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Kate Bush

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Kate Bush Night of the Swallow album cover
4.49 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews | 57% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Night of the Swallow
2. Houdini

Line-up / Musicians

(Same musicians as in the album The Dreaming)

Releases information

Released in Ireland, November 1983

Thanks to Matti for the addition
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KATE BUSH Night of the Swallow ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(57%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KATE BUSH Night of the Swallow reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars This is a surprising single when the nature of the songs is considered. But very pleasantly surprising, and extremely satisfying for those listeners who prefer artistic values and uncoventional details over catchiness and hit potential! Both tracks are taken from Kate Bush's fourth album The Dreaming (1982), which was her most adventurous and innovative work to date at that point. In fact all singles from that album are far from typical in the single market, whereas Never For Ever clearly had songs such as 'Babooshka' that are quite obvious choices for 7" releases.

'Night of the Swallow' is actually very representative of the album's deep and mysterious spirit. Kate's magnificent vocal performance carries the song that has almost cinematic power in its scenery. Apart from the strong chorus ("with a hired plane, with no names mentioned...") which is spiced up with folk instruments - there are Uillean pipes if I remember right, and isn't that instrument in her lap on the rather unclear cover picture? - the playing remains very delicate, making the vocals and lyrics the centre of all attention. The spellbinding atmosphere of this song is very English and "old" in a way. The arrangement is highly original and full of interesting details, such as the fast tap-tap-tap percussion pattern on the chorus.

All my praises above fit as well to the other song, 'Houdini'. Again, Kate takes you in the middle of the story, a scene, with a fin de siecle atmosphere. The inner movie behind your eyes could be black and white, or with a worn-out sepia tone. The sensual melodies are magical and the string arrangement makes the song simply a perfect piece of art. The cover of The Dreaming album refers to this song ("with a kiss I'd pass the key..."). I'm not sure how directly the lyrics follow the performance methods and fate of Harry Houdini, the famous chain king, but that's not important. The final minute or so is deeply moving, as if you had just seen a great film instead of only listening to a song. Eberhard Weber's bass is marvelous here. "...You, and I, and Rosabel, believe." Goosebumps!

The only thing to stop me rating this single with five stars is the fact that both songs are on the album. The Dreaming may not be this gorgeous all the time (in fact I don't like all tracks) but it's so unique entity that the separate single releases are a bit unnecessary.

Review by DangHeck
5 stars No music videos for either of these songs, which is... not overly surprising, but going into this, I'll say this much: Interesting that either of these songs, while both excellent, would be selected for a single at all. Then again, we are talking The Dreaming. And we are talking Kate Bush. "Night of the Swallow" was that album's fifth and final single, backed with "Houdini".

Our A-side is the perfect, perfectly chilling track. In some ways glancing back only slightly at her piano balladry of her early career in the late-70s. But this is very characteristic of the eerie, Fusion-adjacent vibe of the time, starting with Never For Ever (songs we can look to there include "Blow Away", and "Egypt" with a fantastic Minimoog solo from Max Middleton). The thing that sets this song apart from most (though it has somewhat of a sister in the brighter "Jig of Life"), as it dips out of the dark ambience of the verses, it steps firmly into its Highlands-inspired chorus. The track that its verses bring to mind, though only somewhat, is that next track after "Jig of Life" on Hounds of Love, "Hello Earth".

"Houdini", our B-side, honestly feels fitting given her overall history with singles. And yet, in its immediate quietness, the track flows in and out of incredible pop-adjacent intensity. A track moreso of haunting (a form of dreaming), I think it's a great match. Beautiful Art Pop number with frisson-inducing orchestration and warm Soft Rock instrumentation. At times, Kate's vocals, in these most intense sections, are shredded, emotive, but also apparently heavily distorted; another chilling effect. Great single (off my favorite album by one of my all-time favorite artists).

True Rate: 4.75/5.00

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