KATE BUSh Re­mas­tered In Vinyl I–IV

Four decades’ worth of stu­dio LPs over­hauled at 33rpm, plus B-sides, remixes and bonus tracks. By Erin Os­mon

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WHEN a ma­jor artist an­nounces a com­pre­hen­sive reis­sue cam­paign it’s easy to be­come swept up in the ex­cite­ment, es­pe­cially when it’s a fa­mously reclu­sive artist like Kate Bush. Hav­ing emerged from a quiet ex­is­tence to re­assess the sonic qual­i­ties of her ful­l­length works, Bush’s Re­mas­tered In Vinyl feels like a gift to fans; a rare op­por­tu­nity to in­ti­mately con­vene with her in a holis­tic eval­u­a­tion of her artis­tic vi­sion.

Any­one, how­ever, who be­lieves in the rar­ity of Kate Bush’s orig­i­nal al­bums for EMI hasn’t vis­ited a used-record store lately. VG copies of The Kick In­side, The Dream­ing, Hounds Of Love and oth­ers are pro forma in any rep­utable shop, and usu­ally at a very rea­son­able price. How­ever, sur­vey Bush’s post-EMI works for the Fish Peo­ple la­bel, and the shop bins and Discogs list­ings be­come a bit thin. One cru­cial perk of this reis­sue cam­paign is that it oblit­er­ates price­goug­ing on vinyl copies of LPs such as The Red Shoes, Aerial (the least ex­pen­sive Discogs list­ing is cur­rently £135), Di­rec­tor’s Cut and 50 Words For Snow. Across three vinyl boxes, then, Bush now col­lects her al­bums The Kick In­side, Lion­heart, Never For Ever, The Dream­ing, Hounds Of Love, The Sen­sual World, The Red Shoes, Aerial, Di­rec­tor’s Cut and 50 Words For Snow. The fourth rounds up se­lected remixes, B-sides and cov­ers never be­fore seen to­gether. CD ver­sions col­lect the same ma­te­rial into two sets.

It’s only nat­u­ral that Bush, whose close artis­tic con­trol is well doc­u­mented, would lead the ef­fort of fine-tun­ing the au­ral qual­ity of her al­bums. She en­listed Pink Floyd pro­ducer and en­gi­neer James Guthrie, some­one she’s worked with be­fore: he en­gi­neered the orches­tral ses­sions for Hounds Of Love and, more re­cently, mas­tered Bush’s 2011 al­bum Di­rec­tor’s Cut, as well as a re­mas­tered ver­sion of The Red Shoes re­leased the same year.

Di­rec­tor’s Cut, which reimag­ined songs from The Sen­sual World and The Red Shoes with new vo­cals, drum­ming and re­worked in­stru­men­ta­tion, was recorded us­ing ana­logue equip­ment ex­clu­sively. The marked warmth of the songs reads as a cozy ex­change be­tween singer and au­di­ence. Bush’s new words for “The Sen­sual World”, reti­tled “Flower Of The Moun­tain” on Di­rec­tor’s Cut, are so close, so breathy, that they feel like a se­cret. The pair elicited the same bright qual­ity for the 2011 ver­sion of The Red Shoes, which was re­mas­tered from backup ana­logue tapes, and this am­ber glow has been achieved in th­ese new boxsets as well.

The drums on “Run­ning Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” pound with a more ro­bust and ex­u­ber­ant en­ergy, mir­ror­ing the heart­beat thump the song still elic­its, 33 years af­ter its re­lease. The same goes for the fran­tic rhythms of “Sat In Your Lap”, which are fuller and more bouyant. The in­stru­men­ta­tion of “Wuther­ing Heights” at last feels in bal­ance with the track’s strik­ing vo­cals, as if they too were in­vited to per­form from the stage, rather than pro­ject­ing to­wards the singer from the pit. The lay­ered likes of “Ba­booshka” feel more nat­u­ral too, with ev­i­dent care paid to the very bu­colic po­ten­tial of th­ese record­ings, even the ones heav­ily adorned in syn­the­sis­ers and ef­fects.

De­spite the ev­i­dent glow of the re­mas­ter­ing work, the great­est trea­sure in this set lies in the col­lec­tion of rar­i­ties. Cov­ers in­clude a ren­di­tion of Marvin Gaye’s “Sex­ual Heal­ing” backed by a gospel choir, which orig­i­nally ap­peared as the B-side of “King Of The Moun­tain” in 2005. Her cel­e­brated 1991 cov­ers of El­ton John’s “Rocket Man” and “Can­dle In The Wind” are here, too. But the most ar­rest­ing track in this sec­tion is her a cap­pella ver­sion of the Ir­ish tra­di­tional “My La­gan Love”, the B-side of 1985’s “Cloud­bust­ing”. With­out in­stru­ments and ac­cou­trements there is noth­ing to date the per­for­mance, no tone that makes it retro or kitschy. In­stead Bush’s honeyed so­prano pays ho­mage to the song’s time­less­ness, a ren­di­tion so pure of heart it halts any thoughts of aged­ness or pe­riod through which Bush’s other works might be viewed. It em­bod­ies the finest qual­i­ties of a tra­di­tional, that which is meant to en­dure.

The A-side of that sin­gle, the ex­tended “Cloud­bust­ing (The Organon Mix)”, ap­pears early in the se­quence of this disc, and per­fectly el­e­vates the song’s en­tic­ing the­atri­cal arc, from mu­sic video with Don­ald Suther­land to fleshed-out drama for the stage. The or­ches­tra and choir play a key role in its mag­netism, and it’s a mustlis­ten for the uni­ti­ated. The same goes for the ex­tended mix of “Ex­per­i­ment IV”, a sub­ver­sively en­chant­ing hit re­leased to pro­mote Bush’s first great­est hits col­lec­tion, The Whole Story.

In be­tween the al­ter­nate mixes and the cov­ers lie 20 B-sides, bonus tracks, songs writ­ten for sound­tracks, and remixes, which are a joy to pe­ruse. “You Want Alchemy”, the B-side of “The Red Shoes” sin­gle, re­veals the very soul­ful ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Bush’s voice in its de­li­cious hook: “You want alchemy/You turn the roses into gold.” “De­cem­ber Will Be Magic Again”, a sav­ing grace of many a tired Christ­mas playlist, is de­serv­ingly in­cluded here, along with the less grace­ful hol­i­day tune “Home For Christ­mas”. Pretty much ev­ery Bush tune you might pos­si­bly want to find is at last lined up and easy to nav­i­gate, and that the woman her­self os­ten­si­bly chose the songs and se­quence makes it that much more al­lur­ing. De­spite its pedes­trian ti­tle, Re­mas­tered In Vinyl is ex­cep­tional in its com­plete­ness.

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