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Music Katebush

Published on February 4th, 2019 | by voxx

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Kate Bush – Remastered in Vinyl II

The pop queen’s mid-period pomp revisited…

In October 1982, shortly after the release of her fourth LP, The Dreaming, DJ Paul Gambaccini interviewed Kate Bush on TV show ‘Pebble Mill At One’. A clip of ‘There Goes A Tenner’ left the audience clapping politely.

“I think that will be a hit, actually,” says Gambaccini.

“Do you? Do you really?” says Bush, smiling. “I don’t know anymore.”

The subtext, though, is clear: she knows, but she just doesn’t care, at least not in that way. (The song peaked at 93) Restless, violent, rooted in magic and folklore, The Dreaming represented a rupture in Bush’s career. Commercially lacklustre but creatively vital, it completed the transition that Bush had started on 1980’s Never For Ever. Her debut single, 1978’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, was as wild as anything punk threw up, but until The Dreaming, Bush lingered in the earlier ’70s, belonging to prog-rock and Pink Floyd, to arts-lab workshops and expressive dance routines. With The Dreaming, the characters darkened, the music grew post-punk spikes, the closing song was called ‘Get Out Of My House’. By the time she opened the windows again three years later, a lot had changed.

This year’s reissues feature Bush’s 10 albums, plus B-sides, remixes and bonus tracks spread over four vinyl boxsets or two CD collections. Bush, whose 2011 revamp exercise, Director’s Cut, showed her inclination to doctor old material, remastered the albums with Pink Floyd engineer James Guthrie. It’s not just a thrill for audio-fidelity freaks, though: it’s another chance to move closer to these songs, a leaning-in that feels particularly necessary on the albums on Remastered In Vinyl II – 1985’s Hounds Of Love, 1989’s The Sensual World and 1993’s The Red Shoes.

Here was the period when Bush, having fallen theatrically to earth, hit the ground running. After The Dreaming, Bush built her own 48-track studio, all the better to experiment with. The incense fug and vinyl racks were replaced with the colder, silvered sounds of the CD age, Bush on Top Of The Pops in suit and heels, the leotards and floatiness gone. The storytelling remains, the dreams and characters, but the singles – ‘Running Up That Hill’, ‘Hounds Of Love’, ‘Cloudbusting’ – have a glassy precision, while ‘The Ninth Wave’, a song-suite about a drowning sailor, upgrades her prog software, adding pixelated clarity. The London Planetarium hosted the launch party: appropriately heavenly, but also very much on the physical plane. Hello Earth.

That physicality is magnified on The Sensual World four years later, thanks to the dreamy expand-and-contract of the title track’s multiple yeses, inspired by James Joyce’s Molly Bloom. The songs aren’t as crisp as Hounds Of Love, but techno-pop nightmare ‘Heads We’re Dancing’ about inadvertently encountering Hitler, and the prophetic dial-up chill of ‘Deeper Understanding’, show Bush still thinking her way into alien situations with an intensely human touch.

The empathy deepens on 1993’s The Red Shoes, a record that is often undervalued, even by Bush, who re-recorded seven of its tracks for Director’s Cut. Yet despite the fairytale framing, these songs come from an increasingly recognisable – and personal – landscape of love and loss: ineffably moving elegy ‘Moments Of Pleasure’, the spiritual plea of ‘Top of the City’, even the elastic resilience of ‘Rubberband Girl’. It would be 12 years until her next LP, Aerial, but hearing these albums grouped together is to hear a remarkable consolidation, a burst of creative force and momentum generated by an artist who knew, always, exactly what she was doing.

- By Jake White


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