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Kate Bush-The Dreaming (EMI) - Pigeonholing this internationally-popular english songstress has been about as possible in the past as hearing her on American radio (zip) but I think I've got a handle on her sound now. Imagine a cross between Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Nina Hagen and Martha Davis, who's listened to a lot of Peter Gabriel, and...er, doesn't help much, huh? Okay, would you go for a cute, talented eccentric? I would. Occasionally, her musical ambitions get the better of her, but no one who closes an album braying like a donkey can be accused of being too pretentious, now can they?
M.D (Michael Davis)
From: email@example.com (ronald hill)
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 92 17:41:26 PST
Subject: MELODY MAKER by Colin Irwin September 11th 1982
KATE BUSH - THE DREAMING
by Colin Irwin/MELODY MAKER/September 11th 1982
Under the premise that the Great British Public instinctively turns its nose up at anything that's a little unexpected, or which doesn't meet its carefully coiffured preconceptions, then this album will be an overwhelming flop.
The people'll be guided in their dismissive diagnosis, of course, by the all-wise radio producers who will flick quickly through it for the new "Man With The Child In His Eyes", fail to find it, assume Kate's gone off her trolley, and make a grab for the safety of Haircut One Hundred.
Reputedly two years in the making, the first album produced by Kate herself, no expense or musical craving spared...the result is mind-boggling. Even by the mannered, eccentric standards she's set herself, this is still an odd one; you may have thought "Babooshka" and "The Wedding List" on NEVER FOR EVER a little weird, then "Get Out Of My House" and "Houdini" here are positively manic.
Always an artist of extremes, Bush has allowed her highly theatrical imagination to run riot, indulging all her musical fantasies, following her rampant instincts, and layering this album with an astonishing array of shrieks and shudders.
Initially it is bewildering and not a little preposterous, but try to hang on through the twisted overkill and the historic fits and there's much reward, if only in the sense of danger she constantly courts.
Consider the options for a glamourous girl singer with an acute sense of melody; consider that she's taken the riskiest, most uncommercial route; and consider whether this album should be regarded with patience and admiration, even when it occasionally slips right over the top.
Two of it's ingredients, "Sat In Your Lap" and "The Dreaming", have already been issued as singles and sunk without a trace, which is not only significant but tragic. "The Dreaming" is the perfect example of the passion for percussive torrents that's overtaken her (and the influence of African music?) yet it's one of her more restrained vocal performances on the album where her dynamic singing is one of the prime features ("Get Out Of My House" has her roaring and ranting like a caged lion, "Leave It Open" has her yelling like a demented mynah bird.) Elsewhere, on "Houdini" and "All The Love", she'll break us in gently, even tenderly, before the fuse runs out and we reel in awe and amazement at the sheer power of her rage.
There's only one even vaguely conventional track, the lively "Suspended IN Gaffa", though there's something strangely disconcerting even about that and the only light track is "There Goes A Tenner", which is even mildly funny as Kate relates a tale of skullduggery with an exaggerated cockney swagger.
The lyrics, naturally, are another thing altogether. An analyst would surely come up with an interesting conclusion for her obsession with lurid drama, so vivid and colourful it could be traditional balladry.
"There Goes A Tenner" is about crime; "Pull Out The Pin" is a graphic account of terrorism and war; "All The Love" and "Houdini" blaze in one different aspect of death, the latter in a particularly complex but clever way. Personally I reckon the girl watches too many B-movies.
The epic track, though, the cornerstone of the album is "Night Of The Swallow", which shows both her growing maturity as a writer and her arrival as an outstanding producer. Another complicated song (surprise, surprise) it moves gracefully through many changing moods and patterns; it's a work of both beauty and anguish, poignancy and eeriness. These twists of mood are enhanced by the use of sublime Irish music (Liam O'Flynn and Donal Lunny of Planxty, Sean Keane of the Chieftans) interspected with the rugged main action.
Like most of the other tracks, I'm still not entirely sure what the hell's going on or what it's all about, but the puzzle's intriguing enough to entice you back until you unravel it. It's the sort of album that makes me want to kidnap the artist and demand the explanation and inspiration behind each track.
If you're out there, Kate, do me a favour and give me a bell, huh?
By Nick Burton
Kate Bush shouldn't be an unknown quantity very much longer. The Dreaming is her masterpiece, a perfect blend of romantic poetic imagery and daring musical approach. Bush's ace-in-the-hole is her ability to fuse differing musical influences (jazz, classical, folk) and nestle them comfortably within the boundaries of conventional pop songwriting. Each cut has a unique life of its own; from the majestic waltz of "Suspended In Gaffa" to the jerky, Peter Gabrielish title track, Bush shifts styles without sacrificing focus of mood.
So why is this perhaps the most fascinating female vocalist you've never heard? Maybe it's because her previous domestic release, The Kick Inside, came way back in 1978 and failed to ignite here as it did in Bush's native England, where it was bolstered by a Number One single, the plaintive, haunting "Wuthering Heights." Nevertheless, whenever my local shop got imports of her LPs Lionheart and Never For Ever, they were gone in a flash. So she has a following, but her cult artist status is ill-deserved: Bush has the dramatic edge, quirkiness and delicacy of Bowie in his Hunk Dory period; the eclectic, almost Baroque curiousity of a Peter Gabriel; a simply amazing voice that allows her to be alternately child-like and sensuously forceful; and a subtle allure all her own.
Beyond this, she's one of the few active female rock artists who performs, composes and produces all her own material. In addition to having a natural instinct for synthesizers, and the taste to employ them effectively without being bombastic or florid, Bush also manages to be as terse and tough-minded as any male without sacrificing femininity. And her craftsmanship is atmospheric and effortlessly cool--in other words, she's the only female rocker out there doing anything original (or experimental) in contemporary pop, What's pending? Stardom, one hopes. Kate Bush deserves it.
On to Hounds Of Love reviews
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds