Friday, 21 March 2014

Kate Bush 2

There will be those who suggest Kate Bush's long absences are due to artistic temperament or, failing that, her desire for seclusion, her detachment from the world we live in, her reclusive nature. I just think she is bone idle and needs her bottom spanking and I know just the man for the job.

Of course, when jovial japes are put aside, the only time she really has spent away from the public eye is since the birth of her son, Bertie. It strikes me Kate Bush, or Mum to her son, is precisely that, a mother and the joy of delivering a child into this world has naturally enough occupied her attention somewhat.

The gap between 'The Red Shoes' and 'Aeriel' was, as so many music mags made much ado about, twelve years. Nnot that long a time when creating a masterpiece but far too long for the news  mad media to endure. I am certain that not only her artistic bent played a part in the long wait but also the pleasure and maternal instinct of having borne a son. You see I think that behind all that star shine crap is a very ordinary person with an extraordinary talent.

" It's so important to me to do the washing, do the hoovering. Friends of mine in the business don't know how dishwashers work. For me, that's frightening. I want to be in a position where I can function as a human being. Even more so now where you've got this sort of truly silly preoccupation with celebrities. Just because somebody's been in an ad on TV,  so what? Who gives a toss?":
New plans: Kate Bush has announced a London tour - 35 years after she retired

'Aeriel' I spoke off in the previous Kate Bush post. It was an incredible body of work; a double album that was split into two halves by a single concept. It re-established, if such a thing was required, what an inventive and original mind that girl from Kent has. The album was lush, thought provoking and very listenable.

Since then, and after another gap of six years, Kate threw another swerve ball. 'The Directors Cut' was a work of sheer impishness, not that Kate likes being referred to as such. And I am not saying she looks like said fabled pixie but the act of recording old stuff, albeit with new arrangements, new lyrics and an entirely new feel, was the epitome of something rather, well Puckish.  You see contemporary music, and I include a great swathe of rock people here too, frown upon anything remotely like a greatest hits package but also of artists not producing brand new stuff. Utter rubbish of course. The reason for making music is to play it and then for others to do their interpretations of it. Classical music does it all the time as does Jazz so why not the likes of Kate?

Anything that breaks with Rock's traditions, a sub-genre once famed for breaking the rules, is fine by me and that is exactly what Kate did here. By bringing two previous albums together, the sublime 'Sensual World' and 'Red Shoes' and then by cherry picking those she thought in need of change, Kate set about remaking these songs, classics in the case of 'This Woman's Work' into something entirely different. Well, if it worked for Beethoven why couldn't it work for Bush?

"Originally when I wrote the song "The Sensual World" I had used text from the end of  Ulysses by James Joyce, put to a piece of music I had written. When I asked for permission to use the text I was refused, which was disappointing. I then wrote my own lyrics for the song although I felt that the original idea had been more interesting. Well, I’m not James Joyce am I? When I came to work on this project I thought I would ask for permission again and this time they said yes. It is now re-titled "Flower of the Mountain" and I am delighted that I have had the chance to fulfil the original concept. For some time I have felt that I wanted to revisit tracks from these two albums and that they could benefit from having new life breathed into them. Lots of work had gone into the two original albums and now these songs have another layer of work woven into their fabric. I think of this as a new album."

And of course it was new. Same tunes perhaps but a completely different colour. She took elements of two very different albums, re-wrote, re-arranged them and fused them seamlessly together. It was, as is often the case with Bush from Bromley, a stroke of brilliance. (Yes, I know she was born in Welling but that town has no B at the front of it.)

The aforementioned 'This Woman's Work' had lovers of the song up in arms. So good was the original (actually there were at least three mixes made and released at the time) that they saw 'messing' with it tantamount to sacrilege. It was anything but. Far more lean, more sparse with a vocal in different pitch, it retains that original sensitivity with an additional new sensibility. 

Just as we were settling down to another long wait Kate went and surprised us again by releasing another album and in the same year too. '50 Words for Snow' found Miss Bush back at the piano, a place and instrument many fans believe her best, as she set about, with normal invention, some of the best songs she has written. Crisp as the elements she sings off the album, having fought off two other females to win the Mercury Prize, was a sheer and unexpected delight. As so often with Kate she had a host of 'guests' perform with her. Elton John on 'Snowed In at Wheeler Street' which bubbles with their duet followed by  '50 Words for Snow' featuring the unlikely recording artist Stephen Fry.

Writing an album, another of those pesky concept thingies, about winter is no mean feat but making a cohesive, flexible and coherent whole is an incredible achievement.

And then, just three years later, in 2014 Kate goes an pulls another rabbit out of her magical hat. Having not toured since 1979 she is set to play fifteen dates in London from August through September. Once again she has surprised us but this time with a thing long thought unlikely; the girl who is so reclusive, who spurns her audience, is about to come and play with them for the first time in thirty five years.

I received notification via E-mail. Oh the excitement, Oh how I wish I could afford those tickets. Since I shalln't be able to attend these momentous gigs I will have to hope for live recordings. Wouldn't that be another first for Kate? I think so.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.


Ming Seiko said...

I've long been a fan of Kate Bush. She seems to be a very well-rounded and quite grounded person in all areas of her life. I'll be good and not make any jokes about her fears of flying keeping her grounded. Oops!

Lazare said...

The title is 'Aerial', my dear friend.

Russell Duffy said...

Lazare>>>Written on a hand held. Not a good option when you have cataracts. Mistake now rectified.

Ming>>>Still a good joke though.! x

Perfect Virgo said...

I'm not sure who goes at these steep prices, not the man in the street. Luckily I saw her on the Tour of Life in April 1979 at the Southampton Gaumont - now The Mayflower. Tickets cost the princely sum of £4. She played the first two albums almost in their entirety and seemed to me incredibly nervous.

Russell Duffy said...

Paul>>>I think she probably was very nervous. What was she then, 21? I think, perhaps, that fact, an has played its part on the large gap between concerts although I also believe, much like the Beatles, promoting the albums became a larger part of her life than making them. This is something she didn't like. I agree about the prices though. Very high. Ten years ago I tried to get my wife and I tickets to see Bowie. £150 I seem to remember which stopped us going.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog