The Observer- "Comeback
The Times of London - "The Face"
The Guardian - "Hopelessly devoted to Kate"
The Guardian - "The Queen of Drama"
The Daily Telegraph - "Bush Telegraph"
The Independent - "Return of the Recluse"
The Daily Telegraph - "Siren of Pop Swoops Back"
The Sunday Times - "Profile: Kate Bush: Can she pull off the big sway-back?"
The Times of London - "Brontë of pop aims for new heights"
The Daily Mirror - "Wow! Bush is Back"
To the Reaching Out (Reviews) Table of Contents
By Barbara Ellen
October 2, 2005
After 12 years of silence, pop's prodigal genius Kate Bush returns. We've had a sneak preview of her new album, and can assure you - it's been worth the wait
Bush has a double album coming out called Aerial. It's been 12 years since
her last one, The Red Shoes; two decades since her masterpiece, Hounds of Love;
27 years since her debut, The Kick Inside; and an astonishing 31 years since
David Gilmour of Pink Floyd heard one of her early homemade demos and
recommended the gifted doctor's daughter from Bexleyheath to EMI, where she
remains signed to this day.
It is to EMI I go to get my sneak preview of Aerial - or at least part of it. I'm allowed to listen to one side - I choose the first - so long as I sit in a room at the EMI offices with a man guarding me, presumably in case I try running home with it, thereby committing the crime of trying to listen to an album properly. Despite these shenanigans, first impressions of Aerial are as good as one hoped. It is in fact vintage Bush: a melodic, organic sprawl of wind, sea, seasons, time passing, dreams, secrecy and revelation, all mixed up with a sound that seems to segue smoothly on from The Red Shoes and The Sensual World.
Elvis Presley seems to be the subject of the first single, 'King of the Mountain' (why does a multimillionaire fill up his home with priceless junk?). Joan of Arc pops up in the stunning, atmospheric 'Joanni'. Most intriguingly, there is a song called 'Bertie' where one hears a whole new Kate Bush - a mature, doting creature both energised and sucker-punched by mother love. 'Where's that son of mine?' sings Kate, adding breathlessly, 'Here comes that son of mine.'
Indeed, for some, the big news about Aerial may be that Bush is now 47 years old and has a seven-year-old son named, natch, Bertie. Which may come as a surprise to those for whom she remains pickled in the public consciousness at 19 years old, performing her debut hit, 'Wuthering Heights', wearing little more than a skin-tight leotard and an anguished expression. For many, this remains the most vivid Kate Bush image of all: the feral child-woman shrieking through the charts like some strange dream the Bronte sisters might have had after too much cheese one night.
However, despite being possibly the most impersonated person ever, Bush could never be dismissed as a joke; a trippy hippy novelty act with windmilling arms. Over her lengthy career, taking in albums such as Lionheart, The Dreaming, Never For Ever and The Sensual World, she has emerged as one of the most gifted, enigmatic and maddening artists this country has ever produced, occupying a unique place in musical history - a leftfield artist, instinctive populist (have you ever tried not dancing to 'Wow'?) and everything in between. And for a 'girl-thing' she seems to pack a male punch. I have noticed over the years that even guys who own no other 'female wailing rubbish' happily tug the forelock to the majesty that is La Bush. She is considered a true pop eccentric: an Ophelia for the masses.
A universally acknowledged genius-perfectionist, Bush combines rock, pop and Celtic tribalism with random elements of theatre, film, dance, mime and literature. All wound up with themes that have taken in everything from love, lust and jealousy to nuclear destruction, war, aboriginal rights (on the 'difficult' album The Dreaming), gay relationships, incest, and, on the song 'Heads We're Dancing', even a night out with Adolf Hitler. Looking at such a list, you can see why Bush once said it was a good thing the tabloids never read lyric sheets.
You can also see why her fans love her, stick by her, even after a 12-year wait. Admittedly, Bush attracts her fair share of the more 'intense' variety of fan. But then there is also the argument that wait was all Kate fans could do. There is, after all, only one Kate Bush.
Certainly Bush has emerged as one of the most influential female artists of all time. The Futureheads covered 'Hounds of Love', and everyone from Katie Melua to OutKast, Muse and PJ Harvey has name-checked her as an inspiration. Former Sex Pistol John Lydon has described Hounds of Love as 'beyond an album - an opera'. However, Bush's reach seems to extend far beyond even that. Her superb musicianship aside, she actually kick-started her own genre, being the first woman to risk looking demented, unhinged; even 'ugly'. Not in terms of those tight leotards (which I'm sure many a gentleman found very fetching), but in terms of exposing the beautiful mess that is the full-blown female psyche.
Now that everyone from Alanis to Tori, to Madonna, Courtney and Bjork, has spilled their guts, it is difficult to imagine that BK (Before Kate) this really didn't happen that much; if at all. As a fellow fan said to me, it was as if Bush 'got all the madwomen down from the attic and into the charts'. She certainly gave them a new voice. When Joni Mitchell spoke directly to men ('I'm as good as you'), and Patti Smith was even more direct ('I'm better'), from the start, Bush seemed to speak above and around men, and only in so far as they fitted in with her vision.
It was precisely this non-girlie self-absorption, this commitment to truly expressing herself, which made Bush so revolutionary, and spread her influence far beyond music: not just encompassing the likes of Dido, Alison Goldfrapp, Gwen Stefani and Edie Brickell, but as far afield as the art of Tracey Emin, and the books of Alice Sebold and Elizabeth Wurtzel.
It may also have played a large part in the reason people were prepared to wait for her. And wait they have. Despite the 12-year hiatus, Aerial and the first single, 'King of the Mountain', are still confidently expected to top the charts.
What's more, remarkably for a female artist a whole pop generation before Madonna, Bush did it all on her own terms. Shy, insular, easily bruised, Bush has long refused to compromise in any way. She has only ever done one tour (tried it in 1979; didn't like it); she also built her own studio to ward off any kind of creative interference and has a reputation for being an obsessive self-doubter, which may be why she is taking longer and longer to produce albums (in 1993, when The Red Shoes came out, Tony Blair was just a twinkle in new Labour's eye). In fact, Bush's time-keeping is fast becoming part of her legend. There is even a novel, Waiting for Kate Bush by John Mendelssohn, which starts with a scene in which a man agrees not to leap off a building only if she releases an album within the next six months. If Bush's track record is anything to go by, she'd probably have let him jump.
Apart from that, the self-described 'shyest megalomaniac you'll ever meet' is so reclusive she makes Prince seems sociable (collaborating together for a track on The Red Shoes, the pair never met, preferring to exchange tapes). On the rare occasion Bush grants interviews, the High Priestess of Pop Mystique has remained stubbornly unknowable, adamantly refusing to discuss 'anything but the music', insisting that it is the only thing that's interesting about her.
'I am just a quiet reclusive person who has managed to hang around for a while,' she said recently. However, if Bush is a tight-lipped recluse, she is damned good at it. In these uber-media-saturated times it says something that no one knew that son Bertie had been born for 18 months, until long-time family friend Peter Gabriel let it slip.
Personally, I believe there's a slight whiff of sexism about the way Bush's aloof countenance in interviews is endlessly commented upon. (No one slagged off Picasso for being hard to talk to.) However, maybe it is out of this void that the Kate Bush myths spring. Is it really true, as various news reports will have it, that Bush is now an overweight paranoid hermit, skulking in her secluded mansions in Berkshire and South Devon, with her new partner, Danny McIntosh, spending her days crying at her reflection in the mirror, and taking Bertie to school in a limousine with blacked-out windows?
Probably not, but I was ready to believe anything by the time I listened to Aerial. What I discovered is that nothing much has changed in Kate Bush's world, except perhaps everything. She's still seething with strangeness and brilliance. Even the fact that she's a mother now isn't likely to change anything. Bush has always written beautiful songs on all manner of themes including motherhood, and will doubtless continue to do so. It's just kind of cute that far from being coy and privacy-obsessed (What me? Have a baby? No way!), Bush can't seem to shut up about it. As well as the song one of Bertie's drawings graces the cover of 'King of the Mountain'; he's credited on the sleevenotes as 'The Sun'. Finally, you might cry, the human face cracks though the Pop Ophelia's ethereal visage.
Mind you, for some of us, it always did.
· 'King of the Mountain' is released on EMI on 24 October, Aerial on 7 November
The Times of London
by Damian Whitworth
September 5, 2005
As baffling as she is beautiful, such is the allure of Kate Bush that last year the author John Mendelssohn even wrote a novel, Waiting For Kate Bush, about a devoted fan’s suicidal despair at his heroine’s failure to produce a new album.
Well, the 12-year wait for that album is almost over. Aerial is to be released in November and a single is coming later this month. One of Britain’s most successful and surprising female singers is back.
A doctor’s daughter from Bexleyheath, Bush was just 19 in 1978 when she burst upon a music world dominated by punk with her album The Kick Inside. This featured the hit singles The Man With The Child In His Eyes, which she wrote when she was 13, and Wuthering Heights, the first self-composed No 1 hit by a British woman. She later confessed that she had never read Emily Brontë’s novel, but the song, with its vocal leaps and screeches, was an extraordinary new sound.
The spell that this ethereal sorceress cast over the male of the species was equally remarkable. With her wild hair and strange stage movements, she appeared to have drifted into this world from another plane. She was an object of desire but also a bit spooky.
Bush’s first tour in 1979 was her last. She hated the pressure of performing live and publicising her records and spent the 1980s and early 1990s in the studio, where she was known as a perfectionist, producing nine albums and 13 hit singles. Many female artists who came in her wake, including Madonna, Björk and kd lang, have cited her as an inspiration.
Britain’s second wealthiest female singer after Annie Lennox, Bush is worth an estimated £25 million. But since her last album in 1993, The Red Shoes, she has rarely been spotted, earning comparisons to Miss Havisham. Now 47, she lives on an island in the Thames in Berkshire with her seven-year-old son, Bertie, by the guitarist Danny MacIntosh. “I’m a quiet, private person who has managed to hang around for a few years,” she says.
by Carol McDaid
October 2, 2005
What is it about Kate Bush that inspires such undying loyalty? Carol
McDaid should know
Like much of Britain in 1978, I was transfixed, maybe skewered, by the voice, the big eyes, the big hair, the dancing - serious, in a leotard - one palm, then the other, pushing flatly at an invisible window, trying to get in, 'Cathyyyyyyy'.
But I was 10 at the time and devoted to Abba. Kate Bush toured the following year - and never again, ever - while I was at home having my tea. It was much later - three albums had been released - that a teenage epiphany occurred at a friend's house the first time I heard The Kick Inside: Kate Bush, aged 18, borne into the room on a tide of whale song.
At this point, can I quickly say that I love all kinds of music; it's just that I know every twist and turn of every Kate Bush note, every beat and tic, down to the last rifle click on 'Army Dreamers', the sniff on 'All the Love'...
I would never have heard about the conventions had I not subscribed to 'the oldest established Kate Bush fanzine'. This was when she went quiet, after Hounds of Love (I have a signed copy, won by writing the answer, 'Babooshka', on a postcard to Richard Skinner at Radio 1). Homeground (the title borrowed from a track on Lionheart) was produced by three fans, in monochrome on shiny pages which seethed with love for Kate. It was illustrated with uncanny pencil sketches of her, often wreathed in ivy, by Homeground's two resident artists, and, in the absence of any news, there were long features entitled 'Five years ago ... '; 'Ten years ago ... '.
I flinched at some of the more intense letters; the reports of 'Katemas' - 30 July, Kate's birthday (the same day as Emily Bronte) - celebrated either on Glastonbury Tor or at Top Withens, site of Bronte's Wuthering Heights. But I didn't cancel my subscription.
My first convention was at Hammersmith Palais, November 1990, post-Sensual World; outside, a queue of geeky guys and gothic girls hunched against a cold Saturday morning. I went with a friend who was, like me, riven with curiosity yet anxious to appear only mildly excited. It was a surreal, quite long day. Wall-to-wall Kate Bush music; a quiz (Q: Who played didgeridoo on The Dreaming? A: Rolf Harris). People fresh off the plane from Japan and America swapped picture discs in dark corners. And Kate appeared from somewhere - it's a bit of a blur - sitting on a sofa in grey, saying 'You must be mad!', before sweetly answering questions and singing a little thank you.
In 1993 The Red Shoes was released, and a film, The Line, the Cross and the Curve, co-starring Miranda Richardson, which premiered at the London Film Festival in a double bill with Nick Park's The Wrong Trousers, which I guiltily enjoyed more. Kate, in the audience with her partner and her father, left the cinema to rapturous applause. I have a memory of standing on my seat to get a better look. In 1994, at my second, and last, convention, Kate Bush rose through a hole in the floor of the Hippodrome, Leicester Square to a deafening roar, picked some raffle tickets out of a cardboard box, waved and fled. I can't say I blamed her.
In the long silence that followed, I adapted; immersed myself in Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny; went to Tori Amos gigs. The only Kate Bush album I listen to regularly now is The Dreaming. But deep down I know I am hard-wired. I can still sing 'Infant Kiss' in French (I found this version in a hypermarket years ago, by accident). I usually remember her birthday. And when the new Kate Bush single received its first airplay two weeks ago, on my way to work, I had to pull off the road.
The Queen of Drama
by Maddy Costa
September 28, 2005
In August 1977, the month that Elvis died, Kate Bush was recording some of
her first proper demos. That death must have been a salutary lesson for the
young singer: this is what happens when you let the music industry, the press,
even your fans, make too many demands of you.
No wonder, 15 years into her music career, Bush decided to bow out of the spotlight. The song that heralds her return could hardly be more glorious. It starts quietly, an ominous electronic pulse stuttering between the speakers, ghostly swirls of sound drifting out from the depths of the mix. Produced by Bush herself, King of the Mountain evokes dark nights, moonlit cliffs, deserted cemeteries - everything you could want from the writer of Wuthering Heights.
But this time the hero is Elvis. The lyrics are hilarious and poignant, a touching vision of how people can be damaged by celebrity and rumour, and her sense of drama is, as ever, immaculate.
And over it all Bush's voice aches and throbs. "The wind is whistling," she howls, "the wind it blows."
It blows away the years, until it seems that Bush has never been away at all.
The Daily Telegraph
by Marc Lee
September 22, 2005
The 12-year silence surrounding pop siren Kate Bush was broken yesterday with the first radio play of her new single, King of the Mountain.
Her mysterious absence from public view since The Red Shoes album of 1993 has fuelled plenty of rumours, but the established facts are few: it is known that her long-term relationship with musical collaborator Del Palmer broke down, and that in the late 1990s she became a mother for the first time.
The second most successful British female singer after Annie Lennox, Bush, now 47, was always reclusive and toured only once - shortly after her debut single Wuthering Heights shot her to instant stardom in 1978.
Now, with son Bertie aged seven, she has returned to the studio to record the album Aerial, which is due for release on November 7.
King of the Mountain had its first public airing yesterday on Radio 2. Available to download from Tuesday and in shops from October 24, the song is vintage Bush, the operatic swoops and ethereal, vaguely troubled ambience as haunting as ever.
Opening with a gently hypnotic rhythm track, chugging guitars, and blurry vocals, the song builds to a big, rocking finish, as Bush wonders at "the wind whistling through the house".
After more than a decade, what is striking is how little has changed in the Bush soundworld. She could almost be back on the storm-lashed moors pining for Heathcliff.
Kate Bush: Return of the recluse
by Adam Sweeting
October 2, 2005
She has £30m and a reputation as the country's finest female songwriter. She lives quietly, out of sight, by the river or the sea, and has released no music for 12 years, preferring to spend time with her son. She had no need to make another record (some thought she never would) but suddenly a new album is imminent
Plenty has happened in the 12 years since Kate Bush last released an album. Tory sleaze has morphed into New Labour; mobile phones and iPods have transformed communications and entertainment; reality TV has made us fearful that we live in the most moronic country on earth, and England have won the Ashes.
Kate Bush's views on these momentous developments are difficult to gauge, since she has turned the not giving of interviews into an art form, and, it would seem, doesn't even see her closest friends very often. It's possible that the outside world wouldn't have known she'd had a son, Bertie, in 1998, if Peter Gabriel hadn't tactlessly blurted out the news on television. (As it was, Bush had managed to keep the news private for 18 months.)
However, ensconced in her Thames-side mansion near Reading or at her wildly romantic bolt-hole on the Devon coast, she has kept abreast of developments on the internet, where her new single, "King of the Mountain", has been made available for download. It's the first concrete evidence that after six years of work in her home studio, she has a new double album, Aerial, ready for release in November. Fans have been gasping for new product ever since 1993's album The Red Shoes. Rock critic John Mendelssohn has even written a novel, Waiting for Kate Bush, about a suicidal superfan poised to leap off a tower block, yet restrained from embracing extinction by curiosity about the singer's work in progress.
Artists who disappear for years, ostensibly to create that career-defining masterpiece, tend to deliver only bathos and disillusionment. Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose has supposedly been working on a comeback album for the past 15 years, amid rumours that he's gone mad and made himself unrecognisable with round-the-clock plastic surgery, but the appearance of the finished product would assuredly be mere anticlimax. The Stone Roses' second album arrived five years after its "Madchester"-defining predecessor, and the best that could be said for it was that it wasn't bad.
But for Kate Bush, the rules have always been different. Having never accepted the standard formula for pop stardom, where albums are delivered at carefully calibrated intervals and supported by touring and a barrage of media appearances, she has won herself unparalleled artistic freedom. She has always refused to submit to the sort of pressures that dictate the behaviour of more run-of-the-mill artists, putting her work first and treating anything else as an unwelcome distraction. "I think creative control is so incredibly important," she has commented. "I became quickly aware of the outside pressures of being famous affecting my work. It seemed ironic that I was expected to do interviews and television which took me away from my work."
With a fortune put by some at £30m, she has the luxury of doing whatever she likes for as long as she wants to, but it's indicative of Bush's stature that nobody has assumed that the long hiatus between recordings is due to writer's block or creative atrophy. Happily, "King of the Mountain" is a sly and subtle piece of work, suggesting that Bush's genre-defying musical intelligence burns undimmed.
Extended gaps between Bush albums are hardly news. Although at the start of her career she released two albums in the same year (The Kick Inside and Lionheart, both from 1978) , the intervals have grown progressively longer, even if 12 years may be stretching a point. Yet 20 years ago, people were already asking her the same questions. "People ask what I really did in the three years between The Dreaming and Hounds of Love," she said in 1985. "I spent it with my family, living a normal home life." As for her recent prolonged absence from the charts or MTV, Bush has observed: "I am just trying to be a good, protective mother. I want to give Bertie as normal a childhood as possible while preserving his privacy."
During the interval since The Red Shoes, she has been forced to confront some of the inevitable difficulties of adulthood. Her mother, Hannah, to whose Irish background Kate has attributed her own affinity for music and dance, died just before The Red Shoes was released, but her passing was a calamitous blow to the close-knit Bush clan. Yet that same closeness helped Kate to maintain some kind of equilibrium. Her brother Paddy has been a musical ally since they played in the KT Bush Band together as teenagers, while Kate has been careful to keep her personal and professional affairs within the family. She owns 80 per cent of her various companies, with the other 20 per cent split between her elder brothers Paddy and John. Her father Robert, a doctor, acts as company chairman.
Then there was the collapse of her relationship with Del Palmer, her longstanding musical collaborator and sound engineer (though Palmer is still credited as engineer on "King of the Mountain") . Her new partner, and Bertie's father, is another musician, Danny McIntosh. It's as if Bush's wildly imaginative work, which has encompassed such topics as the aftermath of nuclear war, the philosophies of oddballs such as George Gurdjieff and Wilhelm Reich, the fiction of Emily Brontë and the female psyche, drew the confidence to venture so far afield from feeling centred in comforting middle-class stability. Born in Bexleyheath on 30 July 1958, she began to dabble in music by playing the organ in a barn behind her parents' house, and was writing songs by the time she entered her teens. She was a shy and withdrawn pupil at St Joseph's Convent School, but took refuge in her kaleidoscopic creativity.
A family friend, Ricky Hopper, was impressed enough by her work to arrange for a demo tape to be recorded, which eventually made its way to Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd's guitarist. Gilmour could discern Bush's potential, but was shrewd enough to recognise that the tracks were too unpolished to appeal to a record company A&R department, so he paid for Kate to make some better-quality recordings and arranged an introduction to EMI. With a patience and perspicacity tragically absent from today's fast-food record biz, EMI funded her for three years to give her space to develop her writing. "We gave her some money to grow up with," said label executive Bob Mercer. "EMI was like another family to her. She was the company's daughter for a few years."
EMI was rewarded by the immediate success of her debut album, The Kick Inside, and the global success of the single "Wuthering Heights", but thenceforth Bush's progress would never be remotely conventional or predictable. Her first tour, in 1979, proved to be her last. If her record company hoped to exert a shaping influence, Bush outflanked them by becoming her own co-producer and building a 48-track home studio where she could create her albums unmolested.
If you can judge people by their friends, Bush is pop's own Venus emerging from the waves. She's madly admired by Peter Gabriel, Dave Gilmour and Eric Clapton, can call on Nigel Kennedy and Prince to add virtuoso flourishes to her recordings, and is spoken of with awe by the eccentrically brilliant film-maker Terry Gilliam. Bush happens to work in pop, but pop music can't claim ownership of her. As Kevin Ayers once put it, whatever she brings we sing.
Siren of Pop Swoops Back
The Daily Telegraph
by Richard Wolfson
December 23, 2004
After more than 10 years' mysterious silence, a new album by Kate Bush is in the works, and, says Richard Wolfson, expectations could hardly be higher
In the opening pages of a recent novel the main protagonist is first encountered perched on the roof of a high building, and is threatening to throw himself off. Two policemen are waiting below. He'll come down, he says, "if you can promise me that Kate Bush will release an album in the next six months."
He may just get his wish. After a long interval – she has not released an album since The Red Shoes in 1993 – one of Britain's most celebrated and eccentric singer-songwriters has just announced that she will be releasing new material in 2005.
The very existence of this novel, Waiting for Kate Bush by John Mendelssohn, is an indication of the bizarre levels of obsession that Bush still inspires. Despite her decade-long absence, the 46-year-old from Bexleyheath still holds a central place in the national consciousness.
As I wandered around London, having just purchased a copy of the book, periodically someone would catch a glimpse of Bush's face on the cover and grab my arm. "She's absolutely brilliant. I love her," said the Glaswegian security guard at the building works around St Pancras. "Can I see that?" said an 18-year-old a few yards further on, who would have been about seven when Bush's last album, The Red Shoes, was released. "I really need to check her out. Muse say she's their biggest influence."
The announcement of the new release, in a letter to her fan-club, hinted at "some beautiful orchestral movements by [the late film composer] Michael Kamen" recorded at Abbey Road Studios, as well as collaborations with former Japan bassist Mick Karn. But that was about the sum of it – no title, no release date. So why is it that even these sketchy details can generate so much anticipation?
Bush's first single Wuthering Heights was released in 1978, and perhaps it is men of a certain age who best remember this moment. The pop scene at the time was dominated by the angry and extreme sounds of punk, so the appearance of a homage to the work of Emily Brontë by a middle-class girl from the suburbs – part English rose, part rampaging witch – was just too much for them.
The enormous photo of Bush on just about every London bus, sporting a white vest on a rather cold day, only fuelled the frenzy. The Brontë society may have been withering – it transpired that Bush had never read the book and the song was based on a childhood memory of the last moments of a TV film – but that didn't seem to bother anyone else.
It wasn't just Bush's sexual allure and kooky persona that demanded attention. Her singing featured extraordinarily adventurous vocal leaps, executed faultlessly, and the strangest rhythmic accents – think of "Heathcliff, it's me, Cath-ee…" in the chorus. Some might have been put off by the screeching in the upper registers, described by a character in Mendelssohn's novel as "the voice of a nine-year-old who's just inhaled helium". But the sheer strangeness of the sound is captivating.
And then there is the highly individual musical structure of the song, that somehow spans influences from Stephen Sondheim musicals, the Incredible String Band and Pink Floyd. Amazingly, Bush was 19 at the time.
Naturally, some of this idiosyncrasy inspired ridicule. Like David Bowie before her, Bush had studied with mime artist Lindsay Kemp, and visually her performance of Wuthering Heights was full of dangerous-looking hair and over-the-top performance-art gestures. There was once a French and Saunders sketch that captured all this perfectly, while remaining an affectionate parody.
But Bush is not all wild screeching whimsy. In fact, she seems at ease in many different personas: the overblown gothic temptress of Wuthering Heights; the painfully sincere ballad singer of The Man With the Child in His Eyes; the camp glam rocker of Wow; the hard-edged sado-masochistic queen of Hounds of Love and Running Up That Hill.
The latter is truly riveting, and perhaps her most perfect statement. Nailed down by vicious unrelenting percussion and a hypnotic synth melody, the vocal manages to capture the physical pain of love. "It didn't hurt me… Do you want to know how it feels?" she asks.
Bush's studio habits have become legendary. A perfectionist, she insisted on performing hundreds of vocals for the song Wow, over a period of weeks, even though producer Andrew Powell had said he was happy with the first take. Perhaps it paid off – Bush's voice on Wow spans fabulous octave leaps, and somehow the vocal gymnastics conjure a functioning chorus out of two words, "wow" and "unbelievable". She soon pulled against the constraints of the industry, and took over production duties herself for the album The Dreaming in 1982.
Often described as an un-commercial disaster, with hindsight, the album is punchy and adventurous. Bush fully embraced the emerging sampling technology, and the album is awash with sound effects and animal cries. Rolf Harris even got to do a cameo on didgeridoo.
Bush continued to self-produce her records, right up to the spiky but ultimately seductive The Red Shoes. Although critics were underwhelmed, songs on the album, such as the eerie Top of the City, are among her best.
Invariably, those who have worked with Bush depict her as modest and friendly. Something of a recluse, she is rumoured to have spent much of the time since The Red Shoes tinkering in studios. Apart from her perfectionist nature, she has another more prosaic reason for not producing more music: she and her partner, guitarist Danny McIntosh, had a son in 1999.
Bush has appeared in public just a few times in recent years. She sang on stage with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour at the Festival Hall in 2002, and appeared at the Q Magazine awards, where she found herself in the company of John Lydon.
He praised Bush's music and attacked pale imitations, particularly US singer Tori Amos. Listen to Amos's Cornflake Girl and it is impossible to miss the wholesale co-option of the Bush sound. Apart from Amos, Bush has certainly cleared the path for many female solo artists; one can hear many pre-echoes of Madonna and Björk.
And it is not just the music that has been influential. It is the scale of her theatrical ambition which makes her such a compelling figure, and which makes the prospect of new material next year something to savour.
Profile: Kate Bush: Can she pull off the big
The Sunday Times
December 26, 2004
In the cluttered loft that houses the memory of the average middle-aged bloke, a video flickers dully. It displays a child-woman of ethereal yet sexual allure who sways with beguiling swimming motions as her voice leaps the octaves of her 1978 hit Wuthering Heights.
The news that Kate Bush is planning a comeback after 12 years has lit up the captured moment when she erupted on the music scene as a 19-year-old, tangle-haired gypsy with a dazzling talent and a totally original approach to pop.
So agonisingly have devotees awaited her return that the writer John Mendelssohn penned a novel entitled Waiting for Kate Bush, published last month, featuring a Bush obsessive who has sent her 2,000 unanswered e-mails and is tormented by self-loathing.
Nobody would believe that Bush’s long silence was about to end had she not posted these words on a fan club’s website: “The album is nearly finished and will be out next year.” In a rare burst of garrulousness she added: “I hope you will all feel it’s been worth the wait.”
Now 46, the elusive Bush spent the interval at her home near Reading making sculptures, planning films and enjoying the company of Bertie, her six-year-old son, and his father, the guitarist Danny McIntosh, who played on Bush’s last record The Red Shoes.
A little more light was thrown on her absence by Peter Gabriel, her friend and collaborator on the hit single Don’t Give Up, who recently told a Canadian interviewer: “She’s being a mum and loving it. So music’s gone from being full-time to part-time (and) that slows you down.”
The doctor’s daughter from the London suburb of Bexleyheath altered the chemistry of pop in a career that produced nine albums and 13 hit singles, including The Man with the Child in His Eyes, written when she was only 13. Her unique performances combined musical theatre, dance, poetry and rock, crowned with a voice that could scale the upper registers with what has been described as a captivating screech.
Nobody had seen or heard anything quite like her before. One reviewer wrote: “It beggars belief . . . a stunningly original stage performance . . . it is devastatingly effective . . . a dazzling testimony to a remarkable talent.”
Her success was all the more notable because she was one of the few women to be taken seriously in the male-dominated world of pop, governed at the time by the aggressive sounds of punk. This 5ft 3in nip-waisted shy sprite not only composed and arranged her songs and produced her stage shows, but she also designed her costumes and was managing director of her management company.
Many female artists have claimed Bush as an inspiration, including Madonna, Björk, kd lang, PJ Harvey and Katie Melua. OutKast, the US hip-hop duo, want to do a song with her if they can track her down.
Male singers, too, owe a debt to Bush — perhaps none more so than Sir Cliff Richard. When he first saw her perform Wuthering Heights he was so impressed with her arm- flailing and gyratory motions that he incorporated them into his own static stage act. Like other Brontë aficionados, he probably imagined she had a detailed knowledge of the book, but it turned out she had not read it. The song was apparently based on her memory of the last moments of a television film.
In the studio, however, her perfectionism verged on control freakery. Recording the song Wow, she reportedly performed hundreds of vocals over several weeks, despite the producer’s insistence that he was perfectly content with the first take.
The experience led her to assume control of producing the album The Dreaming in 1982. Characterised by sound effects and animal cries, the record was not a success. Some blamed Rolf Harris’s contribution on the didgeridoo.
Catherine Bush was born in 1958, when British pop was waiting to be rescued by Elvis Presley. Her father was an English GP who played jazz piano, married to an Irishwoman who had been an accomplished folk dancer in Co Waterford. She was brought up in a comfortable home with two older brothers, John and Paddy. Both were fanatical about folk music and Kate imbibed their records of folk, sea shanties and Irish jigs.
She liked Buddy Holly and Presley, but her main inspiration was traditional music. “Irish airs, the uillean pipes — music like that affects me physically,” she said.
She also enjoyed hymns and took violin lessons at convent school, St Joseph’s at Abbey Wood, near Woolwich. “We lived in a farmhouse. I used to play hymns on an old organ in the barn till it was eaten out by mice,” she recalled.
By 11 she was writing poems; at 13 she was mixing music with the words. Her songs were intensely emotional, drawn from personal terrors and nightmares. “Horrible things fire my imagination,” she admitted. She had a particular fascination for films such as Don’t Look Now and The Cruel Sea, with “watery” themes.
Through her brothers, she joined a folk group called the KP Bush Band, playing pub gigs in the Lewisham area. When she was 15 she was introduced to Dave Gilmour, the lead guitarist with Pink Floyd, who encouraged young talent. “Absolutely terrified and trembling like a leaf, I sat down and played for him.” Gilmour liked her songs and put up some money for her to make three tracks.
The next year she was signed to Floyd’s record company, EMI, which was at first reluctant to let her record her preferred song, Wuthering Heights, until she felt ready to “handle the situation”.
She left school with a stack of O-levels, a recording contract and a windfall legacy from an aunt.
While getting more experience with the folk band, she started dance and mime classes. Emulating David Bowie, she studied with Lindsay Kemp, the mime artist and choreographer, and began to conceive of performing Wuthering Heights as a windblown figure with over-theatrical gestures.
The result was a sensation. On reflection, Bush said she was never too young to be a musician and her only ambition had been to get 10 songs onto a piece of plastic. “It couldn’t have happened fast enough. School inhibited me. It wasn’t until I left school that I found the real strength inside. All the rest was karma. It was meant to be.”
Ironically, the icon of Top of the Pops did not particularly like pop music, citing Chopin, Debussy, Sibelius and Erik Satie as her favourite listening. She also seemed oblivious to the effect her sultry performances had on audiences.
“I don’t deliberately try to be sexy when I perform,” she said. “I just concentrate on getting as much emotion and feeling into it as I can. I can feel myself switching on in front of an audience. It’s a very physical thing.”
The single’s success helped power her debut album, The Kick Inside, to the top of the charts and her sudden riches enabled her to set up home in south London with her cats Pywackit and Zoodle. In January 1979, accompanied by a troupe of dancers, jugglers and musicians, she set off on a scintillating tour. It was to be her last.
Instead she concentrated on studio work during the following decade and her hit albums included Never for Ever in 1980, the highly acclaimed Hounds of Love in 1985, and The Sensual World in 1989. There followed a four-year break until her collaboration with Eric Clapton on The Red Shoes in 1993, but the album was not well received and she vanished from view.
In recent years she has appeared in public a few times. She sang on stage with Gilmour at the Albert Hall in 2002 and appeared at the Q magazine awards. The industry tried to lure her back with the offer of a Brits lifetime achievement award but she turned it down because she would have had to have performed live.
Now she is ready to face the spotlight again. This, remember, is a female star whose versatility has perhaps never been surpassed, who pioneered the fusion of dance and circus entertainment in pop and conjured a new persona with each song. For fans, the anticipation is palpable.
Brontë of pop aims for new
The Times of London
by Adam Sherwin
December 23, 2003
After 12 years of sculpting, making films and child-raising, Kate Bush is back on the music scene
One of the longest silences in popular music is about to end after Kate Bush,
the inspiration for a generation of female artists, announced her comeback.
Twelve years after her last release, one of pop’s most mercurial performer has delivered a surprise Christmas present to her long-suffering fan club: “The album is nearly finished and will be out next year.”
The record features the last work of Michael Kamen, the composer and arranger, who died last year. She has also been working with Mick Karn, bassist with the Eighties new romantic group Japan, drummer Stuart Elliott and jazz percussionist Peter Erskine. The London Metropolitan Orchestra will feature with two classical musicians, Emma Murphy and Susanna Pell.
Bush, 46, burst on to the music scene as a 17-year-old with the swooping Brontëinspired Wuthering Heights. She was noted as a unique performer who combined musical theatre, dance, poetry and rock. But she retired from live performance in 1979 and her recordings became more rare, despite huge successes including the Hounds of Love in 1984.
In 1993 she released an album and a self-directed film entitled The Red Shoes, then retreated to her home near Reading to sculpt and work on an untitled project. Her record company, EMI, has waited patiently for the results. Her long absence even inspired a novel, Waiting For Kate Bush, by John Mendelssohn.
Now patience is rewarded. Bush writes on her website: “There are some lovely performances and I hope you will all feel it’s been worth the wait.” She said she had been busy looking after her son Bertie, 6, with her partner, the guitarist Danny McIntosh. But what everyone, not least EMI, would like to know is when the album will be released. “We’ll let you know,” Bush writes. March has been hinted at.
Bush returns as a new generation of artists recall her as an inspiration. OutKast, the US rap group, want to produce her next record. Madonna, Bjork, P. J. Harvey and Katie Melua have revealed the debt they owe to the doctor’s daughter from Bexleyheath, southeast London. A cover of Hounds of Love by hotly-tipped rock band the Futureheads is to precede her return to the charts.
Peter Gabriel, a friend and collaborator on the hit Don’t Give Up, explained her absence. He said: “She’s being a mum and loving it. So music’s gone from being full-time to being part-time, so that slows you down. She pointed out [she takes] even longer than I take.”
Bush began writing hits, including The Man with the Child in his Eyes, aged 13, and was groomed by EMI after being discovered by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. After retiring from the stage she built a studio in her home and spent years poring over overdubs for songs such as Running Up That Hill.
The music industry sought to lure her back with the offer of a Brits Lifetime Achievement Award but she rejected it because she would have to perform live.
Three years ago she accepted Ivor Novello and Q Magazine awards, even making a surprise appearance to perform Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb with Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall, prompting speculation of a return to the concert stage.
Wow! Bush is Back
The Daily Mirror
by Kevin O'Sullivan
September 2, 2005
After 12 years hidden away from the limelight, Kate Bush is releasing a
new album and single .. .. but can such a reclusive icon cope with a return to
A fugitive from fame, one of the world's most reclusive stars is steeling herself for something that fills her with dread - a return to the limelight.
The obsessively secretive singer Kate Bush is battling an almost crippling
sense of apprehension as she prepares to release her first album in 12 years.
For she is still the extraordinarily shy woman who abruptly turned her back
on fame a quarter of a century ago after hating the pressures of her first and
Yesterday, her record label EMI announced Kate's new offering - a double
album called Aerial, set to hit the shops on November 7.
By then a single, King Of The Mountain, out on October 24, is expected to
have rocketed to the top of the charts.
And Kate - who recently celebrated her 47th birthday - knows she will have to
show her face to the loyal fans who have bought her records in sufficiently
large numbers to make her remarkably rich.
With a £25million fortune, she is estimated to be the second wealthiest
British female singer ever - and rewards herself with a "salary" of more than
£1million a year.
Only Annie Lennox has earned more.
Timeless classics such as her No 1 debut single Wuthering Heights and her
1978 first album The Kick Inside - which spent 70 weeks in the charts - made
Kate an icon and an enduring pop presence.
But for years she has kept out of the public gaze.
Her home, a £3million 200-year-old red-brick mansion on a secluded island in
the Thames in Berkshire, is surrounded by high walls, forbidding wooden gates
and dense forest.
It is a Dickensian setting that invites comparisons to Miss Havisham, the
isolated character from Great Expectations who deliberately cuts herself off
from the rest of humanity.
Few residents in the village nearby are aware that there is a superstar in
And if the heat should become too intense as her new CD propels her back into
the spotlight, Kate has a carefully planned escape route - a secluded bolt-hole
in Devon where locals are even more in the dark about her.
With appealing understatement, the enigmatic singer tries to explain her
withdrawal from the fame business. "The reclusive thing is because I don't go
clubbing and I don't do a lot of publicity," she says.
"I'm a quiet, private person who has managed to hang around for a few years.
Ridiculous, really. I didn't think it would be like this."
She certainly feels no obligation to share details of her very private life
with her millions of admirers. When she ventures out, the former pop sensation
hides behind huge dark glasses. Sharing Kate's splendid isolation are her
partner, guitarist Danny MacIntosh, 49, and the couple's seven-year-old son. It
was 18 months before outsiders learnt of little Bertie Bush's arrival. Not
surprisingly, his mother has never allowed him to be photographed in public.
But Kate insists she has not shrouded Bertie with her cloak of secrecy.
"Far from being secretive, I am just trying to be a good, protective mother,"
she says. "I want to give him as normal a childhood as possible while preserving
With the eagerly awaited new album in the offing, that privacy is in danger -
and his worried mother knows it.
But she must have an outlet for the burning desire to write songs and make
music that has driven her since her difficult schooldays, when she was bullied
for being so skinny.
The agonies of her childhood go some way to explaining Kate's almost neurotic
hatred of public scrutiny.
A doctor's daughter who grew up in Welling, Kent, she recalls: "My father has
told me I used to dance to music on the telly.
"I 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 I've been trying to get back there ever since."
An intense youngster who spent hours playing an old organ kept in a barn on
her family's farmhouse estate, Kate does not cherish fond memories of the
At St Joseph's convent grammar school she discovered what she suspects of
herself to this day: that she simply didn't fit in.
As an oddball pupil, she withdrew into painful shyness, which still haunts
her in middle age.
"School was a very cruel environment and I was a loner," she says.
"But I learnt to get hurt and I learnt to cope with it.
"My friends sometimes used to ignore me completely and that would upset me
"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 was writing songs from the age of 10 and I was never really into going to
discos and dances and stuff. I never told anyone at school that I did that,
because I feared it would alienate me even more."
But the timid teenager's penchant for songwriting did not alienate a family
friend, Ricky Hopper.
Ricky, a music business mover and shaker, was impressed by her talent and
arranged for her to record a demo tape.
Hopper played it to his friend Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd, who stumped up
more money for a comprehensive tape and provided an introduction to the
power-brokers at EMI.
Kate was just 16 when she signed a £3,500 contract with the label and played
her first concerts in South London pubs with her three-piece KT Bush Band.
But the transition from schoolkid to grown-up performer was difficult for one
EMI executive Bob Mercer says: "On meeting her I realised how young she was
mentally. We gave her some money to grow up with.
"EMI was like another family to her. She was the company's daughter for a few
Inspired by the plot of an Emily Bronte novel she had never actually read,
Wuthering Heights showcased Kate's original singing voice and her genius for the
It was a sensation.
As her album The Kick Inside also raced up the charts, the overnight star
embarked on her first major concert tour - a gruelling odyssey across Europe.
Lost in a whirl of TV appearances, promotional interviews and the champagne
lifestyle expected of fast-rising celebrities, Kate realised to her horror that
she was despising every moment.
That first tour was also her last.
Then, still only 21, she shocked the rock world by simply turning her back on
Embittered by the pressure of it all and the distractions from making music,
she blamed the record company which had once been her surrogate family.
"They took me away from everything familiar and I figured out then that music
was a priority, not publicity, and that completely changed my life," she says.
"I stopped doing all the things that were expected."
More than a quarter of a century on, Kate is still defiantly sticking to her
Even though a new generation of EMI bosses confidently predict that the new
album - which few of them have been allowed to hear - will be an enormous hit,
they're not expecting the singer to help boost sales with a round of publicity
Indeed, many suspect that the slow process of getting the Aerial CD on to the
shelves is in part due to Kate's fear of an inevitable return to centre-stage
A friend says: "In her ideal world Kate would simply release the record,
people would enjoy the music and never think about her at all.
"But she knows life is not like that. She utterly loathes the showbiz aspect,
and to say she's not looking forward to it is the understatement of the century.
"But Kate still has a compulsion to make music. In some ways, she wishes she
The unworldly quality which shone through during her famous Wuthering Heights
performances on Top Of The Pops gave the singer an ethereal image, and she is
adored by New-Age hippies.
Devotees still faithfully gather to celebrate what they call "Katemas" -
their version of Christmas which they mark every year on their idol's birthday.
The festival is held all over the world, from the mystical Glastonbury Tor to
the Australian Outback.
To the deeply embarrassed Ms Bush, such fanaticism is celebrity gone mad.
But she is not immune to the allure of very famous people herself.
Her most recent public appearance, in March, was distinguished by a
toe-curling incident involving the Queen.
At the urging of guitarist Eric Clapton, who made a guest appearance on her
last album The Red Shoes, Kate attended a star-studded reception at Buckingham
Palace to honour the British music industry.
Sandie Shaw - who stood next to her when they met Her Majesty - witnessed a
major breach of etiquette from a woman clearly unused to social interaction,
especially with royals.
The 60s singer recalls: "Kate was rummaging in her handbag. Suddenly she
produced a pen and some paper and said to the Queen: 'Would you mind signing
this for my son?'
"The Queen looked lost for words. I mumbled: 'I think that's a pop-star
thing, Kate.' And the Queen seemed pleased to be let off the hook.
"'Quite right,' she answered as an equerry quickly hustled her away."
The anecdote speaks volumes about a woman who critics say really should get
out a bit more.
But if she wasn't shy, reclusive, eternally intriguing and - frankly - rather
strange, she wouldn't be Kate Bush. And the world would be a poorer place.
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds