Two albums from Kate Bush in one year? Yes!

50-words-for-snow

So, you wait years for a Kate Bush album, and then two arrive in the space of a year? It’s like 1978 all over again!*

November 21 will see a new Kate Bush album, entitled 50 Words For Snow. Her first studio album since 2005’s Aerial (The Director’s Cut released this year was comprised of previously released material yet in a radically altered way so it pretty much was a new album in it’s own right).

According to her website the album is 65 minutes long and seven songs ‘set against the backdrop of falling snow’:

Snowflake
Lake Tahoe
Misty
Wild Man
Snowed In At Wheeler Street
50 Words For Snow
Among Angels

In terms of special guests who appear on the album, Andy Fairweather Low appears on ‘Wild Man’, Elton John appears on ‘Snowed In At Wheeler Street,’ and Stephen Fry appears on the song ’50 Words For Snow.’

‘Wild Man’ has been released as a single – the version below is the radio edit; however the single also includes the full seven minute long version.

*Yes, because she released both The Kick Inside and Lionheart that year. QED…

Album review – Kate Bush

kate-bush-directors-cut-artwork

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.

Christmas posts part 4

edinburgh-snow

It is now December, the first door on the advent calendar is opened, and I couldn’t get into work today.

I guess to people who live in climates where it snows heavily every year are used to it, but here in the UK we tend to get mild winters (most of the time) and thus things like chains on your wheels or snow tyres are not legal requirements.

Whether these songs are Christmassy or Decembery (!) may be a moot point -but what the heck!

Teenage Fanclub -‘December.’ mp3 (from Bandwagonesque)

Kate Bush -‘December Will Be Magic Again.’ mp3

There will be more songs tomorrow…

Kate Bush…a true legend

kate_ivy

Over breakfast this morning, with Mrs. 17 Seconds, brother 17 Seconds and sister-in-law 17 Seconds, sister-in-law 17 Seconds confessed to liking what little she had heard of Kate Bush -including ‘Wuthering Heights’ but not knowing much of her stuff.

Personally speaking, I’ve been smitten with the music of Kate Bush since I was eleven, and the Chart Show showed the videos of ‘Babooshka’ ‘Running Up That Hill’ and ‘The Big Sky.’ There are -apparently -some people out there who don’t rate her, but they’re probably Tory voters who drink Stella at Wetherspoons pubs, and they’re idiots anyway.

I don’t need much to persuade me to post about Kate Bush, so here are some of her frankly awesome videos and some cover versions of her songs. Mrs. 17 Seconds and I bonded over her when we first met, all those years ago…

First up, ‘Cloudbusting’ from 1985’s The Hounds Of Love.

This Donald Sutherland-starring video has to be my favourite video of all time. Honest to blog.

This duet with Peter Gabriel from 1986 (she’d already contributed backing vox to his song ‘Games Without Frontiers’) is simple and yet very effective:

This song ‘Hammer Horror’ was a single in 1978, the first to be taken from the Lionheart album. It’s still one of my all-time favourite songs, period.

And some awesome cover versions, too…
Swimmer One -‘Cloudbusting.’ mp3

China Drum -‘Wuthering Heights.’ mp3

Futureheads -‘The Hounds Of Love.’ mp3

Placebo -‘Running Up That Hill.’ mp3

Does there have to be a reason?

ripitup-777821

totally_wired_cover

Well, in this case, yes.

Have recently been re-reading Rip It Up And Start Again, and for the first time, Totally Wired, which are the interviews that Simon Reynolds conducted to write the former book.

Utterly awesome and both are well worth it if you have any interest in the music that came from Europe and America after punk between 1978-1984. The years where the music was ‘post-punk’ and then evolved into ‘new pop.’ In fact my only gripe would be that the Cure and Kate Bush aren’t considered important in this period by Reynolds. And Gary Numan doesn’t seem to get much of a look in either. Other than that, great stuff, covering an era that shows Reynolds is right in saying that it vies with the sixties for quality and creativity.

So a few songs from the era concerned…

Propaganda -‘Dr. Mabuse.’ mp3 (This band bridge the gap perfectly between post-punk and ‘new pop.’ )

Human League -‘Being Boiled.’ mp3 (both ‘post-punk’ and ‘new pop.’)

Gary Numan -‘Cars.’ mp3

The Cure -‘A Forest.’ mp3

Kate Bush -‘Wuthering Heights.’ mp3

Gang Of Four -‘Damaged Goods.’ mp3

Delta 5 -‘Mind Your Own Business.’ mp3

Depeche Mode -‘Master and Servant.’ mp3 (in which the subversive ideas of wreckers of civilisation like Throbbing Gristle enter the top ten and Top Of the Pops)

Finally, one of the true pioneers, Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, deserves two entries, one for his none more post-punk and DIY and the second for being one of the best songs ever, bridging the gap between post-punk and new pop:

Scritti Politti -‘Skank Bloc Bologna.’ mp3

Scritti Politti -‘The ‘Sweetest Girl’.’mp3

33 1/3 Part 25

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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

Does there have to be a reason?

…well, it was an exciting match, especially in the last ten minutes or so, but ultimately, Hibs lost to Rangers at home. Ach well, never mind.

This seems like an appropriate song, under the circumstances.

But it’s a classic, so there doens’t have to be a reason to post it, really, I guess…

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush -‘Don’t Give Up.’ mp3

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush -‘Don’t Give Up.’

Countdown to Christmas Post #10

Was reminded of this track the other day when reading the excellent Ghost Of Electricity blog.
This was a Top 30 hit for Kate Bush in 1980, a very successful year for her when she released the wonderful Never For Ever album, which had hits with Army Dreamers, Breathing and Babooshka (which in itself could probably be a Christmas related post, in terms of the Russian legend, though the Kate Bush song itself deals more with the notion of a husband who no longer sees his wife as young, while she is increasingly paranoid). She also contributed backing vocals to Peter Gabreil’s eponymous third album (or should that read third eponymous album?), most noticeably on ‘Games Without Frontiers.’

I don’t know if there was an official video for this single in 1980 (not all songs did get videos made then, remember this is the year before MTV launched in the US and the best part of a decade before it launched in Europe), but this performance from YouTube is pretty great nonetheless.

Kate Bush -‘December Will Be Magic Again.’ mp3