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THIS WOMAN'S WORK

Kate Bush

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Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The real "whole story"

Kate's box set was the definitive collection of her work up to the point it was released, although it has now become outdated with the release of newer work. The box included full individual CDs for each album, and originally I believe there was even a vinyl and cassette version of the box. After the studio albums there are two prized discs of rare material, live tracks, and singles b-sides never available on disc before (or since to my knowledge.) The quality of the extra material is very good but not overwhelming, suggesting that Bush made wise decisions on which tracks to include on actual albums, and which to shelve.

"My Lagan Love" is a beautiful a capella vocal with lyrics written by her brother John, to an Irish traditional song. "Under the Ivy" is a gorgeous piano ballad which came from the "Running Up That Hill" single. These are such sad sounding song but really lovely. On the flip side there is the poppy single "Passing Through Air" which apparently dates all the way back to 1973. "December Will Be Magic Again" is Kate's version of a winter/Christmas ode, delightful, light-hearted fare from her most inspired period. There is the Donovan song "Lord of the Reedy River" recorded in 1981 which finds a breathy, longing Kate vocal to trippy back vocal effects and some kind of woodwinds or keys simulating them. Very mysterious and cool. There is also a French language version of "The Infant Kiss." Most of this early stuff is really sublime ear candy, the later Hounds era extras do not impress me as much, but admittedly, I'm an early-ear Bush fan.

These early rarities are nearly essential for the hard core Bush fan, and yet, if you already own the albums, you're looking at a huge investment to get these additional materials, which have not been released as stand alone CDs. In a perfect world, these discs would be released alone in a rarities box with even more?there are other early Bush recordings which remain unreleased. Then again, if you are new to Kate Bush and have the money, this box set is a great way to get her catalogue with the extra goodies. Whatever you decide, this is the way to do a retrospective, not via a silly single disc mess like "The Whole Story."

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Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars These two discs listed here (by me, actually) are officially a part of the box containing Kate's whole output up to The Sensual World, but I took the liberty of representing only the CD's of non-album material, as has done the library from where I borrowed this. So, we're dealing with RARITIES of Kate Bush! Hence I'm going to be more detailed than usual, because many of these tracks are hard to find elsewhere. The first five tracks are from 1980. 'The Empty Bullring' (B-side of Breathing 7") is a nice little song that sounds like the Lionheart album. 'Ran Tan Waltz' is just silly and annoying. 'Passing Through Air' (B-side of Army Dreamers 7") is quite OK but somehow feels half-baked as it repeats the chorus several times in its 2-minute length. 'December Will Be Magic Again' and 'Warm and Soothing' appeared as a season single in 1980, both fine tracks if not very memorable. The latter reminds of 'In the Warm Room' from Lionheart.

The Donovan-cover 'Lord of the Reedy River' (B-side of Sat in Your Lap 7"): WOW! Is it a pipe organ or what that accompanies her sensual vocals? A magical and very unique track. "I fell in love with a swan..." Then she switches to French: 'Ne T'en Fui Pas' (1982) is a more modern track featuring the soft sound of Fairlight (compare 'Mother Stands for Comfort' in Hounds Of Love); it sounds like David Sylvian's band JAPAN. 'Un Baiser d'Enfant' is naturally a translation of 'The Infant Kiss' from Never For Ever.

The melancholic 'Under the Ivy' (1985 as the next two) is very beautiful and atmospheric in its spacey, piano-centred arrangement, but 'Burning Bridge' goes the exact opposite, being a monotonous drum-machine rubbish not even saved by the merry vocals. 'My Lagan Love' is among the highlights, a folky a cappella number. Kate's vocals sound just fantastic on their own. 'The Hands of Cabin Boy' is a traditional, Kate's arrangement contains only an even layer of synth background. Another highlight! 'Not This Time' (1986) is a heavily overproduced and hollow pop ballad; 'Be Kind to My Mistakes' works better with its beat reminding of early Talk Talk. The Lovely 'Walk Straight...' has appeared in Sensual World CD.

The second CD has less highlights or new acquaintances to offer. 'Ken' was quite bad. 'One Last Look...' is a 1-minute orchestral instrumental that feels like it's a part of some larger work (sadly the information about this disc was completely missing from the copy I borrowed, as were the most of information about the first disc: the B-side info above is from a book I own). The Whole Story compilation - which was among my first LP's in 1986 - included both the new version of 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Experiment IV'; they have stood the time quite well, especially the latter. Then come the four live tracks of On Stage EP (1979). Nice but unnecessary if you have her first two albums. 'James and the Cold Gun' however is notably longer with its superb guitar solo.

Those who were young vinyl buyers in the 80's may remember the maxi-singles -- which I think are among the most stupid things in pop music. All those extended mixes, ouch! Sadly I have to say that in the case of Hounds Of Love -era Kate Bush they are utterly crap compared to the real album versions. For example 'Cloudbusting (Organon Mix)' totally messes up the song's drama. All in all I was extremely pleased to finally hear many KB songs for the very first time, even if the true highlights were limited (and some of them I had already heard elsewhere, e.g. in Hounds Of Love CD edition).

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#836481)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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