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Record Mirror - September 6, 1980
KATE BUSH: 'Never For Ever' (EMI EMA 794)
You don't have to be a neurotic, well-to-do airy-fairy dreamer to like Kate Bush but it probably helps.
The rise and rise of Bush is fascinating. The yelping foot in the door of 'Wuthering Heights' was vital. Without the audience that neo-romantic opus garnered the music of Bush would be fairly and squarly up a commercial gum tree. With one hit Bush became an airplay name and thus began carving her own niche, or digging the rut depending on your receptiveness. And therein lies the crux of the matter. Mass blasting is imperative to Bush's richly constructed, multi-layered art.
Nothing here or in the past has been as utterly immediate as that short sharp shock of a first hit single, but, with the radio overkill that all her singles attract, Bush has become another opiate that your ears can't fail to be lured by. I for one would put forward the case that since that single Bush and her popularity have been on the wane.
Oh, I know she's still front cover type material (less sincere chaps might say only through the size of her buttocks and mammaries, but I won't) and I know 'Never For Ever' will once again be clung to a nation's collective bosoms, but really the formula does grate so that I'd stop somewhat short of describing the girl as a brave new force in the world of popular music. Certainly, if I were a big wig in EMI I'd be looking to spread my Bush operation Stateside (Japan due to the dynamic visuals is a foregone territorial conquest conclusion) and yet, with meandering class like hers, I'd have my grave doubts.
By no stretch of the imagination could one describe Bush and her music as inspiring. 'Never For Ever' in fact is as depressing an album as one might find all year. Superficially, the music is, with the exception of 'Babooshka' and the sporadic hook, meanderingly unattractive. On initial earfuls 'Never For Ever' sounds like one of the most empty, dull packets of poop one could ever hope to avoid. Take it down the road apiece and one can appreciate that the depth of playing is beyond reproach.
Wheras the musical decor grows in stature with each spin the lyrics and vocals, despite some of the laurels the girl has been granted in these spheres, are overblown. Bush's writing is quaint only for the fact that it sounds like it has surfaced from a bygone age. "Delius (Song of Summer)" for example is so much mental masturbation. Over clicking drum machinations, waterfalls of pianos, layers of delicate percusssion and angelic twitterings, Kate offers "Ooh he's a moody old man/Song of summer in his hand/Oooh he's a moody old man/In his hand/Hmm." Whoop de doo! Next...
'Blow Away' again meanders, it being the story of how musicians have something to look forward to in death as they can get together with "Minnie, Moony, Vicious, Vicious, Buddy Holly, Sandy Denny." Dubious my dear, dubious. 'All We Ever Look For' is a filch from Isao Tomita's Interpretation of Mussorgsky's 'Pictures At An Exhibition', while 'Egypt' finds Bush screaming Banshee-like over a typical sahara sand-storm band TV documantary backing.
'The Wedding List' is perhaps the most 'up' moment on the album. Leastways it's as 'up' as a track about a love triangle death tale can be. Put it this way, she's a-going to the chapel and she's gonna be a murderer. The guitar hook points, perhaps, to it being the next single. 'Violin' is more screams over a formal 12 bar rock structure. Very irritating but quite exciting. 'The Infant Kiss' is more fantasy (?) on the subject of paedophilia that ponderously plods into the angelic choirs of 'Night Scented Stock' that in turn moves into 'Army Dreamers.' This finds Kate adopting either an Irish or more probably a west country accent and has her delivering the album's most communicative and realistic moment. It lilts traditionally and tells tale of a boy returning home from active service in a box. The faraway scream of parade ground orders is masterful. 'Breathing' sounds like a Thomas Tallis (Elizabethan canticle composer, fact freaks!) composition and that probaably sums up the reason for her success. Taking trad melodical forms to the masses has seen her well.
Vocally Kate Bush has not moved on one iota in three albums. With 'Army Dreamers' she deals in hard realities, though in fairness 'Breathing' does weave a colourful web around the dangers of nuclear warfare. The former track is masterful by way of the fact that emotion flows almost despite those stilted two dimensional vocals. Elsewhere it's more songs about the recesses of the mind. Kate Bush is only 22 years old, yet she writes like a hoary old mistral. She's a young girl and should get out more.
Kate annoys me enough to listen closely, whether that's good or bad I know not. This album, it goes without saying, will be as big an irritant to as many as it will be a vital financial acquisition to others. Either way you'll get her under your skin, you'll get her deep in the heart of you. ***1/2 (As if it really mattered)
(His name does deserve to be in h1 headers, right? It's a name you'd want to remember. VM)
On to The Dreaming reviews
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds