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Kate Bush - Lionheart CD (album) cover

LIONHEART

Kate Bush

 

Prog Related

3.31 | 155 ratings

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3 stars OVERVIEW:

Because any excuse to listen to Kate Bush is a good one, "Lionheart" gets a rare spin on my turntable today.

This is a far more consistent effort than its predecessor - but while it has more or less eliminated the lows, the highs are nowhere near as great. The end result is a very slick and somewhat uniform sounding collection of songs, albeit exceptionally well crafted, on the whole, and straying further into Prog Rock territory than "The Kick Inside".

My main criticism of the album as a whole is that while there is a great deal of imaginative composition and superb execution both by Ms Bush and her army of session musicians, particularly in the verses, the choruses tend to spoil things in almost every song. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

ANALYSIS:

"Symphony in Blue" is a rather ostentatious title for what is a well-crafted and attractive song, with interesting lyrics, wonderful details in vocal harmonies and nice little changes. However, "attractive" is as good as it gets, which is a great pity for an opener.

"In Search of Peter Pan" starts promisingly, with continuation provided by a slick gloss to the production. Here we feel that Kate is telling us a story, which works well enough - and more importantly, the song structure is nicely blurred, giving a good flow and Prog feel to the piece. There appear to be flavours of "Wuthering Heights" in here, but it's in the vocal experimentation and spacey arrangements that the song shines.

"Wow" was a hit single, and stands out in the same way that "Man With the Child In His Eyes" did on "The Kick Inside". The entire verse structure is filled with possibility, until it comes together for the chorus lead-in. The chorus itself is a bit of a stadium singalong, and spoiled slightly by the blaring horns - but the verses are mini masterpieces of free-form song construction.

"Don't push your foot on the heartbrake" follows on well, but again loses credibility when the chorus kicks in; My own feeling is that is could have been done differently; more sensitively - but many would like the more Rocking feeling - there's no doubt that Kate's voice has the necessary power to carry it. As with "Wow", the verses feel free- form, and a perfect duet between Kate and piano.

It's starting to feel a bit familiar when "Oh England my lionheart" starts, but the recorder layers, sensitive strings and harpsichord provoke a singularly English atmosphere that blissfully continues without percussion, and with some nice choral arrangements. There are no real surprises in here, and the song progresses fairly predictably - but the quality of production and execution is so high that this is hardly an issue.

"Fullhouse" carries some sensual dischords and a distinctly jazzy flavour through the verse. The vocals in the lead-up to the chorus are really atmospheric and spooky, and, despite the "White Man Reggae" feel of the chorus, it actually seems to work in this context, and the song pans out to carry a Proggy flavour with an infectious and dreamy groove. The lead guitar particularly seems to converse with the singing in a satisfying way.

"In The Warm Room" has a very familiar feel to it, but manages to conjour a peculiarly Kate Bush style atmosphere - Kate is at her most exploratory around the keyboard in terms of chord progressions and key changes here, and has clearly settled into a style that she feels very comfortable with, as her voice darts and swoops above the piano almost independently, and never loses directional focus - but alays keeps it right on a knife edge.

"Kashka from Bagdad" has a different feel to the introduction - which is very welcome. This song feels far more in Prog Rock territory than those preceeding it, with a very unusual and sparse arrangement that has a nice, jazzy feel to it.

"Coffee Homeground" is an unusual song with an imaginative arrangement - it's not one of my favourites, largely due to the chorus, but it's certainly progressive, and the verses are very interesting in terms of both overall composition and arrangement.

Rounding things off is the other hit single "Hammer Horror". Yes, this was a single - even with the Rachmaninovian introduction and free-flowing verse - the "big" and somewhat over-orchestrated chorus is possibly a giveaway though. Maybe the Wagnerian feel was deliberate in order to convey a sense of the Hammer Horror films - but it doesn't really do it for me. The ending gong is a very nice touch!

SUMMARY:

A good purchase for anyone that enjoys the lighter side - while not quite an alternative to "The Kick Inside", as it contains no real equivalent of either "The Man..." or "Wuthering Heights", it is far more consistent and a more satisfying and enjoyable listen overall.

Not an essential to your Prog Rock collection by any means - but definitely a "Nice to have", and an all-round Non-disappointer.

Stand out tracks: "Oh England My Lionheart", "Wow", "In The Warm Room".

Certif1ed | 3/5 |

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