24
Jul 08

KATE BUSH – “Wuthering Heights”

FT + Popular122 comments • 12,682 views

#420, 11th March 1978

I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, though I like to imagine its heroine does a pushy-arm dance at some point. Looking it up on Wikipedia, however, I was shocked to realise that Kate Bush is singing this song as a ghost, but really that’s just another oddness on a teetering pile of them: in a really excellent article on Bush for the late Stylus magazine, Marcello Carlin (hi dere!) points out that she is “the last musician to be allowed to do what she likes, as and when she likes”, and the precocious, precious “Wuthering Heights” is both evidence and justification for this indulgence.

On a parallel Earth somewhere, though, she never did anything else that anyone bought, and this is a one-hit-wonder, another in the seventies’ cavalcade of novelties. After all, we’ve already considered a hymn played on bagpipes, a tribute to Van Gogh, a mother-and-son barrelhouse piano romp, a spoken-word treatise on cosmic annihilation, a disco vision of the future, and a three-part rock opera, at least two of which are routinely ranked among the best singles ever. So a pop adaptation of a Bronte novel is unprecedented, but only as unprecedented as anything else thrown at the wall in this oddest of eras. Its ‘weirdness’, in other words, is not exactly why “Wuthering Heights” ought to be treasured.

To understand why this record is so brilliant, it helps to understand what it is: a power ballad. Like all great power ballads, it has a stonking big guitar solo, but that’s the least of its affiliation with the genre. It also has an absolutely steely conviction in its own seriousness and worth; it stares down even the merest notion that it might be ridiculous. And it continually raises its stakes: just when you think “Wuthering Heights” has peaked it pushes up somewhere higher, grander.

It starts off playful, Bush just revelling in how scrumptious words like “temper” or “greedy” sound when she’s singing them. Then – “bad dreams in the night” – she starts pushing things on a bit, and then rolls into the chorus, showing her range and melodic skills off. And then she really starts moving – “ooh it gets dark”, whipping up more of a storm, still playful enough to throw out that pine/find almost-rhyme though. The storm breaks on the second chorus, and Bush is imperious, working the song’s newfound groove. Still only halfway through, when she takes things up another notch, no longer singing as a character but letting song and story dissolve into one another, “let me have it!” – the tingliest point in a record full of them. “You know it’s me”. It’s one of those rare, liminal moments in pop when a performer seems to be trying to will a change in reality itself, to make our world simply swap places with the one her song’s creating. The piano strains at its upper limit, and then the strings come in, the moment of crisis passes, Kate Bush retires from her song in triumph and Dave Gilmour’s solo is a meandering, heartfelt round of applause.

And that, as far as we’re concerned, is that. Better one Kate Bush number one than none, and better this one than many, but it’s still a shame. After such an introduction, it’s us she’s haunting, a face pressed at pop’s casement window, mouthing a message: be this remarkable.

10

Comments

  1. 1
    vinylscot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    One of the most predictable 10s, I would think, although the score isn’t currently showing.

    I do think you’ve rather downplayed the weirdness somewhat. The impact of this in 1978 was staggering, probably far more than it would be to someone hearing it as an “oldie”. I’ll comment further once I’ve read some others’ views.

    Bush has suffered a lot because of her “individuality” (weirdness), but I’m with you that she certainly deserved her #1, and looking at her future singles, there are quite a few others which should have done significantly better than they did. No doubt her reticence in promoting/performing also held back her career.

  2. 2
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Haha yes, for some reason when I saved the post the date and mark fields didn’t transfer over.

  3. 3
    katstevens on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I do like this song a lot (especially the weird rhythm – each phrase ending right back up where it started but a beat behind or infront), but it don’t half go on a bit. Chop it down to 2 minutes 30 and I’d enjoy the whole thing a lot more.

    I have read Wuthering Heights! It is awfully grim and full of people being shouty and cruel to each other, stomping out any sense of dreamy goth romance that Kate is singing about here. I prefer Jane Eyre.

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 24 Jul 2008 #

    You might be forgiven, waking up at the start of 1978, that you had entered a new golden age of girlpop. Althea & Donna, Abba and then this. Sumptuous.

  5. 5
    DJ Punctum on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to sit this one out.

    There is no real way I can write about this and not talk about people and things which are too personal for me to speak about in a public context.

    I have no quarrel with the score.

  6. 6
    lex on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Kat you are so wrong about Wuthering Heights, it is GRAND and PASSIONATE and completely ridiculous, much like the song, and by far my favourite Bronte work. Then again I have always hated on Jane Eyre, not least because C.Bronte has to resort to telepathy to resolve her long-winded, boring plot which I had ceased caring about by that point anyway. I find the drudgery and relentlessly humdrum nature of Jane Eyre far more grim than the sweeping melodrama of Wuthering Heights.

    Oh yeah, the song: classic, yes, but I think I would have given it 9, just because Kate went on to outstrip it again and again. It’s the Kate song you play at parties, but never the Kate song you want to listen to anywhere else. (Though I still think ‘Nocturn’ would be perfect to drop at 8am at some all-night techno rave just as the sun rises.) I think I actually prefer Kate’s more controlled voice of the 80s and afterwards to her schoolgirl banshee wildness of The Kick Inside; the latter isn’t a bad thing at all but it is a bit ‘novelty’ compared to her croon on eg ‘Cloudbusting’ or ‘Experiment IV’.

  7. 7
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I think she made a few better singles than this one too, but it’s still a 10 for me – other stuff the artist’s done has no bearing on the mark (in theory anyway).

    I agree about the voice improving too, but it really works here.

  8. 8
    rosie on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Yay! Out of everything we’ve seen so far, there has been none worthier of the accolade of the maximum than this one and I doubt if there’ll be another. We can argue the toss about other 10s and I’m sure we will, but I’d be every disappointed in the whole project It’s a true original piece of art which is entirely the product of that kind of mind that is somewhat off-centre and therefore sees things from a different perspective from everybody else. Some might call it genius, and although that word is grossly abused I think there’s a strong case for applying it to our Kate. She was only nineteen at the time, after all, and had already proved her mettle as a genuinely innovative songwriter (it’s a pity we won’t be dealing with The Man With The Child In His Eyes here, written I believe at the age of 13). Like all true geniuses Kate Bush misfired sometimes, but then so did the Beatles and that, to my mind is what gives them an edge over, say, Abba in the canon of pop genius.

    This is pop’s Wagner moment; something that went where pop had never dared go before, because nobody told Kate she couldn’t and because the marketing men and beancounters hadn’t completed their total grip on the industry. It’s a complete holistic artifact; it works, just about, as a song, but what makes it perfect is the coming together of song, dance, and sheer force of personality.

    For me, the greatest number one and quite possibly the greatest pop song of them all.

    Oh, I’m a serial reader of Wuthering Heights and I love it. There’s almost nothing pleasant about it; it deals with the very worst of human nature, it is unlike anything else in nineteenth-century literature, and yet it’s so amazingly powerful and timeless. Was Wuthering Heights the first punk novel? Perhaps not – that must surely be Tristram Shandy.

