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Kate Bush

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Kate Bush The Sensual World album cover
3.49 | 252 ratings | 18 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Sensual World (3:57)
2. Love And Anger (4:42)
3. The Fog (5:06)
4. Reaching Out (3:12)
5. Heads We're Dancing (5:21)
6. Deeper Understanding (4:46)
7. Between A Man And A Woman (3:30)
8. Never Be Mine (3:44)
9. Rocket's Tail (4:07)
10. This Woman's Work (3:38)
11. Walk Straight Down The Middle (3:48) *

* Not on LP releases

Total Time: 45:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Kate Bush / vocals, piano, keyboards, arranger & producer

- David Gilmour / guitar (2,9)
- Alan Murphy / guitar (3,5,7)
- John Sheahan / fiddle (1)
- Nigel Kennedy / violin solo (3), viola (5)
- Jonathan Williams / cello (3,5,7)
- Alan Stivell / celtic harp (3,7), backing vocals (7)
- Balavescu String Quartet (4)
- Davey Spillane / Uilleann pipes (1,8), whistles (3)
- Donal Lunny / bouzouki (1)
- Del Palmer / bass (1,4,7), percussion & rhythm guitar (5), Fairlight programming
- John Giblin / bass (2,6,9)
- Mick Karn / bass (5)
- Eberhard Weber / bass (8)
- Charlie Morgan / drums (1,4)
- Stuart Elliott / drums (2,3,5-9)
- Paddy Bush / whips (1), valiha (2), mandolin (4), tupan (6), backing vocals (2)
- The Trio Bulgarka / vocals (6,8,9)
- Yanka Rupkhina / vocal soloist (6,9)
- Dimitri Penev / vocals arrangements (6,8,9)
- Michael Kamen / orchestral arrangements (3,5,10)
- Michael Nyman / string arrangements (4)
- Bill Whelan / Irish arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Bill Smith Studio with Kindlight

LP EMI ‎- EMD 1010 (1989, UK)

CD EMI ‎- CDEMD 1010 (1989, UK)

Thanks to fishy for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy KATE BUSH The Sensual World Music

KATE BUSH The Sensual World ratings distribution

(252 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KATE BUSH The Sensual World reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars It is commonly agreed that this album isn't as great as the preceeding ones, but I wouldn't say it was any step backwards like Red Shoes surely was four years later. There's nothing like 'The Ninth Wave' suite of Hounds of Love here but why should there be? (Aerial makes return into that kind of album structure - I'm yet to hear it). I still remember when I bought Sensual World in the autumn '89 - there aren't very many albums I've bought at once, freshly released. Still its listening takes me back to dark and starry November nights, and in a way it still has a feel of 'the new Kate Bush album' to me, as opposed to diving into already existing marvelous output couple of years earlier. A disappointment? No! Well, maybe for three songs (the ones left unmentioned in my review).

Title track is one of her loveliest hits, Irish-flavoured and inspired by Molly's monologue from Joyce's Ulysses. 'The Fog' can be compared to the highlights of Hounds of Love: a mystical, atmospheric art piece narrating child's learning to swim. "Just put your feet down child, coz you're all grown up now", Kate's father speaks. 'Deeper Understanding' is movingly dealing with modern loneliness where computer replaces friends. I get goosepimples when The Trio Bulgarka joins in. They fit nicely also to 'Rocket's Tail' which has a great Gilmour solo. Imagery of that song is genuine Kate Bush. 'Between a Man and a Woman' and 'Never Be Mine' are fine sad tracks, at least the latter with the Fairlight familiar from e.g. 'Mother Stands For Comfort', though they're most likely put off by casual listeners.

'This Woman's Work' is a sensitive piano song like the title track of The Kick Inside. 'Walk Straight Down the Middle' (which appeared in CD only) is actually one of my favourite KB songs, for it has a dreamlike feel. The funny high "rrrr-aah" yells at the end are charming. All in all, this is dark-toned, autumnal, beautiful album with a lot of passion and light that only Kate Bush can create. She has never been that 'safe' to make an album where everything pleases anyone and I truly forgive couple of duller songs.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Sensual World": "Mmmmmhhhhh...YES!" The keyboards style and the miscellaneous acoustic elements involved make this record to be almost classified in the New Age style. The keyboards, rather ambient, do not take too much room, so that one can really appreciate the acoustic elements, made of beautiful strings arrangements, uilleann pipes, cello, viola, Celtic harp, piano and percussions. Kate's vocals are slightly less nervous here than on her previous records, so that it fits better with the more mellow tracks. There are some electric guitar parts played by David Gilmour, which is not irrelevant although its solid rock sound. Just expect something VERY solid and refined from the fretless bass department, knowing the musicians involved are Eberhard Weber and Mick Karn, real masters of the fretless instrument. Again here, there are tons of excellent backing vocals, often sounding very exotic, in the Bulgarian style. "This woman's work" is absolutely OUTSTANDING: it is a very poignant & delicate track made of piano, orchestration and miscellaneous female vocals!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm a bit in two minds about this album. If I could, I'd give it 3.50 stars: as a matter of fact, I listen to it quite often, and some of the songs on it are among my all-time favourites in Kate Bush's whole output. However, I can't avoid feeling something is not quite there, especially if compared to its two marvellous predecessors, "The Dreaming" and "Hounds of Love".

In any case, the good tracks are really excellent. The title track, inspired by Molly Bloom's monologue at the end of Joyce's "Ulysses", is positively erotic, with Kate's vocal delivery at is most breathy and suggestive. "The Fog", introduced by Kate's father voice, is probably the highlight of the album, with fantastic playing by celebrated violinist Nigel Kennedy emphasising the wistful, autumnal tones of the song.

Most of the tracks on Side Two feature Trio Bulgarka, a Bulgarian vocal ensemble who, along with the presence of numerous ethnic instruments, add a touch of intriguing exoticism to the music. "Deeper Understanding" is at the same time moving and disturbing, with lyrics dealing with the burning issue of people taking refuge from loneliness and alienation in the virtual world of computers - Kate was once again ahead of her times. "This Woman's Work" is another highly-praised song featuring Kate's piano and Michael Kamen's orchestra.

This album sees the collaboration of a number of titled guests, such as the already- mentioned Nigel Kennedy, David Gilmour, Japan's Mick Karn and Celtic harpist Alan Stivell. It is undoubtedly a more intimate, low-key affair than its two predecessors, similar in this to 1980's "Never for Ever", though somewhat more contrived and less innovative.

Review by richardh
3 stars I find this to be quite a dull album but following Hounds Of Love was always going to be tough.Kate is at her most earnest here,both championing feminsism and getting inside the mind of a disabled person for one of the songs.Unfortunately the playful side of her music seems to have all but vanished and your just left with a 'down' feel to it all.Can't say its that bad though because the production and musicianship is still very professional so I think its worthy of 3 stars (but no more).
Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars There are a couple of observations to make about this album that serve to distinguish it from Kate Bush’s previous works. This album is easily her most restrained in terms of tempo, slower and in most cases more starkly arranged with fewer and more exotic instrumentation. There are a few songs that feature the sort of syncopated beat that figured prominently on Hounds of Love and in parts of The Dreaming, but in general there is more emphasis on orchestral arrangements instead, and on unusual vocal cadences that give the album a much folksier feel than its predecessors. Finally, on pretty much every track each instrument is distinctly presented, so that the cello in “The Fog” is clearly audible apart from the violin; on “Reaching Out” the mandolin is quite discernable apart from the string quartet, and so on. This gives the music a very precise and lush feel, really a trademark of Ms. Bush but much more noticeable here than on her earlier albums. Despite the lack of a dominant single or any really energetic number, The Sensual World comes across as a very well-written and well-produced body of work.

The actual recording was a three-stage affair, with parts recorded in Dublin; the orchestra tracks made at the Abbey Road Studios; and still others recorded in Ms. Bush’s own home, which is equipped with a 48 track studio. In contrast with so many of her contemporaries, this has all the trappings of a very elegant piece of work, and is an album that requires several listens before the true beauty of it begins to emerge.

The title track has a strong Irish feel to it, accentuated by Davey Spillane on uillean pipes and Donal Lunny on bouzouki. I had to look up both of these instruments and, at the risk of offending the initiated, will crudely describe them (for those of us not as sophisticated) as something akin to a flat set of bagpipes and a mandolin, respectively. John Sheahan plays violin, with former Elton John sideman Charlie Morgan on drums and Ms. Bush’s long-time partner (at the time) Del Morgan on bass. The point here is that this was an all-star cast, and it shows. This is a beautifully arranged musical monologue of the closing scene from James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, and is probably best listened to by candlelight in an amorous setting.

