33 1/3 Part 25


Kate Bush -‘Never For Ever’ (EMI, 1980)

I’ve written before on this blog about my love for Kate Bush. Certainly, when I decided I was going to do this series (so much for my finishing with my favourite on my birthday; we’ve gone past that but I’m still 33, so I guess it’s not too late), I knew she’d feature. Question was: which album? My favourite Kate Bush album has changed over time, which might say as much about the quality of her music as my indecisiveness. She’s been one of my favourite singers since I was eleven – and when Mrs. 17 Seconds and I started dating nearly five years ago, she and Mylo were pretty much part of the soundtrack.

But ultimately, I’ve plumped for this album. Never For Ever was Kate Bush’s third album, released in 1980, and included three hits ‘Babooshka’ ‘Breathing’ and ‘Army Dreamers.’ It was her first album to reach no.1 in the UK and came not long after her one and only tour. I first heard Kate Bush when she dueted with Peter Gabriel on ‘Don’t Give Up’ in 1986; and then a couple of years later came one of those moments. The Chart Show was music show that ran on ITV for about a decade and one of the features was to play three videos by one artist. So one day in mid-1988, Kate Bush’s turn came to be and they played ‘Babooshka’ (the one with the double bass), ‘Running Up That Hill’ and ‘The Big Sky.’ A few months later I borrowed The Whole Story from the video shop, and then a year or so later, offered an album by my dad, I chose this.

It wasn’t off my walkman much. I loved the songs -even the weird a capella ‘Night Scented Stock’ and the imagery that went along with the songs. The haunting ‘Egypt’ with its’ african meets arabian backing, The demented ‘Violin’ with some of the most amazing vocal pyrotechnics committed to tape. As with much stuff, some of it went over my head – I didn’t know that ‘Infant Kiss’ wasn’t about loving a baby as the story of the governess in The Innocents (the filmed version of The Turn Of The Screw) from her perspective. the fact that i saw that film eighteen months later – and was scared witless – was unconnected.

I was also becoming aware, as a boy on the cusp of adolescence, about my feelings about the world. I wasn’t vegetarian yet, but I was starting to feel uncomfortable about things like Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power. It’s possible that my love of ‘Army Dreamers’ and the astonishing ‘Breathing’ fed into this. My school friends sniggered about the ‘in…out…in…out’ chorus of ‘Breathing,’ just as the words about ‘cutting lines’ on The Hounds Of Love’s ‘Under Ice’ were taken at face value.

Kate Bush herself has been dismissive of some of her early albums, including this and its’ predecessor Lionheart, which I fell for in a big way at the age of sixteen. Given the topics that she writes about, it would be erronoeus and possibly patronising to say that these albums have a naive or innocent charm, but there is a genuine sweetness or sense of wonder therein.

Sure, there have been copyists, but Bush is a true original. And this is the album where her story began for me.

Kate Bush -‘Infant Kiss.’ mp3

Kate Bush -‘Breathing.’ mp3

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