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Kate Bush - Director's Cut CD (album) cover


Kate Bush


Crossover Prog

2.99 | 100 ratings

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2 stars Completely pointless musical revisionism

Kate Bush released two albums in 2011, one perhaps a masterpiece and the other completely unnecessary. Lest you mistake me for a Kate-hater nothing could be further from the truth. I love Kate, I love "50 Words" and I adore most of her catalog. But when she drops the ball (Aerial and Sensual World), she really drops it. "Directors Cut" joins those two clunkers at the very bottom of the Kate discog. It was a great purchase for one reason however: playing it over and over along with Red Shoes and Sensual World to make the necessary comparisons, I realized just how good the original Red Shoes really is. It's head and shoulders above Aerial, Sensual, and even side one of Hounds. The songs are passionate and emotional with great hooks and intense construction. I'm astonished that my fellow reviewers have made Red Shoes the lowest rated Bush work, I can't imagine how they arrive at that conclusion.

I'm not sure why Kate felt the need to do this but apparently the mission was to rework the songs with a flat, lifeless production and vocals that have lost their urgency and vigor, occasionally even coming across as indifferent. Look to the "every old sock" line as an example. On the original she shares an incredibly intimate moment, her voice cracks just a bit, she becomes conversational with the listener ("ain't that a great saying") and it feels very special and genuine. The reworking is so much less potent that she doesn't even bother finishing it. There are several moments like that which go beyond just the conscious attempt to break down the tracks to something slower. But the major criticism is that the flat, middle-aged Starbucks lunch time crowd treatments do not drive Kate to the passionate deliveries of the original. It's quite similar to when Natalie Merchant attempts her "mature" live renditions of songs that were vein-busting passionate with her rock band 10,000 Maniacs. Neutering passionate songs to the point where they can be used for wedding jewelry commercials makes me want to claw my eyes out. But at least Merchant was doing it live, to bother with going through this exercise for a studio recreation is baffling.

Say what you want about the Red Shoes "big 90s" production that is so often decried, the fact is that production pushed Kate's vocals and pumped big time vigor into the songs, while also allowing the soft side when they would fall away to piano. It worked and it worked superbly. So this is why I'm mystified with the flat Director's Cut reworkings. Yeah, the increased depth given to some of the background vocals are nice, but any improvements I hear are on the superficial level. When it comes to the beef which is the impact of song on listener, there is nothing more passionate, poignant, or interesting being offered up. Middle-aged Kate can't beat younger Kate at her own game and she shouldn't try, she can't make the emotions and pain more moving now than they were as she was experiencing them. There's also a certain general arrogance to the whole notion of the artist believing they should revise or discredit their past work (ala the Floyd boys thrashings of their early work, which is fantastic!) Bush should not have fretted her old albums, rather, the amazing 50 Words for Snow proves she should be looking forward.

For fans only, Directors Cut should be the very last Kate Bush album you acquire.

Finnforest | 2/5 |


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