Interviews & Articles


"Hounds of Love Sleeve Notes"
by Phil Sutcliffe
(Actually appeared June 1991)

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From: ***SEMPSY*** <sre017@cck.cov.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 3 May 91 16:47:34 -0100
Subject: "Q" - HoL sleeve notes, June 1991

Here is the transcript of the Q magazine sleeve note for 'Hounds Of Love'.

This comes free with the June edition (number 57):

"The Dreaming was my 'She's gone mad' album, my 'She's not commercial any more' album, " says Kate Bush, amused in retrospect, thinking about her predicament when after a three-year silence, she released Hounds Of Love. Its predecessor had been the first serious setback in a chart career that began when her debut single, Wuthering Heights, hit number 1 for a month in 1978. When the spell broke -The Dreaming single an apologetic 48, the album a sorry silver after the parade of platinum-previously paternal executives were moved to make indelicate enquiries about what, for instance, Rolf Harris (on didgeridoo) and Percy Edwards (animal noises) were doing on a record intended for the mainstream youth market It was hard to take. The Dreaming was the first album Kate had produced herself "I wanted to take control of everything and go for it, " she recalls. But the charts and the business said she'd failed. So she retreated into normality. For six months she saw friends, went to the pictures and dance classes, and learned to drive (she bought a modest VW Polo).

Then, in June, 1983, work began on a 48-track studio in an old barn located handily for her parent's home in the kentish suburbs of London and for the house she shared with Del Palmer, her boyfriend since the pub rock days of the K. T Bush band. It wasn't quite state-of-the-art because she couldn't afford it. But if one chart misfire could provoke EMI to turn the recording budget on her like heavy artillery, she had to move out of range. "The way I work is very experimental, " she says, "and, when you know the studio is costing a phenomenal amount of money every hour, it just zaps creativity. "

It was a matter of power and arithmetic. Abbey Road then cost 90 an hour, Kate's place nothing. She'd taken her music-making out of the music industry and back to the fond embrace of the family where it began. after some preliminary doodling at Abbey Road, as soon as her own studio was ready she began work on Hounds Of Love in January, 1984.

In the windowless room she'd designed, communicating with Del at the desk through mike and headphones, she settled into a looser variant of the rhythm-based writing method she'd developed on The Dreaming (inspired by sessions on Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers) and continued with what she calls the "very male" production style she wanted then-weight and strength to justify herself in the Man's world of the studio.

But progress was slower than ever. "In music, " she's said, "you have to break your back before you even start to speak emotion. "On lead vocals, where most singers strive for one good "take", she routinely assembled six to choose from. She would often create arrangements on the fairlight and then replace the synthesized lines with natural instruments: hence the "real" strings on Hounds Of Love and Cloudbusting and a kit snare drum on Running Up That Hill although the rest of the rhythm track comes from Del Palmer's programming. Even the muted sound of waves between and Dream Of Sheep and Under Ice had to be re-recorded because the effects discs available didn't provide "the right kind of sea".

And the words came even harder, she says. As usual, many of her starting points were in books and films-Cloudbusting from Peter Reich's book about his inventor father Wilhelm, Hounds Of Love from a 1957 horror movie Night Of The Demon, and the whole of The Ninth Wave from both memories of war films like The Cruel Sea and keeping company for years with a macabre painting called The Hogsmill Ophelia (it shows a doll drowning in sewage; "It cost me all the money I had once, " she says).

For more than a year, Bush sightings were rarer than ospreys, and when she did emerge it was to find the chubby cheeks and double chin she acquired during studio immersion (through lack of exercise and too much chocolate) translated by the tabloids into"Kate blows up to 18 stone" rumours.

"Between albums I always get fat in the papers, " she says. "It's quite funny, me as this balloon. And then by the time I start doing interviews I've lost all that weight again, it seems. It must go into the music. "

Hounds Of Love was completed in June, 1985, which meant the resumption of negotiation with the outside world. She won an argument with EMI about which track should be the first single-they wanted Cloudbusting-then lost one about its title. "For me, Running Up That Hill really is Deal With God, but I was told that radio stations in Spain, Italy, America and so on would refuse to play it with God in the title. Ridiculous. Still, especially after The Dreaming, I decided I couldn't be bloody minded. "

In August, Running Up That Hill went to number 3, her first British Top 10 hit since Babooshka, five years earlier. For the album launch at the London Planetarium on September 5, she and Del decided to "come out" by appearing in Public together for the first time. Subsequent tabloid "wickedness", as Kate ingenously calls it, in fabricating a row between Del and Youth, who'd played bass on The Big Sky, hardly mattered when the album was ecstatically reviewed-even the dauntingly unfashionable "concept" aspect of The Ninth Wave-and went straight to number 1 where it stayed for a month.

Though "career" is not a notion Kate Bush readily relates to, hers had undoubtedly turned around. Hounds Of Love and Cloudbusting (with the stunning Donald Sutherland video) were also substantial single hits and the album reached Number 30 in America, still her highest placing there.

Even so, she expressed herself surprised by some reactions to her work, "controversial" interpretations which, she always said, never occurred to her when she was writing the songs. For instance, some were keen to see drugs references in Under Ice where she sings of "speeding" and "cutting little lines". Kate insisted the image was simply about skating.

Then there were the hounds on the cover, draped about a smoochy-eyed Kate with suggestive languor. No, no, it was just a matter of getting them to lay calm and still for the shot, she said. "It worries me if there is any kind of sexual connotation. My God! Should I be careful? The thing is I can't see myself sexually I just see me being silly. "

Naive or not, she preserved her mystery. Hounds Of Love is essence of Kate Bush, the unbridled expression of someone who had achieved the creative privacy she needed-incommunicado without forgetting how to communicate.

"I've made some of my best decisions in the last two years, " she said that autumn, thinking of the studio in particular. "I have to go back to the work because that's what matters. Work obsesses my life and everyone around me is dragged into it. It's terrible, really. "

Only, somehow, it's not.

--Phil Sutcliffe Q Magazine

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"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

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Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds