Info about the work of Kate Bush
Kate Bush's debut album was released when she was 19 years old; she had written some of the songs when she was only 15. The album opens with whale song which leads into the first track, "Moving", inspired by her dance teacher, Lindsey Kemp. The album contains her biggest hit to date, "Wuthering Heights", which went to number one in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere and a Top 10 hit in many other territories.
Bush's work would mature and develop, but The Kick Inside remains a startlingly precocious debut and many of her trademark qualities were already firmly in place. Her cinematic and literary influences were most obvious in "Wuthering Heights". The song was not initially inspired by Emily Brontë's novel, but by a television adaptation, although she did read the novel later to, in her own words, "get the research right". She namechecks Gurdjieff in "Them Heavy People," while the title song is based on the ballad of Lizzie Wan, the story of a girl who kills herself after being impregnanated by her brother. The album is also very open about sexual matters, particularly on the erotic "Feel It" and "L'Amour Looks Something Like You" and the male musicians later admitted to being embarrassed by the honesty of some of the lyrics.
As part of her preparation for entering the studio, Kate had toured pubs with the KT Bush Band, supported by her brother Paddy and close friends, but for the album she was persuaded to use established session musicians, some of whom she would retain even after she had brought her bandmates back on board. Paddy was the only member of the KT Bush Band to play on The Kick Inside. Unlike on later albums where he would play more exotic instruments such as Balalaika and Didgeridoo, here he played the more standard Harmonica and Mandolin. Stuart Elliot played some of the drums and would become her main percussionist on subsequent albums. Preston Heyman was credited with some subsequent studio work but mostly perfomed on the live tour of 1979.
The album was produced by Bush's mentor David Gilmour and Andrew Powell.
The Kick Inside is Bush's only album to have a different cover in the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Japan.
Lionheart was rushed out of the studio (in Nice on the French Riviera, making this Bush's only album to be recorded outside the UK, the occasional session in Ireland excepted) after the initial success of The Kick Inside. While it has its share of hits, most notably "Wow", it did not receive the same reception as Kate's first album, reaching only number six in the U.K. album charts.
The album takes its title from the track, "Oh, England, My Lionheart", in which a pilot who has been shot down contemplates his homeland as his plane hurtles towards the ground, and to his death. It is a song that Kate has disowned in later years despite it being a firm favourite with many listeners. Literary references include J. M. Barrie's classic play Peter Pan And Wendy in In Search of Peter Pan (a song which also quotes When You Wish Upon A Star from the classic Disney film, Pinocchio), as well as a nod towards Arsenic and Old Lace in the song "Coffee Homeground" (which pretty much has the same plot as the play, although Kate has said it was inspired by a particularly creepy taxi driver). Film references include "Hammer Horror", inspired by the Hammer Film studio, known for their gothic horror films. The British television show The Sweeney, a popular police drama, was mentioned in the lyrics of the song "Wow".
Bush's brother Paddy plays many more instruments on this album, including pan flute and Mandocello. Making his first appearance is Del Palmer, who would subsequently become Bush's regular bass player.
Lionheart was produced by Andrew Powell, assisted for the first time by Bush, who was keen to implement more of her own ideas.
Never for Ever saw Kate's first foray into production, aided by the engineer of her first two albums, Jon Kelly. Andrew Powell's production of the first two albums had resulted in a definite sound which was evident in every track, with lush orchestral arrangements supporting the live band sound. The range of styles on Never for Ever is much more diverse, veering from the straightforward rocker, "The Wedding List", to the sad, wistful waltz of hit single, "Army Dreamers". Never for Ever was the first Kate Bush album to be composed on synthesizers and drum machines (in particular, the Fairlight CMI), her earlier albums being composed on the piano.
With Never for Ever, Bush watched her album rise to number one on the British album charts for the first time in her career. At the same time, she became the first woman in history to have an album ranked so high in the UK.
Bush's literary and cinematic influences were at work once more. "The Infant Kiss" was inspired by the 1961 film The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave, which in turn had been inspired by The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, while "The Wedding List" drew from François Truffaut's 1968 film La Mariée était En Noir.
Never for Ever is, to date, the only album by Kate Bush not to share a title with one of its own tracks (Lionheart is a truncated version of "Oh, England, My Lionheart").
The Dreaming was the first album Bush produced herself. With her newfound freedom, she experimented with production techniques creating an album that features a very diverse blend of musical styles.
The Dreaming met with a mixed critical reception at first. Many were baffled by the dense soundscapes she had created. The album was not considered to be a financial success, although it still reached number three in the album charts, and with the exception of the first track to be released, "Sat In Your Lap", which predated the album by several months, the singles taken from it flopped. Over time, however, many music fans have come to regard it as a masterpiece. More than twenty years after it was made, it is still common to hear people remark that the album sounds fresh, intriguing and like nothing else.
Bush was only in her early twenties when making the album and tended to look outside herself for sources of inspiration. She drew on old crime films ("There Goes A Tenner"), a documentary about the war in Vietnam ("Pull Out The Pin"), the plight of Indigenous Australians ("The Dreaming"), the life of Houdini ("Houdini") and Stanley Kubrick's film of Stephen King's novel The Shining ("Get Out Of My House"). There are a few more personal tracks, though: the lead single, "Sat In Your Lap", examines feelings of self-doubt versus burning self-confidence and the search for a balance between the two, while "Leave It Open" speaks of the need to acknowledge and express the darker sides of one's personality.
Hounds of Love is no less experimental from a production standpoint. Not only did she produce it herself, but for this album, stung by the huge costs she had run up hiring studio space for The Dreaming, she built a private 48 track studio near her home where she could work at her own pace, unhurried by thoughts of cost. Bush has admitted that this was a very happy period in her life and this is reflected by a newfound maturity and confidence to her lyrics, which were often more personal. She writes about the challenges of communication in "Running Up That Hill", a song that some consider to be one of her masterpieces. "Hounds of Love" concerns the fear of being overwhelmed by love, while "The Big Sky" deals with the frustration of an artist continually questioned by critics with no understanding of the creative process. There was yet another song with a clear literary source: the hit single "Cloudbusting" was based on A Book Of Dreams by Peter Reich, son of the alternative scientist Wilhelm Reich.
The album is split into two parts which, on its original vinyl release, formed the two sides of the record. The first side, 'Hounds of Love', features the four singles, "Running Up That Hill", "Hounds of Love", "The Big Sky" and "Cloudbusting" as well as "Mother Stands For Comfort", a darkly haunting track about a murderer who seeks refuge with their mother, knowing she will always protect them, come what may. The second side is entitled 'The Ninth Wave', whose title is taken from a poem by Tennyson although the suite of songs it describes has hidden connections to spacepeople activity on Earth, specially the Sirians.
The increasingly personal tone of her writing continued on The Sensual World, with songs about unrequited love ("Love And Anger", "Never Be Mine"), the pressures on modern relationships ("Between A Man And A Woman"), and self-doubt ("The Fog"). "Deeper Understanding" showed a remarkable prescience in its portrait of a lonely person who finds solace in the company of a computer. "Rocket's Tail" (dedicated to her pet cat, Rocket) invoked the joys of indulging in another's fantasy. The quirkiest track on the album, touched by Bush's trademark black humour, was "Heads We're Dancing", about a woman who dances all night with a charming stranger only to find out that he is Adolf Hitler. The title track, featuring Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on lead guitar, drew its inspiration from Ulysses by James Joyce. Kate realised that the closing passage of the novel, a monologue by Molly Bloom, fitted the music she had created. When the Joyce estate refused to release the text, Bush wrote original lyrics that echo the original passage, as Molly steps from the pages of the book and revels in the real world. She also alluded to Jerusalem by William Blake in a cheeky reference to the song's gestation ("And my arrows of desire rewrite the speech"). The Sensual World went on to become her biggest-selling album in the US, receiving a Gold award for 500,000 copies sold, four years after its release.
On 27 November, 2005, the song "This Woman's Work," from The Sensual World was featured in the British Tv drama Walk Away and I Stumble. Due to that broadcast, the song reached the #3 position on the UK iTunes.
The Red Shoes takes its title from the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; the story of the film, and the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen which in turn inspired it, concerns a dancer possessed by her art who cannot shake off the eponymous shoes and find peace.
The musical style was far more simple and direct than on any album since Never For Ever. The initial plan had been to take the songs out on the road and so Bush deliberately aimed for a live band feel, with less of the studio trickery that had typified her last three albums and which would be difficult to recreate on stage. The result alienated some of her fan base who enjoyed the intricacy of her later compositions, but others found a new complexity in the lyrics and the emotions they expressed. Gone were the stories and character pieces of her earlier work to be replaced by a set of songs that are almost like a diary. This was a troubled time for Bush. She had suffered a series of bereavements, including the loss of her favoured guitarist, Alan Murphy, and, most painfully, her mother, Hannah. Many of the people she lost are honoured on the ballad, "Moments Of Pleasure". Her long-term relationship with Del Palmer had also broken down, although the pair continued to work together and many of the songs on the album are about the break-up, most searingly "You're The One". Despite the fact that her pain and grief are obvious throughout the album, Bush's trademark sense of humour was still in place, notably on the quirky disco-shanty "Constellation Of The Heart" and the lead single "Rubberband Girl"; comedian Lenny Henry even provided guest vocals on "Why Should I Love You?", a track that featured significant contributions from Prince.
Kate Bush's eighth studio album, Aerial, is a two-disc set released in November 2005. The first single from the album was "King of the Mountain". The song makes references to Elvis Presley and the film Citizen Kane. The track was played for the first time on BBC Radio 2 on 21 September 2005, and was made available for download as of 27 September.
Musically, the album is a dense and multi-layered work, incorporating elements of folk, medieval, classical, reggae, and samba into an adventurous pop style. As on 1985's Hounds of Love, the double album is split into two sections. The first disc, subtitled A Sea of Honey, features a set of thematically unrelated songs including the first single "King of the Mountain," "π" (Pi), where she sings several digits of the number as verses, a medieval-style ode to her son "Bertie," and the Latin-influenced "Joanni," based on the story of Joan of Arc. The second disc, subtitled A Sky of Honey, features thematically related songs linked by the presence of birdsong (the album's cover art, which seems to show a mountain range at sunset is in fact a waveform which represents birdsong). The second disc features Rolf Harris' vocals on two tracks. Other artists guesting on the album include Lol Creme and Procol Harum's Gary Brooker.
On 17 October, 2005, "King of the Mountain" entered the UK Downloads Chart at number six and by 30 October, it became her third highest charting single ever in the UK, peaking at number four on the full chart.
On 13 November, 2005, Aerial entered the UK Albums Chart at number three, selling more than 90,000 copies in its first week on release. On the same day in Australia, Aerial entered the Australian ARIA Album chart at number 25.
Even in her earliest works where the piano was a primary instrument, Bush wove together many diverse influences, melding classical music, rock, and a wide range of ethnic and folk sources, to produce a uniquely impressive amalgam, and this has continued throughout her career. More than one reviewer has used the term "surreal" to describe much of her music, for many of the songs have a melodramatic emotional and musical surrealism that defies easy categorization. It has been observed that even the more joyous of the pieces is often tinged with traces of melancholy, and even the most sorrowful have elements of a unique vitality struggling against all that would oppress it. The unapologetic use of her voice as an instrument to convey a broad range of emotional intensity and subtlety is one thing that characterizes nearly all that she does.
Kate Bush has tackled sensitive and taboo subjects long before it has become fashionable to do so; "Kashka From Baghdad" is a song about a gay male couple; "Breathing" explores the results of nuclear fallout. Her lyrics are highly literate and reference a wide array of subject matter, often relatively obscure, such as Wilhelm Reich in "Cloudbusting", or G. I. Gurdjieff in "Them Heavy People".
The lush arrangements, complex production and intelligent, thoughtful lyrics can sometimes mask the fact that Kate Bush is a peculiarly witty writer and that comedy is not only a big influence on her - she has cited Monty Python, Woody Allen, Fawlty Towers and The Young Ones as particular favourites - but also a significant component of her work.
Bush's only tour took place in early 1979 (3 April - 10 May see details below), after which she gave only the occasional live performance. A number of reasons have been suggested as to why she abandoned touring, among them her reputed need to be in total control of the final product, which is incompatible with live stage performance, a rumour of a crippling fear of flying, and the suggestion that the death of 21 year old Bill Duffield, severely affected her. Duffield, her lighting director, was killed in an accident during her 20 April concert at The London Palladium when he fell twenty feet through an open trap door on the stage. Bush held a benefit concert on 12 May, with Peter Gabriel and Steve Harley at London's Hammersmith Odeon for his family. Bill would be honoured in two later songs: "Blow Away" on Never for Ever and "Moments Of Pleasure" on The Red Shoes. Bush explained in a BBC Radio 2 interview with Mark Radcliffe that she actually enjoyed the tour, but was consumed with producing her subsequent records (being more involved with the recording process than most artists).
During the same period as her tour, she made numerous television appearances around the world. She appeared in Germany: Bio's Bahnhof on 9 February 1978; in the United Kingdom: Top of the Pops on 16 February, 1978; in the United States: Saturday Night Live on 9th December, 1978. She also made appearances on Japanese Television.
Kate Bush appeared in many innovative music videos, designed to accompany her singles releases. Among the best known are those for "Cloudbusting" (featuring actor Donald Sutherland), "Running Up That Hill" (two completely different versions were made), "Babooshka", "Breathing", and "Wuthering Heights".
In 1993, Bush directed and starred in the short film, The Line, The Cross and The Curve, a musical co-starring Miranda Richardson featuring music from Bush's album The Red Shoes which was inspired by the classic movie of the same name.
In 1994, Kate Bush provided the music used in series of psychedelic-themed television commercials for the soft drink Fruitopia that appeared in the United States. The same company aired the ads in the United Kingdom, but the British version featured Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins instead of Bush.
Bush starred in a movie called Les Dogs, produced by Comic Strip for BBC television. She also wrote the original music score for another Comic Strip production, called GLC.
Comic Strip was a series of comedy movies broadcast on BBC and Channel 4, featuring comedians including Rick Mayall, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Robbie Coltrane, and others. The movies are usually written and produced by Peter Richardson, who also usually stars.
In Les Dogs, Kate plays the bride Angela, at a wedding set in a post-apocalyptic version of 1990's Britain. Whilst Kate is a silent presence in a wedding dress throughout most of the film, she does have several lines of dialogue with Peter Richardson in two dream sequences.
In GLC Kate produced a theme song which includes a vocal performance by Kate, as well as producing all the incidental music, which is synth based.
She has worked with Peter Gabriel on two of his albums, most notably on the hits "Games Without Frontiers" and "Don't Give Up" (the latter a duet); and his appearance on her 1979 television special. Their duet of Roy Harper's "Another Day" was discussed for release as a single, but this never came to pass. Harper is another frequent collaborator, appearing on her song "Breathing" and she on his albums HQ, Once (both also featuring Gilmour) and The Unknown Soldier.
She has appeared in duets with Midge Ure, Big Country and others on their albums. A wide diversity of respected artists have worked with her on some of her more recent albums ranging from the legendary rock guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour and Ian Bairnson, bassists Mick Karn and John Giblin, jazz/rock drummer Stuart Elliot, violinist Nigel Kennedy, the classical guitarist John Williams, folk artists The Trio Bulgarka, and Prince.
