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Kate Bush - Hounds of Love: A Classic Album Under Review CD (album) cover

HOUNDS OF LOVE: A CLASSIC ALBUM UNDER REVIEW

Kate Bush

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Finnforest
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Critical assessment

The Hounds "under review" DVD is like so many of these criticism documentaries. They can provide valuable information for fans and noobs alike, but can be frustrating for those who assume they are going to get to see the actual art. Don't make that mistake. While there are lots of video and live clips presented throughout the show, they are very short clips and never complete songs. Thus the effect is that as soon as you begin to enjoy the piece of music it is interrupted by the talking. So be aware that for all intents and purposes, this is discussion, not music.

It actually does a better job than many like-styled documentaries. Beginning with the first album, the panel of journalists and Kate insiders bring us through every album chronologically and in some detail---that's right, this is not just about Hounds. The discussion is interspersed with commentary from Bush herself through period interview audio from the '80s although there is only a bit of this. The panel discuss all aspects along the way: the art, the recording, the business and media, and just a tiny bit about the personal. Of course the opinions presented will sometimes not be ones you share...this is criticism as well as documentary. My biggest gripe is the same one I have with many Kate fans: that somehow her early albums do not match the quality of her mid period album. Nonsense! But generally speaking the hosts do a very good job of breaking down here career in some detail. Once they get to Hounds they take more time and walk through every track on the album, discussing meaning, recording techniques, and influence. They make a good case for why Hounds is considered by many one of the 1980s top albums. Most interesting to me was learning first hand about how some of the dramatic, intense drumming sequences on Hounds were created. Every single aspect of the sound was controlled by Bush and none of it happened by chance. There is discussion of her use of the Fairlight, her vocal experimentation, though unfortunately they downplay the importance of her dance. She was a fantastic dancer and the choreography of those early videos and the live show were critical to her expression of the emotional and the fantastic. They take a rather measured tone with the Tour of Life, which in my view would be among Bush's greatest achievements, and it remains an outrage that the full concert has never been officially released with the fanfare it deserves. They also take a fairly dim view of The Dreaming although they do acknowledge that a small group of fans believed it her best work. The overall highlight for me though was the thorough and affectionate look at side 2 of Hounds, the unbelievably good The Ninth Wave. In one album side Bush delivered a progressive tour de force that is the kind of "once per career" moment most artists have if they're lucky, in Kate's case she had more than one. The DVD's stated job was to dissect that moment and while every fan will always find qualms with conclusions drawn, there is no doubt the people behind this made every effort to deliver a serious, quality sketch of her important years and her seminal work.

The program concludes with Hounds and thankfully doesn't try to impart the same importance on the remainder of her discography, which went downhill dramatically on future albums. From Kick Inside through Hounds however, Kate Bush was easily one of the very brightest artists on the world stage and left us with an incredible legacy. This DVD spells out the case in good detail and is certainly a document fans will want to see. Recommended.

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Posted Sunday, January 24, 2010 | Review Permalink

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