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Kate Bush - Hounds of Love CD (album) cover

HOUNDS OF LOVE

Kate Bush

 

Prog Related

4.11 | 254 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars As far as I’m concerned 1985 was one of the most barren and desolate years for good music since before Elvis and the Beatles came along back in the Neolithic era. There were really two outstanding albums: Marillion’s ‘Misplaced Childhood’, and this one. That’s really it – everything else pales in comparison.

Not that this is some kind of progressive music icon – it’s not. It is an extremely well- written and impeccably produced pop album with lots and lots of precise and exotic instrumentation, lush arrangements, and Ms. Bush’s intoxicating vocals. Coming a few years after ‘The Dreaming’, ‘Hounds of Love’ doesn’t quite have the consistency of lyrical themes that one did, and in fact the tenor of the song’s words seem to have moved a bit away from character sketches and story-telling to more like aural landscape painting. There are a few tracks with poignant themes (particularly “Mother Stands for Comfort” and “Running up that Hill”), but many others are much less grounded in the meaning department – “The Big Sky”, “And Dreams of Sheep”, “Jig of Life”.

The percussion and ethnic instrumentation are what really distinguish this album, in addition of course to Ms. Bush herself. Brother Paddy in particular adds plenty of texture with his considerable skill on violin, but also balailaka, dijerido, and fujare (uh… it’s like a flute, I guess, but has an amazingly electronic tone to it).

This is a pretty well-known album, so track-by-track descriptions are really unnecessary. Suffice to say there are no weak tracks, although “And Dreams of Sheep” and “Under Ice” are really too brief and abstract to be very memorable. Also “Waking the Witch”, which hearkens back to the more bizarre ‘Dreaming’ album and doesn’t quite fit here.

Those aside, this is the album that delivered a number of Ms. Bush’s most memorable and vibrant works – “Running up that Hill”, “Cloudbursting”, “The Big Sky”, and the title track. The Ninth Wave Suite that makes up the back half of the album is intentionally much more ethereal and mellow than the front, and considering the times in which it was released necessarily meant those tracks wouldn’t become as memorable. And in fact all the singles came off the front of the album – pretty much all of them were released as singles. The 1997 re-release includes the b-sides of those singles, as well as the radio/ dance edit of “Running up that Hill”, although I haven’t heard that one and don’t own any of the singles so I can’t really comment on it.

Like most of my Kate Bush albums, this one really captivated me when it was released, and for several years after that. But over time it has faded somewhat in its appeal, owing mostly I suppose to the rather staid suite that covers the whole back side of the album; and possibly also because I’ve heard the tracks that became singles so many times that their charm has somewhat worn off.

Nonetheless, this is an excellent album, and fans of eclectic percussion, strings, upbeat arrangements, and the lovely but acquired taste of Ms. Bush’s considerable vocals skills should enjoy it. For those reasons this merits four stars, and is well recommended.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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