Bush has been noted as an influence and inspiration by artists as diverse as Kele Okereke, Placebo, Liv Kristine, Jewel, Coldplay, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Tori Amos (who has covered "Running up that Hill" in live performances), Björk, Sarah McLachlan, Suede, Paula Cole, Sinéad O'Connor, Pat Benatar, Happy Rhodes, Maxwell (who covered "This Woman's Work"), The Utah Saints, Big Boi of OutKast, The Futureheads (who have covered "Hounds of Love"), Goldfrapp, The Decemberists, Antony and the Johnsons and others. In fact, in the 1980s and 1990s it became almost standard for individualistic female singer-songwriters to be compared to Bush by the media. The trip hop artist Tricky has stated her work has been a significant influence on him and that she should be treasured more than the Beatles. Though many outside of Europe remain unfamiliar with her work and its profound intensity, others in her profession are willing to declare her works as those of great genius. Even the iconoclastic punk rocker John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) has declared her work to be "fucking brilliant" and has labelled her "a true original." Suede front-man Brett Anderson has stated that "Wuthering Heights" was the first single he ever bought. Brazilian Power metal group Angra covered "Wuthering Heights" on their first album, Angels Cry. Daniel Johns of Silverchair was turned onto Bush while recording the band's "Neon Ballroom".
In 1998, a tribute album was released called I Wanna Be Kate, featuring Chicago-area musicians.
|1978||The Kick Inside||3||-||debut album|
|1979||Live on Stage||-||-||an EP featuring live recordings|
|1980||Never for Ever||1||-||-|
|1984||The Single File||-||-||vinyl-only box set of 7-inch singles released up to that point|
|1983||Kate Bush||-||-||a North American release only|
|1985||Hounds of Love||1||30||-|
|1986||The Whole Story||1||78||hits compilation album, includes a new rendition of "Wuthering Heights"|
|1989||The Sensual World||2||43||-|
|1990||This Woman's Work 1978-1990||-||-||box set of her six albums to date, also
including two discs of rare b-sides,
re-released in 1998
|1993||The Red Shoes||2||28||-|
|1994||Live at the Hammersmith Odeon||-||-||live recording, released as a CD/video combination|
|Year||Song||UK singles||US Hot 100||US Modern Rock||Album|
|1978||"Wuthering Heights"||1||-||-||The Kick Inside|
|1978||"The Man With The Child In His Eyes"||6||85||-||The Kick Inside|
|1979||"Live On Stage" EP||10||-||-||recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon|
|1980||"Breathing"||16||-||-||Never For Ever|
|1980||"Babooshka"||5||-||-||Never For Ever|
|1980||"Army Dreamers"||12||-||-||Never For Ever|
|1980||"December Will Be Magic Again"||29||-||-||non-album Christmas song|
|1981||"Sat In Your Lap"||11||-||-||The Dreaming|
|1982||"The Dreaming"||48||-||-||The Dreaming|
|1982||"There Goes a Tenner"||-||-||-||The Dreaming|
|1985||"Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)"||3||30||-||Hounds Of Love|
|1985||"Cloudbusting"||20||-||-||Hounds Of Love|
|1986||"Hounds Of Love"||18||-||-||Hounds Of Love|
|1986||"The Big Sky"||37||-||-||Hounds Of Love|
|1986||"Experiment IV"||20||-||-||The Whole Story|
|1989||"The Sensual World"||12||-||6||The Sensual World|
|1989||"This Woman's Work"||25||-||-||The Sensual World|
|1990||"Love and Anger"||38||-||1||The Sensual World|
|1991||"Rocket Man"||12||-||11||Two Rooms (Elton John tribute album)|
|1993||"Rubberband Girl"||12||88||7||The Red Shoes|
|1993||"Eat the Music"||-||-||10||The Red Shoes|
|1993||"Moments Of Pleasure"||26||-||-||The Red Shoes|
|1994||"The Red Shoes"||21||-||-||The Red Shoes|
|1994||"And So Is Love"||26||-||-||The Red Shoes|
|1994||"The Man I Love"||27||-||-||The Glory of Gershwin (George Gershwin tribute album)|
|2005||"King Of the Mountain"||4||-||-||Aerial|
|2005||"This Woman's Work" (re-issue)||8||-||-||The Sensual World (UK Downloads chart)|