Updated: Sun, 7 July, 1996
Listening to the demos and looking at the photos in your Cathy book while reading this is strongly recommended.
This version is especially dedicated to Mandy Heath.
I really hope you'll enjoy it!
Sources: IED, Ron Hill, PDFM, LH-archive, Amazing Pudding Special, Phoenix broadcast (thanks Tom Tuerff), my own collection.
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"My father has told me I used to dance to the music on the telly. I remember it vaguely. It was completely unselfconscious and I wasn't aware of people looking at me. One day some people came into the room, saw me and laughed and from that moment on I stopped doing it. I think maybe I've been trying to get back there ever since." [Look up the photo of little Cathy dancing in the grass, Cathy book.]
At about 1969, 11 year old Kate begins to play on the piano and starts writing poems. By 1971 she starts writing ballads and slow songs such as TMWTCIHE or Saxophone Song.
She wrote stories for her own amusement and poems 'about being alone or wandering in the woods'. She had a phase of being obsessed about whales and tried several times to write 'a whale song'. [Moving?]
"I wasn't an easy, happy-go-lucky girl, because I used to think about everything so much, and I think I probably still do."
"I found it very frustrating being treated like a child when I wasn't thinking like a child. From the age of ten I felt old. I became very shy at school...".
"When I was very little, my brothers were into traditional folk music, and my father used to play and compose on the piano and I think that this was a very strong influence on me. I was very little and there was always music in the house, so it didn't seem unnatural to start playing the piano or playing around on the instruments that were in the house."
"I probably wrote the first song when I was about eleven, but I mean it was terrible [laughs], very overdone. And I think the more you write songs, you just get a knack for them, hopefully. [laughs]"
"Since I was a kid, I mean I've been interested in music since I was about five. But when I was about eleven I actually started writing songs."
"I was up in my little room screaming my head off and plonking away at the piano."
"And when Kate began working on the piano, she'd go and lock herself away and wind up spending five or six hours, seven days a week, just playing the piano. At the age of thirteen or fourteen she was spending tons and tons of time writing, but starting in fact when she was about ten."
"I just started poking around at the piano and started making up little songs."
"When I was 14, I started taking it seriously, and began to treat the words to the songs as poetry."
"It's very hard to remember how I felt at the time, but it was something I enjoyed doing so immensely. It was my release from school, and, you know, if I couldn't go out and it was a wet day, or there wasn't anything good on television, that would be my favourite place to go: to the piano."
"I had such an excess of emotion that I needed to get it out of my system and writing was how I did it."
"It was a very important relationship and still is to me. I found something that I don't think I've ever really found since, when I first started writing songs: that I could actually create something out of nothing, and it was a very special discovery - I think if you are lucky enough to make it at a young age, as I was."
"My father played the piano, and we also had an old harmonium in a barn next to our house, where I'd spend a lot of time just pedalling away hymns. I really loved their melodies and harmonies and worked out for myself that a chord was made from a minimum of three notes, and that by changing one of these notes you could get completely different chords to work with the new note. In a way, that started my interest in the way things could sound and feel very different just by putting different chords to a tune. As the harmonium got eaten up by mice, less and less of the stops that selected the sounds worked, so naturally I turned my attention to playing the piano."
"I couldn't read music at all. It was really a question of having a logical approach, once I knew where middle C was. Even though I wasn't much good at maths at school, I could see the logic of how the piano was working, and got on with it myself very well. I've now been playing the piano for many years, and I really did start off in the most basic way. After a couple of years I'd got a slight style, and since then I've simply developed it more, just by writing and then practising playing the songs. Often, I'd be writing songs beyond my technique which would stretch my playing even further."
"I usually started off with the tunes, and used library books for a source of lyrics, but I couldn't get on too well with the restriction of always fitting the music to the words. So I started making my own lyrics up alongside the music."
"Discovery of music personally for me came when one day my father took me into the piano and showed me the scale of C on the keyboard. And I couldn't believe that this was how this worked, that it was so logical, that there was actually a plan to the keyboard that was so easy to see, that was like playing one finger on the notes and then singing that tune. And then gradually I got to understand about chords, and once I hit chords that was really it, you know. This was the most exciting thing in my life, the chord."
"Instead of going out to play with other children I used to play the piano - it was my way of talking, of expressing myself."
"Well... they thought it was a lot of noise. When I first started, my voice was terrible, but the voice is an instrument to a singer, and the only way to improve it is to practice."
"I could sing in key but there was nothing there. It was awful noise, it was really something terrible. My tunes were more morbid and more negative. That was a lot of people's comment: they were too heavy. But then a lot of people are saying that about my current songs. The old ones were quite different musically, vocally, and lyrically. You're younger and you get into murders..."
"I used to write poetry like everyone else did in English classes. Everyone was free to read them - we always read each other's work. But people at school didn't know that I was writing songs."
"At 16 I had gotten to the point where my songs were presentable. That was after five years of writing ballads and slow songs like 'The Man With The Child In His Eyes'."
1972 saw KaTe's first public appearance as a singer and dancer. The occasion was a school production of the musical play 'Amahl and the Night Visitors'. The school magazine records that "...'colourful relief' was introduced at the entrance of the shepherds and shepherdesses, members of the Senior and First and Second year Choirs, who tripped in all rosy-cheeked and healthy-looking, bringing gifts for the kings. Two of these, Catherine Bush and Sarah Brennan, later gave a short dance in honour of the kings, which was both pastorally graceful and imaginative."
In 1972/73 Kate recorded several tapes of songs (more than 30 songs per tape, some sources say 60 altogether, Kate once said "...I had, say like 50 songs...". Some said up to 200 songs). 20-30 of these songs were presented via JCB's friend Ricky Hopper, first without success to record companies.
"I was about fifteen. My family thought it would be interesting to see if we could get some of my songs published, I'd written loads of songs. I just used to write one every day or something."
"He [Ricky Hopper] came around to listen to me. I put twenty to thirty of my songs on a tape and he'd take it to record companies. Of course there was no response; you wouldn't be able to hear a thing, just this little girl with a piano going "yaaaa yaaaa" for hours on end... [the songs] weren't that good. They were OK, but..."
Then Ricky Hopper presented the songs to David Gilmour. Gilmour noticed her talent, but also the bad tape recorder quality.
"A friend of mine has a friend who told my friend that his sister was very talented. This friend of mine came to me and said, "My friend has a very talented sister" and would I listen to her. And I said "sure", so I listened to her. I thought she was very good."
This session took place at Kate's house with Gilmour in 1973. Only Kate and piano, with a better recorder. There are at least two Gilmour-interview confirmations about this session (Q and CHEZ Canadian radio). I think this is the session, Kate had in mind, when she said:
"Absolutely terrified and trembling like a leaf, I sat down and played for him."
"He came along to see me and he was great, such a human, kind person - and genuine.
"I did some recording at her house, her parent's house..."
"I know that one of the first songs that I noted was "The Man With the Child in His Eyes", out of many songs that she had written. She was only 14, I think, when I met her, maybe just about 15."
But Gilmour also once said re this [?] session: (IED stating from the Q-interview:) "He paid to have Kate go into a studio and re-record some fifty songs over again. (again, apparently, solo with her own piano accompaniment-- not, it seems, with Gilmour and his musician friends at Gilmour's house)." (Q, 1990)
This is a bit confusing. It seems to be sure, that Gilmour visited Kate at her home and listened to her songs. I also think, they recorded something. Did Gilmour visit Kate more than once? Did he bring a recorder at the first meeting? What is this about the piano studio session? It seems unlikely IMHO, to insert yet another session here. Nothing is well confirmed so far.
****We need this Q-interview!!!! Has anyone access to the Q-mags in his library? It must be around Sept. 1990! I think, IED, you brought this up, so it's your turn! :-) ****
In August 1973 at Gilmour's farm with two "Unicorn" band members: drummer Peter Perrier and bassist Pat Martin, and Dave Gilmour on electric guitar. According to Gilmour (Q) ca. 10-20 songs had been recorded. This tape definitely made it to EMI. Besides PTA also the second version of "Maybe" was recorded.
"And we went to Dave's for a day, basically. And the bass player and drummer from Unicorn sat down and we just kind of put a few songs together. I remember it was the first time I'd ever done an overdub with the keyboard - I put this little electric piano thing down, and I remember thinking: 'Ooh! [laughing] I like this!'"
"And, well, I mean really it was because of those tracks that I then went on to do the tracks which were then used - two of which were used to go on the first album. As far as I remember the tracks we did with this session in '73... There was a track called "Passing Through Air", which I think went on a b-side -"
(PTA appeared as a B-side of Army Dreamers.)
The song MAYBE:
The version from this session was presented by Kate in part on Personal Call, BBC Radio 1, 1979:
[A portion "Maybe" is played]
Ed: Kate had a very wistful look on her face. Why was that?
K: I was waiting for the flat note in the middle. [Laughs]
Ed: Ah, you mean we faded it just in time!
K: No, you caught it actually, I'm sure... )
Kate 1978 re Maybe: "pretty awful."
1990, Bush Con: "It had a couple of titles..."Maybe". ...there was an - "Humming", it was called as well.")
It is not clear from what session the songs on this lost album come from. The description in HG (see below) indicates band-accompaniments, but other trustworthy word-of-mouth descriptions say, the album consists only of voice and-piano performances, "albeit EARLIER-sounding ones than ANY of the known piano demos". It is said that the "Maybe" version on The Early Years is NOT the version played on Personal Call but a piano-only version. If this 'piano-only' rumour is true, the record contains songs from the first or the second session and are therefore from 1973 or earlier.
It is also not clear, if the titles are given by Kate. Maybe they are only guesses from the bootleggers (e.g. Need Your Loving = PTA).
The following two excerpts from HG give us the only known 'facts' about this record. There are several other rumours though.
HG 23 (Summer 1986), p. 2: ------
" -Early Years- Bootleg stopped in its tracks"
Someone, somehow has got hold of one of Kate's early (circa 1973) demo tapes, which appears to have contained not only a number of Kate's early songs, but embryonic versions of more well-known tracks. A West German company appeared to believe that it had bought the 'rights' to this tape and was set to issue an album entitled: "Kate Bush: The Early Years". EMI-Electrola in Germany were aware of this, but some reason took no action to prevent the release. The album was in fact pressed and white labels send out in an attempt to secure overseas distribution deals.
At this point Kate became aware of the proposed release, and feeling that her early mistakes are not fit for public consumption, took the appropriate legal action. The stockpiled albums will now be destroyed (sorry, we don't know how to get hold of one!).
HG 29 (Xmas 1987), p. 6: ----
"Kate Bush - The Early Years - West Germany - 1986"
Ah yes, the almost semi-mythical disc. HG can assure yout that it is/was quite real. It was a single album containing ten songs recorded by Kate in her early Gilmour days in 1973. We have a tracklisting for eight [ten] of the songs as follows:
No, we don't have a copy of the disc.
In June 1975 Gilmour booked a professional studio (AIR London), brought Andrew Powell to arrange and produce the songs and hired top musicians to back Kate.
They recorded TMWTCIHE, The Saxophone Song and Maybe. This tape finally was Kate's breakthrough at EMI. The first two songs from this session appeared on The Kick Inside.
"Gilmour said: 'It looks as if the only way you can do it is to put at most three songs on a tape and we'll get them properly arranged.' He put up the money for me to do that, which is amazing. No way could I have afforded to do anything like that."
"I think he liked the songs sufficiently to feel that it was worth him actually putting up money for me to go in and professionally record the tracks, because all my demos were just piano vocals and I had, say like 50 songs that were all piano vocals. And he felt, quite rightly, that the record company would relate to the music much in a more real way if it was produced rather than being demoed. So he put up the money, we went into the studio, recorded three tracks..."
The recording deal is much discussed between Kate, her family, Gilmour and EMI. In July 1976 it is finally perfect.
During the first year of the EMI contract Kate makes two further demo tapes. These are very possibly the songs known to us originally from the Phoenix broadcast and later from the various bootlegs. The date 'Nov. 1976' is written on the reel tape, the DJ played in 1982 (?) on KSTM.
"These recordings [her early recordings 1972/73] are thought to be live, single track recordings as opposed to demos Kate was to make at home [!] four years later [!], which were two track recordings (two separate tape recorders having been connected)."
"IED believes that the demos probably date from a somewhat later period, because in both PTA and Maybe Kate's voice is a little timid and uncertain, and does not venture into her now-long-since-abandoned-but-historic falsetto range (which is at its prime in these demos). Also, although IED is the first to admit loving Passing Through Air, and especially Maybe, he thinks it would be silly to try to argue that either of those songs -- particularly PTA -- is as complex or as stylistically singular as any of the 23 solo-demos."
I think, this argument is also supported by the fact that 5 songs which appear on The Kick Inside, Lionheart AND Never for Ever [!] (Violin!), can be found on the demo tape!
Re Organic Acid (the song which includes one of JCB's poems).
"The crucial - earliest and most abiding - influence on Kate's development was Jay's writing. Kate was intensely proud of his poetry and, loosely, described a two page poem he published in 1970 [The Creation Edda] to her friends as 'book'. "
This maybe explains to some extent the inclusion of the poem "Before the Fall" into one of her songs?
Kate attends dancing lessions, takes driving lessons (passes the test in the second try) and continues writing and singing.
"I'd practice scales and that on the piano, go off dancing, and then in the evening I'd come back and play the piano all night. And I actually remember, well, the summer of '76 which was really hot here. We had such hot weather, I had all the windows open. And I just used to write until you know four in the morning, and I got a letter of complaint from a neighbor who was basically saying "Shuuut Uuuup!" cause they had to get up at like five in the morning. They did shift work and my voice had been carried the whole length of the street I think, so they weren't too appreciative."
"I was dancing every day, and singing and writing all night."
"...and I'd open all the windows and wail away all night."
"I have had no formal vocal training, though there was a guy that I used to see for half-an-hour once a week, and he would advise me on things like breathing properly, which is very important to voice control. He'd say things like 'Does that hurt? Well, then, sing more from here [motions to diaphragm] than from your throat.' I don't like the idea of 'formal' training, it has far too many rules and conventions that are later hard to break out of..."
"I used to go for about half-an-hour a week and the guy would get me to practice my scales and my breathing or something and then ask to hear my new songs. So I'd sing them for him and he helped me more that way. He was really good."
"I've always enjoyed reaching notes that I can't quite reach. A week later you'll be on top of that note and trying to reach the one above it."
She composes now on a honky-tonk piano she bought from a second-hand show in Woolwich.
"I feel as though I've built up a real relationship with the piano," she says. "It's almost like a person. Like, it's really comforting just to sit down and play it. And the piano almost dictates what my songs will be about. If I haven't got a particular idea I just sit down and play chords and then the chords almost dictate what the song should be about because they have their own moods. Like a minor chord is very likely to tell me something sad. A major chord tells me something a little more up-tempo and, like, on a more positive level of thinking. If I ever made enough money I'd like to get a piano that sings: a great big singing beast like a Steinway."
"You get ideas for songs from all sorts of situations. I just start playing the piano and the chords start telling me something. Lyrics for me just seem to go with the tune, very much hand in hand. Some lyrics take a long time to come, others just come out like... [she gestures wildly with her hands] ...like...diarrhoea."
"When I'm at the piano writing a song, I like to think I'm a man, not physically but in the areas that they explore. ... When I'm at the piano I hate to think that I'm a female because I automatically get a preconception."
"I wrote in my flat, sitting at the upright piano one night in March at about midnight. There was a full moon and the curtains were open, and every time I looked up for ideas, I looked at the moon. Actually, it came quite easily. I couldn't seem to get out of the chorus - it had a really circular feel to it, which is why it repeats. I had originally written something more complicated, but I couldn't link it up, so I kept the first bit and repeated it. I was really pleased, because it was the first song I had written for a while, as I'd been busy rehearsing with the KT Band."
Touring pubs and clubs around London with the KT Bush Band. The band, formed by Paddy, consists of Del Palmer, Brian Bath and Vic Smith.
It is reported that recordings of these performances exist, unfortunately they are only in the possession of the Bush family. :-(
"It was a three piece that consisted of Del Palmer on bass, Brian Bath on guitar, and Vic Smith who was our drummer."
"I'd heard about Kate from Paddy 'cause I'd known him for some time. And Brian had told me he'd heard some of her songs and they were really great, and I trusted his opinion. But I just had this impression that she must be older and more mature. Then at our first rehearsal - Kate, Brian and me, and a fellow called Vic King [?] on drums - I felt a little nervous because, you know, I felt a particular emotional involvement coming on right from the word go. But I also just thought: this girl's like just eighteen, whereas I'd been struggling for years on my bass. And I knew I just had to get involved some way because this was going to be MEGA. It was a phenomenon because it was so completely different from what anyone else was doing."
"Anyone can set up their gear and sit down at a piano and sing for an hour. But not everybody can put on a whole integrated show. And as soon as we got our little band together years ago, right from the word go it was theatrics and show. We were only playing little pubs on tiny little stages like at The Rose of Lee [her first appearance, Lewisham], but we had a whole light show, we used dry ice, and all that."
"There was this place in Lewisham, it was called The Rose Of Lee, it doesn't exist anymore. The first night that we turned up, there were four people there. And it really hotted out about ten thirty, another two people came in [laughter] -Jay and my father. [more laughter] Really, really marvelous. And then the next week it was a bit better, it was about... about twelve people there. The songs being sung were, they were mainly standards, actually. 'Tracks Of My Tears'.
... But then in about three weeks ... the word started getting around and the club became more and more and more packed. And I think maybe about the fifth or six week ... you couldn't get in. And this was all pre-... before the album was released or anybody knew anything about Kate, it was just the name of a group. [laughter] I think about the fifth or six performance that night... The night she first did 'James and the Cold Gun'... In fact, that was really good. I working the lights [laughter] and Lisa [??? invented ] fantasticly. We were hoping to get these huge blocks of dry ice which we were going to try out in the night. They [just said... stringing in the dust bin ???] pore some hot water on it and watch what happens. And we did and it was phenomenal! [laughter] Six foot of [thrown ???] ice over here. Yeah, that was very, very impressive. I felt,'James And The Cold Gun' had a very phenomenal effect on the audience ..."
The actual recording sessions for the album. Very probably our 'Kick Inside Demos' are from these sessions.
These demo recordings are of a far more refined and polished type, and are fully orchestrated and produced. They are probably among the many tracks which were worked on prior to the final selection of the thirteen songs on The Kick Inside. Five of the titles are familiar:
This sixth track is an unreleased song. It is extremely bouncy and catchy, laden with melodic hooks. Its lyrics are fascinating, as well (they describe the challenge of retaining the original spark of feeling of a song during the recording process).
Just a thought I have sometimes: Listen to "The Kick Inside" as an early Demos album. An officially released Demo album by KaTe herself. Makes a big difference. Listen to the "Kick Inside Demos" first, then change to the album "The Kick Inside". Strange, mysterious experience!
Just because it's funny. Official form:
"Particulars of directors of the company Novercia Ltd.:
Patrick Bush, musician and instrument maker, Director of Novercia Ltd...
John Carder Bush, writer, Director of Novercia Ltd...
Catherine Bush, Singer, Director of Novercia Ltd...
Robert John Bush, Medical Practitioner, Director of Novercia Ltd...
Hannah Patricia Bush, Company Director, Director of Novercia Ltd..."
Finally, there are two known demo versions of the song "Babooshka". Recorded some time between January and June 1980 during the sessions for "Never for Ever". Excerpts from the demos were apparently played by Kate herself on a Capital radio programme called "Small Beginnings" on July 17th, 1982. Both are almost exactly 2 min. long. The first demo of "Babooshka" features Kate on piano, and she has added one backing vocal during the choruses. The second version has a percussion pattern from an early rhythm-box, and features a synthesizer and, in addition to the lead vocal, at least two over-dubbed backing vocals.
The only song falsely presented so far as a Kate Bush song is "Turkish Delight": from Homeground No. 32, p. 8:
"A track which has appeared on certain 'instant' tape cassette bootlegs recently has caused some puzzlement. The name of the track is 'Turkish Delight'. It isn't written or performed by Kate. It was recorded by an outfit called 'China Doll', and it was released by EMI (Parlophone) as a single in July 1983. It was a cold methodical rip-off of an accountant's view of what constituted the 'Kate Bush Style'. DJs who could not find space for Tenner on their programmes, found space for this travesty, introducing it as 'the new Kate Bush single' (yet another one). We thought it sounded like Faith Brown doing an impression of Pamela Stephenson doing an impression of Kate on a bad day. ..."
To me it sounds even now quite good. I wasn't sure for some weeks although I noticed some slight differences in the voice. Strange experience.
The first presentation of the demos to the public was in 1982 when local DJ John Dixon presented 22 piano demo songs on his KSTM radio station in Phoenix. He had worked for EMI at the time of Kate's initial signing, and aquired the tapes then. It is not clear if all the available bootleg versions of the demos come from this source. There are several differences in the recording quality, which might indicate different sources. Also "Organic Acid" the 23rd piano demo, which only appeared once on the fifth Demos-EP points to a second source. There are also rumours about other demos in the possession of DJ John Dixon, like TMWTCIHE, Kite etc.
No idea. Maybe also John Dixon?
Nobody knows Kate's titles. They are only guesses. The following early sources are known: [Many other obscure, but wrong labelings appeared later on CD's and LP's.]
The Phoenix broadcast titles seem to be the nearest to the original because DJ John Dixon read them directly from the original [!] tape! What follows are the song titles in succession as they appeared on the Phoenix tape (IED's titles in brackets):
duration from Home Demo CD:
Total time: 60'54
So, I think, what we have here, appears to be the track-listing of Kate's original demo tape. They appear to be legitimate, though none of us can be certain of course.
It is also interesting to mention that "Organic Acid" (5'45) is missing. When you calculate the duration of the whole thing, you come to something like 60'54 minutes. This indicates a C60 tape. So, maybe Organic Acid comes from another tape?
IED: "Fiddle" is the title of an early (1988?) cassette-only bootleg of 22 of the demos, which IED picked up at a record swapmeet. From your description both "Fiddle" and "Alone At My Piano" [CD] appear to stem from the same source (perhaps the Phoenix FM broadcast).
DUTCH FANZINE 'KATE: In the May '89 issue of the Dutch Kate Bush fanzine 'Kate', co-editor Theo Haast reports for the first time the six Kick Inside Demos:
duration from CD:
Total time: 16'10
What follows is a list of various titles that are in use for the demo songs. All titles in brackets are uncertain (i.e. more uncertain than the Phoenix titles) or wrong. Try to use the Phoenix titles only and prepare your Demos-CD with these titles! This helps to avoid confusion. Note: Organic Acid and Scares Me Silly are not from the Phoenix broadcast. They are added for completeness sake.
STILL A LOT OF CONFUSION! :-) But not so much as before!
We know for sure now:
- the Babooshka demos are from a 1982 Capital radio programme
We know almost for sure now:
- the Piano Demos are from 1976
We can presume (but not for sure) that:
- Gilmour recorded something with Kate at East Wickham Farm. It's not clear if this conceivable tape has been sent to EMI.
- the song titles from the Phoenix broadcast are Kate's own titles.
- Organic Acid is from another tape.
- the 'Early Years' LP is from one of the first two recording sessions (if the 'piano-only rumour' is true)
- the Kick Inside demos are from 1977.
It is completely unclear:
- how often Gilmour visited Kate.
- if Gilmour sent Kate to a studio to do professional piano demos (only one unclear interview confirmation. IED?)
- to which songs the following titles from 'The Early Years' refer to: You Were the Star, Cussi Cussi, Atlantis, Sunsi, Go Now While You Can. They seem to be completely unknown songs.
- who offered the Kick Inside demos (maybe John Dixon, too?)
What we need most of all:
- KaTe in her own voice!
- an official release of all demos with official lyrics and comments on each song!
- the Q interview!
- more early Gilmour interviews!
Nevertheless, despite all the mysteries and...
"as much as many others would like to have it otherwise, the notions that Kate Bush is 'simply a woman', and that she is in any important way 'the same as all of us' are, frankly, absurd, and self-evidently untrue. Her life has been quite unlike any of ours, virtually from birth."
And it is now universally acknowledged that she is the only thing in life worth wasting any thought on at all. Everything else is just killing time. There is no question whatever of the truth of this judgement, which is unanimous, absolute and irrevocable.
(Love-Hounds Leading Committee)
Best wishes, Wieland
See also: The Demos section in Wieland's Dreaming
Me: "Kate, please, can you tell me something about the ... blah, blah, blah... blah, blah, blah... David Gilmour ...blah, blah, blah... The Early Years ... blah, blah, blah... and finally about the Kick Inside recordings?"
- Pause, with KaTe looking out of the window...
KaTe: "Oh. Eh - sorry. You want my reply? What was the question?"