Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just a note...

Kate Bush is on the cover of the June issue of Britain's Uncut magazine. A substantial part of the article is focused on Kate's fifth album, Hounds of Love, as it's 25th anniversary approaches.

And Jesus Christ I suddenly feel old.

Hounds of Love is my favorite album, edging out Styx's Pieces of Eight, Rob Zombie's Hillbilly Deluxe, Garbage's debut album, Billy Squire's Don't Say No, Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes and the soundtrack to Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan (I am not necessarily huge fans of these artists. I just think those are some awesome albums, with a terrific collection of songs), I keep coming back to it. It is comprised of two parts. Side A contains four marketable hit songs: Running Up That Hill, Hounds of Love, The Big Sky and Cloudbusting, along with Mother Stands For Comfort. Side B is called The Ninth Wave, essentially a concept album chronicling the tale of a woman stranded, floating in the ocean, drifting in and out of consciousness. The album showed that Kate had learned from the errors made on her fourth album, that to succeed as an artist you must make compromises between the sometimes hard to understand, possibly even unapproachable art that only hardcore fans might appreciate with the demands of the market that allow an artist to thrive. Hounds Of Love's hit singles are by no means bad songs (I love all four) but in recording them along with her concept album Kate showed a very clear understanding of the market and the realities by which she had to live.

Also of note, at the time Kate was recording the fourth album The Dreaming she had to rent time from various studios, which meant she could not always record when she felt like it. Deciding that lack of freedom curtailed her creative energies, she invested in building her own studio, which allowed her near complete freedom. In the end Hounds of Love is a stronger album than The Dreaming, both commercially and creatively (some Kate Bush fans argue The Dreaming is the better album. I respectfully disagree.).

Creatively, I think Hounds of Love is Kate's high water mark, creatively. I still love her later albums (The Sensual World, The Red Shoes, Aerial) but Hounds is better than all three. If you are interested in getting to know Kate's work, I suggest you start with The Whole Story, her greatest hits album, or Hounds. And if you are damn lucky (like me), purchase the Hounds of Love EMI 100th anniversary edition with all the extra B sides.

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