being both sinister and catchy has the perfect foil in someone who can be anguished or sexy. On 'Dead in Love' she plays tenor sax as he plays Alice Cooper while on 'I Wanna Make it Wit Chu' they give you what could be described as QOTSA's dirty weekend with a Number One single.

And Harvey also gets to shine while all the others fade in behind. 'There Will Never Be a Better Time' was recorded by her and Masters of Reality frontman Chris Goss right after it was written. In the rush they've come up with something that could scream straight onto any of her albums. If you're still scared hours later, there's always her foxiness on 'A Girl Like Me' to make you purr.

Half the songs here are just too good for people to moan about if they do end up on the next Queens of the Stone Age record. Besides, it's not like you won't have worn these versions down by then, anyway. They may be democracy gone doolally but the Desert Sessions are such a great idea that every band should sign Homme and whoever he can rustle up as consultants. If Metallica took their advice, we might never have had to suffer 'St Anger'.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Dead in Love - I Wanna Make it Wit Chu - Covered in Punks Blood - There Will Never Be a Better Time - Crawl Home - I'm Here for Your Daughter - Powdered Wig Machine - In My Head... Or Something - Holey Dime - A Girl Like Me - Creosote - Subcutaneous Fat - Bring it Back Gentle - Shepherds Pie