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Kate Bush - Hounds of Love CD (album) cover

HOUNDS OF LOVE

Kate Bush

 

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4.10 | 261 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The Ninth Wave is the side to listen to for the proggiest Kate Bush!

Kate Bush's self-written and self-produced "Hounds of Love" is renowned for the two powerhouse singles that I loved to hear often in the 80s and also admired the innovative MTV clips to go with them. 'Running Up That Hill' ("and make a deal with God"), is a wonderful way to open the album, with a strong rhythmic foundation and majestic melody. Kate sounds terrific with her vocal range stretched to the fore. She injects so much passion on this album, and really hits her peak with these two songs. The other single is of course 'Cloudbusting' ("everytime it rains you're here in my head, like the sun coming out?") that is driven by a violin and cello section with marching percussion. It is a very different approach for the songstress and stands out as a highlight of her career.

The other songs are heavier in some ways, especially on side one of the vinyl that seems to have a clear atmosphere distinctly different than side 2. The poppier side of Kate is here with 'Hounds of Love' and 'The Big Sky' and I am not a real fan of this style; all melody and no prog, though there is some delightful fretless bass. However, the album really takes off on side 2 known as 'The Ninth Wave', with the power ballad 'And Dream of Sheep', with beautiful echoed vocals, seagulls and improvised piano lines.

The dark string orchestration of 'Under Ice' is haunting, along with Kate's elongated vocals and multilayered chorus vocals. The lyrics are rather chilling and akin to the sort of theme explored on her latest 2012 release "50 Words For Snow". It ends with a voice saying "wake up" and this is followed by another voice pleading for the child to awaken at the intro of 'Waking The Witch'. This one really is creepy, the narrations and the eerie effects are haunting, and then when the demonic voice begins and the bizarre music clanks out, it is terrifying. This is as dark as Kate would get and it is a place she rarely ventures into, but when she does it is disturbing.

Next is 'Watching You Without Me', that has an Oriental Eastern feel and features some weird backmasked vox, and a Japanese chiming melody. An experimental approach is here using broken sound waves and unique instrumentation. 'Jig of life' is also unique with a distinct Irish jig sound with violins slicing out a joyous melody. The vox are decidedly dark and I like the violin soloing section; sounding very Celtic in nature.

'Hello Earth' is a longer song at 6:13, that features a nice moderate tempo, sweeping orchestra and Kate's melancholy vocals. The beat breaks a few times to allow an angelic choir to chime in, without a time sig for a while and then the piano and cello comes in with Kate crying out "Hello Earth". It closes with more choral vocal harmonies, keyboard ambience and Kate whispering seductively.

The album ends with an upbeat song 'The Morning Fog', with fretless bass, Japanese piano sounds and odd percussion. Kate's voice is mixed to the front "I tell my mother, I tell my father, I tell my lover, I tell my brother", and she is also heard on multi tracked backing vox. The acoustic guitar is delightful, and this is nice and short before it wears out its welcome.

Overall this is an album of 2 halves. The second half is definitely Kate at her proggiest and it is a shame the whole album was not as innovative. The 2 singles on side one are the only things of note on 'Hounds of Love' side, but 'The Ninth Wave' side 2 is brilliant from beginning to end. I would rate this as one of Kate Bush's triumphs and it certainly made an impact back in 1985, and continues to be hailed as a masterpiece.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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