Back to Dreaming E. MisK
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 88 15:23 PDT
Subject: Another new KT book
IED reports the arrival of still another new book about Kate Bush. This one, a British hardcover biography by Kerry Juby, is unquestionably the best biography to be published so far. IED is still in the midst of reading it (it's about 160 pages), but already it easily outstrips in accuracy and insight its predecessors, the two "biographies" by Fred Vermorel and the one book by Paul Kerton.
Juby's new book is called "Kate Bush: The Whole Story", and cost IED $30.00. It looks like a mainstream hardcover biography, rather than a pop music fanbook. Juby is described on the fly-leaf as an independent radio producer specializing in interviews. The slipcase is white with black lettering, and a b&w shot of Kate on the front and back.
The text is as literate as can be expected, which is to say it's a major improvement over earlier books. Considerable care is evident in the discography at the back of the book, and the large majority of the facts in the biography itself--especially after the author gets past Kate's youth, which is still sketched in from hearsay by former school-chums--appear to IED on first check to be accurate.
The book begins with a preface designed to repudiate the smarmy, exploitative and hostile messages inherent in the Vermorel books. The word "normal" is used to describe Kate's character and childhood no fewer than five times in the first five pages of the book. Excessive (not to say unconvincing), perhaps, but understandable given the kind of character damage that the earlier books and articles have done to Kate over the years--that's a hard stereotype to knock down, and one way to do it is to set up an alternative stereotype.
In the acknowledgements Juby lists the KBC, Kate Bush, "Homeground" and--most importantly, as it turns out--a number of people who have worked with Kate in the past, including Anthony Van Laast, Jon Kelly, Andrew Powell (who unwittingly exposes his own artistic weaknesses in his explanation of his problems with Kate during the recording of "Lionheart") and Lindsay Kemp.
In addition to all these people's recollections, Juby managed to acquire the confidence of Frances Byrne, a school friend of Kate's who shared a personal letter she received from KT shortly before "The Kick Inside" was recorded. This letter is a fascinating study, even though reading it makes IED feel a little like he's rummaging through Kate's garbage cans. She comes off as so bright, modest, considerate and creatively literate, that IED couldn't resist re-printing it here. Remember, this is Kate Bush, age 16/17, writing:
Thanks for your letter -- it was really, really nice to hear from you, but not a total surprise -- it was strange because you appeared for a split second in my dream last night and your letter was at my parents' this morning. It's good to hear you're so well and coping with your life -- Well Done -- it gets really hard sometimes, dun it?
I gather you hear I've left school? Well, I left during last year's summer holidays -- before they all went back for the Autumn Term. I've only been back once since, and that was an extremely brief visit, but that's how it goes...! I now go to an open dance college in London. It's called the Dance Centre, and it's OK. It is expensive and my life is, at the moment, revolving around the money that's left over from the lessons, but that's enough for me to have fun and buy cigarettes. (I am afraid to say that I'm smoking quite a lot but I think I've got it under control?)
I haven't heard from you for so long that it's difficult to know where to start. I guess you know that I have set myself a definite ambition as a career. I want to sing, write songs and mime. I've got a contract actually being drawn up by a record company at last, but it has taken 4 years (approximately) to get this far -- but I think it is going to get more progressive -- I hope so. I'm working quite hard on my voice and on songs (and dancing too I suppose) but I seem to spend most of my time waiting for it all to happen. Last summer I took mime lessons with Lindsay Kemp. He is an amazing person and I met a lot of nice friends through the classes. The more people I meet now, the older and stranger they seem to get -- it's funny...
I've had my two front teeth straightened at the dentist. The appointment was 2 1/2 hours long and he's put temporary crowns in at the moment, but they're nice -- it's just that I'm a bit paranoid about the fact that they're held in by glue -- I really hope they don't fall out! I also failed my driving test in March, but I'll take it again in August.
I've got your phone number. It would be really nice to see you again...one night, for old times' sake, huh? I'm in Lewisham now in a very beautiful flat, above my brothers -- I'm very free and very happy. Anyway, Fran, I'll give you a ring in the next month or two (I say that far away because I know how inefficient I am at getting things like that together, but this, I will, eventually, honest).
Lots of love
PS No, I don't really see people from school much, but I find it so strange when I do -- I feel so, so, different, very far away from them.
It's pretty certain that Kate did not have anything to do with this book. Nearly all of the quotations of Kate herself come from published interviews, and many little inaccuracies pepper the text, most of which would probably have been corrected by the Bush family if they had been given a chance to edit it before publication. At times, Juby echoes Peter FitzGerald-Morris's own writings on Kate so closely that his reliance on the series of Homeground columns called "Five Years Ago" frequently becomes glaringly obvious. Despite these flaws, the book is so loyal to Kate, and at the same time sufficiently informative and accurate, that IED would be surprised if the Bush or Homeground camps commented negatively about it.
IED should add that the book does also include twelve colour and fifteen black-and-white photographs, fully half of which he had never seen before. And the quality of the reproductions is pretty high. All in all, despite many small errors of fact and typos, despite a frequently over-protective tone and despite a slight tendency to pad with redundant commentary and description, this book is a winner. IED will have more to say when he has finished it, but it's already clear to him that Juby's book can be recommended without hesitation to any and all Kate Bush fans.
The book is published by Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1 Tavistock Chambers, Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2SG, for anyone who wants to find out how to get a copy. Price: 12 Pounds 95 Pence.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 88 13:49 PDT
Subject: Book review: Kerry Juby, Kate Bush: The Whole Story
To make as clear as possible the extent of his reconsideration of the Kerry Juby biography of Kate, IED herewith posts his final, more detailed evaluation.
Kate Bush: The Whole Story,
by Kerry Juby with the assistance of Karen Sullivan.
(Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1988.)
The second of three new books about Kate Bush to emerge in the latter half of 1988 is Kerry Juby's Kate Bush: The Whole Story (available from Sidgwick Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1 Tavistock Chambers, Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2SG; price: 12 Pounds 95 Pence), which was written with the assistance of Karen Sullivan. (The other books are the anonymously written and published Kate Bush With Love, a scapbook comprising facsimiles of old magazine cuttings, and Kate Bush: A Visual Documentary, which had not been released at the time of this writing.)
IED's initial reaction to Juby's book was naively positive: it is nicely bound in hardcover, with a simple and elegant dustjacket that features a familiar black-and-white photograph of Kate. It is a legitimate publication, which makes a nice change. It must be said at the outset, however, that this book is not an "authorised" biography. There is, in fact, no evidence that IED could find in the text that Kate had even consented to an interview with the authors. Juby does not admit this, but tries to indicate that his connection with the Bush family was closer than it apparently was: he lists Kate on the acknowledgements page along with other sources who actually were consulted firsthand, apparently in a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader. Yet as far as IED was able to determine, all quotations of Kate herself derive from earlier published or recorded interviews--none of which is cited, either in footnotes or a bibliography.
Nevertheless, IED was reasonably pleased by the first few chapters of this book. At the outset Juby seems to be genuinely interested in "setting the record straight", perhaps in an attempt to offset any negative effects which earlier books (mainly the two Vermorel publications) may have had on Kate's reputation. This intention was conveyed by Juby's insistence--stated and repeated no fewer than five times within the first five pages--that Kate's character and background are "normal", whatever that may mean. Although the facts scarcely support such a vague and sweeping claim, IED can sympathise with Juby's motives in making it, in light of the tone set by the "biographers" who have preceded him.
Unfortunately, by page 70 this reader was forced to reassess his feelings feelings toward the new book. Shocked by the growing number of mistakes in the text, IED began to keep a tally of factual errors. The final results were disheartening: 111 errors of fact appear in a text of 161 pages--a disquieting average of more than two errors for every three pages. These range from false statements about the meaning of lyrics ("B.V.s" in "Violin" are explained (p. 61) as references to "'Beata Virgo', the blessed Virgin", rather than as a simple term for "backing vocals"--a mystery which Kate herself has explained on more than one occasion)--to outright falsehoods about Kate"s videos (as, for example, when on pp. 31-32 the settings of the Rockflix and Keef videos for "Wuthering Heights", respectively, are confused with each other).
Here are just a small additional sampling of the variety of errors you can find littering Juby's book: Kate is said to have worked with Roy Harper on "a number of albums" (p. 62). As far as IED has ever heard, Kate worked on only one track for Roy Harper's Unknown Soldier album, and Harper returned the favour by singing on The Dreaming LP. Kate is said to read "a great deal" (p. 75), despite her own frequent admission that she reads relatively slowly and little. Kate is several times said to be "afraid of flying," despite her own explanation--included in the book!--that she is not particularly "afraid", but simply prefers other forms of travel when possible.
Kate's family are described (p. 88) as being "able to control...any publications concerning Kate and ensure that her career is recorded with complete integrity"--an obviously, tragically untrue remark which can only have been made for self-serving reasons. "Warm and Soothing" is described (p. 96) as a song that was "never released"!
And at one point Kate's words are actually changed in order so that they might fit the mistaken view of the author: On page 126 Juby misquotes Kate from the 1985 Tony Myatt interview as saying: "The concept <of "Hello Earth"'s choir section> had been in my head for a couple of months and I watched this film called called Nos Feratu <sic>, directed by Friedrich Murnau and it was beautiful." Kate's actual words, otherwise identical, included no reference to Murnau, mainly because the choir in question is heard in Werner Herzog's re-make.
Obviously, Juby failed to learn the truth, and rather than search for an explanation, he simply altered Kate's statement. (For the record, here are Kate's precise words, as IED transcribed them from a tape recording: "I'd already been writing the concept--I suppose it had been in my head for a couple of months. And, uh...I watched this film called Nosferatu, directed by, um... Herzog. And it's beautiful! And there was this one piece of music...")
There are many signs that Juby relied heavily on information gleaned from the annals of Homeground either through Peter's original Five Years Ago series, or through their re-presentation in the chronology part of K.B. Complete. Unfortunately, even with this authoritative research aid, mistakes are made, as for example when, on page 101, Juby claims that Kate undertook the Profiles in Rock interview with Doug Pringle in late 1981 (rather than December 1980, as was the real case)--a mistake which originally appeared in K.B. Complete and which was immediately acknowledged as an error by HG in its next issue. No such care was taken by Juby. In fact, on two or three occasions Peter's very words are reproduced from the chronology, as for example on page 41, where Juby makes almost verbatim use of Peter's observation about Kate's unexpected choice of Kashka From Baghdad for a performance on the children's programme Ask Aspel.
And all this is to say nothing of the large number of unnecessary redundancies (otherwise known as padding), unwarranted speculation (a.k.a. idle gossip) and ill-considered opinion which fill the book out to its present marketable bulk. And of course myriad typographical and editorial errors riddle the text, including a tendency to misspell sources"s names in a variety of ways (Antony/Anthony Van Laast, Dian/Dyane/Diana Gray/Grey, Stuart/Simon Elliot, and Terry Gilliam/Guillia are examples). In the end, so many old errors are preserved and so many new ones introduced in Juby's book, that IED has found it difficult to choose which errors to reproduce as most representative of Juby's habits. Unfortunately, this pervasive carelessness will likely do more harm to Kate's reputation than good--a result which IED admits is probably the opposite of what Juby, however casually, intended.
IED remembers Kate's brother John Carder Bush warning the Romford Conventioneers that the Vermorels's books would be neither the last nor the worst of the unauthorised Kate Bush "biographies". He predicted then that a great many more such books would appear in future years. At the time IED was skeptical that the market would bear such a rampant industry of eKsploiTation. How naive IED was! For in the three years since that meeting we have had a flood of unapproved and outright illegal Kate Bush merchandise the likes of which had not been seen even in the first years of Kate's popularity.
The last thing the world needed was another addition to the long list of misinformational resources on the subject of Kate Bush. Unfortunately, Kerry Juby's book is likely to be with us for some time to come. We should expect a paperback edition to begin flooding the market within another year. Let's just hope that the publishers take a little time to rectify some of the more glaring mistakes before they commit to a second pressing.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Fri, 02 Dec 88 12:58 PST
Subject: Juby book
[re KATE BUSH: A Visual Documentary" by Kevin Cann & Sean Mayes]
IED will certainly write Love-Hounds about this book if and when he finally gets his grubby mitts on a copy. So far his import shop has been disgustingly slothful. It does sound like a worthwhile source-book, though IED will not be so naive as he was with the Juby book, judging before he's had a chance to ruminate. He still blushes when he thinks how he actually praised that piece of crap in his first posting.
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 89 11:27 PDT
Subject: Juby and HG
Finally, IED had no chance to mention it yesterday, but the 34th issue of Homeground has arrived, right on schedule as it always does, and more professional-looking than ever. It contains a long article by Peter detailing the Kate Bush biography that never was and its connection with the Kerry Juby business. Since IED was the author of Homeground's pan review of the Juby book, it seems that the publishers, Sidgwick and Jackson, are holding IED at least partially responsible, and have expressly asked him to send them suggestions for improving Juby's text for a second edition. The letter from S&J was reproduced in HG. Meanwhile Q Magazine, which printed a very brief (but in IED's opinion perfectly accurate and fair) review of the Juby book, are now being sued by Juby for libel ! Amazing, and needless to say, a little frightening to IED, who sees himself in a position of similar vulnerability!
-- Andrew Marvick
"Slipping past the chimney-pots..."
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 89 13:56 PDT
Subject: letter from Sidgwick & Jackson
IED just this second received a big package from Sidgwick & Jackson (publishers of Kerry Juby's bio of Kate). It contained a letter from Karen Hurrell (editor of the book) and two big thick new S & J hardbacks: one about Hitler's last weeks, and the other a massive biography of Paul McCartney (why they chose these IEDdoesn't know, but he appreciates the gesture nonetheless).
The letter was in response to a very, very long letter IED sent to them about three weeks ago, which detailed over eighty errors that he objected to in Juby's book. Here's Hurrell's reply:
April 24, 1989
Dear Mr. Marvick,
Thank you for your letter of April 5, 1989 which I received this morning. I am most impressed by the detail you have gone into and am extremely grateful for your comments and advice.
I can appreciate your points about damage done to Kate's reputation, and the very obvious need for an accurate, authoritative book in a crowded marketplace of 'defective' Kate Bush books. It certainly was not our intention to add to this category, and we will make every effort to take into consideration (and production) your suggested changes. The next revised edition will probably be in paperback format and I have sent a copy of these corrections to the editor at Headline, who will be publishing the book in massmarket paperback. This publisher was, incidentally, the same one to publish our PETER GABRIEL biography and they have an excellent reputation in the publishing world. I am sure they will take your comments very seriously.
Again, thank you for your time and obvious hard work. It is greatly appreciated. I enclose two books which I hope you enjoy.
I will be in touch to let you know the 'state of play'.
With best wishes, Yours sincerely,
Date: Mon, 01 May 89 23:52 PDT
Subject: Complete text of IED's letter to Sidgwick & Jackson
First, a reminder: Kate Bush is still God.
Now, here is the text of IED's letter to Karen Hurrell, an editor at Sidgwick & Jackson.
Editor Sidgwick & Jackson 1 Tavistock Chambers Bloomsbury Way London
WC1A 2SG England
Dear Ms. Hurrell:
I am moved to write this letter after reading your own letter to the editors of Homeground magazine, which was reproduced in their 34th issue. In it you expressed a wish to receive further comments from me concerning your recent publication, Kate Bush: The Whole Story, written by Kerry Juby.
First let me say that I found your letter sympathetic, and I applaud your willingness to improve Mr. Juby's text for future editions. I understand your natural reluctance to believe the book to be as bad as it was made out to be in my review (and in others'), and the tone of your letter was so appealing that I have taken the book down again and given it another chance, so to speak.
Before continuing, I would like to request that, whether or not you decide to follow any of my suggestions as set forth in this letter, you do not mention my name in future printings of Mr. Juby's book. I am relying on you and on Sidwick & Jackson to respect my request for privacy in this matter.
Although I did acknowledge several of the book's redeeming qualities in my review for Homeground, the text of my article was abridged by Peter and his staff, and so my views may have appeared more severe than in fact was the case. I do feel that the book has some excellent features, not the least of which is its fine layout and design. The collection of "candid" photographs is also of interest, and there is much to be said for the trouble which Mr. Juby took to interview some of the musicians and other people who have had the experience of working with Kate in the past. Those passages--which are more numerous than I had noticed upon first reading the book--are of real value, I think, and I am grateful to Mr. Juby for them. I would also like to admit here that my tally of 111 errors was harsh. Although the number is technically correct, it includes literally every substantive mistake of fact--no matter how small--which Mr. Juby makes in the course of his lengthy text; as well as those statements which I believe are exaggerations or distortions of fact. Appearing as they do without qualification, such distortions constitute errors in my view.
In addition, I encountered a number of peculiarities of punctuation and grammar. I will not bother to itemize these here, because I assume that you are aware of them already. Perhaps I was a bit punctilious in totting up these mistakes, some of which I will not mention in this letter because they now seem relatively unimportant to me. Please communicate my regrets to Mr. Juby for whatever distress my numeral "111" may have caused him!
Apologies and qualifications having been duly made, here are the errors which, as a devoted fan and student of the work and career of Kate Bush, I feel should be corrected or at least defended by Mr. Juby before his book goes to a second printing.
Pages xi-xx, 2: Kate is referred to as "normal" no fewer than five times (and several more times throughout the text). Kate has said this herself, in referece to her childhood, and no doubt it is true, as far as it goes. But the term "normal childhood" is quite vague and unhelpful. One use of it would therefore have been more than enough. I can appreciate the honorable motivation behind such statements, but it might be helpful to Mr. Juby if he remembered that the appeal of Kate Bush lies as much in the complexity of her music and persona, as in its superficial accessibility. Her background, childhood experiences and present character are therefore as interesting for their signs of abnormality as for their points of convergence with the norm.
Page 3: Here is another sign of Mr. Juby's unfortunate tendency to repeat himself unnecessarily. After Kate is "remembered," in paragraph 1, "as always having a great deal of pocket money," Mr. Juby adds, in Paragraph 2, that "Dr. Bush...[found]...plenty of pocket money for his children..." Why rehash such information needlessly?
Page 7: "Sharply, iron pierces flesh, and the shake is raised on the hill." The word "shake" should read "shape".
Page 10, Paragraph 3: "School who becoming" should read "School was becoming".
Page 13: "Ricky Hooper" should read "Ricky Hopper".
Page 14: "Kate recorded her first demo at Gilmour's home studio...They chose Passing Through Air and Maybe and the new tape was circulated..." This is misleading. The "first demo" at Gilmour's home included far more than two or three tracks. What I believe Mr. Juby may have meant to say was that Saxophone Song and The Man With the Child in His Eyes (but not Passing Through Air), as well as a song known as Maybe, were chosen from among the songs recorded at Gilmour's home, for re-recording under more professional conditions. In other words, it should be made clear that there were at least three stages in the "demo"-recording process: the first consisting of many recordings of songs (Kate has put the number at "about two hundred") which were made alone at home, or with the family's help; the second consisting of a recording of perhaps a dozen or fifteen songs made at the home of Mr. Gilmour with a small band; and the third consisting of only three songs-- Saxophone Song and The Man With the Child in His Eyes and the so-called Maybe-- all of which were executed in a professional context and submitted to EMI, with a successful result.
Mr. Juby actually says as much in the last paragraph of page 14, but the preceding misstatements put the later accurate ones in doubt. I know that this is rather dry material for a biography of a popular figure like Kate Bush, but it is nonetheless important, especially in view of the fact that some of these early demo recordings are now finding their way into collectors' hands.
Page 25: Andrew Powell is quoted at length expressing his opinion that the extreme speed of the recording process for The Kick Inside "helped immensely." Wouldn't it be appropriate to point out that Kate's own view is on record as being quite opposite to Mr. Powell's?
Page 28: Mr. Juby identifies James in James and the Cold Gun as "James of the James Gang". Here's what Kate herself had to say (this is from an old issue of the Kate Bush Club Newsletter):
Q.: In James and the Cold Gun did you refer to anyone in particular?
A.: I've had lots of letters about this, many from people called James, with plenty of suggestions for identities of the "James", but the answer is: nobody. When I wrote the song, James was the right name for it.
Page 31: Mr. Juby says that Keef MacMillan directed Kate's "first" video for Wuthering Heights. It's quite well known and amply documented that Keef's video--the one included in Kate's official video compilations--was created after the "field" or "moors" video, which was made by a fledgling video company called Rockflix early in 1978. Mr. Juby confuses matters even more--and shows that he had not actually seen either of these videos--by saying that the early "moors" video featured Kate in a white gown in a meadow. In fact Kate wore a red dress in that video.
Page 33: Mr. Juby says that "later [U.S. editions of The Kick Inside] featured the U.K. design". This is false. There have been two different U.S. cover-designs, but neither one is even remotely like the "official" U.K. album design--which, incidentally, is the only one sanctioned by Kate. The first of the "U.S." designs was actually the same as the Canadian design (still in circulation there). It features a close-up photograph of Kate with her hand against her face. The second U.S. design (still in use here) features a shot of Kate crouching, and wearing blue jeans and red socks. Both of these designs were decided upon at the regional offices, and Kate had no part in their selection.
Page 33: Also on this page, Mr. Juby describes the Efteling film (a film of videos Kate made in Holland in 1978) as having seven songs. It has only six.
Page 61: Mr. Juby interprets "BVs" in Violin as an abbreviation for "Beata Virgo"(!) In fact, Kate has several times explained that "BVs" is just short for "backing vocals". The Blessed Virgin never enters into it, as far as I know.
Page 62: "Roy Harper was another of EMI's aspiring musicians, less successful in the long run than Bush, but a close friend with whom she later worked on a number of albums..." This is highly misleading. Kate only worked on one album of Harper's: the Unknown Soldier LP; and furthermore, her only real contribution was to a single track on that album. This is the kind of statement that causes considerable damage, because, as I know from experience, many newer fans will now be searching for more than one Roy Harper/Kate Bush collaboration, based solely upon Mr. Juby's inaccurate report. Collectors are plagued by more than enough distortions and false rumours as it is, without being led further afield by a supposedly "authoritative" new resource.
Pages 68-69: Mr. Juby twice refers--wrongly--to the governess in The Infant Kiss as the mother of the children. There is no familial relationship between the children and the woman in either the song or the sources for the song (the film The Innocents; and Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw, which served as the basis for the film). For this reason Mr. Juby's criticism on page 69 ("It is a distinct juxtaposition of unmotherly, unnatural feelings and maternal love that Kate is describing, and it doesn't quite fit her description of how she sees it") is unjustified.
Page 73: "[Apart from bicycling...] any exercise that [Kate] gets is in the form of the movement that accompanies her music." Actually, Kate has practised kyudo, an East Asian form of archery, for several years. She has also been known to roller-skate on occasion.
Page 49: Alan Murphy is quoted as saying that Kate kept "buckets of tea...and Kit Kats and things" in the studio. Fine. But it's quite unnecessary, not to say suspicious, to use this statement again on page 73 by claiming that "most musicians [my italics] remember there being buckets of tea and bicuits and Kit Kats about during every session."
Page 61 (writing about Violin): "It is a coy, devilish attempt to breathe a little fire into a staid violin, but in many ways it fails because of the song's lack of melody." This statement is so silly and demonstrates such colossal ignorance of music that I am sure I needn't argue further for its deletion from future editions.
Page 75: "Kate reads a great deal." Kate does not read a great deal! She has explained many times that she seldom reads, because she is a slow reader and feels that it takes up too much of her worktime (though she has also admitted that her attitude is "silly, really"). I believe Mr. Juby was aware of this fact, but for some reason chose to ignore it. It would certainly be accurate to say that books have had a powerful influence on Kate's work, and that she loves reading. But she has not read particularly widely or deeply, and has said as much on several occasions.
Page 76: "...she expressed a great deal of interest in the latest cult of New Wave artists." It is misleading to make this statement without dating its source, since Kate's enthusiasm for virtually any kind of Western popular music has been minimal since about 1981 or so--hardly contemporaneous with the "latest cult".
Also on page 76 is the statement: "A sixties child by heart, she appreciates the Beatles, but finds most inspiration in Billie Holliday [sic]...Gene Kelly and Judy Garland." This sentence is not only illogical (Holiday, Kelly and Garland were scarcely typical role models for a "sixties child by heart"), but false. To my knowledge her only mention of Garland and Kelly were in reference to their inspiring influence upon her as a child. By contrast the later work of the Beatles, and of John Lennon in particular, have remained a powerful source of inspiration for Kate throughout her career.
Page 81: "The eroticism of Kate Bush is undeniable, however..." Assuming that Mr. Juby means the eroticism of her work or performance style, this statement is fine. But the sentence continues: "...and no virgin, even one as imaginative as Kate, could write a song like Feel It, or L'Amour Looks Something Like You." This is not only an extremely dubious claim. It also constitutes an embarrassing lapse in taste. Surely idle speculation about the date of Kate's loss of virginity is not something the author or his readers can benefit from.
Page 82: I'm afraid I found this paragraph particularly offensive. "Kate is afraid of flying. She is slightly miffed, however, when the subject is brought up, hotly denying that she is afraid, but rather explaining that it just isn't her favourite manner in which to travel..."
Then, on page 135, Mr. Juby writes: "Overcoming her fear of flying, Kate agreed to fly over..."
Mr. Juby is assuming, in other words, that the rumours that Kate is "afraid" of flying are true, even when he himself is fully aware of Kate's flat denials! That's really irresponsible. Especially since we have far more than just Kate's say-so on this issue: Kate has made literally dozens of flights between England and Europe, England and North America, England and Japan, England and Australia, all of which she undertook, one may be sure, without complaint. Mr. Juby has no business denying the facts in favour of silly, unsupported gossip. It is at about this point in the book that Mr. Juby plunges into a low celebration of similarly ridiculous rumours: exhuming stories about Kate being pregnant at a Peter Gabriel concert in 1987; having an affair with Gabriel; and even being a drug addict! As in the case I cited above concerning the false rumour about a fear of flying, Mr. Juby dwells on these bits of nonsense with a fascination that implies they are somehow more true than Kate's denials. And he does this even when he himself has already printed those denials in his own book!
Also on page 82: Mr. Juby quotes at length some uncredited hearsay attributed to Kate by the writer Fred Vermorel--a far less responsible author than Mr. Juby himself, as I'm sure Mr. Juby would agree. The context of this dubious citation is the subject of the importance of dream states as a source of inspiration for Kate. Yet even Mr. Juby expresses doubt about the authenticity of the quotation. His text would have been stronger if he had looked for more solid support for his ideas. Sorely missing are any of Kate's several statements to the effect that her works--and particularly The Ninth Wave-- deal with the character's resistance of sleep, and with the conflict between dreams and the real-life problems of her songs' characters. Also missing is Kate's interesting and relevant opinion (expressed in the course of more than one televised interview) that dreams are as much a part of "real life" and the "real world" as wakefulness, and that her work should not be misinterpreted as less "realistic" or more "escapist" because of its exploration of parallel states of consciousness.
Page 83: "She is a truly sweet woman, with a high, consonantless mode of speech betraying a cross between a suburban South London accent and some sort of contrived innocence." Mr. Juby's attitude toward his subject seems confused in this statement--as in many other parts of his text. Kate's "sweetness" wouldn't seem to be supported by her "contrivance" of innocence. On the other hand, it is possible that Kate's speech patterns, and even perhaps her accent, may have undergone some changes over the years, and Mr. Juby might have searched for explanations of those possible changes.
Page 88: "The family are able to control to a certain degree any publications concerning Kate and ensure that her career is recorded with complete integrity." I don't wish to sound callous, but Mr. Juby's text, which was unauthorized and obviously not edited by anyone in the Bush family, and which appeared with all the errors enumerated in this letter, is a manifest contradiction of his statement above. The unfortunate fact is that the family are unable to control the publications concerning Kate, and have had only limited success in ensuring that her career is recorded with "complete integrity." Witness not only Mr. Juby's unauthorized text, but also Mr. Vermorel's two execrable "books", Paul Kerton's empty biography, and the more recent Kate Bush: A Visual Documentary by Mayes and Cann--not one of which was ever "controlled" by the Bush family (more's the pity), except insofar as their non-participation may be construed as "control".
Also on pages 88-89: Mr. Juby remarks upon the difficulty of obtaining interviews with Kate, and in general of breaking the barrier of privacy which guards her personal life from the prying eyes of journalists and biographers. As a matter of fact, similar observations litter the pages of The Whole Story, creating an almost bewildering impression of redundancy and sour grapes.
Page 89 includes a fussy account of Kate's corporate earnings over a five-year period. Such information is presumably accessible through public records. I do wish, though, that Mr. Juby had stopped to consider whether this kind of idle consideration of Kate's personal fortune serves any useful purpose, and whether his standards of propriety regarding his intrusion into the private life of his subject should really be limited solely by what is legal. Sidgwick & Jackson, too, might weigh the importance and dignity of the artist whom Mr. Juby contracted with them to write about, against the kind of sleazy sifting through rubbish-bins which this sort of documentation resembles.
Page 91: "...Annie Lennox specifically incorporates Kate's style of exaggerated vocals into her repertoire." This statement, which is phrased so as to resemble fact, is actually a personal opinion which I for one find absurd. Ms. Lennox's vocal stylings are almost completely based upon Blues and other American popular vocal traditions. If Mr. Juby has found a statement by Ms. Lennox herself attesting to Kate's influence, why not include it? The same criticism can be made of Mr. Juby's likening of the vocal style of Susan "Sarendon" [sic] in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Kate's. I am unable to detect any hint of a connection between the two styles, and I look in vain through Mr. Juby's text for a justification of his peculiar analogy.
From the bottom of page 92 through the end of page 94: Mr. Juby does nothing except repeat, almost verbatim, statements which he has already made. I would have expected Sidgwick & Jackson to have made at least some effort to put a rein on Mr. Juby's chronic habit of padding his text.
Page 96: "Just prior to this, Kate had recorded Warm and Soothing, which was also never released." In fact, as Mr. Juby would soon have learned had he done some basic homework, Warm and Soothing was released, as the b-side of Kate's December Will Be Magic Again single, in 1981.
Page 97: "She appeared on two Radio BBC-1 programmes with Paul Gambaccini where she played her music..." Kate didn't play any of her own music on either of those programmes. She played only other people's music--that was the point of the broadcasts.
Also on page 97: district [sic] use of the Fairlight." This statement is unfortunately typical of music critics' view of Gabriel's
connection with Kate Bush. It implies that Kate's deep and longtime fascination with the Fairlight CMI is somehow primarily a function of Peter Gabriel's "increasing" influence. Kate has said several times that she had envisioned an instrument with the Fairlight's capabilities from her earliest years of composition. It is therefore more or less co-incidental that she first happened to encounter the instrument during the PG3 sessions. The growing role of the Fairlight in her composition and performance techniques is therefore basically unrelated to her infrequent and rather minimal collaboration with Peter Gabriel. The influence of Gabriel's own music on Kate's, though real, has often been exaggerated.
Page 101: In a paragraph detailing Kate's activities at the end of 1981, Mr. Juby writes: "Finally, after an exhausting interview lasting several days for a US production, Profiles in Rock, Kate took a well-deserved break..." Several days, perhaps, but not a whole year. The Profiles in Rock interview was filmed in December 1980, not 1981. This error appears in Peter FitzGerald-Morris's chronology for the book Kate Bush Complete, which is how I suppose Mr. Juby came to repeat it. Mr. Juby really should have studied the superlative fanzine Homeground, however, wherein Peter promptly acknowledged this mistake of dating in a list of errata.
Page 102: "Kate left for Jamaica...coming back to work with Zaine Griff on her tribute [my italics] to Kemp's Flowers." Either Mr. Juby believes that the song was written by Kate, or he is under the impression that Zaine Griff is a woman. The song Flowers was not written by Kate, but by Zaine Griff, who is a man. Mr. Juby would have known this had he taken the trouble to listen to Mr. Griff's album Figures, on which the song in question appears.
Also on page 102, Mr. Juby describes Kate as "flushed and giggling" on the occasion when her dress-strap broke during the Prince's Trust Gala performance in 1981. This may sound quaint, but it is utterly false. In fact, the trifling incident is memorable primarily because of the extraordinary sangfroid which Kate showed during a small emergency on stage. There wasn't a hint of a flush or a giggle.
And again on page 115 Mr. Juby writes: "...she came out from hiding flushed and girlishly enthusiastic about her 'man'." This statement is distasteful and--of course--completely untrue. I am surprised that Sidgwick & Jackson were willing to go forward with it. In fact Kate demonstrated a reserve and dignity on that occasion which contrasted markedly from the churlish, leering attitude of the Press.
Page 104 (writing about The Dreaming): "The overuse of percussion and synthesized [sic] becomes repetitive to the point of annoyance. She put a label on the sleeve requesting that the album be played loud, but the result of obeying her wish is a throbbing headache..."
Remarks like these unwisely draw attention to Mr. Juby's shallow understanding of Kate's work, and indeed, to his pedestrian musical taste in general. He peppers his text with this kind of nonsense more and more often as the book progresses.
To wit (page 104): "It is an ambitious, even overproduced, album..."; and (page 107): "She was just beginning to grasp hold of the tools that the studio and various instruments had to offer, and The Dreaming displays an overabundance of stimuli; it is an overproduced album with far too many external effects marring [my italics] the clean lines that shaped Never For Ever."
When asked (in an issue of the Kate Bush Club Newsletter), "Do you mind if the press label the new album 'over-produced', or 'even weirder'"? Kate replied: "I don't mind 'even weirder', but I don't like 'over-produced'. Her point was well taken. Kate's introduction of production techniques into all aspects of her music-making process during the recording of The Dreaming is a milestone in modern musical history, and constitutes a large part of her art as a whole. The casual dismissal of The Dreaming as "over-produced" shows a woeful ignorance of the nature of the work. Further, Mr. Juby's naive hankering for what he calls the "more infantile and commercial Never For Ever" leads him to describe the production of The Dreaming-- a pervasive aspect of the album of which Kate was by 1982 already a supreme technical master--as "marring the clean lines" of her earlier work. With this phrase Mr. Juby reveals his sad inability to appreciate not only the progression from Never For Ever to The Dreaming, but also the linearity of Kate's aesthetic progress beginning with her earliest recordings and continuing steadily through The Ninth Wave and Experiment IV.
Pages 104-105: "The lyrics range from utterly confusing to obsessively dramatic..." In fact, every word in The Dreaming makes eminent sense within the context of the music--providing the listener is willing to take a little time to study them.
Page 105: "She claims Get Out of My House and Leave It Open are attempts to analyse very complex personal emotions, but [my italics] they are harsh and unmusical numbers, replete with slamming doors and bawdy, hoarse hollering." Mr. Juby apparently feels that the sounds which he so crudely describes are incompatible with Kate's "claim". They are not, of course. Mr. Juby is simply unwilling or unable to appreciate the musical expression of "complex personal emotions" unless they are limited to soft, sweet sounds; whereas Kate has a broader and more enlightened view of music's potential range of expression.
Similarly, on page 106, Mr. Juby betrays the narrowness of his musical taste and understanding by saying: "Perhaps the most typical Kate Bush numbers on the album are All the Love and Houdini where she uses her voice at its haunting best." [My italics.] As though the success of Kate's expressive efforts could be measured in direct proportion to the volume level of her songs! Needless to say, these two songs are no more "typical" than any of the others--Mr. Juby simply likes them better.
Page 108: "The Dreaming is of an autobiographical nature..." In fact Kate has said (more than once) that virtually none of The Dreaming is autobiographical, except insofar as every artist's work can be said to reflect aspects of their own consciousness.
On pages 124-127 Mr. Juby repeatedly refers to the protagonist of The Ninth Wave as a man. In fact, if he had taken only minimal care in listening to the music, he would have realized that the protagonist is a woman. And if a study of the work had not set him straight, a simple reading of Kate's detailed synopsis of the story, published in an issue of the Newsletter, might have helped him. She begins: "It's the trial of this girl who's in the water; and all she wants to do is survive and keep her head above water."
Page 126: Mr. Juby here deliberately misquotes Kate in order to reconcile her statement with his own misconception. He quotes her as saying (from the Tony Myatt interview): "The concept [of Hello Earth] had been in my head for a couple of months and I watched this film called Nos Feratu" [sic] "by Friedrich Murnau..." (Incidentally, the title is again misspelled--as "Noseratu"--on page 76.) Kate's actual words--unmistakable on the recording--were: "...this film called Nosferatu, directed by Herzog..." Kate is referring, of course, to Werner Herzog, and his re-make of Murnau's silent film of the 1920s. Mr. Juby's mistake in this case is serious, because again, Kate's fans might well go to some lengths to find the choir music in question in the soundtrack to Murnau's film (which doesn't even have any soundtrack!), rather than seeing Herzog's movie, which features the relevant music prominently in its final scenes.
Page 128: Mr. Juby refers to a "disco beat that runs through most of the A-side of the album." In fact the first and the last tracks of the album employ strict military march tattoos as their rhythmic bases; the second track uses stark, aggressive, cymbal-less rhythms with a 'cello obligato--as far from "disco" as can be imagined; and the fourth track's rhythm is slow, irregular and unsettling, in reflection of the song's depiction of a psychotic murderer. That leaves only one song on Side A, The Big Sky, the rhythm of which follows a very loose, basic rock pattern which could be described as "disco" only in the broadest possible sense. Perhaps, more than Mr. Juby's laxitude with the facts, it is ill-considered remarks about musical style such as this one on page 128 which have most annoyed his readers, and which have succeeded in alienating so many of Kate's fans from his book. Mr. Juby must realize that a thorough understanding of the music is paramount in any book which attempts to deal with an artist of Kate's calibre and importance.
Pages 129-130: "[ The Big Sky ] is less serious than anything else on the album, portraying a whimsical philandering mood in which she simply gazes at and appreciates nature and the grandiose spectrum of the sky. It probably isn't a bad thing to loosen up on imagery: to allow music to take precedence at times over lyric can only emphasize the rounded nature of her talents."
These comments will astonish any serious fan of Kate's music. (Not to mention anyone who takes the time to check "philandering" in the dictionary--which I advise Mr. Juby to do!) They demonstrate a failure on Mr. Juby's part to look beyond the most superficial veneer of Kate's work--a failure which undermines many other passages in his book. There are many subtle undercurrents in the lyrics of this song which put the lie to Mr. Juby's suggestion that their meaning is simple and insubstantial. Beyond that, however, the implication that in general Kate would be better off "allowing music to take precedence" over lyrics is as ignorant as it is patronizing.
Page 130: "The video for Running Up That Hill was considered too risque for the States (it featured her dancing apparently too erotically) and thus her performance on Wogan was used in its place for promotional purposes." This statement (which incidentally was lifted almost verbatim from Peter FitzGerald-Morris's chronology) invariably induces surprised laughter from Kate's American fans. Too "erotic" for MTV? The idea is completely absurd.
It is far more likely is that MTV did not wish to air a video which did not feature lip-synching. They therefore asked EMI to send along an alternate clip with lip-synching, and EMI obliged by offering her on-air performance from the Wogan programme. It will no doubt disappoint Mr. Juby to learn that there is no Page-Three innuendo to be gleaned from this trivial incident.
Also on page 130: Mr. Juby twice more refers to passages of "strong percussion without cymbals" as clear signs of Peter Gabriel's increasing influence. Mr. Juby evidently has never taken the time to make a study of the recordings of Captain Beefheart, David Bowie, or even Rolf Harris, which contain early examples of percussion similar to the kind he describes. Since Kate has often referred to the influence which these artists' work have had on her own recording techniques, such percussive sounds in and of themselves are by no means necessarily a sign of Mr. Gabriel's influence.
I believe Mr. Juby is struck more by the similarity of tuning in the two artists' drum-sounds from this period. He should therefore also have acknowledged Phil Collins, who provided drumming on Gabriel's third solo LP, and Hugh Padgham, an engineer who later worked with Kate. These men were certainly as instrumental as Gabriel himself in developing the distinctive sound in question--a sound which is in any case not at all identical to the drum timbres in Kate's own recordings.
Page 131: "The video [of Running Up That Hill ] features Kate and dancer Michael Hervieu, clad in grey, simple leotard..." Actually the costumes are notable for their differences from the "simple leotard" which Mr. Juby describes. In actuality both Kate and Mr. Hervieu wear hakama, the traditional culotte-like garments worn in the practice of kyudo. This is a typically Bushian subtextual reference to Kate's interest in and respect for aspects of Eastern philosophy.
Also page 131 (in reference to Wilhelm Reich): "...who was sent to prison for creating a rain machine." The "rain machine," the primary alleged function of which was not to bring rain but to control a theoretical property of nature known to Reich as orgone, had in fact nothing at all to do with the psycho-analyst's arrest and subsequent imprisonment. Reich fell afoul of U.S. law for selling boxes, known as orgone accumulators, across state lines. In both Kate's song and the book which inspired it, the childhood experience of Reich's son is limited by a child's understanding of events. This dilemma is a major theme of Cloudbusting. Such a limited understanding should not have been shared by Kate's own biographer, however.
Page 132: Mr. Juby refers to Terry Gilliam as "Terry Guillia". Also on the subject of name misspellings, Kate's dance instructor for Running Up That Hill, Dyane Grey, is identified as Diana; Jon Kelly is also called John Kelly; and on page 29 Gurdjieff is spelled Gurdjiff. Conifer is referred to as Canifer. Reference is made to both a Stewart Arnold and a Stewart Avon-Arnold. On page 43 Leif Garrett's name is spelled Lief Garrett. On page 65 Kate's brother John Carder Bush is referred to as Jon. (Since there are many Johns and Jons connected with Kate's career, it's important to keep them straight.) On page 97 Paul Gambaccini's name is spelled Gambicini, and on page 158 Donal Lunny's name is spelled Donnal.
I hope you have the text on computer-disk, so that these problems can be resolved easily.
Page 133 (in reference to the song Mother Stands for Comfort): "If one is to go by her previous autobiographical themes, then perhaps one could take this track to mean that her mother (her family) will protect her from anything, good or bad, from herself and from anyone who comes to get her." As attractive as such a reading of the song is for Mr. Juby's biographical purposes, there is absolutely no indication of any kind that an autobiographical message was intended in this song. As a matter of fact, there are scarcely more than two or three songs in Kate's entire published oeuvre which can definitely be said to have a significant, direct link with her own personal experience, so unlike the usual confessional singer-songwriter is she. She has often said that she does not feel her own life experience merits a place in her lyrics. Mr. Juby should take her at her word--especially when considering a song like Mother Stands For Comfort, which deals explicitly with the subject of a psychopathological murderer!
Page 137: "EMI were furious with Kate..." What is Mr. Juby's source for this implausible statement? Certainly neither Kate nor EMI.
Page 138: " Under the Ivy sounds more like Kate's pre- Dreaming recordings, with simplified lyrics..." If the lyrics are "simplified", again Kate's fans invite Mr. Juby to explain them. Their simple surface conceals a mysterious collection of riddles and double meanings which have fascinated and confused countless of her fans for nearly four years.
Page 141: "To date, The Whole Story still remains on the bestselling albums and the bestselling compact discs lists." This information was already out of date when the book first went to press.
Page 142: "...Kate appears very young and quite unpolished in Wuthering Heights and The Man With the Child in His Eyes, while the extraordinary successful [sic] Cloudbusting illustrates her budding dramatic skills." Mr. Juby is judging Kate's mime-and-dance performances of the late 1970s by the standards of a short film in which Kate acted alongside Donald Sutherland in a realistic dramatic context. He therefore sees Kate's acting in the earlier work as "quite unpolished." If Mr. Juby had taken the time to make a careful study of the narrative eloquence of Kate's movements in those earlier performances, rather than considering them only by the irrelevant standards of film-acting, he would not have made such a criticism.
These are the most glaring errors which I personally have noticed in Juby's book. You may be inclined to treat some of them lightly. Given the importance of Mr. Juby's subject, that would be a mistake. Before closing, I want to say again that I do not consider The Whole Story to be entirely meritless. It contains some new and interesting information. But Mr. Juby should address all of the points that I have made above before re-printing the book. In addition, he should make a real effort to revise the overal text such that the contradictory and harmful attitudes which pervade it are brought into some kind of reconciliation. If he is able to make these changes, I am sure that his book will find some new advocates.
Finally, Ms. Hurrell, I take the liberty of reminding you of my wish that my name should not appear in any revised edition of the book.
Thank you for your interest in my comments regarding The Whole Story.
Date: Tue, 2 May 89 12:22:02 PDT
From: duane@Sun.COM (Duane Day, I.R. - Applications Development)
Subject: IED's letter re: Juby
Thanks to IED for posting his informative comments on Juby's book. There is only one small part of the letter to which I object:
>Also on Page 130: Mr. Juby twice more refers to passages of "strong percussion without cymbals" as clear signs of Peter Gabriel's increasing influence. [...]
I believe Mr. Juby is struck more by the similarity of tuning in the two artists' drum-sounds from this period. (He should also have acknowledged Phil Collins, the drummer on Gabriel's third solo LP, and Hugh Padgham, the engineer, who were certainly as instrumental as Gabriel himself in developing the distinctive sound in question.)
Two things: first, Collins was not the only drummer on PGIII. Most of the songs featured Jerry Marotta on drums. Collins, I believe, only played on the song "Intruder", which featured the snare drum treated with gated reverb (resulting in a very abrupt, "un-natural" decay) which has come to be one of every modern producer's bag of tricks.
Second, regarding the statement that Collins and Padgham were as instrumental as Gabriel in developing the sound in question - this contradicts Peter's own comments. For example, take the following quote from Armando Gallo's book Peter Gabriel :
"The drum sound on 'Intruder', which you now hear everywhere, was originally Hugh Padgham's set-up and he should get credit for that. I took Phil Collins' cymbals away and put some tom-toms up because up until that time he played a lot of cymbals. I remember the moment when I first heard that 'gated reverb'. I stopped the session we were working on and said that I wanted to record that sound immediately for 'Intruder'. The others were a little taken aback at my enthusiasm but did as I asked. I was certain that it was a 'landmark' drum sound. Now I get angry when people say I have copied Phil's drum sound."
According to this statement, Padgham should get the credit for developing the sound. By inference, Peter should get the credit for using it, specifically on "Intruder", and also for excluding cymbals from this album. It is hard to understand how Collins should share equally in the credit for the gated reverb snare, unless one believes that Peter was pettily denying him his due - an action that would be completely out of character for him.
These minor errors on IED's part do not diminish my appreciation of his efforts in setting the record straight. Indeed, this correction is offered in exactly the same spirit.
Date: Thu, 04 May 89 12:04 PDT
Subject: about Violin
>> Page 61 (writing about Violin ): "It is a coy, devilish attempt to breathe a little fire into a staid violin, but in many ways it fails because of the song's lack of melody." This statement is so silly and demonstrates such colossal ignorance of music that I am sure I needn't argue further for its deletion from future editions.
> Perhaps I'm colossally ignorant of music, too, but I don't see an obvious reason to claim that Juby is wrong. (I'm not saying he's right, either, but Juby does at least attempt to justify his assertion that the song fails in some ways.) Could you elaborate?
Sure. I admit that I went a bit over the top over that excerpt from Juby's book, because there were two separate annoying assumptions in it. The first (interpreting as well as I could Juby's awkward and vague language) was that the violin is somehow by nature "staid". Neither I nor Kate shares Juby's image of the violin as a "staid" instrument. In fact, Kate's image of the violin, at least at that time, was that it's about as far from being "staid" as any instrument can be. I couldn't understand what Juby could have had in mind. I guess that he thinks of the violin as only good for slow, sombre classical music, and he therefore naively assumes that others think of it that way, too. But in Irish and English folk music the fiddle has always taken on a potent role, very often serving as a kind of fiery, almost violent and even percussive driving force for traditional dances. My main point is just that there's nothing inherently "staid" about the instrument--it's the music that determines that.
The other thing that annoyed me about the comment was Juby's blithe assumption that Violin (the song) has no melody ! Well, that's just ridiculous. All this means is that Juby has no ear ! The melody in Violin operates on a different basis than the melodies of most popular songs. For one thing it's devised around a very unusual (for pop music) augmented chord progression (listen to the descending pattern played by the violin in the first four measures of the track, for instance) which Juby's ear apparently can't grasp. But if it can be hummed, isn't it "melody"? IED has no problem singing (in the shower!) the whole song through. How could there be no melody if that's possible? The fact is that "melody" doesn't have to be sweet and simple in order to qualify as melody. It just has to be a sequence of notes which form a coherent pattern, usually repeated. Melody is so broad a term, and encompasses such a vast range of possible tonal combinations, that to say Violin "doesn't have" any is utterly absurd.
>>'over-produced'." Her point was well taken. Kate's introduction of production techniques into all aspects of her music-making process during the recording of The Dreaming is a milestone in modern musical history, and constitutes a very large part of her art as a whole.
> I like *The Dreaming* a lot, but "a milestone in modern musical history"? Elaboration on this point would be much appreciated also.
All such judgements are based on some degree of subjective perception. I personally am convinced that The Dreaming is one of the three or four greatest achievements in the history of modern popular music. One could then argue that if this is so, it's possible to argue that it's a great achievement in the history of music, period. I think that in general the musicians whom the public of our own time value highly--Bruce Springsteen, for example, who is both immensely popular and (generally speaking) critically respected--will eventually be reevaluated by far more stringent musical standards, and artists who nowadays may not be appreciated to such an extent will some day be recognized as the truly superior figures in the field of popular music.
For a while in the nineteenth century the biggest names in music were Offenbach and Meyerbeer. Well, as I see the music scene of the last twenty-five years, only one or two of the artists who are presently considered "great" are likely to retain that reputation a hundred years from now--probably The Beatles, possibly Bob Dylan; conceivably one or two others. The rest will probably be forgotten entirely, except by musical historians.
Conversely, it's not beyond possibility that in fifty years or so Kate Bush's work will have been acknowledged as the "milestone" I claim it is. The Dreaming isn't just exceptional because of its many powerful and sophisticated melodic ingredients; or because of its innovative (for pop) amalgamation of modal and tonal harmonies; or the perfection of its synthesis of a variety of ethnic musical styles (some of which had never even been superficially merged anywhere before); or the limitless depth of meaning in its lyrics; or its extremely rare attitude toward the very notion of "accessibility" in pop music--an attitude which results in an uncommon degree of subtextual musical and narrative information, much of which is designed to be overlooked.
The Dreaming is also --and perhaps especially--exceptional because it represents an attitude toward the nature of music which had never been expressed to such a degree. Only one instrument is heard on The Dreaming --production. I'm not putting this very clearly, but I am convinced that all the breakthroughs in and innovative attitudes toward studio production which The Beatles presented in Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour were but the springboard for the apotheosis of production which is The Dreaming. Because it's not just the sophistication of production technique I'm considering (although that, too, is of the highest order). More importantly, it's the artist's larger conception of the role of production as an indispensible part of music.
With The Dreaming "pop songs" are no longer being "composed". Kate is attempting instead to transcribe the miraculous essence of her muse directly onto tape, using every technical means she could find. In other words, Kate Bush, for the first time in modern musical history, attempted in a very physical, literal sense, to perform an act of musical alchemy. Whether she succeeded completely is probably debatable. But her effort to accomplish such a feat was more thorough and more systematic than any artist's had ever--or has ever since--been. The fact that most people haven't come to appreciate this yet does not surprise me, but it does sometimes make me angry--as when I trashed Juby's silly remarks above.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Fri, 05 May 89 09:29:34 -0400
From: (Michael J. Lamoureux) <email@example.com>
Subject: musical alchemy?
IED says: > In other words, Kate Bush, for the first time in modern musical history, attempted in a very physical, literal sense, to perform an act of musical alchemy.
Let me get this straight...you're trying to tell me that you don't believe that ANYONE had done this before 1982???!!?!!?!?!? You're kidding right? Immediately three names pop into my head. Rick Wakeman. He produced ALL of his albums, and did a damn good job on several of them before 1982. You don't think Frank Zappa had achieved this state with his music before 1982? And before 1982, Todd Rundgren had already made several albums on which he played ALL of the instruments, produced, mixed, engineered, wrote all of the lyrics & music (and I might add that he even did the cover art on one or two of them). What else could he do? Go out on the street and sell it too? I'm sorry, but you can't get away with this one. I'd like to point out that these are just three in a list which I'm sure is quite long. As much as I revere her, I can't lie about it, IED...Kate was not the FIRST. And I'm fairly sure that I won't be the only one to explain this to you. Could IED please clarify his statement? (Does "modern musical history" begin in 1981, perhaps :-)
Date: Sat, 06 May 89 15:53 PDT
Subject: re musical alchemy
We have a misunderstanding here. IED was trying to describe a rather abstract concept; he did not say Kate was "the first person to record/perform/produce/write all her own work, for chrissake!" Those were not IED's words. Admittedly his words were not very clear, however. For what it's worth, his contention was that Kate's attitude toward the act of making music itself was new and different, in that she was no longer trying to "translate" into relatively well-established terms the original music she had conceived. Instead she was trying to reproduce directly the ideas in her head. IED would argue that although others may have been the instigators of the ideas which they subsequently recorded/produced themselves (such as the artists you mentioned), they were unquestionably constrained by one of two attitudes or conditions which Kate Bush, with The Dreaming, was able to free herself from (to at least a greater degree): either
1.) the notion that the transcendent musical conceptions originating in the mind are unreproduceable and can therefore only be paralleled in more conventional and established terms (i.e. through rock or other instruments, recorded and possibly "treated" in some way in the studio); or
2.) the more common condition--that the artist's musical ideas are actually conceived in the conventional language of existing sound. IED believes that Kate's The Dreaming introduces a whole new level of alchemic musical creation, far beyond--as regards both scope of conception and thoroughness of execution--anything which either "Rick Wakeman" or "Frank Zappa" or "Pink Floyd" or any of these types had ever achieved before.
Now before you get mad again, remember that IED prefaced this opinion yesterday with the admission that his is a personal opinion, based upon an admittedly obsessive and as a result exclusionary musical outlook. He does want it to be understood, however, that he was not contending that Kate was the first artist to produce her own music! ALCHEMY! That's what IED is talking about--ALCHEMY!
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Wed, 03 May 89 13:58 PDT
Subject: re 9th W death; and Mailbag
[re drum-sound in KT/Gabriel:]
Thanks very much to Duane for his corrections on this point. IED is definitely no Gabriel expert, and hastens to admit as much. Apropos of this drum-sound issue, he should mention two things. First, he got his (now obviously false) view of the development of the sound from an interview he read a year or so ago with Hugh Padgham. In it Padgham was complaining about how common the "gated reverb" drum sound had become in recent years, and that people seemed utterly unable or unwilling to develop new sounds instead, but just kept using the same old ones over and over. As IED recalls (perhaps inaccurately) Padgham seemed to assume substantial credit for the development of the sound.
He also described the way the mikes were set up to create it, and he made it sound as though they had had the sound in mind before they got it, and not that it was a sort of inspired accident (as Gabriel apparently described it). Yet they were definitely both talking about the same sound, because Padgham also dated its development to the early PGIII sessions. He also said Collins was on drums when they came up with it, so Marotta would seem less relevant.
The other thing IED wanted to add was that he had actually already had some doubts about his wording on this point in his letter to Sidgwick & Jackson, and in the final version that he sent out he put it this way (still perhaps misleading, but a little less so):
"...the two artists' drum-sounds from this period. He should therefore also have acknowledged Phil Collins, who provided drumming on Gabriel's third solo LP, and Hugh Padgham, an engineer who later worked with Kate. These men were also instrumental in developing the distinctive sound in question--a sound which is in any case not at all identical to the drum timbres in Kate's own recordings."
On to E4 - MiskMisk - Anne Archer
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996