Kate Bush is an English singer–songwriter who released five albums between 1978 and 1985 on EMI. She rose to international prominence with her debut single “Wuthering Heights,” one of the biggest global hits of 1978.
Kate was born Catherine Mary Bush on July 30, 1958, in Bexleyheath, Kent, into an artistic family. Her father, Dr. Robert Bush, was an amateur pianist. Her mother, Hannah (née Daly), was an amateur Irish dancer. She has two older brothers, Paddy (an instrument maker) and John (a poet, photographer, and karateka), who both frequented the local folk scene.
At age 11, Bush took up piano and organ. Eventually, she started writing melodies and lyrics. In 1972, her family produced her first demo tape and pitched it to various labels. It eventually made its way to Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, who received it from a mutual friend of the family.
In 1975, Gilmour helped Bush record a more professional demo with producer Andrew Powell and engineer Geoff Emerick. Two songs from this demo, “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” and “The Saxophone Song,” surfaced on her debut album. During the recording sessions for Wish You Were Here, Gilmour played the demo to executives from EMI, which signed the 16-year-old.
Due to Kate’s age at the time, EMI put her on a retainer for two years. She used her advance from the label to enroll in dance classes with Lindsay Kemp (who once taught David Bowie) and mime training with Adam Darius.
In early 1977, she assembled the KT Bush Band with guitarist Brian Bath, drummer Charlie Morgan, and bassist Del Palmer. Between May 2 and June 6, 1977, they played six documented shows on the Greater London pub and hotel circuit. Kate and Del became a couple. In August, sessions commenced on her debut album.
Kate composed “Wuthering Heights” on the evening of March 5, 1977, after reading the 1847 romantic novel by English author Emily Brontë. She first took interest in the story after watching a 1967 BBC adaption of the novel — most famously adopted for a 1939 film starring Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) and Merle Oberon (Catherine). Kate felt a special affinity for Emily Brontë after leaning the author had the same birthday (July 30, 1818).
In “Wuthering Heights,” Kate portrays Catherine in the final scene where her ghost appears at Heathcliff’s window to claim his soul.
Kate recorded her “Wuthering Heights” vocals in one take in the late summer of 1977 at AIR Studios, where Andrew Powell produced and arranged the song as part of her upcoming debut album. Powell plays bass and celesta on the song, which also features Brand X percussionist Morris Pert (crotales), Pilot guitarists David Paton (12-string) and Ian Bairnson (electric, acoustic), and Cockney Rebel alumni Duncan MacKay (Hammond organ) and Stuart Elliot (drums). Bairnson played the climactic lyrical guitar solo with a broken arm. Conductor David Katz (Byzantium, Carmen, Quatermass) served as orchestral contractor.
Kate designated “Wuthering Heights” as her debut single over the wishes of EMI, which favored “James and the Cold Gun,” an upbeat rocker. Due to discrepancies in the initial sleeve art, EMI pushed the single back from its slated November 4, 1977, release date.
“Wuthering Heights” entered the UK Singles Chart on the week of February 11, 1978, at No. 42. Kate mimed the song on the Feb. 16 broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops., where she reached from the podium in a black gown and lip synced the lilting high-pitched lines under glowing blue baubles. Her performance riveted nationwide viewers of the teatime show, which aired the segment before winter hits by ABBA (“Take a Chance On Me”), Bee Gees (“Stayin’ Alive”), Billy Joel (“Just The Way You Are”), Elkie Brooks (“Lilac Wine”), Magazine (“Shot By Both Sides”), Rod Stewart (“Hot Legs”), Rose Royce (“Wishing On a Star”), and Sweet (“Love Is Like Oxygen”).
On the week of March 11, “Wuthering Heights” reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, where it overtook “Take a Chance On Me” and held the spot for four weeks. The single also went to No. 1 in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Portugal. It peaked at No. 3 in the Netherlands and No. 3 in Denmark and Finland. “Wuthering Heights” also went Top 10 in Belgium and Sweden (both No. 6), Norway (No. 7), Switzerland (No. 8), and Spain (No. 10).
“Wuthering Heights” has two videos. In the primary clip (the ‘indoor video’), Kate mimes in a white gown and makes choreographed moves and dramatic expressions under tinted lights in a mist-laden black studio rendered with soft-focus film and period effects (slow motion, mirrored subjects). The second video takes place in a grassy area with nearby trees in Salisbury Plain, where Kate rises in a red gown and sways side-to-side with extended dance moves.
TotP aired “Wuthering Heights” on all five Thursdays of March 1978 amid current hits by Blondie (“Denis”), Bob Marley (“Is This Love”), Earth Wind & Fire (“Fantasy”), Elvis Costello (“I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea”), Eruption (“I Can’t Stand The Rain”), Generation X (“Ready Steady Go”), Genesis (“Follow You Follow Me”), Gerry Rafferty (“Baker Street”), Hot Chocolate (“Every 1’s a Winner”), The Jam (“News of the World”), Manhattan Transfer (“Walk In Love”), The Real Thing (“Whenever You Want My Love”), Samantha Sang (“Emotion”), Tavares (“The Ghost of Love”), Tina Charles (“I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me”), and The Vibrators (“Automatic Lover”).
Kate returned to the TotP studio to mime “Wuthering Heights” on March 2 (behind a grand piano) and again on the 23rd when she donned a white gown and did a dance routine similar to the song’s indoor video.
“Wuthering Heights” ranks at No. 10 on the 1978 UK year-end singles chart (No. 5 in New Zealand). The single sold more than 1,000,000 copies worldwide in 1978 alone despite its low profile in the North American market. “Wuthering Heights” remains the most well-known unofficial adoption of the 1847 novel, which Genesis quotes with the name of their 1976 album Wind and Wuthering and the title of its instrumental suite “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers… In That Quiet Earth.”
The Kick Inside
Kate Bush released her debut album, The Kick Inside, on February 17, 1978, on EMI. It features her pre-released hit “Wuthering Heights” and its b-side “Kite” and eleven further self-penned originals, including the international hits “Moving” and “Them Heavy People” and the strident “James and the Cold Gun,” EMI’s initial pick for her debut single. “The Saxophone Song” and “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” are 1975 recordings from the David Gilmour sessions that brought Kate to the label’s attention.
1. “Moving” (3:01) opens with a sample from Songs of the Humpback Whale, a 1970 field recording of whale sounds by American producer Dr. Roger S. Payne. Kate wrote this as a tribute to her dance instructor Lindsay Kemp and the impressions he made on her concepts of movement.
2. “The Saxophone Song” (3:51)
3. “Strange Phenomena” (2:57) concerns déjà vu and synchronicity.
4. “Kite” (2:56)
5. “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” (2:39) is purportedly about Gilmour, who produced the song in June 1975 at AIR Studios.
6. “Wuthering Heights” (4:28)
7. “James and the Cold Gun” (3:34)
8. “Feel It” (3:02)
9. “Oh to Be in Love” (3:18)
10. “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” (2:27)
11. “Them Heavy People” (3:04) concerns a child’s intellectual curiosity.
12. “Room for the Life” (4:03)
13. “The Kick Inside” (3:30)
Sessions took place in the late-summer of 1977 at AIR Studios, London, with producer Andrew Powell, who arranged the tracks and shares piano duties with Kate, who sings double-tracked lead and backing vocals. Powell’s select instrumental contributions include Fender Rhodes piano (“Strange Phenomena”), synthesizer (“Oh to Be in Love”), and beer bottles (“Room for the Life”).
The Pilot and Cockney Rebel musicians that play on the “Wuthering Heights” single — guitarist Ian Bairnson, bassist David Paton, keyboardist Duncan Mackay, and drummer Stuart Elliott — appear on everything except the two 1975 recordings and the sparse piano ballads “Feel It” and “The Kick Inside.” In addition to the pre-released single sides, percussionist Morris Pert plays on “Strange Phenomena” and adds boobam (a tube membranophone) on “Room for the Life.” Kate’s brother Paddy Bush plays mandolin on “Oh to Be in Love” and sings backing vocals on “Them Heavy People.”
“The Saxophone Song” features jazz tenor saxist Alan Skidmore and session musicians Paul Keogh (electric and acoustic guitar), Alan Parker (acoustic guitar), Bruce Lynch (bass), Barry de Souza (drums).
AIR soundman Jon Kelly engineered The Kick Inside after the 1977 A&M release A Pauper In Paradise, the fifth album by Gino Vannelli. Kelly’s assistant, Jon Walls, worked with him on titles by Bijelo Dugme, Krazy Kat, Nektar (Recycled), and also worked separately on 1977–78 albums by Glenn Hughes, Rock Follies, Sad Cafe, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
In Japan, “Wuthering Heights” appeared as the b-side of “Moving,” released as a single on February 5 on Toshiba EMI with a picture of Kate in a cleavage-bearing pink top. Kate flew to Japan to partake in the June 1978 Tokyo Music Festival at Nippon Budokan, where her performance of “Moving” aired on Japanese television to 35 million viewers. While there, she appeared in a TV commercial for Seiko watches and filmed TV studio performances of five songs: “Moving,” “Them Heavy People,” and the Beatles covers “She’s Leaving Home,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “Let It Be.”
“Man With the Child In His Eyes” reached No. 3 in Ireland, No. 6 in the UK, and went Top 20 in Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. In the song’s soft-focus video, Kate sits lotus style in a sheer body-stocking against a white and tinted backdrop and dances with her upper extremities. TotP aired the clip on its June 15 and 29 broadcasts amid hits by A Taste of Honey (“Boogie Oogie Oogie”), The Boomtown Rats (“Like Clockwork”), J.A.L.N. Band (“Get Up”), Lindisfarne (“Run for Home”), Marshall Hain (“Dancing In the City”), The Motors (“Airport”), The O’Jays (“Used Ta Be My Girl”), and John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (“You’re The One That I Want”).
Kate filmed a May 1978 Dutch TV special for the opening of the Efteling Haunted Castle amusement park, where she filmed clips for six songs, including both sides of her latest single plus “Wuthering Heights,” “Them Heavy People,” “Strange Phenomena,” and “The Kick Inside.” The twenty-minute special aired on the Dutch music program TopPop. Meanwhile, Kate performed “Them Heavy People” on the May 20 broadcast (Episode 1) of Revolver, a short-lived ITV new wave music program hosted by comedian Peter Cook with sets by XTC, Rich Kids, Steel Pulse, and the Tom Robinson Band.
In Japan, “Man With the Child” appeared as the b-side of “Them Heavy People.” Kate performed both Japanese a-sides (“Moving,” “Them Heavy People”) with her band on the BBC program Saturday Nights at the Mill (filmed on February 25).
The Kick Inside reached No. 1 in the Netherlands and Portugal and No. 2 in Belgium, Finland, and New Zealand. The album peaked at No. 3 in Australia and the UK, where it spent seventy-one weeks on the chart. The Kick Inside also went Top 10 in Norway (No. 4), Denmark (No. 5), and Sweden (No. 8).
Splash Studio designed the album’s UK cover based on Kate’s visual concept. It shows her aflight on a yellow-red (dragon patterned) kite near a giant eyeball with Oriental fonts. KT Bush Band bassist Del Palmer (Kate’s romantic partner) designed the back cover, which shows white lyrics against an evening sky backdrop. EMI UK released a limited-edition Kick Inside picture disc with images of the singer in blue and green dance attire.
The Japanese version of The Kick Inside appeared in May 1978 with the same cover as the “Moving” single. It reached No. 37 on the Oricon albums chart. In Canada, Harvest issued The Kick Inside with a red-framed alternate cover that shows a profile of Kate with her hands around her head. It reached No. 95 on the Canadian Top Albums chart. The album also sports alternate covers in Yugoslavia (white gown, black background, looking off) and Uruguay (monochrome, direct stare).
In the US, EMI America released the album in July 1978 with a cover shot of Kate crouched in jeans and red legwarmers. “Man With the Child In His Eyes” reached No. 85 on the US Billboard Hot 100, her only pre-1985 placement on that chart. Kate performed that song and “Them Heavy People” on the December 9, 1978, broadcast of the NBC sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live (Season 4: Episode 8) hosted by English comedic actor Eric Idle.
Kate Bush released her second album, Lionheart, on November 13, 1978, on EMI. It contains eight songs from her pre-debut stockpile and three newly written numbers: “Fullhouse,” “Coffee Homeground,” and the album-opener “Symphony in Blue,” a sexual-health ballad that appropriates the classical piano standard Trois Gymnopédies by French modernist composer Erik Satie.
Musically, Lionheart carries the soft lushness of its predecessor with moments of intensity (“Hammer Horror”) and eclecticism (the pan-pipe “Kashka from Baghdad”). Kate retains the Kick Inside musicians on half of Lionheart, which also utilizes the KT Bush Band on select tracks, including the second single “Wow,” a danseur’s lament with a swelling chorus.
1. “Symphony in Blue” (3:35)
2. “In Search of Peter Pan” (3:46)
3. “Wow” (3:58) concerns a gifted yet troubled young male ballerino (possibly Polish dance legend Vaslav Nijinsky of the Ballets Russes).
4. “Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake” (3:12)
5. “Oh England My Lionheart” (3:10)
6. “Fullhouse” (3:14)
7. “In the Warm Room” (3:35)
8. “Kashka from Baghdad” (3:55)
9. “Coffee Homeground” (3:38)
10. “Hammer Horror” (4:39) Kate wrote this after watching Man of a Thousand Faces, the 1957 biopic on silent horror actor Lon Chaney, played by James Cagney.
Sessions took place between July and September 1978 at Super Bear Studios in Berre-les-Alpes, a rural commune in the French Riviera. Kate co-produced Lionheart with co-arranger Andrew Powell, whose instrumental contributions include harmonium (“Coffee Homeground”) and the unidentified ‘Joanna strumentum’ (“Kashka from Baghdad”).
The Kick Inside musicians — keyboardist Duncan Mackay (Fender Rhodes, synthesizer), bassist David Paton, drummer Stuart Elliot, and guitarist Ian Bairnson — play on “Symphony in Blue,” “In Search of Peter Pan,” and “Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake.” The last three also play on “Fullhouse” and “Coffee Homeground,” the latter with orchestral contractor Dave Katz, who oversees Kate, Duncan, Stuart, and Ian on “Hammer Horror.”
KT Bush Band guitarist Brian Bath plays on “Wow” with session drummer Charlie Morgan and KT bassist Del Palmer (Kate’s longtime companion), who also plays on “Hammer Horror” and (with Morgan) “Coffee Homeground.” Kate’s brother Paddy Bush contributes mandolin (“Wow”), slide guitar (“Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake”), mandocello and pan flute (“Kashka from Baghdad”), strumento de porco (pig’s-head psaltery: a fretless zither), and harmonies.
“Oh England My Lionheart” features recorder by ex-Gryphon woodwindist Richard Harvey and harpsichord by former Curved Air keyboardist Francis Monkman, who also plays on “Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake” (harpsichord) and “Fullhouse” (Hammond organ).
Kick Inside soundman Jon Kelly engineered Lionheart with Super Bear staffer Patrick Jaunead, who worked with Kate in sequence with fellow early users of the newly built quadraphonic studio, the site of 1978 recordings by David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Queen. Kelly’s mixing assistant, Nigel Walker, also worked on 1977–78 albums by Bryan Ferry, The Cars (self-titled), Frankie Miller, and Split Enz (Dizrythmia).
Kate and Paddy’s elder brother, poet John Carder Bush (b. 1944), conceived the Lionheart front cover, which shows her straddling a crate in a lion’s suit beside a lion head inside a triangular attic. Art director Richard Gray designed the gatefold, which features lyrics (inner-gates) and glamour shots by Gered Mankowitz, a photographer on sixties sleeves (The Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Nirvana, Traffic) with recent visual credits on titles by Cliff Richard (Green Light), Doctors of Madness (Sons of Survival), Easy Street (Under the Glass), Murray Head (Say It Ain’t So), Sherbet (Photoplay), and Ultravox (Ultravox!). Gray and Mankowitz subsquently did visuals on the 1979 Renaissance album Azure d’Or.
“Hammer Horror” appeared in late October as the album’s lead-off single backed with “Coffee Homeground.” It reached No. 10 in Ireland and No. 17 in Australia and peaked just outside the Top 20 in the Netherlands and New Zealand.
In the “Hammer Horror” video, Kate wears a black gown and performs swaying dance movements and pantomime gestures under a blue spotlight in a dark room, where she’s lifted, spun, and flipped by a masked man.
In March 1979, Kate lifted “Wow” as the second Lionheart single backed with “Fullhouse.” It reached No. 14 in the UK and No. 17 in Ireland. “Wow” became her first sizable hit in North America, where it reached No. 28 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.
In the “Wow” video, Kate spins into place on a stairway stage in a gray gown and black lace top and sways intensely in slow motion. She pats her rear on the line “hitting the Vaseline” in reference to the character’s sex addiction. As the song fades, she does a vanishing spin.
TotP aired an alternate clip of “Wow” (purple sleeveless gown) on its March 22 and April 12 broadcasts amid spring hits by Buzzcocks (“Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”), Dire Straits (“Sultans of Swing”), Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”), Light of the World (“Swingin’”), Sister Sledge (“He’s the Greatest Dancer”), Squeeze (“Cool for Cats”), Supertramp (“The Logical Song”), Three Degrees (“The Runner”), and Wings (“Goodnight Tonight”).
Lionheart reached No. 5 in New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands. It peaked at No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 12 in Australia. Lionheart also went Top 20 in Sweden and Top 30 in Germany, Finland, and Japan.
On April 2, 1979, Kate Buck launched the Lionheart Tour, a six-week leg of twenty-eight public shows across the UK and Europe. These were her first concerts since the 1977 KT Band gig and the last until her 2014 London engagement. The tour (later dubbed Tour of Life) combined song and dance with pantomime and elaborate costume changes and stage lighting.
Kate conceived the tour after she passed on an opening slot with Fleetwood Mac. In order to dance and sing simultaneously, she requested a portable headset microphone. Her sound engineer, Gordon Paterson, created a prototype wireless headset with a coat-hanger and radio microphone. She was the first performer to use such a device, which later became a live requisite of song-and-dance pop divas.
Kate choreographed the tour with Anthony Van Laast, an alumnus of the London School of Contemporary Dance. Each show featured four sections, two encores, and seventeen costume changes. Magician Simon Drake appeared throughout each show while Kate performed with two male dancers: Stewart Avon Arnold and Gary Hurst. The stage set features a retractable ramp and a ribbed egg-shaped projection screen.
Kate’s backing musicians on the Lionheart Tour included KT Bush Band guitarist Brian Bath and bassist–partner Del Palmer, plus two sessionists for her upcoming third album: guitarist Alan Murphy and drummer Preston Heyman. Keyboardist Kevin McAlea (a Barclay James Harvest auxiliary) played piano, keyboards, saxophone, and 12-string guitar. Musician Ben Barson (a member of Deaf School spinoffs Bette Bright & The Illuminations and Clive Langer & The Boxes) played synthesizer and acoustic guitar.
Kate’s brother Paddy Bush played mandolin and sang background vocals. Their elder brother John Carder Bush did spoken word and poetry.
The tour commenced with an April 2 warm-up show at the Poole Arts Centre in Bournemouth. Tragedy struck when Kate’s lighting engineer, Bill Duffield, fell to his death after the Poole show.
The first public show took place on April 3 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre and proceded with stops in Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton, Bristol, Sunderland, Manchester, and Edinburgh, followed by a five-night stand (April 16–20) at London’s Palladium Theatre. The tour whipped through the Continent with April 24–May 10 shows in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, and six stops in West Germany (Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, Mannheim, Frankfurt). Kate and her entourage wrapped in London with a three-night engagement (May 12–14) at the Hammersmith Odeon.
The May 12 show featured was a benefit concert for the family of Bill Duffield. It featured guest appearances by Steve Harley and Peter Gabriel.
The BBC filmed the May 13 date for a broadcast special titled Kate Bush: On Tour, which showed backstage footage of the staging and setup and snippets of select performance numbers. Twelve numbers from the concert appear on the 53-minute 1981 home video Live at Hammersmith Odeon, later released as an audio CD.
1. “Them Heavy People” (4:08)
2. “Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake” (3:37)
3. “James and the Cold Gun” (6:25)
4. “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” (2:41)
On Stage reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart and went Top 20 in Ireland (No. 15) and the Netherlands (No. 17). On the Dutch Top 40, “Them Heavy People” charted separately at No. 21.
Kate made a video to “Them Heavy People” with Avon Arnold and Hurst. It opens in a black room where Kate (white fedora) sits at a wooden table under a dangling light bulb, which swings in sync with the words “rolling the ball.” She’s flanked by the dancers, both dressed in detective tench coats and fedoras. She rises, knocks them over, and writhes on the table in her sleeveless black zip-breasted top and satin purple skirt. They join her for a sequence of choreographed dance moves in front of the table.
TotP aired this video on its September 20 and October 4 broadcasts amid fall hits by Blondie (“Dreaming”), The Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”), Electric Light Orchestra (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), Gary Numan (“Cars”), Madness (“The Prince”), Matumbi (“Point of View”), The Police (“Message In a Bottle”), Rainbow (“Since You’ve Been Gone”), Sad Cafe (“Every Day Hurts”), Squeeze (“Slap and Tickle”), The Tourists (“The Loneliest Man In the World”), and XTC (“Making Plans for Nigel”).
In December 1979, Kate Bush reteamed with her May 12 Hammersmith guest Peter Gabriel for a BBC Christmas special. The 44-minute broadcast features six Kate numbers and a yuletide original, “December Will Be Magic Again.” Gabriel performs a solo piano rendition of his 1977 symphonic anthem “Here Comes the Flood.” Kate and Peter (in a somber table-side segment) duet on the Roy Harper ballad “Another Day,” which originated on the singer–songwriter’s 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk. (Bootlegs of the Harper cover later circulated under the misnomered title “Just Another Day in 1977”).
Kate sings choir voice on the 1979 Lesley Duncan single “Sing Children Sing,” a remake of the title-track from the singer–songwriter’s 1971 debut album. The re-recorded song also features vocal backing by Paddy Bush, Pete Townshend, and Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott. Lesley remade the song for the benefit of the United Nations’ International Year of the Child.
Kate Bush duets with Roy Harper on “You (The Game Part II),” a track on the singer–songwriter’s 1980 tenth studio album The Unknown Soldier. Kate’s early benefactor, David Gilmour, co-wrote the song and four additional tracks.
Kate backs Peter Gabriel on two tracks (“No Self Control,” “Games Without Frontiers”) on the ex-Genesis singer’s third eponymous solo album (colloqially known as “melt”), which also features backing by Kate sideman Morris Pert, Jam frontman Paul Weller, XTC guitarist Dave Gregory, King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp, Synergy architect Larry Fast, onetime If saxophonist Dick Morrissey (of Morrissey–Mullen), and Gabriel’s former bandmate Phil Collins. Despite its spartan textures and ominous post-punk vibe, “Games Without Frontiers” became an unlikely transatlantic hit for the singer.
Never for Ever
Kate Bush released her third album, Never for Ever, on September 7, 1980, on EMI. It contains two advance singles, “Breathing” and “Babooshka.” The latter went Top 5 in multiple territories. A third single, “Army Dreamers,” accompanied the album’s release. One song (“The Wedding List”) first aired as part of her 1979 Christmas special.
Never for Ever makes use of the newly released Fairlight CMI digital synthesizer. Kate first encountered the Fairlight when its co-developer Peter Vogel demonstrated the keyboard at Peter Gabriel’s home studio during sessions for his 1980 solo album.
1. “Babooshka” (3:20) concerns a middle-aged woman who tests her husband with letters in the guise of a young, beautiful woman named Babooshka. (The name translates to бaбушка: Russian for grandmother). Kate drew inspiration from the 19th-century English folk song “Sovoy” about a young woman who tests her suitor’s loyalty disguised as a highway robber. Ian Bairnson is credited with “bass vocals.”
2. “Delius (Song of Summer)” (2:51) is based on Song of Summer, a 1968 BBC television film by Ken Russell about English romantic composer Frederick Delius (1862–1934). The lyrics reference Eric Fenby (“in B, Fenby”), who served as Frederick’s amanuensis (transcriptionist) in the final years when the composer was blind and paralyzed.
3. “Blow Away (For Bill)” (3:33) commemorates Kate’s lighting director Bill Duffield, who died in a mishap at Poole Arts Centre on the Tour of Life pre-show. She namechecks other music figures who died in the past two years (Minnie Riperton, Sandy Denny, Marc Bolan, Keith Moon, Sid Vicious).
4. “All We Ever Look For” (3:47)
5. “Egypt” (4:10)
6. “The Wedding List” (4:15) draws inspiration from the 1968 French thriller The Bride Wore Black by New Wave director François Truffaut.
7. “Violin” (3:15) features Irish violinist Kevin Burke (Bothy Band).
8. “The Infant Kiss” (2:50) concerns a governess with feelings for a teenage male in her care. Kate based this on The Innocents, a 1961 gothic psychological horror film inspired by The Turn of the Screw, an 1898 novella by Henry James. Skeaping’s Adam (viola) and Joseph (lironi) handle string arrangements.
9. “Night Scented Stock” (0:51)
10. “Army Dreamers” (2:55) is a waltz about a mother’s grief over the loss of her son at war.
11. “Breathing” (5:29) concerns the impact of nicotine and nuclear fallout on a pre-natal child. Roy Harper sings backing vocals.
Sessions took place between September 1979 and May 1980 at Abbey Road and AIR Studios, London. Kate Bush co-produced Never For Ever with Jon Kelly, the engineer on her two prior albums. In addition to piano, Kate makes select use of the Yamaha CS-80 polyphonic synthesizer (“Babooshka,” “All We Ever Look For”) and the Fairlight CMI, programmed for this recording by Landscape keyboardists John L. Walters and Richard James Burgess.
Hummingbird keyboardist Max Middleton plays Fender Rhodes piano on the odd-numbered cuts of Side One and the bookends of Side Two. He also handles Minimoog (“Egypt”) and string arrangements (“Blow Away,” “The Wedding List”). Kate’s prior studio keyboardist Duncan Mackay returns with Fairlight CMI on “All We Ever Look For” and “Army Dreamers.” The Prophet-5 synthesizer appears courtesy of library musician Michael Moran (“Egypt”) and “melt” sessionist Larry Synergy Fast (“Breathing”).
Paddy Bush sings backing vocals on five tracks and plays balalaika (“Babooshka”), sitar (“Delius”), koto (“All We Ever Look For”), strumento de porco (“Egypt”), harmonica and musical saw (“The Wedding List”), banshee (“Violin”), and mandolin (“Army Dreamers”).
Kate’s partner Del Palmer plays bass on the album’s interior (“Egypt,” “The Wedding List,” “Violin”) and fretless on “Blow Away (For Bill).” Brand X bassist John Giblin plays on “Babooshka” and “Breathless” (fretless).
Tour of Life drummer Preston Heyman plays on five tracks. Prior Kate drummer Stuart Elliott returns on the three a-sides; “Army Dreamers” features him on bodhrán. Brand X percussionist Morris Pert appears on “All We Ever Look For” (timpani) and “Breathing.”
“Blow Away (For Bill)” and “The Wedding List” feature strings by the Martyn Ford Orchestra.
Illustrator Nick Price penciled the Never for Ever art, which depicts Kate on a hill under black sky with hoards of critters that flow from her gown. On the inner-gates, the critters (birds, bats, fish butterflies) crowd the left side of the lyric columns. The Side 1 LP label depicts Kate as an angel. On the back cover, she appears as a butterfly in four variations of flight.
“The Empty Bullring” (2:18)
In the “Breathing” video, Kate appears cellophane-wrapped inside a bubble in emulation of a fetus inside a womb. She gradually frees her arms and moves with more aggression in an effort to escape. Once outside, she emerges in brown lake water with a group of green-skinned (contaminated) men in radiation suites under a nuclear sky. A bomb goes off while they languish on nearby grass.
“Breathing” reached No. 14 in the Netherlands and No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart.
“Ran Tan Waltz” (2:40)
The “Babooshka” video opens with Kate in a veil and black spandex beside a standup bass, which she clutches, spins, and uses as a mime prop. On each chorus, she appears as a sorceress before a glowing orb of light.
“Babooshka” reached No. 2 in Australia and No. 4 in France and Norway. It peaked in the Top 15 in Italy (No. 6), New Zealand (No. 8), South Africa (No. 12), West Germany (No. 14), and the Netherlands (No. 15).
“Babooshka” peaked at No. 5 in Israel, Ireland, and the UK, where TotP aired a split-wardrobe alternate clip on its July 9 broadcast. The clip shows Kate’s right profile in black forties attire (verses) and half-lit multiplied frontal views in a silver space suit with face bolts (chorus).
“Passing Through Air” (2:10)
The “Army Dreamers” video opens with Kate blinking to the sound of gunfire in a battlefield, where she portrays a frontline combatant with a child in her care. The boy changes into combat and they join her battalion (KTB bandmates), which advances toward battle lines. Amid time-lapse and gunfire, she visualizes the boy as a young combatant who disappears upon her approach. Bombs go off as her comrades run the field to their demise.
“Army Dreamers” reached No. 2 in Israel, No. 14 in Ireland, and No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart.
Never For Ever reached No. 1 in France, No. 2 in Norway, No. 4 in the Netherlands, and No. 5 in Israel and West Germany. It peaked at No. 7 in Australia, No. 16 in Sweden, and marked further inroads in the Canadian market, where it reached No. 44 on the RPM Albums Chart. EMI America blocked its US release but relented in 1984 after Kate achieved stateside cult status.
“December Will Be Magic Again”
On November 17, 1980, Kate Bush released “December Will Be Magic Again,” a yuletide original aired eleven months earlier on her 1979 Christmas special. The b-side is “Warm and Soothing,” an exclusive original.
On June 19, 1981, Kate Bush released “Sat In Your Lap,” a taster of her album in progress, backed with the Donovan cover “Lord of the Reedy River.”
“Sat In Your Lap” features Kate on the Fairlight CMI synthesizer, on which Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes (midway between Yes and Asia) programs the trumpet section. The song features Never for Ever drummer Preston Heyman and Wild Horses bassist Jimmy Bain (ex-Rainbow and Thin Lizzy). Paddy Bush plays sticks and sings backing vocals with Ian Bairnson, Stewart Arnold, and Gary Hurst.
“Lord of the Reedy River” (2:40) originated as a miniature ballad performed by Donovan in the 1969 American romantic comedy If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and later found on the Scottish folkster’s 1971 double-album HMS Donovan.
The “Sat In Your Lap” video opens with Kate seated lotus style in a white ballgown. She jolts arm-over-head (left and right) to the tribal intro. Jesters join her in the act; intercut with scenes of her roller-skating with white-robed cone heads and standing wide-eyed, hands-to-hip before a blue vortex.
“Sat In Your Lap” reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 18 in Ireland. TotP aired the video on its July 16, 1981, broadcast amid songs by Bad Manners (“Can Can”), Depeche Mode (“New Life”), Dexys Midnight Runners (“Show Me”), The Jacksons (“Walk Right Now”), Saxon (“Never Surrender”), Spandau Ballet (“Chant No.1”), The Specials (“Ghost Town”), and Third World (“Dancing On The Floor”).
Kate sings backing vocals on the 1982 Polydor release Figures, the second solo album by London-based Kiwi new wave singer Zaine Griff.
Kate Bush released her fourth album, The Dreaming, on September 1, 1982, on EMI. It includes two pre-released a-sides: “Sat in Your Lap” (June 1981) and “The Dreaming” (July 1982).
1. “Sat in Your Lap” (3:29)
2. “There Goes a Tenner” (3:24) Kate plays Yamaha CS-80.
3. “Pull Out the Pin” (5:26) was inspired by a documentary on the Vietnam War. Features KT Bush Band guitarist Brian Bath and Pentangle double-bassist Danny Thompson with backing vocals by David Gilmour.
4. “Suspended in Gaffa” (3:54) Kate arranged the strings.
5. “Leave It Open” (3:20) Features longtime sessions guitarist Ian Bairnson (acoustic).
6. “The Dreaming” (4:41) Features Australian TV presenter Rolf Harris on didgeridoo (an Aborigional wind instrument) with animal sounds by English ornithologist Percy Edwards.
