IN WHICH I SLAGGED OFF KATE BUSH

AS POSTED OVER ON THE OLD BLOG IN AUGUST 2010.

I was never completely convinced by Kate Bush when she first emerged in January 1978. The early singles sold in their millions but as a mid-teens boy with a love for post-punk bands with all their loud guitars and even louder shouty lyrics, the talents of the singer-songwriter at the piano with her squeaky voice just didn’t register.

Oh and she was ancient as well at 18 and a bit years of age……..

But as I got older and realised that there was a wee bit more to music than spotty oiks in sweaty venues, I fell for the charms of Ms Bush and started to listen to her much more closely. Oh and some brilliant promotional photos on giant billboards also had something about grabbing my hormonally-charged attention…..

I’ve a few Kate Bush LPs sitting in the vinyl cupboard, but its been years since I played them. The only tracks that ever come up on the i-pod shuffle are those that formed part of a Greatest Hits CD that was released in 1986 that I picked up cheap a few years later. I didn’t pay any attention to the comeback record in 2005 although a few folk have said I’m missing out on something quite decent.

The thing is, while browsing in a second hand vinyl emporium a wee while back, I came across a copy of a 1979 EP, and given it was going for £2, I thought it worth giving a listen again all these years later.

It has four live tracks, all recorded at a London gig in May 1979. This turned out to be the only time that Kate Bush ever toured in her entire career*, although over the years there would be sporadic live appearances, either solo or as alongside a whole range of other performers, suggesting that it wasn’t a fear of playing live that she suffered from.

The four songs all originally featured on The Kick Inside or Lionheart, her first two LPs:-

mp3 : Kate Bush – Them Heavy People (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – Don’t Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – James And The Cold Gun (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – L’Amour Looks Something Like You (live)

So as its spinning round the USB Turntable and doing whatever thing it is gadgetry wise to turn the tracks into instant mp3s, I’m thinking to myself…….this is shite.

It just feels as if it is music played by top-notch session players incapable of hitting a bum note but who are just as incapable of adding any meaning or feeling to a song. It’s got wanky solos all the way through as well and the sort of music that punk/new wave/post-punk was determined to banish forever (not that they ever had a chance of succeeding).

I’ve recently read reviews of that six-week tour that Kate Bush undertook in 1979 and by just about every account, it seems to have been an event that was ahead of its time with its use of theatre and dance and multi-median innovations including the use of a head-mic. But tucked away in the middle of such reviews you cotton-on to the fact that the musicians were drilled to the Nth degree with no room at all for improvisation. It sounds as if it was more akin to going along to a musical than a gig…….and I reckon that’s what comes across on the tracks on the EP. They lack any real depth or soul……but I bet they were astonishing if witnessed in the flesh.

Oh well. I’ve said it.

Bring on the brickbats.

* written and published years before the London residency of 2015 which so many got really excited about.

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

Kate-Bush-Wow-42617

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

Enjoy.