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Kate Bush
Albums

  • The Kick Inside
  • Lionheart
  • Never For Ever
  • The Dreaming
  • Hounds Of Love
  • The Sensual World
  • The Red Shoes








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Kate Bush

    Related Artists - Tori Amos, Ray Davies, Rosabella Gregory
    Related Genres - Rock

    The Kick Inside 7 ( 1978 )
    Moving / The Saxophone Song / Strange Phenomena / Kite / The Man With The Child In His Eyes / Wuthering Heights / James And The Cold Gun / Feel It / Oh To Be In Love / L'Amour Looks Something Like You / Them Heavy People / Room For The Life / The Kick Inside

    She'd been writing songs since she was eleven, or thereabouts. A series of fortuous events would see her linking up with the mighty EMI records. Through her family contacts Dave Gilmour had heard one of her primitively recorded demo tapes, her voice wailing over a cheap piano. Initial attempts at getting record company interest were disappointing and only after a properly recorded and produced demo-tape found its way into the EMI offices would a deal get struck. She was given an advance and a lot of time and freedom to find herself creatively. She was adamant that 'Wuthering Heights' should be the first single, at odds with her record label choice. With hindsight, it seems impossible to believe anybody would have chosen 'James And The Cold Gun', not even one of the stronger album tracks. It was all a sign that her label knew Kate was different yet didn't quite know what to do with her. Of course, the undulating, dramatic 'Wuthering Heights' would hit the heights, reaching the top in numerous European countries. The choice of 'Man With The Child In His Eyes' as 2nd single was another smart move by Kate, demonstrating a serious, mature side to herself and quickly dispelling any doubts she was one hit wonder material.

    The album opens straightforwardly enough with 'Moving', a song dedicated to her dance/mime teacher of the time. Her voice swoops and weaves within the melody and is already characteristic of her and nobody else. I can easily see why this voice might be difficult for some, yet there is beauty within to dig for, usually when she reaches down for the lower notes. As her voice matured in later years, her vocals would arguably prove more resonant than they do here. Her vocals are strange things of course, moving operatically at times, approaching a jazz singer at other times and over music which isn't exactly your standard pop/rock fare. The music has touches of progressive rock but really, it has a Steely Dan styled jazzy sophistication. The production is a touch too polite, actually. Some raw, organic sounds would have been welcome alongside the full band performances, perhaps why I enjoy the closing title track, a piano ballad highlight of side two. This is an album full of subtle, clever melodies alongside 'James And The Cold Gun', which approaches a rock song and not a very good one, at that. As a Kate Bush fan, you'll have your own favourites from this record. It's an album loved by many and still considered her finest by some. She was only 19 when the album was released and still had some artistic growth to go through. This is a set of fine songs and polished performances however the singles remain the most memorable tunes here, alongside perhaps the opening and closing tracks.

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    Lionheart( 1978 )
    Symphony in Blue / In Search of Peter Pan / Wow / Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake / Oh England My Lionheart / Fullhouse / In the Warm Room / Kashka From Baghdad / Coffee Homeground / Hammer Horror

    The commonly accepted story is that 'Lionheart' was rush-released and contained left-over songs from her debut. The truth is somewhat different. Kate had enough songs to warrant a sequel, but also wrote a handful of new tunes as well. True, the record company wanted another album, but the recording sessions were professional and fruitful. In short, the album certainly doesn't sound rushed. Kate herself has been somewhat down on 'Lionheart' in the press, believing it her worst album. Well, sorry Kate, but I disagree. The only way the debut scores over 'Lionheart' for example, is the two main singles. 'Lionheart' contains nothing to approach either 'Wuthering Heights' nor 'Man With The Child In His Eyes', although 'Wow' certainly comes close. 'Lionheart' is the more consistent listen, however, perhaps because of that factor. Less is sometimes more. The sound is also more pleasing to me, where the debut seemed ever so slightly over-produced, 'Lionheart' is merely the sound of a band in a recording studio. Whilst this results in performances apparently more simple, it also thrusts the piano playing of Kate herself more center-stage. All in all, 'Lionheart' can be seen to be a positive step in the right direction. The first three songs on the album are arguably the best three songs here and they form a super-strong beginning that certainly, 'The Kick Inside' struggles to match. 'Wow' was the first single and it stands alongside almost anything she's done. Whilst the verses were probably not commercial enough to propel the song towards the top of the charts, the switch into the chorus is pure gold. Her voice is tremendous throughout the track. 'Symphony In Blue' places all sorts of colors and sounds into a listeners mind whilst 'In Search Of Peter Pan' is as magical and fairytale as the tale it tells. Sigh.

    'Hammer Horror' was the second single from this album and failed to breach the top forty. Well, it's a fine tune but again, not quite commercial enough, so any commercial failure should be seen in relation to the disco and pap that was clogging up the charts in 1978 and not as a barometer of quality. The near-title track is a lovely, beautiful piano ballad of the finest quality. The rocky 'Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake' should prove, when taken with 'James And The Cold Gun' that Kate Bush can't rock. 'In the Warm Room' and 'Kashka From Baghdad' are both quality tunes full of vocal and instrumental beauty, the actual songs themselves containing twists and turns, both are songs to live in for a good while. 'Lionheart' for my money is actually a more instant album than 'The Kick Inside', although others may see it the other way round, confusingly enough. The advice stays the same, as for any Kate Bush album. Go into the record with an open mind and a heart full of intelligence. Peserverance rewards the dedicated.

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    Never For Ever 8 ( 1980 )
    Babooshka / Delius (Song Of Summer) / Blow Away (For Bill) / All We Ever Look For / Egypt / The Wedding List / Violin / The Infant Kiss / Night Scented Stock / Army Dreamers / Breathing

    We have hints of a greater maturity in her vocals. The lyrics take on a decidedly darker tone in many places and she starts experimenting with sound. The huge hit single 'Babooshka' has great wordplay, a pseudonym, to fool him as it tells a story of a woman whoose husband doesn't pay her attention any more so she disguises herself as a young thing to see what happens. 'The Wedding List' tells the story of a massacre at a wedding. I don't want to get hung up on the lyrics though. There are plenty of musical and vocal delights on their own to keep you interested. Three singles released from 'Never For Ever', a number one album in the UK. 'Breathing' was released a few months before the album and reached the top twenty. Tells the story of a baby trying to breathe in her mothers womb in the wake of a nuclear fallout. Certainly not an obvious choice to be a single release, it is nonetheless, an accomplished ballad with striking lyrics. 'Babooshka' made the top five in the UK and proved once and for all that 'Wuthering Heights' wasn't a one-off. Delightful wordplay, a daft, catchy and memorable chorus and a classic was born. It's such a strange, eccentric little tune yet so distinctive it's no surprise it became such a big hit, even reaching number one in Australia. 'Army Dreamers' became a third consecutive top twenty hit during an age when such things mattered. The story of a 20 year old dreaming of becoming a father. Gets killed in a war so it never happens. A subtle tune to have been released as a single, the soft crooning Kate employs leading into the chorus makes it memorable anyway.

    'Delius' is the first sign of Kate experimenting. Words suddenly more important for their sound than their literal meaning. She's painting imagery now and 'Delius' is much more than Kate and her piano, aka the first two albums. We've a steady, programmed pulse and Kate wailing beautifully away amid pretty musical patterns. Elsewhere, 'Violin' is a bit of a shocker, being the closest Kate would ever come to being punk rock. 'Blow Away (For Bill)' is a lovely ballad in the style of her first two LPs. 'Egypt' is a further standout, although definitely a strange construction. It builds up sounding almost mystical, even more so with the strange chanting towards the end. Beautiful instrumentation though, on this track in particular. 'Never For Ever' does still have one or two moments where the affair threatens to slip into the murky waters marked 'bland' and 'mediocre', yet stays above the surface as a genuinely interesting song is always right around the corner. Arguably the peak of her early period, she'd change dramatically next time around.

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    The Dreaming 8 ( 1982 )
    Sat In Your Lap / There Goes A Tenner / Pull Out The Pin / Suspended In Gaffa / Leave It Open / The Dreaming / Night Of The Swallow / All The Love / Houdini / Get Out Of My House

    The first album wholly produced by Kate herself, suitably inspired by the work of Peter Gabriel. 'The Dreaming' is an album of storytelling and drama, best played loud. Kate fought for her artistic freedom, remember? So, for Kate herself to respond to this albums mixed critical and commercial reception with a dismissive 'it's my mad album', is disappointing. As if we should have all been listening to ABC and Duran Duran and been happy with our lot all along. No, 'The Dreaming' is an ambitious, experimental album full of accessible, literate lyrics and music that would be happier in a arty dance cum musical cum opera, rather than a pop album.

    The title track was released as a single and unsurprisingly flopped. Mixed instrumentation for this song includes Didgeridoo and no piano or bass. The music does indeed have an aboriginal feel and is reportedly about the plight of the Australian aborigines. It's nearly five minutes long and lacks any obvious hook or melody. Single material? Probably not. Perhaps a noble attempt at attracting attention for something or other, who knows? 'Night Of The Swallow' is an interesting track where Kate's voice takes on a dialogue between a husband and wife, presumably. With a hired plane, and no names mentioned. Tonight's the night of the flight. Before you know, I'll be over the water like a swallow. There's no risk. I'll whisk them up in no moonlight. And though pigs can fly, They'll never find me posing as the night, and I'm home before the morning. responded to by If you go, I'll let the law know, And they'll head you off when you touch the ground. Ooh, please, don't go through with this. I don't like the sound of it. These lyrics make up the chorus and a celtic reel accompanies them alongside booming drums.

    'Sat In Your Lap' remains my personal favourite track from the album. Kate has about four different vocals styles just in the one song, sings her own backing vocals as the programmed drums go loud and beserk and urgent. She's racing to get to end of this tale of knowledge and intellect. Nearly as good is 'There Goes A Tenner'. More vocals styles, including cockney, implausibly. A tale of adventure and botched robbery and one of the best marriages of music, lyrics and vocals the album delivers. 'Pull Out The Pin' tells us Who need radar? We use scent. They stink of the west, stink of sweat. Stink of cologne and baccy, and all their Yankee hash . That's cleared that up then. Fairly straightforward, clever poetic tale, again, full of drama and vivid picturesque imagination. Adore the I AM ALIVE! parts repeated throughout. Scares the willies out of me. Another excellent track.

    I do feel the album tales off towards the end. Not perfect, but this is simply the sound of Kate attempting to stride forwards. When she succeeds, as with songs such as 'Pull Out The Pin' or 'Sat In Your Lap', she succeeds spectacularly, yet there is the sense the music and melody aren't the point of the album. Maybe though, it needed something to balance out the violence and the wandering intellect? Ten different tales and almost too much is crammed in. Still, this remains a fascinating, enjoyable listen, despite the flaws. Because of the flaws? It's hard to pin down, exactly.

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    Readers Comments

    David Johnstone
    A masterpiece, 'The Dreaming' is indeed a little bit mad and is super-melodic in the extreme from first note to last. Yes,it takes a few spins and will likely leave 99% cold for that reason alone. But for those with a bit of stickability those used to veering slightly to the left or maybe a little to the right there will be no problem appreciating it. Birds coo. Donkeys bray. Tempos shift. Squeals and shouts. The last song 'Get Out Of My House' is based around the film and book 'The Shining' and is spot on in recreating that mood. It is so different from 'Wuthering Heights' and even more biting than the enjoyable 'The Wedding List' (Bride is Back/Kill Bill) from the previous record. Many of her tracks have specific inspirations and it helps to have a bit of lyrical orientation as her music frequently has a delicious dizzying effect. br>
    Lee Auty Bolton
    I really dig this early album. Even though some of the instrumentals seem to have dated , the album displays a mad but genuinely gifted artist at work. Its just sad that the "Hounds of love" album has not got a review here because it never ceases to blow me away in all the twenty plus years ive been listening to it.

    LouLou Vienna
    Sorry to nit-pick, but in 'Pull Out The Pin' she sings 'I LOVE LIFE' (not 'I'M ALIVE'.Apart from that, a good review of an album which I never tire of listening to, despite its 'strangeness'.


