The Reviews

Miscellaneous Reviews

Rolling Stone - "The Glory of Gershwin"
Astrology for the 21st Century - "Kate Bush: Any Day Now... A New Chapter in the Whole Story"
The New Statesman - March 28, 2005 - Sandy Shaw's Diary (Kate meeting the Queen of England)

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The Glory of Gershwin
by Elysa Gardner
Rolling Stone
January 26, 1995

Of all the tribute albums around, The Glory of Gershwin holds the distinction of being the only one to feature an 80-year-harmonica player and Meat Loaf. Beyond that it also pays homage to one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. George Gershwin's ability to convey rapture and longing through his melodies alone was virtually unrivaled among his peers. Sure, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers crafted brilliant songs, but neither wrote A Rhapsody in Blue.

It's fitting, then, that although numerous household names lend their voices to Glory, the album's star is an instrumentalist: octogenarian Larry Adler (Gershwin's friend and musical associate), whose savvy, richly intuitive harp work graces every track. With its nuances and gritty pathos, Adler's playing emphasizes the folksy but haunted sense of Americana that runs through much of Gershwin's music, particularly Porgy and Bess.

Among the singers, Elvis Costello and Lisa Stansfield come cloest to matching Adler's effortless virtuosity. Stansfield's technically supple alto is well suited to show tunes, and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is a perfect vehicle for her flirtatious vitality; Costello delivers a reading of "But Not For Me" that's both tasteful and heartbreaking. Others show signs of stretching or challenging themselves but are often equally impressive. Peter Gabriel ("Summertime") and Sting ("Nice Work If You Can Get It") start off singing so low in their ranges that it may take a moment to recognize them, but their performances turn out savvy and affecting. And Kate Bush milks every ounce of desperation in "The Man I Love," imbuing the song's wistful lyric with a delicious hint of madness.

Granted, some push a bit too hard. One wishes that Mr. Loaf, who quavers ardently through "Somebody Loves Me," had waited for the Andrew Lloyd Webber tribute; the same holds true for Cher, whose version of "It Ain't Necessarily So" is, predictably, an exercise in overzealous vamping. Fortunately, producer George Martin keeps the bombast to a minimum, arranging the songs with an unpretentious intelligence that frees them to do what they have always done, which is inspire and enchant.

***1/2 stars


Kate Bush: Any Day Now... A New Chapter in the Whole Story
Astrology for the 21st Century
September 22, 2005

Kate Bush is a singer-songwriter of unparalleled talent. A unique voice in every sense, as well as a natural musician and a gifted dancer. After 12 years a new album is finally here. The fans' mantra, 'any day now', is at last coming around, and a new chapter in the whole story is about to begin.

The new album is in fact a double album, called 'Aerial', and is due to be released on 7th November 2005. On 24th October, the first single will be released, called 'King of the Mountain'. This article provides an overview of Kate's musical career, her birth chart, and her transits for the writing of 'Wuthering Heights' and the release of 'Aerial'.

Musical background

Kate was brought up in a family immersed in music, art and literature. From an early age she and one of her brothers, John, wrote poetry, and at around the age of 11 she began to set them to her own chord progressions. Learning a musical instrument was compulsory at the secondary school she went to, and although Kate learned the violin she did not enjoy it.

She turned to the piano when her other brother, Paddy, needed someone to accompany him with his violin playing. Their father showed Kate the C Major chord and the muse was off and running. Within a couple of years, the first signs began to appear of songs that would later become hits.

During her teenage years, Kate considered changing direction to pursue a career in psychiatry. This was before receiving her break in the music industry, which came in mid-1975 when EMI began negotiations to sign her to their label. Around this time Kate wrote to an former school-friend saying:

"I have set myself a definite ambition as a career. I want to sing, write songs and mime."

Once signed, Kate was allowed time both to grow as an artist and as a person. During the full Moon of March 1977, Kate wrote the now-legendary song 'Wuthering Heights', which went to number 1 in March 1978 and stayed there for four weeks, knocking Abba off the top spot. By February Kate was said to be the most photographed woman in the UK, and by May, 'Wuthering Heights' had gone Gold, selling half a million copies. The song was also number 1 in the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia, and top 10 in Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Kate's first album was released in February the same year, and reached number 3 by April.

A successful tour followed, as did several more albums, however Kate became known for taking longer and longer to release new LPs. Her last album, 'The Red Shoes', came out in October 1992, with the fourth and final single released off the album two years later in October/November 1994. Since then, Kate has collaborated with other artists on their recordings, and spent time with her family. In December 2004 she announced that a new album was nearly finished. Originally slated for a mid-2005 release, the launch moved and is now confirmed for 7th November, thirteen years after 'The Red Shoes'.

Kate Bush's birth chart

Kate's birth time is not known, so this chart diagram cannot include her Ascendant or house cusps. It is also not possible to be certain which sign her Moon is in; it moves from Capricorn into Aquarius on the day Kate was born (it could be anywhere between 27 degrees of Capricorn and 10 degrees of Aquarius). This article will therefore confine itself to those parts of the chart which are known with certainty.


The dominant feature of this chart is the Grand Cross between Sun, Moon, Mars, and Neptune. Whilst we cannot be one hundred per cent certain that the Moon is involved in this configuration, it most probably is, taking into account orbs.

This Grand Cross is in fixed signs. Fixed signs have a quality that is implied by the very name 'fixed': they are generally steadfast and persistent, and can have a tendency to get stuck and refuse to let go. This is a strongly wilful configuration.

Connections between Mars and Neptune are often related to dance and dancing, and with the Sun and possibly Moon linking with the Mars-Neptune opposition Kate would be compelled to find a constructive outlet for her Mars-Neptune energy. Dance and mime are fantastic ways of channelling this type of energy because they combine athleticism (Mars) with grace and beauty (Neptune) with self-expression (Sun and Moon). The fact that Mars in Taurus reinforces this; Taurus requires that the energy of Mars be expressed physically and productively, rather than cerebrally, socially, or emotionally.

Mars-Neptune's red shoes

Kate Bush's album 'The Red Shoes' can be directly read from this: Mars is the red planet, and Neptune rules the feet.

In an interview Kate said:

"At one point I was dancing from Monday to Friday and enjoying it more than my music. Now the writing is more important."
She has also commented on The Red Shoes film, from which she took her inspiration for her album of the same name:

"The imagery of possessed by an artform - which in this case is dance - so it has a life of its own, is something I can relate to. I look at my albums as probably the same kind of thing. I am very obsessed by my work when I'm in the middle of it. I'm quite tenacious, and don't like to let go of it until I'm sure I've finished it."
With Venus in septile to Pluto, this obsessional quality of inspiration and artistic creation is clearly present. In fact, the theme of The Red Shoes is encapsulated in this aspect:

"Vicky Page aspires to join the Lermontov Company, acknowledged to be the greatest team of ballet dancers in the world. Boris Lermontov is not interested - until he sees her dance. Then he realizes that she will become a great ballerina. An iron disciplinarian, he expects Vicky to dedicate herself completely to her art. For Vicky, that is a particularly harsh demand she is attracted by Julian Craster, the young composer who is another of Lermontov's brilliant protégés. Julian has composed the music for The Red Shoes ballet, a version of the Hans Andersen fairy tale. In it, Vicky achieves stardom. The fantastic shoemaker gives her the magic shoes which impel her to keep on dancing ; she becomes more and more exhausted, until finally she dances to her death.

The performance of the new danseuse brings full recognition of her talent. But the unhappy theme of the ballet is borne out behind the stage. Vicky is irresistibly caught between love for Julian and devotion to the ballet. Lermontov, determined to fulfil her genius, is enraged by the human passion which distracts her. He bullies Vicky; he pleads with her. Unable to make the choice between Julian, whom she has married, and her career, Vicky, bewildered and despairing, deliberately brings her life to a premature end."  - From the Plot Synopsis at Britmovie.co.uk

Another song of Kate's where this Venus septile Pluto aspect can be glimpsed is 'Hounds of Love'. Kate has described this song as about being hunted, pursued and ravaged by love, in its guise as a frightening monster - a very Venus-Pluto idea.

Driven to be different

Kate's Sun in conjunction with Uranus in Leo symbolises the drive to be original, idiosyncratic, and trailblazing in the expression of her creative ideas. Interestingly, for Kate's one and only tour (so far) her team made a headset microphone so that she could dance and sing simultaneously -

"Well, as far as I know, it's the first time it was used live, 'cos I wanted to be able to move around and dance and use my hands, and at the time the sound engineer that we were working with came up with the idea of actually adapting a coat hanger, he actually used a coat hanger, and opened it out and put it into the shape, so that was the prototype." - Kate Bush, speaking on ITV, 1993

This was over a decade before Madonna - who was born just over a fortnight after Kate - popularised the use of this type of microphone in concerts. Kate was born during a Jupiter quintile with Uranus, adding to the ground-breaking nature of her creative impulse. From a review of Kate's tour:

"Kate Bush lines up all the old stereotypes, mows them down and hammers them into their coffins with a show that is - quite literally - stunning. This quaint, cute suburban redhead turns pop upside-down by not merely singing but performing songs with explosive originality."

A 'transpersonal' Mercury

During her youth Kate had an interest in Greek mythology. As mentioned earlier, she also gave serious consideration to a career in psychiatry. These things are not surprising given her Mercury in Virgo conjunct Pluto, and in sextile with Neptune. Traditionally, both Neptune and Pluto are associated with myths, psychology, and the 'transpersonal'. In fact, the written symbol denoting 'psychology' is the same as the written symbol used to denote 'Neptune'.

When Neptune and Pluto are in contact with Mercury a person looks beneath surface appearances and searches for deeper information and explanation. What they write (Mercury) expresses 'transpersonal' themes and emerges from the normally hidden depths. It is not 'light and fluffy' but concerned with mystery, ambiguity, poetry, hidden meaning, and often, darker themes such as death, betrayal, revenge, jealousy, grief, and loss.

Coming full circle

When Kate wrote 'Wuthering Heights' during the full Moon of March 1977 (the full Moon was exact on 5th March, but would appear full in the sky for a few days around the 5th), Saturn was at 11 degrees and 07 minutes of Leo, very closely conjunct her Uranus at 11 degrees 39 minutes of Leo.

On 7th November 2005 when Aerial will be released, Saturn will be at 11 degrees 06 minutes of Leo. This is therefore a virtually exact Saturn Return, reflecting the 'full circle' nature of Kate's work from writing that seminal song to the forthcoming release.

We may ask why it is a transit of Kate's Uranus that is so important. The clue is in Kate's work itself. The works that artists create reflect their birth charts and their transits at the time of the creation and release. The word 'wuthering' means:

"(of a wind) blowing strongly with a roaring sound; (of a place) characterised by such a sound [variant of 'whitherin' from 'whither' meaning 'to blow', from 'hvithra' ralated to 'hvitha' meaning 'squall of wind', from Old English 'hweothu' meaning 'wind']"

The meaning of 'Heights' is obvious, and putting them together we have a connection with Uranus: in mythology Uranus is a sky god (i.e. high up), associated with gusty strong winds and turbulent stormy weather, i.e. squalls. During Saturn's transit of Kate's Uranus, she was giving form to (Saturn) a Uranian energy.

As for 'aerial', the written symbol used to denote Uranus is exactly that: an aerial, and the symbol for Aquarius (the sign ruled by Uranus) is a depiction of two parallel 'air waves', sometimes referred to as waves of ether (the energy of air, which in India is called prana, and in China chi or qi).

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Ariel is a spirit of the air, and in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock Ariel is the chief of the Sylphs, which are invisible elementals of the air. From Pope's poem, three of the moons of Uranus were named, and one of those was Ariel, so Ariel now circles around the planet Uranus permanently, recognising this association with the spirits of the air. So once again, Kate is giving form to a Uranian energy, and that energy connects back nearly 30 years to the very start of her musical career. Interestingly, one of Kate's ealier songs was titled 'Passing Through Air'.

The structure of Kate's career actually follows the structure of Saturn's cycle very closely. A year after 'Wuthering Heights' was written, it was number one, and at this time Saturn was at 25 degrees Leo. When Kate's last album, 'The Red Shoes', was released in November 1993, Saturn was halfway through it's cycle, positioned directly opposite 25 Leo at 24 degrees Aquarius. Following this album, Kate withdrew from releasing albums for the remaining half of Saturn's cycle. Saturn will be at 24/25 Leo in November/December 2006, suggesting that this will be another key time in Kate's musical releases.

For these reasons, and not just because it's been a long wait, the forthcoming album is likely to be a landmark. Kate is ready to enter a new phase of her career, and her muse is airborne once again.


Sandy Shaw's Diary (Kate meeting the Queen of England)
The New Statesman
March 28, 2005

I turned around and there was Da Kween in a bright turquoise suit smiling at me, holding out her hand to be shaken (no gloves).
By Sandie Shaw

''Keep still and stop fidgeting," muttered Grace through a mouthful of pins. Perched precariously on a chair, I stood as still as I could while my daughter sewed the hem on my pink Armani suit. Outside, Eric Nicoli, the chairman of EMI, stood in the rain with his chauffeur, George, waiting for me to emerge.

In the car we checked our ID - passports, driving licences, birth certificates, bank statements and personal invitations from the Queen to visit her at Buckingham Palace. We were on our way to a royal knees-up - a "do" to celebrate "the contribution of the music industry to the culture and economy of the United Kingdom". Like everyone else, I was invited to come alone, which filled me with great panic. I have never gone to public occasions on my own. I felt like a child on her first day at school. In desperation I rang Eric, who luckily also had an invite and offered to be my escort/minder for the evening. Eric has the dubious notoriety of being called "Big Boy" by Davina McCall on TV at a Brit Awards ceremony, so I felt I was in good hands.

Outside on the palace steps were a few straggly old-guard paparazzi, struggling to focus their cameras. Inside, I suddenly felt like Cinderella at the ball and had the wild urge to kick my shoes off and dance barefoot in the light of the sparkly chandeliers. Ushered through the echoing halls, we passed lines of waiters polishing glasses and pouring wine. I quickly went over to grab one (a drink, that is) for Dutch courage, and committed my first faux pas of the evening. "We'll bring the drinks to you in reception," advised the head waiter, bowing so deeply I thought he would split his trousers. I took an orange juice and mingled. I then committed my second faux pas. While being introduced to the Duke of Gloucester, I suddenly broke into a coughing fit. Hordes of equerries ran amok trying to furnish me with a serviette to mop up. Actually it wasn't such a bad mistake. Apparently most people had tried not to fall asleep while talking to him - or, having previously met him, completely avoided being reintroduced. He seemed a perfectly nice chap but somewhat lacking in the charisma department.

The three questions I knew my friends would ask the next day were: "Who was there?" "Did you meet the Queen?" and "What did she say?" Here goes . . .

The guests included the leader of the band of the Coldstream Guards, the head of music collections at the British Library, the conductor of the Windsor and Eton Choral Society, the director of the Specialist Schools Trust and (of course) the Master of the Queen's Music. Add to this a smattering of jazz musicians, sopranos, triple harpists, a large pinch of indie record company founders, a slice of fat-cat rock managers, movers and shakers, all mixed with a twist of current and former pop icons, and you had a rather heady royal cocktail.

I particularly enjoyed meeting up again with some of the old guard: Cilla Black, Roger Daltrey of the Who, Robin Gibb (still stayin' alive) and Ray Davies of the Kinks (accompanied by a rather attractive Swedish nurse, no doubt to take care of his recent mugging injuries - not). I really enjoyed meeting some of my Eighties musical heroes for the first time, like Peter Gabriel, Joan Armatrading and Kate Bush. Peter admitted to having me as a bedroom pin-up as a boy; Joan informed me she was now chair of Women in Music; and Kate took us on a grand tour of the Queen's art collection, which adorned the walls. She was ecstatic.

"Can you believe it? That's a real Rubens up there. Fancy having that in your front room," Kate bubbled. I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Da Kween in a bright turquoise suit smiling at me, holding out her hand to be shaken (no gloves). She chatted away amiably and even managed to look interested as I explained my latest foray into European copyright law. All the while, Kate was rummaging in her handbag. Suddenly, she produced a pen and some paper. "Would you mind awfully signing this for my son?" she asked sweetly. The Queen looked lost for words. "I think that's a pop-star thing, Kate," I mumbled. The Queen seemed pleased to be let off the hook. "Quite right," she answered as an equerry quickly hustled her away.

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