7. “Night of the Swallow” (5:22) Features Chieftain Seán Keane (fiddle) and Planxty members Dónal Lunny (bouzouki) and Liam O’Flynn (penny whistle and uilleann pipes).
8. “All the Love” (4:29) The choirboy is Richard Thornton, the head choister at All Saints in Wycombe.
9. “Houdini” (3:48) Features German jazz double-bassist Eberhard Weber with the voices of Kate’s partner Del Palmer (“Rosabel Believe”) and one Gordon Farrell (“Houdini”)
10. “Get Out of My House” (5:25) takes inspiration from the 1977 Stephen King horror novel The Shining: the subject of a 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Features tablaist Esmail Sheikh (drum talk) and producer Paul Hardiman (“Eeyore”).
Kate Bush produced The Dreaming between September 1980 and May 1982 at four London studios: Advision, Odyssey, Abbey Road, and Townhouse. In addition to piano, she plays the Fairlight CMI on the first two tracks and all of side two.
Hardiman engineered the sessions at Advision and Odyssey amid work with Blue Zoo and Soft Cell. Unknown Soldier engineer Haydn Bendall did likewise on the Abbey Road sessions. “Melt” soundman Hugh Padgham co-engineered the Townhouse sessions with Nick Launay, an assistant on XTC‘s 1980 release Black Sea. Kate wanted Padgham to engineer the entirety of The Dreaming but his commitment to projects by Genesis (Abacab) and The Police (Ghost in the Machine) limited his involvement to “Sat in Your Lap,” “Leave It Open,” and “Get Out of My House.”
Paddy Bush contributes mandolins and strings (“Suspended in Gaffa”), bullroarer (“The Dreaming”), and backing vocals on three cuts.
The “Sat in Your Lap” rhythm section, bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Preston Heyman, perform with Never For Ever guitarist Alan Murphy on “Leave It Open” and “Get Out of My House.”
Palmer plays bass on “There Goes a Tenner,” “Suspended in Gaffa,” and “All the Love,” plus fretless and 8-string bass on “Night of the Swallow” — all alongside veteran Kate drummer Stuart Elliott, who also plays on “Houdini.” Onetime Web–Samurai and Greenslade keyboardist plays the Synclavier on “Tenner” and “Gaffa.”
The album cover shows a hyper-vigilant Kate with a key on her tongue with apparent plans to kiss-slip it to the shackled man in her embrace. Nick Price aquatinted the photo, credited to the design studio Kindlight.
“The Dreaming” appeared five weeks prior to the album in late July (thirteen months after “Sat In Your Lap”) as the album’s second advance single, backed with a semi-instrumental version titled “Dreamtime.” Palmer designed “The Dreaming” picture sleeve, which depicts the Wandjina: the supreme Creator and rain–fertility symbol in West Australian folklore.
In “The Dreaming” video, Kate portrays a uranium miner in the Australian outback, where she breaks from assignment under blue night sky and partakes in a tribal dance with local aboriginies. They play “tug of war” and limbo with a blue ray and dance frenetically amid night sun and lightning but gradually succumb to uranium exposure.
In November 1982, Kate released “There Goes a Tenner,” a British Isles single backed with the non-album French-sung track “Ne t’enfuis pas.” In Continental Europe, “Suspended in Gaffa” appeared as the third Dreaming single.
In the video to “There Goes a Tenner,” a soot-smeared Kate leads a band of bank robbers into a room with a safe. As nerves take hold, she visualizes a giant pendulum (ticking of time) and the man in their getaway car. As the pendulum swings, they arrive at the safe and break into dance. An accomplice blasts the open the safe, which showers them with cash. Covered in dust and haunted by shadows, they flee the scene in flash-lit slow motion.
The Dreaming reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 5 in the Netherlands. It also achieved high placements in France (No. 8) and Norway (No. 12) and peaked just outside the Top 20 in Australia and West Germany. In Canada, the album brought her closer to mainstream stardom with a No. 29 peak on the RPM chart.
“Ne t’enfuis pas”
“Ne t’enfuis Pas” (2:30) is a remix of the 1982 “There Goes a Tenner” b-side. The French lyrics (by Patrick Jeaneau and Vivienne Chandler) concerns a woman’s misgivings about her lover’s pending departure.
“Un Baiser D’enfant” (2:57) has French lyrics by François Cahan. Kate recorded this song in one day (October 16, 1982) with partner Del Palmer and soundman Paul Hardiman.
On November 21, 1983, “Night of the Swallow” appeared in Ireland as the fifth Dreaming a-side, backed with the album cut “Houdini.”
Kate sings backing vocals on “The Seer,” the title-track to the 1984 second album by Scottish rockers Big Country.
Hounds of Love
Kate Bush released her fifth album, Hounds of Love, on September 16, 1985, on EMI. The album divides onto two subtitled halves. Side One (Hounds of Love proper) contains five songs, including four singles: “Cloudbusting” “The Big Sky,” the title track, and “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God),” her long-awaited breakthrough US hit. Side Two (The Ninth Wave) consists of a seven-part song suite.
Side One: Hounds of Love (21:03)
1. “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” (5:03) deals with miscommunication between the sexes. Kate would make a “deal with god” for men and women to briefly trade places to reach a better understanding. Features looped LinnDrum and sampled cello on the Fairlight CMI.
2. “Hounds of Love” (3:02) Features London Session Orchestra cellist Jonathan Williams.
3. “The Big Sky” (4:41) Features Killing Joke bassist Martin Glover and early Kate session percussionist Morris Pert.
4. “Mother Stands for Comfort” (3:07)
5. “Cloudbusting” (5:10) Features orchestration by the Medici Sextet, conducted by Dreaming sessionist Dave Lawson.
Side Two: The Ninth Wave (26:21)
6. “And Dream of Sheep” (2:45)
7. “Under Ice” (2:21)
8. “Waking the Witch” (4:18)
9. “Watching You Without Me” (4:06) Features double-bass by Dreaming guest Danny Thompson.
10. “Jig of Life” (4:04) Features narration by Kate’s elder brother John Carder Bush.
11. “Hello Earth” (6:13) Features the Richard Hickox Singers with vocal arrangements by Michael Berkeley.
12. “The Morning Fog” (2:34) Features Sky guitarist John Williams.
Sessions commenced in the summer of 1983 at Kate’s Wickham Farm home studio in Welling, where she laid 8-track foundations for select songs, composed of LinnDrum, Fairlight, and piano. In the spring of 1984, she recorded Ninth Wave sequences in Dublin at Windmill Lane Studios, the recurrent recording base of U2. She spent the ensuing year on overdubs and mixes at Abbey Road. Work completed in June 1985.
Kate’s partner Del Palmer handles LinnDrum programming, bass (“Running Up That Hill,” “Jig of Life,” “The Morning Fog”), and Fairlight bass (“Waking the Witch”). He sings backing vocals on “Cloudbusting” with KT Band vet Brian Bath, who plays guitar on “Hello Earth.” Recurrent sideman Alan Murphy (now in Mike + The Mechanics) plays guitar on “Running,” “The Big Sky,” and “Waking.”
Paddy Bush contributes balalaika (“Running Up That Hill”), didgeridoo (“The Big Sky”), and violins on “The Morning Fog,” which also features him on fujara, a giant wind instrument. He sings backing vocals along with John Carder Bush on “Cloudbusting.”
Kate’s longtime drummer Stuart Elliott plays across Side One (barring “The Big Sky”) and the Ninth Wave interior passages. “Wow” drummer Charlie Morgan overlaps on three cuts and also plays on “Waking the Witch.”
ECM double-bassist (and “Houdini” guest) Eberhard Weber plays on “Mother Stands for Comfort” and “Hello Earth.” BJH keyboardist Kevin McAlea (a backer on Kate’s 1979 tour) plays synthesizer and sequencer on “Waking the Witch” and “Jig of Life.”
Irish “Night of the Swallow” sessionists Dónal Lunny (bouzouki, bodhrán) and Liam O’Flynn (uilleann pipes) play on “Hello Earth” and “Jig of Life.” The latter also features Dubliners fiddlist John Sheahan, who plays whistles alongside Lunny on “And Dream of Sheep.”
Palmer split engineering chores on Hounds of Love with Lionheart soundman Nigel Walker, The Dreaming engineer Paul Hardiman, and Abbey Road staffer Haydn Bendall. Bill Somerville-Large engineered the Windmill Lane sessions. Co-engineer Brian Tench (Visage, Midge Ure) mixed the album apart from “Mother Stands for Comfort” and the title track, both mixed by Buggles soundman Julian Mendelsohn. American film composer and New York Rock & Roll Ensemble alumnus Michael Kaman handled orchestral arrangements.
Carder Bush photographed the Hounds of Love cover, which shows Kate wrapped in lilac chiffon with two hounds. The back cover shows Kate in a monochrome action pose with four lines from “The Coming of Arthur,” a poem by Victorian Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892).
“Under the Ivy” (2:07)
The single also appeared on 12″ with an extended “Running Up That Hill” (5:43) and an instrumental version (4:54).
In the “Running Up That Hill” video, Kate performs a slow danc with Misha Hervieu; both dresses in sand hakamas in a window-lit reahersal space. Later scenes intercut between the couple and a corridor, where Kate loses herself in a Misha-masked (later Kate-masked) caravan. Diane Grey choreographed the video, which MTV shunned in favor of a mime clip from the BBC1 TV show Wogan, where Kate lip syncs before a lectern under blue lights backed by musicians in brown monk robes. MTV’s high rotation of the Wogan clip rose Kate to the brink of stateside fame.
“Running Up That Hill” reached No. 3 in Germany and on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at No. 4 in Ireland and No. 6 in Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. “Running Up That Hill” also went Top 20 in Switzerland (No. 10), Finland (No. 13), and Canada (No. 16). The song became her first and biggest hit in the United States, where it reached No. 28 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Burning Bridge” (4:38)
The “Cloudbusting” 12″ contains an extended version subtitled “The Organon Re-mix” (6:34) and a second b-side: “My Lagan Love” (2:31) a traditional Irish melody with lyrics by Carder Bush.
Filmmaker Julian Doyle (Time Bandits, Monty Python series) directed the “Cloudbursting” video, which Kate co-conceived with comedian Terry Gilliam. Kate portrays the son of Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, played by Canadian actor Donald Sutherland.
“Cloudbusting” reached No. 11 in the Netherlands and No. 13 in Ireland. It peaked at No. 18 in Belgium and No. 20 in the UK and West Germany.
“The Handsome Cabin Boy” (3:10)
The 12″ version features “Alternative Hounds of Love” (3:44) with “Jig of Life” as an additional track.
Kate directed the “Hounds of Love” video: a period thriller based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock spy film The 39 Steps, about a Canadian who flees to Scotland and takes up with a woman with a spy ring on his trail.
“Hounds of Love” reached No. 12 in Ireland and No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart.
“Not This Time” (3:41)
The 7″ single is an edit of “The Big Sky” subtitled the “Special Single Mix” (4:34). The 12″ contains an extended version subtitled the “Meteorological Mix” (7:44) with “The Morning Fog” as an additional track.
“The Big Sky” reached No. 15 on the Irish Singles Chart.
Hounds of Love reached No. 1 for three weeks on the UK Albums Chart. It also went to No. 1 in the Netherlands and No. 2 in Germany. Elsewhere, the album went Top 10 in Switzerland (No. 3), Finland (No. 4), Australia (No. 6), Canada (No. 7), France and Sweden (both No. 9). Hounds of Love became Kate’s first commercial success in the US, where it reached No. 30 on the Billboard 200.
A. “Experiment IV” (4:21) Kate’s partner Del Palmer engineered the song, which features backing by classical violinist Nigel Kennedy and longtime Bush sidemen Alan Murphy (guitar) and Stuart Elliot (drums).
B. “Wuthering Heights” (new vocal) (4:56)
The 12″ single contains an extended mix of “Experiment IV” (6:38) and a third track: Kate’s 1980 yuletide song “December Will Be Magic Again.”
In the “Experiment IV” video, an experiment takes place at a secret military installation, where lab workers connect a subject to a mind device. He sees the apparition of an angel (Kate) who transforms into a skeletal monster that destroys the lab. Kate appears as an orderly officer with tea for the base commander. She turns into the monster and leave him and the entire base dead.
“Experiment IV” reached No. 12 in Ireland and peaked just outside the Finnish and UK Top 20’s. It charted at the same time as Kate’s duet with Peter Gabriel on the ballad “Don’t Give Up” from the singer’s fifth solo album So.
From the seventies, Whole Story contains one song from Lionheart (“Wow’) and two from The Kick Inside: “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” and “Wuthering Heights,” the latter with new vocals.
Whole Story gathers seven songs from Kate’s last three studio albums: two from The Dreaming (“Sat in Your Lap,” “The Dreaming”) and three apiece from Never for Ever (“Babooshka,” “Breathing,” “Army Dreamers”), and Hounds of Love (“Cloudbusting,” “Hounds of Love,” “Running Up That Hill”).
The Sensual World
Kate Bush released her sixth album, The Sensual World, on October 16, 1989, on EMI. She based the album’s title track on the revelations of Molly Bloom, a character in the 1922 novel Ulysses by Irish author James Joyce.
The Sensual World marks the recorded debut of future Mute recording artists the Balanescu Quartet, a string ensemble founded in 1987 by Romanian cellist Alexandru Bălănescu, a longtime player behind composer Michael Nyman with credits behind the Flying Lizards and Red Box. Nyman conducts the Balanescu Quartet on “The Fog.”
Kate’s early benefactor, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, plays on “Love and Anger” and “Rocket’s Tail.”
1. “The Sensual World” (3:57) Features Dubliners fiddlist John Sheahan and Planxty bouzoukist Dónal Lunny.
2. “Love and Anger” (4:42)
3. “The Fog” (5:04) Features dialogue by “Dr. Bush” (aka Robert Bush, Kate and Paddy’s father).
4. “Reaching Out” (3:11)
5. “Heads We’re Dancing” (5:17) Features former Japan bassist Mick Karn.
6. “Deeper Understanding” (4:46)
7. “Between a Man and a Woman” (3:29)
8. “Never Be Mine” (3:43)
9. “Rocket’s Tail” (4:06)
10. “This Woman’s Work” (3:32) first appeared on the soundtrack to the 1988 American romantic comedy She’s Having a Baby by director John Hughes. It plays during the film’s climactic scene.
Sessions took place between September 1987 and July 1989 in Welling at Kate’s Wickham Farm home studio with partner partner Del Palmer, who engineered and mixed The Sensual World. Additional work occurred in Dublin at Windmill Lane, where soundman Andrew Boland engineered “The Irish Sessions” with assistant John Grimes and arranger Bill Whelan.
Palmer handles Fairlight CMI percussion and plays bass on three tracks (“The Sensual World,” “Reaching Out,” “Between a Man and a Woman”), plus rhythm guitar and percussion on (“Heads We’re Dancing”). Ex-Brand X bassist John Giblin plays on the two Gilmour numbers plus “Rocket’s Tail.” Kate’s longtime drummers Stuart Elliot and Charlie Morgan plays on six and four tracks, respectively.
Paddy Bush contributes mandolin (“Reaching Out”), valiha (a Madagascarian tube sither on “Love and Anger”), tupan (a Balkan percussion on “Deeper Understanding”), and “swished fishing rod” on the title track.
Germany ECM double-bassist Eberhard Weber makes his fourth appearance on “Never Be Mine.” He also plays on the non-album b-side “Walk Straight Down The Middle.“
Dublin musician Davy Spillane plays whistle on “The Fog” and uilleann pipes on “Never Be Mine and the title track. He plays those same instruments on three tracks (“Tramp The Dirt Down,” “Miss Macbeth,” “Any King’s Shilling”) on Spike, the 1989 twelfth studio album by Elvis Costello.
French Celtic harpist Alan Stivell plays on “The Fog” and “Between a Man and a Woman,” which both feature recurrent Kate guitarist Alan Murphy and “Hounds of Love” cellist Jonathan Williams. The latter two also appear on “Heads We’re Dancing,” which Michael Kamen arranged along with “The Fog” and “This Woman’s Work.” The first two Kamen tracks feature “Experiment IV” sessionist Nigel Kennedy on violin and viola, respectvely.
“Never Be Mine,” “Deeper Understanding,” and “Rocket’s Tail” feature Trio Bulgarka (aka Three Golden Coins, a Bulgarian vocal trio), whose Yanka Rupkina is the solo vocalist on the last two songs.
“The Sensual World” appeared four weeks before the album as a single, backed with “Walk Straight Down the Middle” and “The Sensual World.” Kate planned to appropriate Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from the eighteenth and final episode of Ulysses but the Joyce estate refused to grant permission. She instead wrote lyrics loosely based on the Molly character’s sensual awakening. (Kate secured a lisence from the Joyce estate in 2011 and re-recorded “The Sensual World” as “Flower of the Mountain,” released on Director’s Cut).
“Walk Straight Down the Middle” (3:48)
The 12″ version contains an instrumental version of “The Sensual World.”
“The Sensual World” video unfolds in a forest setting where Kate slinks about under morning sky in a burgundy dress and matching headscarf. She saunteers about in the late-day sun amid blowing leaves. Later, a fire takes hold in the distance as a now-scarfless Kate dance-walks with greater intensity. She resumes her slow graces under the blue light of a giant lunar. The video wraps as she slips into a sleepwalk at the dawn of a new morning. Kate co-directed the video with Peter Richardson, a co-founder of the Comic Stripe troupe of British comedians (Nigel Planer, Rik Mayall, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders).
“The Sensual World” reached No. 6 in Ireland and No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart. It also went Top 20 in Finland (No. 11), Italy (No. 16), and the Netherlands (No. 17). The song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart in the US, where VH1 placed the video in high rotation.
“Be Kind to My Mistakes” (3:03)
“I’m Still Waiting” (4:25)
Kate directed the video for “This Woman’s Work,” where she opens at a grand piano in a tuxedo. The remaining clip follows an agonized man (played by actor Tim McInnerny) who waits for news on his wife (Kate), who appears as an apparition. He flashes back to an early time when they held each other in the rain. After a nurse taps him on the shoulder, he drifts to a more recent dining occasion, where his wife collapsed and he ruched her to a stretcher. The video ends between him and the nurse who delivers news on his wife’s fate.
In February 1990, Kate lifted “Love and Anger” as the third and final Sensual World single, backed with “Ken.” CD and 12″ vinyl copies contain two additional tracks, “One Last Look Around the House Before We Go” and “The Confrontation,” both instrumentals. A US CD promo version contains a different bonus, “Walk Straight Down the Middle.”
“The Confrontation” (2:58)
“One Last Look Around the House Before We Go…” (1:03)
The Sensual World reached No. 10 in Germany, No. 7 in Norway, and No. 3 in Finland. It peaked at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart. The album also went Top 20 in Switzerland (No. 11), the Netherlands (No. 16), Sweden (No. 17), Japan (No. 18), Canada and Italy (both No. 14). Despite a slip in the Oceanic region, Kate maintained her cult following in the US, where The Sensual World peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard 200.
- The Kick Inside (1978)
- Lionheart (1978)
- Never for Ever (1980)
- The Dreaming (1982)
- Hounds of Love (1985)
- “Experiment IV” (1986)
- The Sensual World (1989)
- The Red Shoes (1993)
- Aerial (2005)
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