Ex­per­i­men­tal pop

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - An­drew P. Street

Re­mas­tered Kate Bush Fish Peo­ple/Warner In 1978, as punk reached its peak as the voice of Bri­tain’s dis­af­fected youth, a 19-year-old woman re­leased an exquisitely odd al­bum made with prog-rock ses­sion hands and fea­tur­ing a lead sin­gle about an Emily Bronte TV adap­ta­tion. That Wuther­ing Heights and par­ent al­bum The Kick In­side each went to No 1 was early proof of Kate Bush’s pe­cu­liar ge­nius and an in­di­ca­tion that she was not to be de­fined by pre­vail­ing mu­si­cal trends. That’s made abun­dantly clear through­out her ca­reer-span­ning 10-al­bum, four-decade box set split into two re­mas­tered CD sets or four vinyl col­lec­tions.

Vol­ume one presents the young artist find­ing her voice over four wildly idio­syn­cratic al­bums span­ning her de­but through to 1982’s The Dream­ing, and it’s these al­bums where the re­mas­ter­ing es­pe­cially shines. Even fa­mil­iar songs such as Ba­booshka, The Man With the Child in His Eyes or Army Dream­ers re­veal new sonic el­e­ments: a per­cus­sion flour­ish here, a buried vo­cal har­mony there. The sec­ond vinyl col­lec­tion be­gins with what’s gen­er­ally re­garded as her master­piece. Hounds of Love from 1986 was the sec­ond en­tirely Bush­pro­duced al­bum, pieced to­gether us­ing a Fairlight com­puter. It’s the one that seemed most at risk of the re­mas­ter­ing show­ing the lim­its of its tech­nol­ogy. Thank­fully, it’s still a thrilling lis­ten with those syn­the­sised drums at the be­gin­ning of Run­ning Up That Hill (A Deal With God) sound­ing full and solid, and the side two con­cept suite of The Ninth Wave pop­ping out of the speak­ers.

The third col­lec­tion picks up with 2005’s Ae­rial, Bush’s come­back after tak­ing a break from mu­sic — in­tended as one year, stretch­ing out to 12 — fol­low­ing the birth of her son Ber­tie, im­mor­talised on the track of the same name. And here’s one sur­prise, in­di­cat­ing that this re­mas­ter­ing process has in­volved the odd cheeky remix: vo­cals by the dis­graced Rolf Har­ris have been qui­etly wiped and re­placed by her now-adult son.

The fi­nal col­lec­tion soaks up the odds and sods: 12-inch ver­sions, B-sides, sound­track con­tri­bu­tions and cov­ers. While this feels a bit like brows­ing through an op shop, there are some es­sen­tial gems: the Hounds of Love remix is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent song, and her take on El­ton John’s Rocket Man is a rare cover that is (ar­guably) su­pe­rior to the orig­i­nal.

With much of her early stuff out of print, this set is a wel­come re­minder not only of the con­sis­tently high qual­ity of her mu­sic but also that she never stopped be­ing — well, weird. Her range is as­ton­ish­ing, from a cock­ney­ac­cented sin­gle about safe­crack­ing ( There Goes a Ten­ner) to tra­di­tional Ir­ish mu­sic ( Jig of Life) to adult con­tem­po­rary pop in 1993’s The Red Shoes and the dom­i­nant voice and pi­ano of 2011’s 50 Words for Snow. As a doc­u­ment of her work, Re­mas­tered makes an el­e­gant case for Bush as one of the most im­por­tant artists of the past 40 years.

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