Dave Gilmour adds his instantly recognizable guitar to “Love and Anger”, and brother Paddy Bush plays the valiha (uh…, it’s like a big wooden flute, okay? I’m not very good at these things). Ms. Bush backs herself on vocals with overlaid tracks, and sings about – well, a typical relationship (check the song’s title – that pretty much sums it up).

“The Fog” is an interesting work in that it’s a family affair, with Kate’s father adding dialogue at the beginning and middle. Even Dr. Bush’s spoken words come off as melodic, and the story here is of a very young Kate learning to swim with the tender coaxing of her father. The somewhat eccentric Nigel Kennedy lends his violin here, along with the late Alan Murphy on guitar and Jonathan Williams on cello. This is a very airy work with slightly dissonant strings and Kate almost whispering the lyrics. This seems like an awfully personal song for this album, but it makes for a great listen in a quiet setting and makes me want to go find my kids and hug them whenever I hear it.

”Reaching Out” is another child-like emotions, in this case yearning – for help, for sustenance, for comfort. Paddy Bush plays mandolin and Kate piano, and also with a string quartet arrangement to create again the somber and dreamlike feeling that pretty much permeates this album.

The front side of the album ends with “Heads We’re Dancing”, a halting rhythm and the story of a well-known historical asking for the singer’s hand for a dance in 1939. Though he is elegant and debonair, she finds the next morning that his face is splashed across the front of the newspaper in full military dress. This is just creepy, and I’d love to know the whole story behind how this came to be on the album.

A “Deeper Understanding” is the tale of an introvert who befriends their computer for companionship. Kind of a naïve theme considering the time in which this song was written, but it’s probably uncomfortably recognizable to several of the people who are setting in front of a keyboard reading this right now. Paddy Bush plays a tupan here (big bass drum), along with The Trio Bulgarka providing backing vocals. Some of the computer sound effects seem rather quaint today, but when this was written nearly twenty years ago this was probably a forward-thinking theme.

“Between a Man and a Woman” has a chanting cadence with minimal instrumentation, and retraces familiar territory first laid out on “Love and Anger”. This time though there is an interloper that Bush is warning off. Not sure who that is, perhaps a friend or family member, or maybe something more abstract. This is not one of the stronger songs on the album, and may have been more of a cathartic outlet for Ms. Bush than anything else.

The spiraling mood continues on “Never Be Mine”, which strikes me as a breakup song, but with some symbolism about burning corn fields and loss, I don’t know. German jazz musician Eberhard Weber lays down some very nice bass here though.

The vocals in “Rocket’s Tail” are almost completely a cappela for the first couple minutes, with harmonic backing from The Trio Bulgarka, until Dave Gilmour kicking in some guitar toward the end. I have no idea what this is all about, but I’m sure there is some sort of symbolism that escapes me. The protagonist is watching rockets being launched (fireworks, I assume), then proceeds to become a human rocket. Plenty of discord in the drum and guitar arrangement at the end, and completely over my head.

I believe “This Woman’s Work” was actually a hit single of sorts for the album, although not in the US. It did appear in the film “She’s Having a Baby” around the same time, and Ms. Bush has performed it live on a few occasions, or at least I know I’ve heard a live version of it. This seems to be another case of Ms. Bush having a bit of a PMS moment, or at least lamenting the seemingly futile labors of the fairer sex. This instrumentation is pretty much just some strings and Kate herself on piano.

The album release ends here, but on my cassette release there is one last track – “Walk Straight Down the Middle”, a song about coping –

“He thought he was going to die, but he didn’t. She thought should could never cope, but she did.

We thought it was all over, but it wasn’t…. – it hadn’t started yet. And walk straight down the middle of it.”

Coming off the rather extroverted Hounds of Love, this album seemed like a bit of a letdown by Kate Bush. I remember buying it only after being introduced to her work with that album and The Dreaming, and at the time was a bit disappointed in this latest release. It actually took a few years before I managed to start to develop an appreciation for the unusual depth of candor and personal emotion that is revealed on The Sensual World. It’s unfortunate that Ms. Bush didn’t tour in support of this album, because I believe that the live presentation of this material would have led to a much greater level of acceptance by fans. No matter, this is an outstanding piece of work, tempered only slightly by the somewhat bitter and strident “Love and Anger” and “Between a Man and a Woman”.

Overall, this would make an excellent addition to just about any music fan’s collection, but will more than likely require a few listens before it really begins to click. Four stars.


Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lovely , lovely stuff! It was a long time coming but I am glad to say my investement in the Sensual World paid off. A more mature album than Hounds of Love makes this concept album a strong effort from Kate Bush. The opening title track gets down to business straight away as KB pulls no punches about the art of seduction. As other reviewers have noted this is an intensley personal album and I guess listeners will either love it or hate it. There is a lot of violin playing throughout well delivered by Nigel Kennedy. Davey Spillanes uillean pipe playing is a must listen. KB is often abundantly supported by top class guest players. The ubiquitous John Giblin ( Simple Mind's fame) on bass and guitar by the one and only David Gilmour.Stuart Elliot on drums as usual and the other Floyd connection being the late Michael Kamen on orchestral arrangements. This is a great concept piece and needs to be listened to in it's entirety hence splitting out the songs individually makes for hard work. I highly recommend anyone getting this who is into the more vulnerable, sensuous, fragile and emotional side of Kate Bush. ' The Fog' and ' Heads we are Dancing' are other highlights. A worthy four stars.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Give me these moments back"

And just like that she lost her muse. The Sensual World was a huge step down for Kate and was the first after her amazing 5-album run of important works.

There are some really nice tracks on Sensual but when you listen to this album right after playing Hounds of Love, well, let's just say that "disappointing" isn't a strong enough word. Things start out well with the title track but in Love and Anger it is obvious Kate is approaching formula. Dave Gilmour's mediocre solo (and that's being generous) on this track is completely indicative of where Sensual World goes which is not too far. "The Fog" is quite a standout track with its dreamy mood and Michael Kamen orchestration. Another absolute standout is "This Woman's Work" which brings one back to early Kate briefly. But those few good songs cannot save the album.

Much of the rest of the album is rather unimaginative pop songs which make one wonder if Kate had expended her creative force or was simply burned out. Either way, The Sensual World is sadly an album for her fans only. Anyone else looking to sample Kate should stick to her best period, 1978-1982.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Kate Bush sixth album The Sensual World is her artistic demise. Her previous album Hounds of Love showed an artist that was still willing to experiment and take chances but here on The Sensual World Itīs like she has lost the spark or her creative mojo if you will. Calling this cold album The Sensual World is very misleading as it is anything but sensual at least to me.

The music is very trivial only a few songs stand out. This is a very generic album. The title track starts the album and itīs Worth a listen, itīs an ok start to the album, even though I donīt like the celtic influence much. The Fog is the most emotional song here and probably the only really good one too. Rocketīs Tail shows a bit of experimenting, but too little too late. This Womanīs Work is a piano driven song with hints to the past. Unfortunately itīs only hints. I canīt say that I like any of the other songs very much. There are a few parts here and there but not whole songs I like.

The musicianship is as always outstanding, but Kate Bush seems tired and her beautiful voice isnīt as intriguing as it used to be.

The Production is terrible. Itīs not that I donīt like eighties productions but this one sounds very bad to me. The snare drum sound is really horrible and the sound on Kateīs vocals makes it sound cold and inaccessible. The keyboard and piano sound is also very bad. This is the kind of late eighties and early nineties sound that I really hate.

Kate Bush is my favorite femate artist, and Iīm so sorry I have to be this harsh, but I donīt enjoy The Sensual World. The quality in the music is still high, but the moods are lame and Kate just seems tired. This one is only for the fans/ completist and therefore only deserves 2 stars. This is very disappointing after the beautiful Hounds of Love. The problem is that this wasnīt the end. Kate Bush would go on a release and even worse album in The Red Shoes. Itīs a real pity that such an intelligent artist should end her career in such a way. I havenīt heard Aerial yet, but I really hope itīs better than this one.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Sensual World is an album where all potential is flattened by overblown arrangements and layers of sound that level out all emotional dynamics that mark Kate's best work.

By itself the lush production sounds perfect, too perfect possibly as there's little left of the old overwhelming expressivity under its smooth surface. Tracks like The Fog and Never Be Mine and are good examples of inspired song writing that are buried under a thick carpet of sound. The strongest cuts are the upbeat The Sensual World, the only remaining piano moment This Woman's work and Walk Straight Down The Midle. The other songs have not revealed any of their appeal to me and sound uninspired and overproduced.

The conclusion is simple, this album has spent too much time in the mixing studio. Nevertheless, after initial disappointment, my appreciation of it has slightly grown over the years. With 5 good to excellent songs it's a low 3 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Sensual World' - Kate Bush (7/10)

Achieving an association with the progressive rock scene through Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's discovery of her, British solo artist Kate Bush is certainly a songstress that polarizes the prog community. On one hand, her music is easily recognizable as being pop, but on the other, there's alot of added layers to her music that one might not fully grasp on first listen. While acknowledged to be past her golden era of music, this is my first experience with the music of this songwriter, and it's certainly been a ride with its ups and downs. At first listen, I will admit that I was a bit put off by Bush's voice and overtly 80's production. However, like all truly good pop records of its kind,'The Sensual World' gradually opened up to me. While at its core it is a simply written album, Bush and her collaborators put alot of real thought into the arrangements of the music here, creating a piece of art that may seem very much a work of its time in parts, but is generally a strong album in a style I admittedly have not given enough credit in the past.

While 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds Of Love' may be stronger works in terms of the songwriting, Bush's strenght on the album relies on the beautiful ways she adds depth to the songs. Over the course of the album, there are musical sounds extracted from a multitude of cultures. The first song (also one of my favourites) and title track 'The Sensual World' makes great use of Celtic pipe music; a really nice way to add some energy and interest to what have otherwise would have been too mellow to open up the album. Also here are choral sets, and some beautiful symphonic arrangements conducted by none other than Michael Kamen. Many of these pieces feel evocative of a dreamscape. Unfortunately however, there are a handful of songs that really break the mood by deciding to go even further into the doldrums of '80s pop. 'Heads We're Dancing' is an example of a song which may be a decent song one could hear on a nostalgic FM station, but really feels undeserving of being on the same record as more involving pieces of songwriting. 'Deeper Understanding' is another track I don't care for as much. Although it has great choral work in it, the anti-technology lyrics seem very tacky and saccharine, no matter how much they may pertain to modern times. What's wrong with spending evenings on a computer, anyway?

Possibly the biggest note of division I have with 'The Sensual World' and Kate Bush's work in general are her vocals themselves. Why her wispy and highly registered voice suit some moments of the album, other parts feels like her inflections and uncomfortable vibrato are unnecessary and detract from the effect of the music. However, like many of the other parts on the album, this was something that gradually warmed up to me with added listens.

Quite a good album by Kate Bush, certainly. It's surprising to me that I would be able to open up to a pop album like this, but alas, the formula of the music here is not without some faults, which run the risk of the making the overall product sound tacky and dated at times.

Review by Warthur
2 stars The Sensual World feels like a companion piece to Hounds of Love, replicating many of the sonic textures of that piece - particularly the less commercial and accessible second side of that album. It also finds Kate in a somewhat subdued mood, and lacks the bursts of frantic energy that broke out here and there on Hounds. The sonic textures presented are intriguing but are also rather unsatisfying, and don't really seem to go anywhere; a cameo on guitar by David Gilmour feels rather lost and out of place, like it was added to the album simply due to a feeling that Bush should probably give her former mentor a platform rather than because there's any musically compelling reason for him to be there.

Most damningly, this is the first Bush album where I can't remember how any of the songs go once I'm done listening. On the whole, far from this woman's best work.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars While The Dreaming is, IMHO, Kate's prog masterpiece, it is my opinion that The Sensual World is every bit it's equal--perhaps even more masterful in that it comes from a woman with nine years more wisdom and maturity than The Dreaming.

1. The Sensual World (3:57) is one of Kate's most overtly sexual songs (of which she has a few) only this is from the perspective of the experienced woman who knows what she likes and knows how to get what she wants. Definitely a new and future-harkening sound from Ms. Bush. One of my all-time favorite Kate songs. (10/10)

2. Love and Anger (4:42) is another one of Kate's gut-wrenching emotional roller-coaster rides. Drags on a bit in the same range of chords and pacing--though the instrumental performances are rock solid. It feels a bit like other songs of Kate's from preceding albums. (8/10)

3. The Fog (5:06) is highlighted by the incredible strings and guitar work. Another very pleasant dreamy, emotion-based musical journey. (9/10)

4. Reaching Out (3:12) begins like an old ELTON JOHN song, which is appropriate in that it is an emotional song about human nature. The chorus is quite strong, powerful and engaging--one of Kate's strongest on this album. Unfortunately, going back to the soft/delicate A Section is a bit incongruous. But that chorus--and with it Michael Kamen's orchestration and Alan Murphy's guitar work--are redeeming. (8/10)

5. Heads Were Dancing (5:21) starts out just like a DEPECHE MODE song before Kate's unmistakable voice enters. The odd vibratos Kate uses while she holds the "second" syllable of words like "dance" and "do" are a bit too odd. Love Mick Karn's bass work. Eerie song. (8/10)

6. Deeper Understanding (4:46) has a cool JANE SIBERRY/PETER GABRIEL feel to it but doesn't really suck the listener in--it's one of those stories that is a bit too obtuse or obscure for me to get drawn into. (7/10)

7. Between A Man and A Woman (3:30) has such an unusual feel with it's staccato beginning and screech-opened B section. At this point in Kate's career, this kind of beat/rhythm is becoming a bit too standard for Kate's music. (7/10)

8. Never Be Mine (3:44) is another of my all-time favorite Kate songs. Eberhard Weber had been one of my favorite artists for over fifteen years, and I had become entranced by the Western arrival of Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares (and had even seen the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir in '90) thus, the timely incorporation of The Trio Bulgarika, Eberhard, and with Kate's penchant for Irish/Celtic instruments was both synchronous and popular with me. (9/10)

9. Rocket's Tail (4:07) is creative and risky in that for the first 90 seconds Kate's dreamy and later assertive lead vocal is backed only by the diatonic dissonance of The Trio Bulgarika. Nice try, gutsy, but the "meshing" just doesn't happen. It does better with the engagement of the heavy blues-rock instrumentation. The quirky "He-he-he, he-he-he" part is equally unsettling and almost grating to my ears. (7/10)

10. This Woman's Work (3:38) is quite a highly praised and anthemic song for many--and deservedly so. Powerful in message and delivery. I find myself often skipping it to reach the next song. (9/10)

11. Walk Straight Down The Middle (3:48) is the third of my all-time favorite Kate songs to emerge from The Sensual World. From the opening notes, Eberhard Weber's bass, along with the amazingly fragile-sounding vocal delivery of one of music's all-time great theatrical singers, this song sucks me in. Great rhythms and deeply engaging sound with wonderful and quirky vocal acrobatics. Plus the song employs absolutely masterful use of pauses, timing and spacing, e.g. check out the 2:22-2:39 section followed by the amazing resonant bass and jungle vocal calls. (9/10)

I have to say, in terms of high creativity and gutsy experimentation, there aren't many albums that can top this one. Whether or not it all works or not is definitely a matter of personal opinion. To me this is a 4.5 star album that helps earn Kate the PA inclusion. Kamen, Weber/Karn/Giblin/(Palmer), Gilmour, Trio Bulgarika, the Bush family, and Kate's voice and presentation in peak form all make this a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I have a hard time understanding just why this album isn't one of Kate Bush's more revered albums, especially in the progressive universe. While it's true it might be a little bit lesser than her previous albums, it is still an amazingly beautiful and diverse album and offers some of her most memorable songs, however, there is that feeling that the songs don't gel together as well as on past albums, but this should only be a minor flaw, as the songs on their own are very powerful, innovative and leave a lasting impression.

The album starts off with two strong tracks, the lush and sultry "The Sensual World" and the bold and driving "Love and Anger", both of which were released as singles and both did rather well. These are followed by the more experimental "The Fog" which show Bush at her most innovative, harkening back to some of the less accessible songs off of "Hounds of Love", mysterious and yet intriguing, her vocals doing things that other vocalists wouldn't dare try while using non-traditional (at least in a rock/pop setting) instruments, usually instruments that are folk instruments, yet hardly ever used together in the same setting. "Reaching Out" has one of Bush's most beautiful and emotional choruses ever, as she shows the power behind her dynamic singing. No one else can emote and utilize their voice as well as Kate Bush can, and that is why she is always one of my favorite artists. Tender and powerfully emotional, this is an amazing song. "Heads We're Dancing" ends the first side with an upbeat track that features Mick Karn's signature fretless bass.

The first few times I listened to this album, I had a hard time with the 2nd half of this album, especially because of the inclusion of the Bulgarian vocal ensemble "Trio Bulgarka" and I didn't like the way those vocals contrasted with the songs, sounding like they were just place there to be more artsy. But as time went on, I came to appreciate the inclusion of this, and now it all just seems natural. She uses the ensemble on 3 of the tracks on the 2nd side, including "Deeper Understanding" which has since become another of my favorite Bush songs. It is very obvious that, even though many think this was a commercial album for Bush, that she was still working to make it extremely innovative, and she succeeded. You can call it art pop if you want, to me it is still all amazingly original and excellent. "Between a Man and Woman" tends to reflect some of Bush's older material and I think would have fit easily on any of her previous albums. "Never Be Mine" again utilizes the Trio Bulgarka. Between this track and the previous one, I tend to believe is the reason that most of the public tends to discount the entire album. These two songs are arguably a bit easier to forget and tend to weaken the album a bit, but once the music from this album starts to find its way into your head, heart and soul, that these less interesting songs start to stand out a little more. Overall, this album is a grower, but that is also its strength, that you can go back to it and discover new things each time you hear it.

"Rocket's Tail" again uses the Trio Bulgarka, and this one is the least accessible of all of the songs on this album. Even though this track is difficult to get into, it was one that stood out at the very beginning for me. Much of the first half of the track is acapella, vocals divided by the main lyrics that Bush sings and the foreign words that the trio sings, and the melodies even contrast each other at times. Everything comes alive when David Gilmour finally kicks in with his guitar solo, and the track definitely stands out as his guitar and the foreign vocals make for a new and interesting experience. "This Woman's Work" was meant to end the album, and it did on the original vinyl version. This is one of Kate's most famous tracks, and also another of her most beautifully written and sung songs ever. It speaks for itself, and even though it has been covered by others, no one can express it like she can. So beautiful and emotional! It is a testament to her powerful songwriting and lyrical brilliance and if it is the song that most of the public will remember her by, then it is well deserved as such. The CD and cassette versions of the album also included the track "Walk Straight Down the Middle" which is a little out of place on this side of the album since it is pretty much the more inaccessible side, but it still works, and it ends up closing the album with another sultry performance from my most favorite female artist.

Even though it is a little bit weaker than its predecessors, it is still an album I love to listen to, and it still has some all time favorites of mine, but its weakness comes more in the way the tracks work more on an individual basis than they do in a cohesive way, and that is the only drawback from this excellent album. I was not a big fan of the album at first, but it grew on me as I became more familiar with each track, and now I consider it a favorite. But it doesn't quite reach the pinnacle of some of her other albums, but it still one that is worthwhile and I still consider it an excellent album.

Latest members reviews

3 stars 7th January, 2022: Kate Bush - The Sensual World (art pop, 1989) As much as I'm hesitant to admit it, I'm still struggling a bit with Kate Bush outwith Hounds of Love. It's one of my favourite albums of all time, and yet I struggle to find another album of hers I even consider a quarter of its ... (read more)

Report this review (#2669985) | Posted by Gallifrey | Friday, January 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If you listen to this album and her first ones from 1978, there is such a huge difference. Moved from songwriter pop with piano and vocals dominating characteristics to slightly more electronic sounds and less expressive vocal and more variety in arrangements. Being original and creative is t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2337693) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars From 1989, THE SENSUAL WORLD is one of my favorite Kate Bush releases. I really enjoy many of the songs here: "The Sensual World", "The Fog", "Heads Were Dancing", and "This Womans Work" are some of the best things Kate Bush has ever put out. Using the Trio Bulgarka adds a wonderful twist to the mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#733627) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "The Sensual World" has a calm intimacy that you can't quite match on Bush's other more exuberant efforts. I totally agree with some other reviewers here: This is without the anger that "The Dreaming" had, and even after "Hounds Of Love", this is quite refreshing with a huge, deep feel to ever ... (read more)

Report this review (#519622) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, September 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Reading the other reviews, it seems like this is an album that one either loves or hates. None of the songs here are as upbeat and "poppy" as Running Up That Hill or The Big Sky, so I can see how some would dismiss it as bland or generic. However, I think this is just a result of the music being ... (read more)

Report this review (#267144) | Posted by nmccrina | Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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