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Kate Bush - The Dreaming CD (album) cover


Kate Bush


Crossover Prog

4.11 | 295 ratings

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4 stars This album was my introduction to Kate Bush, and what a first impression she made!

1982 was a strange year for music. I wasn't really listening to much progressive music because - well, it was dead. Or so said Trouser Press and Rolling Stone. This was the time of more mellow, palatable stuff like Alan Parson's 'Eye in the Sky', Roxy Music's 'Avalon', and Asia's debut. Pretty tame stuff, really. I was going through a phase of collecting albums from female bands and singers, which is the only reason I bought this one. I had no idea who Kate Bush was, and her albums weren't really generally available in the musical wasteland that was the American Midwest. But the cover was unusual, and Ms. Bush was certainly much more interesting to look at than say, Siouxsie Sioux.

When "Sat in Your Lap" blasted out of my stereo's speakers though, I figured this was something akin to the Banshees type of music, or maybe Exene or something. Really strident strings and piano, pulsating aboriginal drums, and shrieking vocals. Totally shocking stuff. But buried in the chaos was this voice that had incredible range, and an uncanny ability to stay the course amidst the bizarre tempo and cacophonic arrangements. Really intriguing.

So when "There Goes a Tenner" rolls around, I'm surprised again with this kind of theatrical composition and those vocals, alternating between some strange brogue and an ultra-soprano child-like lilt that made Clare Grogan sound like an alto. Not the strongest track on the album, but enchanting nonetheless.

I still don't know what "Pull Out the Pin" is supposed to be about, but the throaty, operatic tones Ms. Bush belts out over the top of the odd percussion (is this the synclavier?), great sound effects, and again the chaotic rhythms and harsh strings. This stuff takes a lot of listens, but eventually it gets under your skin and really grows on you.

"Suspended in Gaffa" is another song that starts off sounding like a Julie Andrews theater composition, were it not for Ms. Bush's totally unique voice. The harmonious blending of strings and piano is really catchy, and serves to contrast the shrill vocals even more than on previous tracks.

The vocal treatments on "Leave it Open" are yet another dimension to this album, and the first several times I heard this one I figured it for filler, but as I've come to learn more about Ms. Bush's discography I realize that term isn't really in her vocabulary. The drums and percussion get really intense if you play them very loud on a good stereo, and if you are in a bit of an altered mood her voice is actually kind of scary.

The cover track with its aboriginal percussion and bizarre sound effects is the strangest work on the album. The affected Australian accent is an interesting twist as well, and this kind of story-song is just one more experiment that perhaps played better with those of us who were new to her music than it did with die-hard fans.

The "Night of the Swallow" features the closest thing to what most people consider normal vocals on the album, but even here the occasional shrill refrain doesn't let you relax much. The uillean pipes and penny whistles give this a folksy feel, and the drums are almost hypnotic. This is a great tune even without the vocals, and although it takes a bit of time to really kick into gear, Ms. Bush manages to bring all the various sounds together eventually to a cohesive ending (relatively speaking).

"All the Love" is a strange and very personal reflection by the singer, and the strings and guitars here are quite odd and intriguing. This would have been a better closing track than the harsh "Get Out of My House", but it certainly fits the mood of the album.

More of the odd strings on "Houdini", and the piano and strings here would have made for a great extended instrumental piece. Finally Ms. Bush shows that she can not only shock and defy physical limits with her voice, she can also sound plainly beautiful when it suits her mood. It just doesn't manage to suit her mood for an entire song anywhere on this album.

Finally comes "Get Out of my House", and I'm taken back to memories of some rather unpleasant personal relationships when I hear the shrew-like exhortations in the background as the guitar and keys build up to a nervous ending (is she actually braying like a donkey at the end of this one?).

This is one of the most unusual albums I have ever had the experience of listening to, and back when it came out none of my friends could stand to listen to it more than once. I did, actually repeatedly. The chaos and experimentation are the same things that drew me to a lot of post-punk music, although Kate Bush certainly would never be considered in that category. It's also what I have always found appealing about David Bowie's 'Scary Monsters and Super Creeps', which I would lump with this as a work by an artist where they were simply curious to see how far they could go to stretch the bounds of their own music (Bowie went much further than Ms. Bush, but the comparison is still valid).

This doesn't rise to the level of essential (I don't personally feel anything Kate Bush has done reaches that bar), but it was without a doubt one of the best albums that came out in 1982, and probably one of the best in the first half of that decade. It's a great addition to anyone's collection, and although can be considered an acquired taste, is highly recommended. Four stars.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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