Saturday, January 21, 2017

TAKE TWO: KATE BUSH


Kate Bush, the theatrical art-rock performer who first came to fame in her native England in the '70's, never made a major impact here in the states but was a highly revered artist in much of the rest of the world. After an incredible thirty-five year absence from the stage, Bush returned to live performing in 2014 with "Before The Dawn", a multi-media concert which had a twenty-two date residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. With all the shows selling out in a record fifteen minutes, it's clear this ethereal songstress was deeply missed.

Bush came from a gifted family, her mother was a traditional Irish dancer and her father was a pianist, so it's no surprise she displayed talent. The aspiring musician taught herself how to play the piano as a young child before eventually writing her own music and lyrics. When she was sixteen, Bush began recording demos of her material and sent them to several record labels but none were interested. However, David Gilmour of the the progressive rock band, Pink Floyd got his hands on her work. The intrigued musician (along with his friend, Andrew Powell who would go on to produce Bush's first two albums) worked with the young singer to record more professional sounding demos, even paying for the sessions. The new tracks were sent to EMI Records and they quickly signed Bush to the label.

At nineteen, her debut album, "The Kick Inside" was released in 1978 and the single, "Wuthering Heights" (based on the Emily Brontë novel) she wrote went to the top of the UK and Australian pop charts. While Bush became a sensation throughout the globe, the album didn't even chart in the U.S. Her record label wanted to capitalize on her rapid success and a follow-up album, "Lionheart" was rushed out later that year. Most of the songs had been written when she was a young teen and while the record was warmly received, it did not do nearly as well as her debut.

It was not until her fifth album, "Hounds of Love" that Bush became noticed in America. The song, "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" would become her only top forty hit here in 1985. The album received worldwide critical acclaim and became one of her biggest sellers.

After her 1993 album, "The Red Shoes", Bush took an extended period of time away from public life. It would not be until 2005 that the artist would resurface with new music. "Aerial" was a two-disc set and while Bush did minimal promotion, the album was still a commercial success and even charted in the U.S. , peaking at number forty-eight on the album chart.

Bush's last studio albums were both released in 2011. "Director's Cut" contains restructured and re-recorded songs from her "The Sensual World" (1989) and "The Red Shoes" albums while "50 Words For Snow" featured all new material. This past November, a live album of her "Before The Dawn" concert was released.

I have always loved the dramatic flair of Kate Bush's music but understand completely why she was not a bigger name here in the states. While her image was certainly video-friendly during the MTV era, Bush's poetic and occasionally esoteric songs was just a little too out-there for American consumption at the time.  Here are two of my favorite from this singular artist:

"Running Up That Hill" - Kate Bush (1985) mp3

"This Woman's Work" - Kate Bush (1989) mp3

Bush began using the music video early in career as a creative extension of her music. As a bonus, here are a few clips that display her innovation and unique vision:





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