WOW (the natural follow-on to yesterday’s post)


Is there any bloke out there, born in the first half of the early 60s, who didn’t fall in love or lust immediately with Kate Bush?

In 1978, her single Wuthering Heights, topped the singles charts for four weeks. This meant Kate became the first woman to reach #1 with a self-written song. What made the feat truly astonishing was that it was her debut, and she was just 19 years of age.

This was a singer who was quite unlike any other in the late 70s. Very few women were involved in punk or new wave, although that was to change quite quickly. If you heard a woman singing on the radio, is was usually on a disco track or some sort of sugary ballad. OK , I’m generalising as there were also some reggae-style singles that had female vocals, but like punk/new wave, these were few and far between.

Kate Bush had a vocal style all of her own – and it was one that divided the nation. I loved the fact that you couldn’t always make out the lyrics unless you really listened closely (or bought the albums in which case you got a lyric sheet). I loved how the records sounded – it was, thinking back, the first time that I appreciated how records had to be produced and arranged rather than just someone shouting into a microphone while strumming a guitar.

And most of all, for these things were important to a hormonally-charged teenager, I loved the way she looked. But I’m not that shallow folks…..if the music had been awful, I wouldnt have given her any attention. Honest.

Its hard to imagine nowadays when so many artists seems to take ages from one album to the next, but Kate Bush released two LPs in 1978. The Kick Inside was her debut, and it hit the shops in February. By late-October, Lionheart had been issued. This was all down to the fact that her label, EMI Records, knowing that Kate had already written over 50 songs that were in demo form, put pressure on her to quickly follow up the initial success.

The first single from the LP also came out in 1978, but Hammer Horror was a flop, failing to reach the Top 40. In a rare show of sense, EMI waited a few months and allowed Kate herself to have a big say in what would be the follow-up, and in March 1979, this began to be heard regularly on daytime radio:-

mp3 : Kate Bush – Wow

It was quite a daring single for its time. In an era when ‘pain in the ass’ was a lyric that wasn’t allowed on radio, Kate got away with ‘he’s too busy hitting the vaseline’ as part of a song that was sympathetic to homosexual actors unable to get the lead roles as they weren’t macho enough. There wasn’t much made of the subject matter at the time, but I’m guessing that if a 21st century female singer-songwriters was to do something similar, you can bet that one of her myriad of publicists would have the fact running in every tabloid in the land in the hope of creating a hype….

Here’s yer b-side too:-

mp3 : Kate Bush – Fullhouse


One thought on “WOW (the natural follow-on to yesterday’s post)

  1. Sort of a mini Kate Bush appreciation day here in our corner of the blogosphere thanks to you and Brian over at LTL! Not everything works for me pre The Dreaming, but Wow is a piece of theatre given a pop song format. in 1978, you could tumble together genre’s and styles and still find that there was an audience ready to listen. It’s a shame those days are in the past.

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