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    Hounds Of Love 9 ( 1985 )
    Running up That Hill (A Deal With God) / Hounds of Love / The Big Sky / Mother Stands for Comfort / Cloudbusting / And Dream of Sheep / Under Ice / Waking the Witch / Watching You Without Me / Jig of Life / Hello Earth / The Morning Fog

    The album as art-form in the 80s took a bit of stick at times. Michael Jackson was probably to blame, he'd release the first seven songs from his album as singles, often in the very same order they were on the LP. At times it feels like 'Hounds Of Love' is a deliberate response to that. Well, we get four of five songs as singles for the first half of the LP. Then, we get a concept LP as a whole other sound and style to wrap things up. Two albums in one then really and before the dawn of CD, Kate didn't feel compelled to release two and a half hours of material. Well, she never was a fast worker and time was spent not only writing songs but working studio techniques. The programming throughout this album is far advanced from 'The Dreaming' and you wonder whether Kate was a drummer in a previous life as the percussion is often thrillingly inventive. During the more experimental second half of this LP, a track such as 'Waking The Witch' rides along rich, jumping percussion and you start to feel that if Kate had continued in such a direction that she'd be releasing techno/dance music by now.

    Side two of 'Hounds Of Love' really is one of the greatest things in popular music. Several utterly lovely sketches send you into something approaching a blissful trance and then 'Jig Of Life' explodes out of the speakers and links everything back to reality, to dancing and to theatre. You get the feeling don't you that in this often deeply entrancing, contemplative second half of 'Hounds Of Love' that 'Jig Of Life' is absolutely vital to the entire LP. The switch of moods again when we reach 'Hello Earth' is startling and if you feel by this stage that you've been on a trip, you're feeling correctly. It's something of a shame actually this album is out on CD and MP3 because you get the feeling it's one side or the other - or two flips of the same coin. The hits from Side One are great with the title track, 'Running Up That Hill' and the impossibly sophisticated pop of 'Cloudbusting', yet Side Two really does deserve a listen from beginning to end without such distractions. Don't get me wrong, both sides are stunning but as 'The Morning Fog' lifts up your spirit and soul, you start to wonder about the person behind 'these' songs, and you want to listen to them again.

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    Readers Comments

    Lee Auty Bolton
    I always will remember the year it was released. A few friends of mine ( one into punk, one into heavy metal and me into the beatles ) got drunk ank had an arguement about music. No one rated female artists then someone argued " have you heard that wierd album by kate bush " We listened. And i have ever since. She is a genius and this album testifies it. I cant even attempt to put into words how i feel when i listen to it. She sounds like no other

    Lee Auty Bolton
    Of all the hundreds of great albums ive listened to in my lifetime, the four i most return to are revolver by the beatles , medulla by bjork , the wall by pink floyd and kate bushes the hounds of love. Why i do i cant explain. But these four records display such an awesome ferocity of musical genius that the listener can only listen and say "wow!"

    Ady Cambridge
    Have to agree - it'd be nice if this came out as a two disc, with one side per CD. If the Basement Tapes is on two 30 minute discs, I don't see why not. But even the Japanese haven't gone that route. Shame. Oh, and shouldn't this be a 10/10?

    Lee Auty Bolton
    The reason that this album is bloody fantastic can be answered by asking yourself a few questions.. 1) what catagory of music is this.. is it pop or rock etc ? 2) which other artists does the music sound like ? when you cant answer the previous questions then you have to accept that someone has produced something beyond description and that person is a genius


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    The Sensual World 8 ( 1989 )
    The Sensual World / Love and Anger / The Fog / Reaching Out / Heads We're Dancing / Deeper Understanding / Between a Man and a Woman / Never Be Mine / Rocket's Tail / This Woman's Work

    After experimenting with programmed sound, Kate returns to nature for this LP. The lush, intricate arrangements never actually detract from the songs, often they are the songs. Elsewhere, the tunes are allowed to breathe yet arguably never has a Kate Bush album been as richly textured in terms of sound as 'The Sensual World', quite appropriate so. That said, an awful lot of time was spent in the studio and a lot of additional musicians, producers, etc used. I won't need to mention the Bulgarian trio of singers that assisted her and the supposed increase of the Irish side of her family as far as her music is concerned. If you've even the slightest interest in Kate Bush, you'll know all the background, anyway. One thing 'The Sensual World' isn't is either fast or funky. This is slow to medium pace music with the title track being an obvious choice of single along with 'This Woman's Work' which is sheer beauty. Inbetween are some arresting moments and others that are almost too subtle for their own good. Yes, this album is intimate despite the epic production efforts yet sometimes it's pretty wallpaper obscuring an empty space. Lyrically there are references to sensuality, sex and emotions. Very much a female album, then? Well, Kate also had a fair army of male admirers, most of whom you hope by 1989 had gotten over that leotard picture released of Kate that was plastered over buses to help launch her career some ten years or so earlier. Contemporary reviewers would still focus on such things as well as disparagingly describe her voice as 'warbling' - well, such a seasoned and artistic female as Kate was always going to be difficult for the laddish like of NME or Sounds to get their heads around.

    'Never Be Mine' has a fantastic, weaving Kate vocal. 'Deeper Understanding' has some fantastic melodies woven deeply within the five minute running time. With some editing this would have made a great single, perhaps even without? 'Heads We're Dancing' most resembles the 'Hounds Of Love' percussive flow of all the songs present here and 'Rocket's Tail' is an experimental excersize in vocal interplay and wailing guitar, a new texture for her. Well, Dave Gilmour did guest on the album. After such potential super-sized stadium baiting, it's time for 'This Woman's Work', a track so beautifully perfect that it's really worth buying the entire album for. Rarely has any singer ever sounded as soulful and yes, sensual.

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    The Red Shoes( 1993 )
    Rubberband Girl / And So Is Love / Eat the Music / Moments of Pleasure / The Song of Solomon / Lily / The Red Shoes / Top of the City / Constellation of the Heart / Big Stripey Lie / Why Should I Love You? / You're the One

    Released in 1993, the digitally recorded 'The Red Shoes' was intended a precursor to a tour that never materialised. Having gone for a live-band feel in the studio she would later regret recording everything digitally, re-recording a number of songs from this set using analogue methods for a 2011 release. 'The Red Shoes' also marked the last time we would hear from Bush for twelve hears as she took what many saw as a permanent hiatus from recording. Her highest charting album on Billboard, this record is notable for a number of guest artists - Jeff Beck, Gary Brooker, Eric Clapton, Nigel Kennedy and somewhat bizarrely, UK comedian Lenny Henry. Many commentators and/or followers of Kate's music appraise 'The Red Shoes' against her other works somewhat negatively. At the time of release, it had been four years since 'The Sensual World' and I think the world wanted some more classic Kate Bush singles. Instead, they got a few fairly average singles amidst a fifty-five minute long set that seemed a little flabby around the edges. The arrangements are more commercially inclined I believe than the previous couple of albums, with the ballads in particular seeming to aim for about the same ballpark of emotional response the classic 'This Woman's Work' evoked. 'The Red Shoes' is a very slow-medium paced record, the more exuberant material such as lead single 'Rubberband Girl' are misnomers. When this listener first heard the record on cassette (remember them?!) back in 1993 - I tried to fall in love but failed, as 'Rubberband Girl' wasn't joined by several other uptempo numbers of a higher or similar quality.

    'Moments Of Pleasure' has a soaring, impassioned Kate vocal surround by stirring if slightly overly straight, luscious strings. 'Eat The Music', the title track and 'Why Should I Love You' would no doubt have seen Kate surrounded by at least 11 musicians on stage and therefore have sounded great in a live setting - one suspects many of the tracks here were designed to be played live. The digital production and instrumentation mixed with live musicians 'technique' - that many artists were using in the early nineties is at it's worst during 'Big Stripey Lie', a rather messy musical landscape with Kate back in the mix. A highlight is undoubtedly 'And So Is Love' - it gently sways, the woodwind instruments sound great, as does the electric blues guitar, and Kate sings sensually and seductively.

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    this page last updated 30/09/14


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