Kate Bush -’The Director’s Cut’ (Fish People)
The notion of the ‘Director’s Cut’ is usually associated with film. But Kate Bush is a visionary artist, and in her case, it is sound rather than vision which she has sought to re-do. Having made just eight studio albums in a career that now stretches over thirty years, her quality control has always been pretty high. By and large, 1985’s The Hounds Of Love is reckoned to be her crowning achievement so far, though I’ve long held earlier albums like Lionheart and Never For Ever in high regard, too.The two albums which provide the source material for this album, 1989’s The Sensual World and The Red Shoes from 1993 are certainly not weak albums. But she has elected to re-work songs from both albums.
In the case of ‘The Sensual World’ (the song), it is about following her original intention. This had been to use Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy from Joyce’s Ulysses, but the Joyce estate had not granted her permission. This has now been granted, the song is re-presented here with changed lyrics and re-titled ‘Song Of the Mountain.’ It’s rather lovely.
It doesn’t always work as well as it should. The vocoder effect on ‘A Deeper Understanding’ detracts from what is otherwise an excellent and effective re-working; several listens in, I’m still not sure this was the right thing to do (the video is awesome, mind). As for the re-working of ‘This Woman’s Work’ it’s not quite as affecting as the original.
Bush has always been a master of the recording studio, and the album sounds fantastic. Thus the re-working of ‘The Red Shoes’ with didgeridoo gives it the feel of a workout in the Australain outback. ‘Rubberband Girl’, meanwhile, sees our heroine imagine what it would have been like to front the Rolling Stones circa Sticky Fingers. ‘Lily’ and ‘Song Of Solomon’ come alive for me far more than they did on the original version of The Red Shoes.
Doubtless discussions will run and run about which versions are better and which are worse than the originals (hell, there’s probably people still debating the (de)merits of the new vocal of ‘Wuthering Heights’ that appeared on The Whole Story). It is clear that, given the input and approach, this is certainly not just a cash-in exercise. Rumours are circulating of another studio album, and her first tour since 1979. Given how long it can be between albums for her, in the politest way possible, I’m not holding my breath.
But it is wonderful to have Kate Bush in any way, shape or form. They truly broke the mould after her.
The Director’s Cut is out now on Fish People.