My first experience with Kate Bush was listening to “Don’t Give Up,” her duet with Peter Gabriel: a top ten in the UK and a lesser one in America. My second experience was the Utah Saints’ ebullient sample in 1992, adapting the best lyric of her career (“I just knowthat something good is gonna hap-PEN!”) for lubricious ends. 1993 was not a good time for English eccentrics who peaked with concepts and Fairlights six years earlier, which is why I overrate The Red Shoes. A finalist in my top ten that year, 2005’s Aerial suffers from muddled execution on its song side; “Pi” and “Joanni” sound like B-sides in search of a home and context (I love’em anyway). The second disk — a depiction of aesthetic and sexual actualization set like Virginia Woolf’s The Waves to the chronology of the tides — dawdles for fifteen minutes before “Nocturne” and the title track demonstrate how much Bush has learned about dynamics; her mastery of pitch and song form find their correlative in compositions that churn with a palpable sense of relief and release. “I feel I want to be up on the roof,” accompanied by rhythm guitar chugging, is as weird a hook as the one in “Cloudbusting,” ranking just below the part in “Get Out of My House” in which she mimics a donkey. Too bad 50 Words For Snow lacked songs for a concept. No matter: Kate Bush is worth the wait.
Here are my favorite Kate Bush tracks. I wish I owned The Kick Inside and Lionheart. Her induction into Stylus’ Hall of fame inspired a few excellent appreciations, not least of which is Thomas Inskeep’s of “Experiment IV,” one of the best songs recorded expressly for a compilation (The Whole Story). I also recommend Single Jukebox colleague Katherine St. Asaph’s One Week One Band omnibus.
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