  9. 9
    katstevens on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I just couldn’t deal with the relentless growling and bitching between the characters in WH. It was like reading an episode of Eastenders, the same old people having the same old arguments and being doomed to misery. Jane Eyre might rely on her psychic powerz to have her happy ending but dude that’s why I watch Ghost Whisperer and not Enders innit.

  10. 10
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    at home on the sideboard there is a photo of my mum and dad in fancy dress in the 70s, as cathy and heathcliff — IT IS AWESOME esp my dad’s authentic sidewhiskers

    sadly i think it was too early for the pushy-arm dance which i think mum could have made a major feature

  11. 11
    Martin Skidmore on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I’d probably have gone for 9, but I wouldn’t argue the point. I’m mainly just posting to say that even by your standards, this is a magnificent piece of music writing.

  12. 12
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Thanks Martin, though I have to disagree: I ended it on an unstressed syllable. :(

  13. 13
    Alan on 24 Jul 2008 #

    although i had been regularly listening to the top 40 and loving pop in general for some time by this point, about now (earlyish 78) i started TAPING edited highlights. it could well be this song that made me want to listen to stuff over and over again, and i STILL wasn’t really paying attention to words.

    i am totally with the lex on WH (THE BOOK) vs jane meh-r (do you see).

  14. 14
    DJ Punctum on 24 Jul 2008 #

    It’s hardly surprising that boys don’t get Jane Eyre.

  15. 15
    mike on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Yes, yes, I take all of your points, and extremely well-made and insightful points they are too – but I’ve never properly connected with “Wuthering Heights”, either the song or the book (whose weird – and to my mind, clumsy – narrative framing device did a lot to put me off). Is it simply too feminine? Am I just too butch?

    So I can admire it, but I cannot love it. And try as I might to suppress this, there’s an irreducible part of me which is forever itching to mock. The corners of my mouth twitch. It’s like wanting to giggle during prayers. Sorry!

    (In the interest of balance, I should state that Kate went on to release at least two of my favourite singles ever. But not for quite some time yet.)

  16. 16
    SteveM on 24 Jul 2008 #

    This song gets better and better all the time to me, but then I started from indifference long ago. KB is the first woman in pop I saw on TV and thought ‘ooh she’s weird’ and that was obv before other considerations like sexiness and whatnot, tho I didn’t find her as (playfully) menacing as Grace Jones (not without delving into the albums at least, which I never did until a couple of years ago – but I probably wouldn’t have appreciated them properly before that anyway despite having time for many of the leftfield women she inspired, directly or otherwise). Like many i think she reached her peak with the fourth and fifth albums but WH is up there with them and I figured at least one of I Feel Love, Uptown Top Ranking and this (ladies be ruling the late 70s) would get the top score.

  17. 17
    Mark G on 24 Jul 2008 #

    1) Us lucky people who (used to) listen to Radio 210, Reading, heard this single about 6 months prior to release thanks to Mike Read and/or Steve Wright who were the DJs then, they played it tons then stopped as the release got put back. So, we knew this was going to be big.

    2) Spin forward many years, and our Amber (then age 3) was watching this performance on TOTP2. I asked her what she thought, and she said “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

    Stood back in amazement.

    A few years after that, discussing with someone else on a different webpage about how KBush often popped into Sainsburys Tilehurst for her shopping incognito, and some other friends mentioned that she quite often took her kids to a local kiddie gym thing. Which was pretty damn cool of her.

    Oh yeah, nearly forgot: I was in the same TV studio as her back in the day (1979 or so), we were both ‘on camera’ features on the “Saturday Morning Show” hosted by Steve Jones. (Not that one, not even that one, but yeah, that one). I was on a ‘single review panel (highlights: The Korgis single I said was terrible (it was), and it turned out to be the ‘hidden artist’ as per Juke Box Jury) and she was being interviewed later in the same show. I’d have liked to have gotten an autograph, but we were not allowed to approach the goddess….

  18. 18
    jeff w on 24 Jul 2008 #

    On a parallel Earth somewhere, though, she never did anything else that anyone bought

    Hmmm. The World Of Popular = The World perspective can be useful. It can also be taken too far however and this might be an example of that. Kate was a Real Actual Successful Poll-Winning Pop Star for a few years. Right up until she decided she wasn’t going to stay on the treadmill any more in fact.

    No argument from me with the score, however.

  19. 19
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I’m not saying the world of Popular = the world! I’m saying that, listening just to this, you could easily imagine it being a total one-off, like Gainsbourg only having one hit here.

    Well, I can anyway.

  20. 20
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    (and then at the end I’m saying that we’re the parallel world, for the purposes of writing more about KB, and that’s a shame)

  21. 21
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Weird and wonderful stuff and this exotic, sexy young woman from the even more exotic and sexy setting of the Medway scored with her own composition. The fact that this superb piece was churned out by a hitherto unknown teenager (Kate was 19) was remarkable. The only puzzle really was where to file this strange newcomer.

    WH was simply a brilliant debut and nothing quite like it had turned up before. If originality is beauty, this was it. I really couldn’t imagine anyone trying to cover it, lest it was an attempt to take the piss. Indeed Emily Bronte’s characters of Heathcliff and Cathy had long since been targets for humour anyway before finally becoming at least partly legitimised by young Miss Bush. I feel that this was one of those records which just came out of nowhere without any prior warning, went straight to the top and would never be forgotten (I would bracket “Whiter Shade Of Pale” and “Spirit In The Sky” in this category). I can’t even remember the Punk firmament having anything bad to say about this. A truly classic and exciting piece. And Kate was quite bonkers, which is always very nice with a pretty girl.

    Oh, and Rosie linking it as “pop’s Wagner moment” is so spot on.

  22. 22
    vinylscot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Although David Gilmour was heavily involved with Kate’s development, it wasn’t him playing the solo on this song; it was former Pilot and Alan Parsons Project chappie Ian Bairnson. His own website confirms this.

    Watching the video again, purely for research purposes, I was struck, as I was at the time, by how large Kate’s hands were. Did anyone else notice this, or am I just a little odd? (or both)

    Waldo mentions covers, and there have been a few – Pat Benatar certainly covered it, badly, and Hayley Westenra has certainly performed it on TV. Kate Bush herself covered it, re-recording the vocals for inclusion on her compilation album “The Whole Story” in 1986. It wasn’t a good idea, and comes over as just a bit insipid; although technically it may be a better vocal performance than the original, it lost a lot of its power, and no doubt left many purchasers of the album rather disappointed and frustrated.

    Maybe I’ll post a little more on the “weirdness” later. I’m surprised more of the comments haven’t been about just how far out of left-field this was.

  23. 23
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    no not wagner — way too compressed, and the singing is modernist not romantic! more like pierrot lunaire! (kate has to be a better wordsmith than the siouxsie-sioux knock-off who did lunaire’s goth-as-in-rubbish lyrics, but i can only ever hear them as “out on the whiny weeny woo woo woowoo woo”)

  24. 24
    DJ Punctum on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Jonathan King also recorded a cover version sung from Heathcliff’s perspective.

    That’s all I’m saying about that.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Well, it was certainly fodder for the likes of Eddie Large, Faith Brown and around (Results 1 – 10 of about 983,000 for kate bush impressions. (0.29 seconds) ) others that also did Frank Spencer.

  26. 26
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Thanks for the correction re. the guitar solo vinylscot – I’ve gone 20 years or so believing it was Gilmour!

    He will get his moment of course (back, bunny, back!).

  27. 27
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    actually to be honest that’s how i hear most lyrics — ie i don’t know them after the first half of the first line

  28. 28
    vinylscot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    No bother Tom – I was actually prepared to find out I had been wrong in thinking it had been Ian Bairnson, for equally as long. It’s odd how these little things get stuck in your head.

  29. 29
    LondonLee on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I did a blog post on Kate a while ago and said that when I first heard this that high screechy vocal made me picture her as some witchy old woman who spent too much time indoors with her cats. Then of course I saw some pictures of her and, well, how wrong can you be? As Waldo said, bonkers and pretty, what a dangerous combo for a young man! Though she is the sort of girl I can only take in small, single-size doses.

    Great of course, and startling at the time (and she was so young!), everyone I knew was talking about it, but I have to say I do prefer the more conventionally pretty ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’

    I loved Michael Bracewell’s description of her as “pop’s equivalent of the mad girl in the attic…covering the territory of Angela Carter’s A Company of Wolves in the guise of a pre-Raphaelite raised on Jackie”

  30. 30
    jeff w on 24 Jul 2008 #

    #19 – OK, in that case the words “that anyone bought” are redundant. I’m quibbling, but this bit of the piece is a bit fuzzy. (I like the rest of it.)

  31. 31
    LondonLee on 24 Jul 2008 #

    “I was struck, as I was at the time, by how large Kate’s hands were”

    Too…many…jokes…can’t process…them… all

  32. 32
    CarsmileSteve on 24 Jul 2008 #

    @mark g 17. dere lord, i knew exactly which steve jones you meant, that’s marginally depressing…

  33. 33
    Mark G on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Imagine how he feels!

    (The Pyramid Game (UK), for others who may be lost)

  34. 34
    Andy on 24 Jul 2008 #

    That’s 2 number ones in a row that’ve had the Alan Partridge treatment (and the next has a bit of a Coogan connection as well).

    DON’T SING Susan, it sounds BAD.

  35. 35
    rosie on 24 Jul 2008 #

    It’s true, the actual mechanics of the song are not Wagnerian. But the concept, in which words and music and dance are fused together, is, and the way it came out of nowhere owing little or nothing to anybody’s fad or any recognised conventions, and the way it wass so outrageously and magnificently over the top (and gets away with it), all were pure Wagner. Also, both book and song reflect Wagner’s rather unhealthy but indubitably Romantic (with a capital R) obsession with love-in-death.

  36. 36
    Billy Smart on 24 Jul 2008 #

    It undulates. It breathes. It shimmies. It must be one of the most tactile things that we’ve come across on Popular.

    When it comes on the radio it sounds like the most magical thing imaginable, but when I put it on to play, I tend to start thinking of other Kate Bush songs that I’d like to hear more.

    I think Kate Bush may be the first pop star that I can remember. The leotard, the leaping and flowing sort of dance, the wobbling singing, the wide eyes… all of this was very attractive to me as a child, and not how grown-ups usually deported themselves.

    The first time that I ever asked for a record was for my sixth birthday in 1978 – “Kate Bush” – because my sister was working in a record shop (a slightly dubious profession, I got the impression). She gave me ‘Smurfing Beer’ instead, which I rather suspect she must have got out of a bargain bin, though it was certainly the sort of single which my parents thought much more suitable for a small child. I’m from Blackheath, so she was also one of those pop stars who people thought of as being local (like Squeeze or Carter USM)

    Move forward twenty years and my career as a library assistant for Greenwich Council, and one of my colleagues was Brian Barth, Kate Bush’s guitarist for most of her golden years, working as a porter! It wasn’t perhaps the role in life to which he was best suited, but asking him about how he created the solo on ‘Pull Out The Pin’at Abbey Road, or almost joined The Pretenders, added a note of otherness to the working day.

  37. 37
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I thought Kate was a bit of an Angie Baby personally.

    Jonathan King as Heathcliff? That’s almost as laughable as that other guy who quite recently took it upon himself to compare himself with Bronte’s brooding hero instead of relying on Polly Toynbee to do it for him.

  38. 38
    lonepilgrim on 24 Jul 2008 #

    this song has always been for me a guilty displeasure – although I’ve liked other stuff KB has done. For me it conjures up associations of adolescent drama queens smelling of patchouli oil which I don’t seem able to shake.

  39. 39
    Billy Smart on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Nobody has yet mentioned the rival musical treatment of the story: “Cliff Richard in ‘Heathcliff’. It climaxes with the aged knight revealing himself, in a moving ballad, to be a ‘Misunderstood Man’

    One of the many moments on the definitive Cliff Richard box set that I’ll never listen to again…

  40. 40
    Billy Smart on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Number 2 watch: Three weeks of ‘Denis’ by Blondie. Do you suppose that we might hear more of them?

  41. 41
    Dan R on 24 Jul 2008 #

    And of course we can add Sir Cliff to that esteemed band of Heathcliff wannabes.

  42. 42
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2008 #

    # 39 – “It climaxes with the aged knight revealing himself…” Christ! Small wonder nobody’s mentioned it.

    Yes, my own link with Wagner was all about WH’s intensity too. We’re not discussing chamber music here.

  43. 43
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 24 Jul 2008 #

    i’m siding with championship tagteam k.russell and t.w.adorno on this: wagner is all knock-off liszt and the totality of the gesamtkunstwerk is a bogus sham until it’s divided against itself! kate is expressionist rather than romantic, bcz it’s spoken out of the mouth of a ghost!

    “horses are the survivors of the age of heroes” — k.bush

  44. 44
    Billy Smart on 24 Jul 2008 #

    TOTP Watch: Kate’s TOTP debut was on the edition transmitted on the 2nd of March 1978, hosted by Noel Edmonds, which does make the late seventies seem like a pop golden age. Also in the studio that week were; Darts, The Tom Robinson Band, Nick Lowe and Andy Williams, plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘Fantasy’

  45. 45
    lex on 24 Jul 2008 #

    no not wagner — way too compressed, and the singing is modernist not romantic! more like pierrot lunaire!

    yeah I don’t get the Wagner thing at all, everything about Wagner is grandiose and overwhelming and more-is-more, megalomaniac-insane rather than Kate’s eccentric-insane. Kate is too gentle, and genteel, even in these mad banshee days, to be properly Wagnerian; a better example of that spirit in pop is the new Ciara single where she sings opera over crunk, ft. lines like “I should be in Iraq, shawty cuz I am the bomb/I got a million dollar house on my earlobe” (cue Valkyries).

  46. 46
    rosie on 24 Jul 2008 #

    And I’m quite sure that T W Adorno would have some colourful things to say about Popular if only he were alive to do so!

    I think it’s more Tristan Wagner than Ring Wagner. There’s a lot of gentle tenderness in T&I as well as intense passion. I think of WH as pop’s Liebestod rather than Brunnhilde riding into the flames.

  47. 47
    Tom on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I can think of another billowing-dress power ballad which we’ll be getting to at the other end of the New Pop era that feels more “Wagnerian” (though I’ve not seen any Wagner since I was 10!).

  48. 48
    Dan R on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Do we think Theodore would have been won over to the popular cause by the magic of ABBA and Kate Bush?

  49. 49
    Dan R on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Incidentally, does anyone know the reason for all that chinoiserie in the single sleeve design? I know it is carried over on the album but it looks highly peculiar to see the words Wuthering Heights in that lettering…

  50. 50
    jeff w on 24 Jul 2008 #

    It might be connected to the song ‘Kite’ (which is on the B-side of ‘Wuthering’ and on the album). Google throws up a rather, um, fanatical series of posts on a KB discussion forum expanding on this theory….

  51. 51
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Of course Dudley Moore did have Wagner in the back of his cab once but had to turf “Richie” out after the composer, who had previously been whistling snatches of “Tristan and Isolde”, told him (in English) to “Fuck off, c**t”. Surely no further proof of the similarity to WH is needed.

    Game, set and match, Rosie und Waldo!

  52. 52
    fivelongdays on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Would necessarily agree with the mark, but I wouldn’t necessarily argue with it either.

    And check out the China Drum version for 90s Brit-Rock (as in yer actual rock that rocks, not rock that mimbles) goodness.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=OBviQXfuu3c

  53. 53
    The Intl on 25 Jul 2008 #

    I never got her…

  54. 54
    DJ Punctum on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Yes, I was trying to remember who did that fucking godawful Steve Lamacq pseudo-indie rock totally missing the point cover version and it was MVE favourites China Drum. Almost as bad as the Futureheads’ slaughter of “Hounds Of Love.”

  55. 55
    Alan on 25 Jul 2008 #

    are you some sort of lex-ist?

    i heard china drum do their cover at a gig. it was really really awful. i can’t believe they actually liked the song.

  56. 56
    DJ Punctum on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Number Two Watch: “Denis” by Blondie, with Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” in third place. Them wuz the days, eh?

  57. 57
    vinylscot on 25 Jul 2008 #

    ..ah, yes, back in the days when you actually liked the sax on “Baker Street”, before years of constant repetition made you wish the instrument had never been invented!

  58. 58
    lex on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Almost as bad as the Futureheads’ slaughter of “Hounds Of Love.”

    Oh god don’t remind me – this is down there with the very worst covers ever, sitting alongside the Stereophonics doing ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Truly vile. Except no one defended the latter, and…far too many people defend the Futureheads :/

  59. 59
    SteveM on 25 Jul 2008 #

    KB covers are thin on the ground. I guess most people know not to, ahem, “try it”.

    I am not a fan of the recent Chromatics version of ‘Running Up That Hill’ tho. it just seemed a rather pointless, desolate rework.

  60. 60
    Erithian on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Waldo #21 – you’re a bit off geographically with the Medway! She was from within the M25, my present home town of Bexleyheath to be precise – also the birthplace of that well-known Irishman Andy Townsend a few years later. And Mark G #25 – the definitive impression was surely Pamela Stephenson on Not the Nine O’Clock News: “They’re really trying hard to get inside my leotard…”

    It was Dave Broddle in our class who was raving about this one when nobody else had heard it. “Kate who??” Eventually he sneaked a transistor radio into the class during a free period and let us hear it, and we were pretty underwhelmed given that the sound reproduction wasn’t quite what was needed to reveal its full magnificence. But yes, it wasn’t long before we all knew and loved it (or perhaps merely “admired it” in a few cases) and it stands as an essential part of the late 70s pop-fan experience.

    I’m going to come up with a pretty odd analogy here, that came to mind when watching DJ Pattinson make his England debut last week (!) Anyone know the story of “Spedegue’s Dropper”, by Arthur Conan Doyle? It’s about an asthmatic schoolmaster who practised in the New Forest by lobbing a cricket ball over a cord slung between two 50-foot-high trees directly onto the wicket. He was plucked from obscurity to win the deciding game of an Ashes series. At a crucial point in the story he sends his first ball wider than Harmison, such is his nervous state about performing this extraordinary delivery.

    It’s this (by a roundabout route we’re back to Kate) that set me thinking, what must Kate Bush’s state of mind have been when this extraordinary piece of work was about to be unleashed? Imagine coming out to perform it live to an audience for the first time. Many would have quailed, but no doubt she knew what she was doing after years of preparation. As Tom says, it’s one of a number of novelties in the 70s roll-call (I hear what you say about “power ballad”, but isn’t that a bit anachronistic?) – but few novelties were as great as this

    As I recall, the record was well on its way up the chart before we saw any pictures of her – remember that photo of her in the leotard, showing a very impressive cleavage, which reputedly caused road accidents when it featured on buses? Hence these reactions:
    Jeff Green: “Kate Bush was like all five Spice Girls rolled into one with a Flake on the top”.
    Letter writer in Record Mirror: “You – yes you reading this letter – buy Kate Bush’s single. God she’s ace. I’d crawl a hundred miles over broken glass to gargle with her bath water…”

    And yes, personally I preferred “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” or the later singles off “Hounds of Love”, but as a signature tune it’s hard to beat this.

  61. 61
    DJ Punctum on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Well, she only ever did the one tour, in 1979, and took considerable persuading to do even that.

    Her A&R man at EMI wanted to go with “James And The Cold Gun” as the first single and Kate got in a state, virtually begging him in tears that it had to be “WH” – he thought it would be way too leftfield to sell in a world filled with disco and punk but eventually he yielded, though warned her that it wouldn’t get radio play and would flop and then she’d see what he meant.

    The week it got to number one he bought her a new grand piano as a token of apology!

  62. 62
    Doctormod on 25 Jul 2008 #

    YES!!!

    10! 10! 10!

    I have long admired Kate Bush as one of the underappreciated geniuses of pop music. She is the embodiment of that precious sort of eccentricity without whom we shall eventually fall apart through our addictions to conformity. Lord knows there is a paucity of artists (pop or otherwise) who would stick so adamantly to her own vision and never pander to a business who demands constant touring and the courtship of publicity.

    As far as I’m concerned, The Dreaming is her masterpiece, the maturation of artistic depths that “Wuthering Heights” can only hint at. Nonetheless, it’s an extraordinary accomplishment in its own right.

    Though it’s been a while, I’ve certainly read–indeed taught–“Wuthering Heights” a number of times, and I’d have to say that KB clearly understood the ferocious emotionality and passion intrinsic to the Heathcliff/Catherine Earnshaw relationship, an intensity that tends to overwhelm or intimidate faint-hearted readers. I could go on and on about KB and Emily Brontë as kindred spirits (but I’ll spare you that).

    “Wuthering Heights” is evidence that “high” culture can influence popular culture, but the opposite is true in this case as well. I once heard that bookstores in the UK couldn’t keep enough copies of Brontë’s novel in stock in the year or so after the song hit the charts. I don’t have a copy of the redoubtable Penguin edition on hand–though, knowing that the song was about to come up for discussion soon, I almost snatched the GF’s old copy from her office last week–but long ago I checked the history of printings of the Penguin edition, and, yes, it’s true! An unusually high number of printings were done in 1978-80.

    Bravissima, Kate!

  63. 63
    Doctormod on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Re: Wagner and Kate:

    Kate is more somewhere between Mozart and Verdi, I would say, than Wagnerian, although a Wagnerian case could be for The Dreaming, particularly its ending in “Get Out of My House,” as a young woman’s Götterdämmerung. Tristan? Perhaps. But if I were to place KB in Wagner, I’d be inclined to cast her as Elsa in Lohengrin (a visionary girl much misunderstood) or double cast (as sometimes is the case) as Elizabeth/Venus (the two extremes of female sexuality) in Tannhäuser.

    As a side note to Lohengrin, there’s Kate’s long-ago b-side cover of Donovan’s “Lord of the Reedy River,” which suggests to me that there’s a number of girls out there who’ve been in love with a swan, Elsa and Leda among them.

  64. 64
    rosie on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Ah, Doctor Mod, since you are here – how did WH go down in the US?

  65. 65
    fivelongdays on 25 Jul 2008 #

    I actually liked the Futureheads version of Hounds of Love.

    Gah, it’s tough being into mid90s Britrock sometimes!

  66. 66
    Doctormod on 26 Jul 2008 #

    Rosie–

    WH made barely a dent on the US consciousness. My own first conscious memory of KB was an appearance on Saturday Night Live some time in the late 70s. (Yes, she really did come to the US–once.) The recollection is quite vivid as she sang two songs, “Them Heavy People” and “The Man with the Child in His Eyes,” which were unlike anything in the pop music being played in the US. And, oh yes–my mother was watching, too, and she almost had a seizure when Kate when into some simulated coital writhing on top of a grand piano while singing the latter song. It was a priceless moment.

    I didn’t hear a single word about Kate Bush for at least another five years, though all her albums were released here and, as far as I can tell, she gained sort of a cult following. Then, in 1985, just after my mother had passed away and I was preparing to begin graduate school (about a decade late), one of my hip younger friends (one accumulates those, if one is lucky, as an “older” undergraduate) gave me a cassette and said I had to listen to it. It was The Hounds of Love. I was blown away.

    “Running Up That Hill” was a hit big enough to get played on alternative radio stations–I listened to KROQ in Los Angeles back in the day–and the video was shown on MTV, but I suspect it wasn’t a mega-hit, but I couldn’t say for sure as I virtually never consult the charts. (I’ve long stopped caring about how well recordings sell. I only care about their aesthetic attraction–or lack thereof–in my thoughts about them. Or, to put it more mundanely–dare I say it?–after all these years it’s a matter of whether I like them or not.)

    I know Pat Benatar did a cover version of WH that, I think, might have been a hit of sorts, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. And, by now, why would I want to having heard the original? I mean, I can’t imagine PB, a girl from Long Island, as Catherine Earnshaw on Yorkshire moors.

    About ten years ago–strange to think that WH was thirty years ago–I was teaching a course in feminist/gender theory in the humanities at a rather well-known West Coast university. I had the students critique everything from opera and Virginia Woolf to rock videos and just about every sort of art form in between. I gave them all the freedom in the world to pick any work or any artist to whom to apply the theoretical readings for their final project. I had so many young girls bringing in Tori Amos CDs for my benefit–to the point that I brought in my own copies of The Dreaming and The Hounds of Love. “Perhaps you’d be interested in hearing this,” I’d tell them, and they’d swear I had some rare disc by their idol. No, I would tell them, my CD was about fifteen years old and, with all respect to Tori, the original is still the greatest. One young woman got extremely emotional about it. I asked her why. She said, “Because everything we try to do the British do better.”

    Well, what could I say to that?

  67. 67
    Doctormod on 26 Jul 2008 #

    #45–Lex quotes someone as saying:

    no not wagner — way too compressed, and the singing is modernist not romantic! more like pierrot lunaire!

    (Sorry, I’m jet-lagged after the adventure Down Under, have some pretty bad eyestrain, and need to get back to work on my proposal if I’m going to go back to Oz on a fellowship next year, so forgive my laziness.)

    The point is well taken. Yes, yes, yes. Don’t get me going on this. Kate Bush is a Modernist. At least a neo-Modernist. I came to that conclusion back in 1986 while undergoing the grueling “Readings in British Modernism” curriculum for the first level PhD exams. I was listening to HoL side two and reading T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets at the same time while my brain was on overload. The two have been fused in my mind ever since, even to the point that when someone mentions “Dry Salvages,” I automatically think, “All you sailors, get out of the wind, water / All you fishermen, head for home/ Go to sleep little earth.”

    Or am I thinking of Phlebas the Phoenician Sailor?

    “Fear death by water.”

    Now as to musical Modernism . . . I’m going to think about Schoenberg and Pierrot Lunaire. Someone is on to something . . . .

    Ask me again when I’m not so tired and stressed out.

  68. 68
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 26 Jul 2008 #

    pierrot lunaire was me — i actually more associate PL (and expressionism) with siouxsie (giraud’s original poem is like bad banshees lyrics), but i also always associate siouxsie with kate… both of them do the suburban-girl-playing-crazy-lady-dressup dance, different flavours of same

    people are stressing the lushness to get this back to wagnerlike, but it’s the siren-like wildness of the wail — the way it just cuts through everything and says here i am, you can’t pretend this isn’t here and isn’t me — that’s unwagnerlike: his characters are all doomed robots in the opulent machinery of the vast masterwork (haha the version of die walkure i saw in strasbourg a coupla months back actually togged the valkyries as girl-cybermen which was very awesome); the expressionists as a generation were all teen wagner-fans going yes yes i love opulence too but what about ME and my emo-goth passions; so klimt has this suffocating richness AND these hard knotty muscle-lines; kate’s a dancer — i think that’s pretty important

  69. 69

    […] “I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, though I like to imagine its heroine does a pushy-arm dance at some point. Looking it up on Wikipedia, however, I was shocked to realise that Kate Bush is singing this song as a ghost, but really that’s just another oddness on a teetering pile of them: in a really excellent article on Bush for the late Stylus magazine[5], Marcello Carlin (hi dere!) points out that she is “the last musician to be allowed to do what she likes, as and when she likes”, and the precocious, precious “Wuthering Heights” is both evidence and justification for this indulgence.” –Tom Ewing at Freaky Trigger[6] […]

  70. 70
    Doctormod on 26 Jul 2008 #

    #68 – alias p^nk

    Sorry I didn’t catch the attribution last time around.

    [Wagner’s] characters are all doomed robots in the opulent machinery of the vast masterwork

    Well, that’s spot on–and what’s most infuriating about them and often makes them seem as if they’re completely empty-headed (e.g., Siegfried–can’t stand that part of the Ring). Perhaps Brünnhilde is the exception, but a lot of good it did her. I like the Rheinmaidens–they don’t care, so they’re the only ones in the whole bloody cycle to escape unscathed. And they get the gold back in the end.

    Weialala leia
    Wallala leialala

    Kate, who creates an interesting array of personae (if not exactly characters), isn’t at all Wagnerian in that sense. Hers almost always struggle against the “machinery” (or fate, if you will), particularly in the songs in Never Forever,The Dreaming, andHounds of Love.

    I would have to take all three albums if I were bound for a desert island–but first I was struggle against going in the first place.

    Addendum: The pic sleeve shown for this thread was, as I recall, banned in the US as the cover for The Kick Inside because of the crucifixion motif–a photo of Kate, in red boots and posed in a “crotch shot” position, was deemed more suitable.

  71. 71
    rosie on 26 Jul 2008 #

    Quoth Doctor Mod

    Weialala leia
    Wallala leialala

    Well there’s a link between Wagner and Modernism!

    As, of course, would be

    Frisch weht der Wind
    Der Heimat zu
    Mein Irisch Kind
    Wo weilest du?

    I’m much more a Tristan fan than I am a Ring fan.

  72. 72
    intothefireuk on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Let me be completely honest about this – I fell in love with Kate Bush. Having said that, it wasn’t an immediate moment for me when I initially heard Wuthering Heights on the radio and somehow I managed to miss her early TOTP performance instead catching her performing WH seated at the piano, which, although still entrancing, didn’t hit the heights of her dance routine. My generally rockist agenda at the time, prevented me from fully embracing it but I was charmed by the simple beauty of ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’, it’s follow up, and I was finally able to dive in fully clothed with the slightly more rocky (but still weird & wonderful)’Hammer Horror’. From there it was swiftly onto ‘The Kick Inside’ & ‘Lionheart’ and beyond. Wuthering Heights, though, finally unleashed it’s full fronted emotional rollercoaster on me when I was lucky enough to see Kate in a one off show on her Tour Of Life in 1979, when she appeared with Peter Gabriel & Steve Harley. WH was the final song before the encore and ended with Kate, standing atop a bed of dry ice, ecstatically waving to the audience whilst flowers and gifts were thrown onstage from her adoring fans. The whole performance had been extraordinary and the climactic ending brought a large lump to my throat and a tear to the eye. She was at once gorgeous, incredibly sweet and outrageously talented and I fell heavily. I met her a few times but was never able to utter anything more than polite drivel and get a couple of autographs. I am still a fan of her early work which I find more eclectic, varied and emotionlly raw than the later more refined albums. Although, obviously, I am horribly biased, WH gets one better than a 10 from me. An amazing 11.

  73. 73
    DJ Punctum on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Was this actually the first Popular entry to be written and performed by a woman?

  74. 74
    rosie on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Marcello @ 73: It depends how rigorous you are in your definitions. Jackie Trent had a hand in writing Where are you now but had help from hubby Tony. Kate was the first to do it unassisted.

    What a shame nothing of Carole King’s from Tapestry or elsewhere made the cut (but then everybody had the album.) Popular is even more depressingly short of women writers than it is of women performers.

  75. 75
    DJ Punctum on 27 Jul 2008 #

    yeah I should have specified “solely.”

  76. 76
    Doctormod on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Thus Spake Rosie:

    Well there’s a link between Wagner and Modernism!

    Indeed–and quite an extraordinary one! Most of the major Modernists eventually found it necessary to deal with W eventually.

    I could suggest an interesting book on the topic. (And, no–I didn’t write it.)

  77. 77
    Doctormod on 27 Jul 2008 #

    intothefreak:

    Let me be completely honest about this – I fell in love with Kate Bush.

    No need to be embarrassed about that! (So did I!)

  78. 78
    rosie on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Well, didn’t we all! And in my case, got unbelievably jealous as well.

  79. 79
    Jim T. on 28 Jul 2008 #

    Just a complete answer to a question asked earlier (64)about its chart status: According to Wiki this went #1 in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia and was a top 10 in four other European countries. In the U.S.? It peaked at #108. Also: on a mostly British site, I’m stunned nobody has yet brought up the seminal version of “Wuthering Heights,” the one done in flag semafore….

  80. 80
    lex on 28 Jul 2008 #

    doctormod @ 66:

    I entry to Kate Bush was via Tori, too – as a teenager I was a Tori obsessive, probably much along the lines of your students, and I think in around 1997 someone nudged me towards the Kate back catalogue – but I’ve never thought their aesthetics overlapped all that much, bar their similar vocal range. To be slightly reductive, I’ve always felt that Kate’s work is situated more in the realm of the imagination (not a million miles from the fantasy genre) whereas Tori focuses on personal experience and catharsis, albeit viewed through a very fractured prism at times. Plus, the work of both is really heavily informed by their nationalities.

    (I think Tori’s gone on the record as saying she’d never heard Kate Bush until after she’d written most of Little Earthquakes, as KB never really hit big in the US.)

  81. 81
    Matthew H on 28 Jul 2008 #

    Wonderful record, even though we all did “hilarious” Kate Bush impressions in the playground for weeks (years?) afterwards. Loved ‘The Man With The Child I His Eyes’ too, obv, and not just because six-year-old me thought she was naked in the video. For me, as a kid, she dropped off the radar completely (save, maybe, more terrifying stuff on ‘Babooshka’) so when she reentered my sphere in 1985 as an NME darling, I was somewhat surprised. I suppose she’d always been a heroine of the inkies, but was still a figure of fun (fear?) among my peer group.

    I’ve been proper hooked since Hounds Of Love, of course.

  82. 82
    Doctormod on 28 Jul 2008 #

    Lex #80:

    I quite agree that KB and TA are the products of their respective nationalities, but I think there’s greater aesthetic overlap, particularly musically, than you would suggest. (By the way, most of the students to whom I presented KB thought them kindred spirits.) Kate can be ferociously cathartic in some of her work, and I think it valid to say that she employs the “fractured prism” technique to great effect, particularly in her “concept albums” (if one chooses to see them as such) The Dreaming and Hounds of Love. (I’ve actually lectured on this topic–so I can go on and on. But I’ll spare everyone the long-winded discourse.)

    I think what you’re implying is that KB’s subject matter lies more in her imagination and TA’s more in her personal experience. Yes and no. I grant you that KB has never done anything as unnervingly personal as “Me and a Gun,” but there’s no shortage of violence and grittiness in her work, even if it is presented in a more–what?–metaphorical manner. (This, too, could be a US vs UK thing).

    This is not to disparage TA by any means. Like KB, she is a genuine eccentric gifted with the extraordinary sort of vision few others possess. But I do think it’s a bit disingenuous to say that there’s no influence there. (TA’s disavowal notwithstanding, KB wasn’t completely unknown in the US–she actually had some chart presence in the 80s.)

    It’s interesting to note, though, that when VH1 did their “100 Most Important Women in Rock” programme (or something to that effect) back in the late 1990s), KB placed somewhere in the middle range of the list, despite this being a US-based project. And what artist do you think they interviewed about the significance of her work? TA!

    BTW, TA nowadays occasionally sings “Running Up That Hill” in her live shows.

  83. 83
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2008 #

    now, that’s gonna confuse some of the audience..

  84. 84
    lex on 29 Jul 2008 #

    I can’t really imagine it – I knew she was doing it, but it’s a v recent development and my days of obsessively downloading every live cover TA did are at least 5 years in the past. She’s a lot better at covers these days tbh, though her last album wasn’t bad at all.

    KB has always struck me as a lot more…performative, I guess, than TA, and far less prone to being inappropriate or crude; thematically, TA is a lot more confrontational, the violence in KB’s work seems to occur most when she’s being overtly theatrical, playing roles and characters which are not her (‘Get Out Of My House’, ‘Houdini’, ‘Wuthering Heights’ too I guess!), and her most cathartic, traditionally confessional tracks are some of her most gentle (‘This Woman’s Work’, ‘Man With The Child In His Eyes’, ‘Moments Of Pleasure’). Whereas TA’s catharsis is often this raging, angry thing (‘Precious Things’, ‘Crucify’, Blood Roses’) which often seems like it’ll spiral out of control, were it not for TA’s songcrafting talents and technical chops; it was actually when I first heard Fleetwood Mac that I thought “oh so that’s where Tori got her inspiration from.

    I look forward to discussing Tori in her own right in approx. 20 years’ time!

  85. 85
    Pete on 29 Jul 2008 #

    Yes, its as if the spoiler bunny was scared off by the confrontational Kate.

  86. 86
    Waldo on 30 Jul 2008 #

    Bun scared no.

  87. 87
    poohugh on 30 Jul 2008 #

    I think you’ve missed the point with this one, although i certainly agree with the mark. The strength of the song lies with its naive narrative pushed up against her most incredible voice and arrangement. That’s its beauty: her childish song about a book, the sort of lyrics you write when you’re at school getting in to Hardy or something. It tells a story so blatantly like few other decent songs. Telling this story is the most pure, unheralded voice which understands which words to emphasise or wail. Oh it’s so good i’m thinking about it now!
    So in conclusion: the naivety of a silly song about a Secondary School Novel combined with astonishing vocals and arrangements make this 10/10.

  88. 88
    Snif on 31 Jul 2008 #

    And she turns 50 today!

  89. 89
    Chris Brown on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Where’s the stork when you need it?

    Naturally, I’m pleased that it’s such a momentous record, even though I obviously can’t claim any credit – it is indeed the first self-penned Number One by a solo female. Technically speaking, we will eventually hit a song from Tapestry, but let’s say no more for the nonce. Oh, and apparently ‘Running Up That Hill’ was Number 30 in the US.
    As regards this one, I do feel a bit of distance from it just because I’m a bloke, but I wouldn’t give it less than maybe 9.5 – I deduct half a mark for that guitar solo which never feels like part of the song to me. Mind you, I don’t actually own the proper version of the track, which seems a bit of an omission on my part.

    Oh, and I like the Futureheads, who found their own point even if it wasn’t the one originally intended. That China Drum cover is terrible though – meatheaded “Oooh look there’s a slow song let’s play it fast” rubbish.

  90. 90
    Cahon on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Just a small point – the guitar solo in WH is played by Ian Bairnson, not Dave Gilmour..

  91. 91
    wichita lineman on 12 Aug 2008 #

    Lex, I may have missed this on some other thread, but has anyone pointed you towards Laura Nyro, the Godmother of them all? If not, you’re set for a brand new box of piano-straddled femme treasures. I’d recommend New York Tendaberry for starters.

  92. 92

    […] >> katebush Club écoute entrée libre: n°48 (divers) Saved by potato794 on Thu 11-12-2008 KATE BUSH – “Wuthering Heights” Saved by KingPrawnBalls on Sat 22-11-2008 What Kind of Language is This? Saved by kaptinCoke on […]

  93. 93
    Izzy on 27 Jun 2009 #

    *“let me have it!” – the tingliest point in a record full of them*

    I can’t hear this record without thinking that this is my favourite pop moment of them all.

  94. 94
    Vom on 29 Sep 2009 #

    Re: “the last musician to be allowed to do what she likes, as and when she likes”

    Bjork?

    No disagreement with the rating on this one, even if wasn’t a brilliant song, it’s fantastic to see such an odd piece of music at the top of the charts. I remember my Dad saying that the moment where the full orchestra stuff comes in halfway through is the best moment in any song ever – he’s not far wrong!

  95. 95
    Pete Baran on 29 Sep 2009 #

    You may be right about Bjork, but does she still engage with the mainstream? But them I am not sure Kate does either (though a new Kate Bush album is big Radio 2 news, a new Bjork album these days would be scrutinised for poppiness before even 6 Music palyed to too much).

  96. 96
    john nugent on 3 Oct 2009 #

    don’t think it was gilmour who played guitar on “Wuthering Heights” as the author ststes. Initially thought it sounded like (Mike) Oldfield but I heard somewhere it was Alan Parsons axe (forget his name – sorry.)

  97. 97
    Tom on 3 Oct 2009 #

    No – it wasn’t – someone corrected this mistake somewhere in the comments thread but I forgot to change it.

  98. 98
    thefatgit on 7 Dec 2009 #

    Somebody mentioned earlier about reading and listening to music at the same time, and their brain kind of “fused them together”. I’m just wondering if a young 18 or 19 year old Kate might have been reading Wuthering Heights while listening to “Johnny Remember Me”?

    There’s something about the female vocal in the latter, that has me thinking surely Kate Bush must have heard this. Also I wonder how might Joe Meek have taken this song and played around with the arrangement?

    Maybe producing something a little more Wagnerian perhaps?

  99. 99
    thefatgit on 29 Dec 2009 #

    More thoughts on WH…Bauhaus formed in 1978 and from that lil acorn we have a whole genre right there (hello goths!). The whole gothiness of WH harks back again to those Shangrila’s songs and their Bronte-esque doomed love stories.

    My cousin was a goth and she skirted around the whole punk thing concentrating on the fashion and make-up. I misunderstood the point completely and bought her an Exploited 7″ for her birthday, while all the time she was listening to Phil Spector’s back catalogue and Iggy and the Stooges. Then she phoned me and asked me to buy her Kate Bush’s album for xmas. That’s when I realised she was no more punk than I, but instead something else.

    I never really bought into this tribalism thing as a teenager, but I now know that my cousin was one of the first goths, bless her.

  100. 100
    Mark M on 23 Nov 2011 #

    Lovely, funny interview with KB on BBC Radio 4 this evening:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017cfkz

  101. 101
    lonepilgrim on 14 Dec 2011 #

    Kate skates:

    http://skatebush.tumblr.com/

  102. 102
    thefatgit on 14 Dec 2011 #

    #101 I can see her coming a cropper there. No Vans.

  103. 104
    Weej on 7 Apr 2012 #

    Wuthering Heights stretched to 36 minutes, truly astonishing – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsXhtJ9BTJA

  104. 105
    swanstep on 13 Apr 2012 #

    File under ‘what fresh hell is this?’: WH only made #96 on NME’s Best Songs of the ’70s list here. Lots of very good stuff on the list, of course, but shoe-in’s like I’m Not In Love and Benny ‘n’ the Jets and Rhythm Stick and Strawberry Letter 23 and Autobahn and New Rose didn’t make it, whereas relatively minor stuff like Prince’s I wanna be your lover and Moroder’s Midnight Express theme (Chase) and Blondie’s One Way or Another did. Lists.

  105. 106
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    I appreciated the passion that Tom has for this song in his review, but sadly I’m one of those who couldn’t (and still can’t) get beyond the banshee wails (obviously they were more apt here than on some of her later songs, though, for me, it jars with the beauty of the music, whereas it fits in well with the more dramatic arrangements of songs like ‘Sat In Your Lap’ and ‘Hounds of Love’ both of which I have more of a fondness for than this as well as for the songs where her vocal matched the beauty of the music such as ‘Tbe Man With the Child In His Eyes’ and ‘Breathing’. But for its confirmation of her unique artistic talents I would give it an 8.

    On a more shallow note, the simultaneous arrival in the charts of a certain blonde thoroughly overshadowed Kate’s charms at the time and it wasn’t until MUCH later when I saw her play the bride in a ‘Comic Stip Presents…’ episode that I suddenly realised “OMG! she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen!”

  106. 107
    Erithian on 21 Mar 2014 #

    “Wow” – if you missed seeing Kate live in ’79, the rush begins next Friday at 9.30…

  107. 108
    hectorthebat on 25 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Pitchfork (USA) – The Pitchfork 500 (2008)
    Shredding Paper (USA) – The 50 Greatest Singles Ever (2002) 41
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1970s (2008)
    Mojo (UK) – The 50 Greatest British Tracks Ever (2006)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 592
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 11
    Nils Hansson, Dagens Nyheter (Sweden) – The 48 Best Rock Songs (1998) 46
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 1
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  108. 109
    Ed on 27 Aug 2014 #

    Anyone been to / going to the Hammersmith shows?

    (@93 Yes! I have exactly the same reaction. The Hammond organ behind the second “let me have it” always strikes me as the absolute pinnacle of recorded music.)

  109. 110
    Auntie Beryl on 30 Aug 2014 #

    I went last night. You can find the setlist and photographs online if you care to do so, but I’m not minded to go into details here in case of spoilers.

    One of the finest (and longest) gigs I’ve ever attended, though, and I’ve been to a few. Any concerns about her voice’s ability to do the songs justice were swiftly forgotten. She seemed to be a having an absolute ball, as well.

    Never thought I’d see the day…

  110. 111
    Tom on 30 Aug 2014 #

    I’m going on the 17th! No spoilers I guess. :)

  111. 112
    punctum on 6 Oct 2014 #

    TPL update, with an edited version of my hitherto unposted comment on “Wuthering Heights”: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/kate-bush-whole-story.html

  112. 113
    Larry on 16 Nov 2014 #

    Count me a lonely dissenter from the WH love. I, too, can’t get past the vocal. Too squeaky. Also, her performance feels too operatic, like it might belong in some Lloyd Webber musical.

    Have really enjoyed the scholarly discussion in the above 112 comments :)

  113. 114
    Lazarus on 17 Nov 2014 #

    First shown in late August – to coincide with the shows, I assume, though I missed it at the time – tonight’s ‘The Kate Bush Story’ on BBC4 will surely be worth a look.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dzswb

  114. 115
    Mark M on 18 Nov 2014 #

    Re 80 (a reply six years on!): In the documentary, Amos talks about driving her car off the road the first time she heard Running Up That Hill on the radio, which sounds like she was aware of KB earlier than Lex suggests, although not definitively.

    What I quite liked about the programme was that Brett Anderson was allowed to express the idea that the early work – both in terms of the songs (esp the vocal leaps) and the look – was ‘a bit am-dram’. Also, the (generally wearying) Guy Garvey suggesting (approvingly, in his case), that KB is prog. Which is ‘duh’ on one level, but as he says, not that often stated. (Partly because a large chunk of her fanbase is uninterested in the taxonomy of rock).

    Also, the Fairlight was a horrible thing.

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    Justified Ancient on 18 Nov 2014 #

    The “Kate Bush = prog” equation has resurfaced from time to time. I remember a contemporary review of “The Dreaming” in German mag Sounds, written by super-intellectual Pop guru Diedrich Diederichsen (yes, that’s his real name) in his early years. In which he briefly shrugs her off as “Genesis-Kate” and likens his disinterest and non-understanding of Bush’s music to his disinterest and non-understanding of “girls putting posters of horses on their bedroom walls”. More than slightly misogynistic, even by 1982 standards. And completely missing the point, especially as to “The Dreaming” which is not only my favourite Bush album (me, too, being less fond of The Squeaky Years), but also the one where she explores (in lyrics and voice) male figures and stereotypes (scientist, pilot, bankrobber) because she damn well can, while horses remain entirely unmentioned.

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    beeflin on 24 Jan 2016 #

    Guitar by Ian Bairnson of the pop group Pilot, not David Gilmour who as far as I know hasn’t played on any of Kate Bush’s records.

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    Girl with Curious Hair on 24 Mar 2016 #

    What I can’t get over when I listen to this song (and the whole of The Kick Inside) is that she was 19 when she did this. I mean, bloody hell, she just appeared, already fully-formed and like nobody else out there. Lennon and McCartney hadn’t even been to Hamburg when they were 19.

    As much as I love Kate Bush, and think she did plenty of great stuff later on, I feel like she never quite built on this. In that sense, it’s appropriate that this is the only appearance she’ll be making here: a beautiful banshee, glimpsed for a second at the window then never seen again. There always was something pretty ethereal about her.

    I have another analogy, comparing her to Wayne Rooney, but I think this one sounds nicer.

  118. 119
    Paulito on 25 Mar 2016 #

    On an extremely pedantic note, I feel duty bound to point out that the Beatles first arrived in Hamburg in August 1960, at which time Lennon was 19 and McCartney 18…. But yes, at 19 their songcrafting skills were still in embryonic form, compared with Kate’s prodigious achievements at the same age. That said, and without wishing to take anything away from her (I think she’s a genius), it’s worth remembering that The Kick Inside was the product not only of Kate’s natural talents but also of EMI’s foresight in nurturing those talents for two or three years beforehand.

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    Girl with Curious Hair on 25 Mar 2016 #

    Ah yes, I stand corrected. Thank you!

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    Rory on 12 Apr 2018 #

    Heads-up for Populistas of a new KB blog project, Dream of Orgonon, “a strange journey through British popular culture since the Seventies, explored through the lens of one idiosyncratic artist’s career … arranged in rough chronological recording order of every available song in her discography”. Looks like it’ll be good.

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