The Reviews (UK)
Part 6


New Musical Express - "What Katie did"
The Scotsman - "When singing turns into a family affair"
Clash magazine - album review
The Independent - excerpt from "The Week In Arts"
The Independent - "Kate comes out of the shadows"
The Big Issue - album review (combined with a review of a "Texas" album)
New! magazine - album review
Uncut - "Album of the Month"
The Telegraph - "From whence the next pioneer?"
Maxim - album review

To the Reaching Out (Reviews) Table of Contents

What Katie did
New Musical Express (NME)
by Alex Needham

She came back to out-weird everyone else again, that's what

Such has been the hullabaloo surrounding this record that, by now, you'd have to be a Kate Bush-style recluse not to know that "Aerial" is the first album in 12 years from one of British pop's true eccentric originals.

The music is a very English kind of soul music that is uniquely hers. We certainly don't get the first half of 'Aerial' on first listen (it's divided into two CDs, "A Sea of Honey" and "A Sky of Honey" . Though "King of the Mountain"'s audacious prog-reggae shows that Bush still sees the world very differently to anyone else - and that her amazing voice is as "wow"-inducing as ever - much of this CD falls short of her best. "Bertie" in particular is sickly, a medieval-style ode to her eight-year-old son. Only the final track, "A Coral Room", is as mysterious and as beautiful as we expect Bush to be. The lyrics mention a drowned pilot, a recurring obsession in her work since "Hounds of Love" (well, if you can count once every 20 years "recurring" .

If the album ended there, you'd sadly conclude that housework and child-rearing had terminally softened Kate Bush's head. Fortunately the second CD saves the day. The strings and electronic pulses of "Prologue" have a cumulative effect so intense it leaves you giddy, Bush's voice combining with bird and whale song to create something so gorgeous it's like drowning in oxygen. "Sunset" alludes to a Bush hero, the classical composer Delius while "Somewhere In Between" is as foggy and autumnal as only Kate can be. "Aerial" is a tour-de-force of chanting vocals, mind-bending sounds that come out of nowhere and lyrics that hit ravishingly romantic highs. It's a triumph - the cares that the whole of this side turns out to be about how birds are actually laughing when they're chirruping?

So, "Aerial" has more than its share of static, but the highs are more than worth the lows.

Tune in and your mind may never be the same again.



When singing turns into a family affair
The Scotsman
by Andrew Eaton
November 12, 2005

Sharleen Spiteri of Texas was once asked if she'd ever thought of writing a song about her daughter. Absolutely not, she replied. "It's something too personal... it would only be relevant to parents maybe, and that would be a selfish thing to do." Besides, she added, "are they ever hit records? Nah."

On that last point, she's wrong. Stevie Wonder wrote Isn't She Lovely about his newborn daughter. Eric Clapton wrote Tears in Heaven about the death of his young son. Paul McCartney, most famously, wrote Hey Jude for a young Julian Lennon, then enduring the break-up of his parents' marriage. Self-indulgent maybe, but all struck a chord with millions of people. Still, you can see Spiteri's point. There aren't many pop songs - and even fewer good ones - about parenthood.

But why not? The obvious answer is that most pop stars aren't parents, given that they're too busy taking drugs, travelling the world and generally being young and decadent (take out the decadence, and the punishing working hours and frequent travel are still pretty incompatible with looking after children). Then again, many are, given that we live in an age when pop careers continue - and, occasionally, begin - long after 30. Most, though, still take the Spiteri position. Who wants to dance to a song about changing nappies, daddy-o and mummy-o?

Here's another view. It's been fascinating, this past week, to listen to the long-awaited new album by Kate Bush, and to gauge people's reactions. The album took so long, Bush has explained, because she was enjoying being a mum too much to get around to finishing it. Since she was so preoccupied with little Bertie, it's no surprise to find that he's all over Aerial - there are two photos of him on the sleeve, as well as his drawings (which are rubbish, as children's drawings usually are, however proud their parents may be). His voice is on there too, talking cutely about birds at the start of the second CD (this is something of a Bush tradition, her father and brothers having appeared on previous records). And, of course, there is the song Bertie, a nursery rhyme tribute whose lyrics read like Bush was making them up as she went along, while crouched at his bedside ("You bring me so much joy/and then you bring me... more joy.")

I am a parent myself, and a Kate Bush fan, yet my first, instinctive reaction to this song was to recoil. It seemed mawkish, self-indulgent, lazy, unworthy of one of our most innovative songwriters. Writing about a child in this way, after all, involves no insight, analysis or empathy. It's just gush. And dishonest gush too - parenthood, as any parent knows, is very far from being uninterrupted joy, however joyous it can sometimes be.

The more I listen, though, the more Bertie seems carefully considered and proof that, far from settling into a cosy, musically conservative middle age, as some reviews have suggested, Bush is as visionary as she always has been, stubbornly working to her own rules rather than anyone else's. Simple proclamations of everlasting love are, after all, pop's most common currency; is it any more dishonest to write them about a child than a boyfriend? To prove the point, elsewhere on Aerial there is a song called Pi, about a man who is in love with numbers. Like Bertie, it has no deeper meaning, it's just a love song that's not about what most love songs are about.

And this is the issue here - what pop songs are allowed to be about. Modern pop music's roots are in 1950s teenage rebellion, in 1960s counterculture, in the young reacting against the conservatism of the old, and celebrating how different from them they are (or think they are). Forty years on, the social picture is completely different; these days, being a pop star often looks like just another conservative career choice, in which you work for a big company and do, say and wear what you're told.

And yet, curiously, pop music clings to the same old rules. It is obsessed with youth and assumes we are too, to the extent that getting a record deal if you're over the age of 25 is near impossible (as KT Tunstall recently found to her intense frustration, until someone went against the grain and proved everyone wrong). A pram in the hall, in particular, is the sombre enemy of a pop career. So why write about it?

Except that this is rubbish. Many of the most affecting pop songs are about family. Think of Sly and the Family Stone's Family Affair, or Pink's Family Portrait, or, on the other hand, confessions of parental inadequacies by writers such as Loudon Wainwright. All of these resonate because they're honest. But what passes for pop music, in general, is not honest. It is about what we'd like to be rather than what we are, and what we'd like to be is young, rich, beautiful and free of responsibilities. That's not a bad song to dance to, but it won't love you in the morning.


Clash magazine
November 2005 issue

I was born in April 1978. Sitting proudly at number 1 in the UK charts was a 19-year old newcomer who had burst onto the music scene with a song inspired by a classic Emily Bronte novel. With "Wuthering Heights", Kate Bush had just become the first female solo artist in history to secure a Number One.

Spotted at the age of 16 by Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, who told his record company EMI to sign her immediately, Kate Bush spent three years expertly honing her skills before exploding onto the music scene, immediately commanding our love, and her own self-control over absolutely everything she put her name to.
Assuming co-production duties for 1980's "Never For Ever" she then claimed sole production rights for "The Dreaming" in 1982 before releasing what many hail as her classic, "Hounds of Love", and another four albums before taking a break after "The Red Shoes" in 1993, by which time she was simply revered worldwide.

It's been 12 long years for her fans and the media who forgot her so much so that nobody knew the she'd had a son in 1998. In 2001 at the Q awards she spoke of a new album being almost ready, well, 4 years later we finally have it. And it's her first double album.

The first disc, "A Sea of Honey" has seven songs starting with rousing single "King of the Mountain" before moving through the album's weakest parts like "Mrs Bartolozzi", a ridiculous ode about a washing machine using the lyrics "slooshy-sloshy" repeatedly. These are sandwiched around the cheerier ode to her son "Bertie". The disc picks up on the fantastic "How To Be Invisible" with its delayed electric guitar and funk bassline before finishing strongly on the Joan of Arc inspired string laden drama of "Joanni" and the beautiful piano solo melancholy of "A Coral Room".

Disc 2, "A Sky of Honey" is a nine-piece conceptual disc that follows a day through dusk, night and onto dawn. The album's primary themes of nature, light and laughter are most evident on this disc. The main strength in the compositions is in Kate's amazing ability like a classic novelist, or artist, to lyrically paint her scene and setting like no other. She once again joins forces with Rolf Harris on two tracks talking of turning dark tones to light and includes beautiful little links and vignettes between songs to make this disc flow better than the first.

Kate's superbly controlled, wavering voice is older, but it has aged beautifully and she displays its full range effortlessly, sailing through the avant-garde and almost theatrical into classical operatic pop. "Aerial" is surely the next single and is easily the album's best. It is pure "piano, bass and drums" Kate, building to a crescendo celebration of birdsong and laughter and is the perfect finish to an album where both discs end on a high note. "Aerial" is as essential as any of her work and will go down as one of her defining albums, perhaps that which beautifully defines her career's twilight.

To sum up, there is simply no musical artist in the world like Kate Bush, you must listen to her work, and when you really listen, you cannot help but love her.


Excerpt from "The Week In Arts"
The Independent
by David Lister
November 12, 2005

Kate Bush's first album for 12 years, which was released this week, may mark a turning point in pop. It must be the most domesticated set of pop lyrics ever. One track is a paean to the laundry. Probably only Kate Bush could get away with the line: "Slooshy, sloshy, slooshy, sloshy, get that dirty shirty clean." And even she only just gets away with it.

We don't want an avalanche of domestic lyrics. Vacuuming the lounge, putting up shelves and cleaning the toilet aren't generally going to move the senses, stimulate the emotions or get people on to the dance floor.

But Kate Bush has at least shown that domesticity can be "done" on a rock album without attracting ridicule. In fact, she has attracted rave reviews, and extended the boundaries of song writing.
So, how should the canny pop lyricists follow Kate? What about gardening? It is a huge thing in many people's lives. Let's have the gardening rock opera.


Kate comes out of the shadows
The Independent
by Rowan Pelling
October 30, 2005

Oh, she returns! Our lady of the shadows and the raven's wing. For 12 long years we beat our breasts with nettles and tore at our hair, and the fruit of the land withered on the vine (apart from the GM stuff, which glowed in the dark).

And a woman in Totnes gave birth to a stillborn wolf-cub, and the milk turned sour when we left it near the Aga, and we had to make do with Hounds of Love because we liked it rather more than The Red Shoes. And now Kate Bush ascends to her throne on a wind-blasted tor, and - Juno be praised! - there's a new album.

About time, too. I was a carefree 25-year-old when the last Bush album was released. Back then I could still be persuaded to don a Victorian nightie and dance around the room to Wuthering Heights if the occasion called for it.

Usually the occasion was pretending to be a contestant on Stars in their Eyes and I, along with countless other pudding-faced, earthbound females, yearned, with outrageous incongruity, to be ethereal, witchy Kate Bush. (Although all we ever resembled was escaped lunatic patients.)

I was struck down like a lovesick puppy at the age of 10 when I first saw Bush on Top of the Pops in 1978 and I have been fatally afflicted since. This despite the fact I was, and remain, largely resistant to popular music culture.

Like many women, I never subscribed to the "I listen, therefore I am" NME school of slavish musical devotion. Yet every now and then a particular voice penetrates my ear's inbuilt screening system (constructed to repel Dido and James Blunt). And none has ever provoked such primeval, womb-sprung recognition as that of Kate Bush.

She joins a select handful of female arts practitioners who seem to express the very essence of the lunar dreamscape that make up a woman's most private thoughts; novelists Charlotte Bronté and Muriel Spark, painters Frida Kahlo and Paula Rego, and poets Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath spring to mind.

Their fans treat them not so much as artists as priestesses of some long-lost cult of the mother goddess.

What can I say? It's not rational. It's a little bit menstrual. It's a woman thing. And at least it balances out all those men with speakers the size of standing stones, worshipping at the shrines of Bob Dylan and Morrissey.

So I was stirred to the entrails when I was told, as a guest on this week's BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review, that we would be reviewing the new Kate Bush album, Aerial. I even pulled out my antique linen nightgown: "It's meeee, oh Catheeee, I've come home..." Then I fretted.

What if Bush were no longer "other", but had become - gulp - circumscribable? I took a deep breath before donning headphones at the EMI headquarters in London (the album has been ruthlessly embargoed) and felt a familiar emotion.

How can I describe it? You're balanced on a knife-edge between pure, distilled, female hysteria and a pierced heart.

Take Mrs Bartolozzi, a song about an obsessively domestic woman with the repeated refrains "washing machine" and, "Slooshy sloshy slooshy sloshy/Get that dirty shirty clean". What's noticeable is how Bush has grown with her fans. There's less teen witch and more Gaia.

Since we were last summoned to court she has given birth to a son, Bertie, the inspiration for a song that's probably the only track on the album that will divide fans: those without children may reach for the sick bucket, while besotted mothers of small sons will weep with joy at every shamelessly self-indulgent sentiment. "Lovely, lovely, lovely Bertie," she trills over and over, before going on: "Here comes the sunshine/Here comes that son of mine."

Frankly, I thought my heart might not take the strain. The same was true of A Coral Room, with its tenderness and yearning for Bush's dead mother and capturing of some sub-aquatic quality of fading memory. And the heavy-kohl brigade will be suitably spine-tingled by How to be Invisible.

As for the second CD, inspired and interspersed by birdsong, tracking the changing light and weather of a single day, following a painter's eye, taking you from dawn to dusk, to the sea's shore and beneath the stars, it answered my feverish heart's prayer.

All we ask of Kate Bush, in the words of Duckie (Kate Bush fan club and "South London's premiere post-gay pop & performance kinst-disco") is that she's "eccentric, elusive and very English". The qualities are all mercifully here in Aerial. All together now: Lovely, lovely, lovely Kate. Lovely, lovely, lovely Kate.


Build Me Up
The Big Issue
by Chris Cottingham
November 7, 2005

A big build-up often precedes a big disappointment, and vice versa. Call it the New Year's Eve effect. Or X&Y syndrome. Both venerated singer-songwriter Kate Bush and grown-up Scottish popsters Texas are about to experience the phenomena, but from diametrically opposed vantage points.

The hush surrounding Aerial, Kate Bush's first album in 11, has been nothing short of reverential. The consensus - formed mainly by men who fantasised about her when they were boys in the 1980s - sees her as an eccentric genius. Aerial is expected to be an instant classic. Ominously it's a double. The opening, King of the Mountain, is promising, with Bush in brilliant voice, as is the Bjork-like electronica Pi, which sees her recite the mathematical constant to 115 decimal places. The pulsing synths and punchy drums of the closing Aerial, meanwhile, recall her 1985 hit Running Up That Hill. In between she spends a lot of time on her own at the piano, when there's little to distinguish her from a decade's worth of imitators. It says a lot that even her eccentricities, like collaborating with Rolf Harris - responsible for the didgeridoo here and on 1982's The Dreaming - point to an artist treading water. The one thing no-one expected was for this album to be just okay...

[excised the part of the review of Texas' album here]

...The brooding synths and Spiteri's balletic vocals on What About Us sound like they could have appeared on Kate Bush's album - a compliment for Texas, though the same comparison is rather less flattering to Bush...

[more Texas review excised here]

Both records are solid, though it's hard to get genuinely excited about either of them. But whereas Kate Bush never stood a chance of delivering on the hysterical anticipation, Texas benefit from a benign indifference.


New! magazine
November 14, 2005

(5 stars out of 5)

What do you need to know...

One of the most original artists in pop returns after a 12-year break.

First impressions...

People often bang on about how Kate Bush is bonkers. And, yes, if Girls Aloud and Robbie Williams is as adventurous as your CD collection gets then her long-awaited new album will sound like music from another planet. But throughout her long career, the mother of one, who is now 47, has made some glorious pop tunes - and that's still the case. Granted, few others are likely to record a track about Joan of Arc (Joanni) - but songs like Nocturn, A Coral Room and the title track prove Kate is a true pop genius.

You'll like this if you like
... Bjork

Our Favourite track... A Coral Room

Did you know... After 12 years away, Kate says she'll release two albums next year.

New! verdict... An album which has been worth the wait - this is Kate at her best.


Album of the Month
by Stephen Troussé
December 2005 issue

Serendipitously this month sees the return of the the two last grande dames of pop. Born just two weeks apart, 47 years ago, there are certain parallels. Both outlasted early accusations of gimmickry. Both wrested complete unswerving control over their artistic careers. And both have a sly, instinctive feel for pop iconography. But while Madonna's presence in the last decade has diminished, a consequence of her sheer ubiquity, in the same period, without releasing a single record, Kate Bush's reputation has grown.

Bush's last album, 1993's The Red Shoes, seemed to mark a waning of her powers. A surface liveliness and a surfeit of collaborators couldn't disguise what was the most conventional and dispirited record of her career. The strongest songs ('And So Is Love', 'Top Of The City') were the most bitter, while the title track seemed a parable of exhaustion, of someone condemned to dance and sick of it.

But in her absence, Bush has maintained a strange currency. Not merely in the kooky warbling of Tori Amos, the barking cover version of 'Hounds of Love' by The Futureheads or the lurid bestiaries of Allison Goldfrapp, but at the level of pop myth. It may be only fitting that a performer so wont to use Romantic imagery has been cast by rumour in the role of Grand Recluse - the mad woman in the attic of British pop. a last spectral link to that old Weird England.

The comeback single, 'King Of The Mountain', initially seems to play on such imagery, with it's bitter winds blowing through desolate mansions. But instead of a cobwebbed Miss Havisham, it conjures two very different exiles: Elvis passed away, but kept alive on wishful rumour: and Charles Foster Kane, alone amid the plunder of Xanadu. Thirty years on from the moment she was signed as a schoolgirl, and in the words of EMI, 'became a daughter of the company', the single kicks off Aerial as Bush's quest in search of her own Rosebud, some vivid essence that got lost down the years.

In its clinking chill and rising storm, the song offers an early, promising sign that this might be a return to the turbulent emotion of her best work. That whistling wind has blown all the way down the years of her career. from the wily moors of 'Wuthering Heights' to the soul storm that broke across The Dreaming and The Hounds Of Love, and still howled around the bitter fringes of The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. The promise extends to the structure of the record, which mirrors that of the epic Hounds Of Love in consisting of two discs: 'A Sea Of Honey', seven discrete, if not conventionally pop, songs: and 'A Sky Of Honey', a seamless concept suite.

The 'Sea'-side builds on the haunted keynote of 'King Of The Mountain'. 'Mrs Bartalozzi', a long, meandering washerwoman song over pining piano, strikes weird bathos with the repeated refrain of 'washing machine'. The closing track, 'A Coral Room', is a more achieved, though no less mournful, ballad, diving down into a flooded city of memory, where what's left in the calcified chamber of the heart is a mother's broken jug, which once held milk ' and now holds our memories'.

The dense, atmospheric trip hop of 'Joanni' seems to cast a rueful glance back, observing the armoured innocence of a Joan of Arc figure. But when Bush sings 'Who is that girl?', she sounds disgusted at her naivety. On the spooky, twanging 'How To Be Invisible', she mixes a potion of anonymity from 'eye of braille, hem of anorak, stem of wallflower and hair of doormat', but finds that oblivion is no escape.

'Pi' is more upbeat, a wheeling, acoustic, profoundly daft ditty with Bush testing the critical cliche that she could sing the telephone directory and have grown men swoon as she croons the number Pi to 25 decimal places. But it's with 'Bertie' that we come to the real heart of the record. A modern madrigal, complete with renaissance guitar and viol, it's sung to her seven-year old son, and is the ray of hope this desolate disc has been questing for.

It's a gorgeous, effulgent lullaby and ample testament to the bliss Bush has clearly found in motherhood. But artistically it feels like a retreat. For all the positivity, it pales beside the sublime gloom and gales of 'King Of The Mountain'. nevertheless, pre-release speculation suggested that Aerial's first disc was almost an afterthought, intended to 'soften the blow' of the mad ambition and adventure of the second. So perhaps we find the real substance there.

Bertie himself opens the second half: 'Mummy, Daddy, the day is full of birds/Sounds like they're saying words'. If 'The Sea Of Honey' side comprises the sombre Songs of Experience, albeit with one radiant spark of Infant Joy, 'A Sky of Honey' is one vast rolling Song of Innocence, responding to desolation with a world brimful of laughter, sunlight and birdsong. In the tradition of Bush's borrowings from high culture, it seems inspired by Vaughan William's symphonic 'The Lark Ascending', which in turn was inspired by George Meredith's eponymous poem, the concluding lines of which may give the album it's title: 'Till lost on his aerial rings/In light, and then the fancy sings'.

Interspersed in the pastoral ambient style of Virginia Astley, with the sounds of seagulls, blackbirds and cooing pigeons (who seem to be repeating ' a sea of honey, a sky of honey') the suite takes us through the course of a summer's day. Beginning with the ascending piano lines and Michael Kamen's strings of 'A Lovely Afternoon' ('Prologue'), through the sweetly burbling 'An Architect's Dream' (featuring a rather twee cameo from Rolf Harris), on to the jazzy flamenco of 'Sunset' and twilight of 'Somewhere In Between', it steps up a gear with the euphorically pounding dream sequence of 'Nocturne' ('we stand in the Atlantic and become PANORAMIC!'), before closing with the giddy aubade of 'Aerial' itself. Along the way, the 'chirrup, whistle, slur and shake' of birdsong enters a dialogue with, in turn, scat-singing, the chuckles of children, and finally, full throated guffaws, as BUsh ecstatically realises at 'Sunrise' that 'all the birds are laughing/Come on, let's all join in!'.

This 'Sky' side is frequently gorgeous in its fothering rush ('Who knows who wrote that song of summer the blackbirds sing at dusk?' she sings with real wonder on 'Sunset'), while the rousing swell and thunderous vocal of 'Nocturne' is stunning. But ecstasy is a difficult mood to maintain convincingly. Cumulatively it can feel like an overlong elaboration of a mood Bush struck much more succinctly on 'The Sensual World', though without that song's randy langour.

Nevertheless, it's a magnificently quixotic attempt. Aerial is a madly ambitious, darkly despondant and goofily exuberant grand folly of a record: a reminder of an eccentric recklessness and grand aspiration so much British pop has lost.

Kate Bush has found her sunny uplands at last, but you might just wonder if the creative storm may have finally blown itself out.


From whence the next pioneer?
The Telegraph
by Sarah Crompton
November 16, 2005

Sarah Crompton asks: where is the next Madonna, and the new Kate Bush?

I'm beginning to worry about Madonna. It all started at Live8 when she did all that unnecessary swearing - an attempt, I felt, to prove how transgressive and happening she still was.

On the trailblazers: where will the next Kate Bush come from?
But she needn't have bothered; because as soon as she started to sing, her back-catalogue spoke for itself, challenging everybody to join in and have a good time.

Then I saw her on Parkinson last Saturday and felt really concerned. She's too thin, for one thing; her head suddenly looks too large for her slight frame. And her clothes - those supertight trousers, that sleeveless T-shirt and gloved hand - brought the words mutton and lamb to mind.

This can be written off as envy, of course. I knew from the moment that I saw her cavorting in pink hot pants on the cover of her new album that she and I had reached some kind of parting of the ways. Pink hot pants are beyond your average fortysomething mother of two; they are certainly beyond me.

Yet, once again, her music does her showing off for her. Confessions on a Dance Floor is a terrific album, a disco concoction full of catchy, danceable tunes and the kind of assertive buoyancy that many of her more self-consciously trendy albums of the past few years have failed to produce.

So what, you might think. But Madonna matters, as I have said before, because to a generation of women she represents all kinds of aspirations of freedom, self-reliance and the power to control life on her own terms.

Oddly enough, Confessions on a Dance Floor finds itself released at the same time as another album by a female pop idol who has built her career and her life exactly as she wanted. Like Madonna, Kate Bush is 47, and still strikingly beautiful, though you are unlikely to find her in hot pants.

They are, spookily, more or less the same height - 5ft 3in and 5ft 4in. And in the early '80s they produced a new kind of template for what a woman pop star could be: empowered and empowering, innovative and inspiring.

There the similarities end. While Madonna wanted fame one way or another, Bush was obsessed with music in its own right; where Madonna's life has become more and more of an open book (with another documentary about her out on Channel 4 next month), Bush has preserved enough privacy to be regarded as an enigma.

Confessions on a Dance Floor is about love, power and fame. Kate Bush's Aerial, in contrast, is about smaller and less often hymned pleasures: the minutiae of domestic life where washing machines whir round, holding a loved one's clothes; the joy of having a child; the sound of birdsong; the sadness of losing a mother. Madonna talks a lot about her love for her family; Bush actually sings about it.

In that sense, she directly addresses the lives of her first fans, providing reflections on growing up, while Madonna deftly avoids the questions and glides back across the dance floor. There is no doubt that Aerial is an album of great beauty and haunting originality - definitely worth waiting 12 years for.

Yet listening to both albums in my own kitchen the other day, I found I couldn't in the end choose between them. I love Bush's home truths, but her whimsy pales over a double album; I wish Madonna would act her age, but the exuberance of her disco beats propels me across the floor in sheer delight.

Both albums have a kind of confidence that seems rare in pop today. And when I think back, I am struck by how many original female voices pop spawned at around that time: not only Bush and Madonna, but Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Chrissie Hynde and others stood centre stage and claimed the right to be heard on their own terms.

I might be missing something but today's female pop stars seem manufactured and bland in comparison. Kylie, Gwen Stefani, even Alison Goldfrapp just don't seem to have the originality or the blazing conviction that Madonna and Kate Bush have always displayed. They continue to shine, but their legacy has, in pop terms at least, simply not been fulfilled.


December 2005 issue

(4 stars out of 5)

After 12 years spent in reclusive wilderness, Kate Bush is back...with Rolf Harris!

WHAT'S THE STORY? Mrs. Eccentric returns after 12-year hiatus to make 2-discer full of soothing pop/prog. oddness.

TO BE HONEST: Allegedly recorded in pastoral fields, 183 miles south of Narnia, and mixed by magical monks with little peacocks copulating in harmonious ecstacy, while charcoal grey cherubs dance haphazardly and...

IN ENGLISH PLEASE: It's all a bit strange, but very good.

LISTEN OUT FOR: Rolf Harris playing didgeridoo. Seriously.



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

Reaching Out
is a
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds