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Kate Bush - The Single File (VHS) CD (album) cover


Kate Bush


Crossover Prog

3.52 | 10 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The essential video collection for the Bush fan

Kate's first collection of her video work was called "The Single File" and it contains videos from her first album up through 1982's The Dreaming. This collection is preferable to the later ones as it contains her most precious video work. All of the great early stuff is here and it includes more of The Dreaming videos. Some of The Dreaming videos were later sacrificed for the lamer Hounds videos a few years later, on the Whole Story project. The Whole Story also trashes the amazing "Wuthering Heights" song by redoing the vocals and drums with disastrous results. Like many artists, Kate failed to acknowledge the remarkable qualities of her earliest work and was contemptuous of some it.

I unapologetically maintain that Bush's earliest work was her strongest, from the debut album and Tour of Life masterpieces through the experimental gem The Dreaming. She lost that amazing spark after this period, becoming much more guarded, much more predictable, and much less fun. Aside from The Ninth Wave which is a formidable piece of work, there is nothing post-Dreaming which I consider essential Kate listening anymore. Sensual World, Red Shoes, and Aerial have some nice moments between them, but all pale in comparison to her 1978-1982 run.

The Single File gives us the best compilation of her greatest period. The fact that her video budgets and professional studio skills increased substantially after this makes it ironic that the work became so much less interesting and less passionate. These old videos, which may seem cheesy and old fashioned by today's standards, are precisely the vehicles to best present Bush's amazing talents at dance, music, theatrical style/costuming, and intimate presentation. Kate doesn't need the Donald Sutherland or the big Hounds era videos to engage you, she did so much more effectively in these early, intimate, "musical numbers" by staring you straight in the eye and "moving." These videos are emotionally gripping and feature a direct "human connection", something seemingly lost on most music videos enslaved to linear plots and special effects.

The early video is pure imagination, immediacy, and youthful sass caught on tape, a mix which proved unmatchable by the more mature Bush, and in my book ranks as some of the most memorable video ever created. Without Kate-bashing, because I understand her frustrations with the music industry and fame, her early work contains a certain magic that is the product of naivety and wonder, which is truly special. Something got lost later on as a more cynical and sad seriousness crept in, perhaps inevitably, but unfortunate all the same. From what I can discern, Kate was truly having fun the first five years. After that, she was enduring, and it shows.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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