The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

“Do You Want To Know That It Doesn’t Hurt Me?” – An Introduction to Kate Bush

The Kick Inside (1978)

Given that she was only 19 years old when she released her debut album, with many of its songs written when she was as young as 15 or 16, The Kick Inside is a truly remarkable first effort from a performer and writer who gave the impression of being artistically mature beyond her years – if perhaps not emotionally, studded as it is with teenage fantasies and the odd new-ageism.

Looked back upon four decades later, two things strike the listener. Firstly, although it primarily consists of songs arranged for and around the piano, the atmosphere here is surprisingly precocious and raw, certainly in comparison to Bush’s later material. Secondly, it comes across as the most unabashedly romantic record in her career. Of course, romance has underpinned Bush’s entire career, emerging and receding as an important theme in her discography, but this is the collection in which this is most clear and unalloyed aspect, with sexual experience being explored as another primary theme, alongside philosophy (‘Them Heavy People’) and menstruation (‘Strange Phenomena’). The strangely disquieting second single ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’, which won the 1979 Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, concerns the ability to retain innocence in adulthood.

Opener ‘Moving’, inspired by Bush’s tutor Lindsay Kemp (the same man that briefly taught dance to David Bowie around a decade before) sets the tone for The Kick Inside: florid, stately but nevertheless steadily kinetic and rhythmical, taking its sweet time in getting to its destination. The lyrics (“moving liquid / yet you are just as water”) are impressionistic yet oddly direct and piercing. In doing so, it took some of the musical ideas of progressive rock and applied them to the constraints of the pop song.

Amid all this, though, Bush’s spine-tingling debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ is clear stand-out moment and one of the very finest pop tracks of the Seventies, not to mention forward-thinking. Based on Emily Brontë’s gothic romance of the same name, Bush’s spectacular, swooping voice is the prime engine for the track, whose musical backdrop of flourishing pianos and cavernous rhythm is cold and stark yet inviting and all-embracing at the same time. As such, the gothic ‘Wuthering Heights’ created a safe space for the introverted kids, constructing an escape hatch through which to hide away from the world, in a way that very few artists had done before. It also made Bush the first woman to hit the top of the UK Singles Chart with a self-penned song. And all constructed from a book that she’d apparently never read before!

While Kate Bush would go on to create stranger, more beautiful and artistically greater worlds over the coming decades, The Kick Inside is a law unto itself, and her personality and talent outshines her more prestigious male collaborators and mentors, even at this young age. It’s also an excellent diving-in point from which to get accustomed to her unique talents and foibles. (LISTEN) (8/10)

Lionheart (1978)

Presented to the world just nine months after her debut album, Lionheart was rush-recorded in the late summer of ’78 by EMI to capitalise on Kate Bush’s staggering success, and released to its creator’s dissatisfaction at the short timeframe to which she and her producers had been restricted. Ten years after it came out, Bush remarked in an interview: “Considering how quickly we made it it’s a bloody good album, but I’m not really happy with it”.

Indeed, this is the overarching impression one gets from Lionheart – it’s far from a bad album, but it’s not particularly memorable either. While the songs are often longer and more ambitious, sounds rather too similar in some places to The Kick Inside, but also lacks the volume of killer material that made that debut so remarkable. Bush’s vocals spin, pirouette and leap like a dancer, but the music that accompanies it fades rather too quickly from the memory. At its best, it has more of a mystical, fairytale essence to it, with the overarching vibe of tracks like ‘Coffee Homeground’, ‘Symphony In Blue’ and the album’s sole hit single ‘Wow’ working wonders.

Initially, the public and critics alike reacted with bafflement to Lionheart, which is still Bush’s only studio album not to make the top five of the UK Albums Chart. ‘Hammer Horror’, the album’s lead single, stalled at a lowly no.44 the same autumn that she had made chart history with ‘Wuthering Heights’. Normal order was soon restored with ‘Wow’, which hit the top twenty, but perhaps the reputation of Lionheart is summed up best by The Guardian’s poll in 2011 that revealed just 2% of her fans named it as their favourite.

Lionheart is best understood as a transformational exercise, a snapshot in time, of a point when Kate Bush was still honing her craft but already moving towards the kind of subtle, unique songs that she would perfect later in her career. Listening back on it, one certainly can’t accuse Bush of standing still, but Lionheart came so quickly that she couldn’t deliver fully on the second chapter in her career that she was already rushing towards. (LISTEN) (6/10)

Never For Ever (1980)

Given time to bring her vision to life, Kate Bush took a place at the production desk for the first time (and still only 21 years old!) alongside new producer Jon Kelly, replacing Andrew Powell. While it took the best part of nine months to record, Never For Ever was the album that would have been worthy of following up The Kick Inside.

Sonically, Never For Ever is much more diverse than what came before. Bush’s previous modus operandi of orchestral arrangements supporting a live-band sound was pushed aside (but not entirely) in favour of digital synthesisers and drum machines, including the cutting-edge Fairlight CMI.

You can hear this immediately in opener ‘Babooshka’, which scored a second UK Top Five hit for Bush when released as its second single and which remains one of her most recognisable hits, is one of her all-time career highlights as a pop artist. It tells the story of a wife wanting to test her husband’s fidelity by sending him love notes disguised as a younger woman, keying into the affairs of the heart that would pre-occupy so much of Bush’s work.

Rounding off Never For Ever in sumptuous fashion are two of her most explicitly political songs: ‘Army Dreamers’, a strange but beautiful waltz about death and war, and the airy, florid first single ‘Breathing’, a miniature symphony about nuclear war and pollution told from the point of view of an unborn child. Nobody else was writing songs like this, both subtly political and distinctively female.

While these singles are all memorable career highlights and serve to begin and conclude Never For Ever in memorable fashion, but virtually all of the other tracks are distinct and characterful enough to hold their own in the tracklisting. ‘All We Ever Look For’, ‘Delius’ and the disturbing ‘The Infant Kiss’ stand out as highly memorable moments. Only the rather limp ‘The Wedding List’ really stands out as disappointing, gliding off the surface of the memory entirely, while ‘Violin’ swoops and blunders around rather uninterestingly to make the record stumble slightly in the middle.

But what you immediately take away is how much more strident Kate Bush is on Never For Ever, and an impression of how confident she was in her artistic voice. Her dramatic, theatrical approach to singing is beginning to be set in stone here – a little more stable than the vocal warbling in which she often engaged on her earliest work. This new stability allows her to convey the record’s themes more seriously, never sounding flighty or over-dramatic as she might have done if she had sung these songs in the same fashion as ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Following Lionheart’s relatively disappointing commercial showing, Never For Ever fully restored Kate Bush to the public’s consciousness, yielding three brilliant hit singles and reaching the top of the British albums chart. In doing so, it saw Bush break another chart record as the first ever album by a British female solo artist to hit no.1. (LISTEN) (8/10)

The Dreaming (1982)

As was often the case for Kate Bush in the first decade of her career, she veered between unanimous commercial and critical acceptance and being drastically misunderstood, maybe ahead of her time. After the career rebalancing of Never For Ever, her fourth album The Dreaming was initially branded as being uncommercial. It reached no.3 in the UK, and its lead single ‘Sat In Your Lap’ charted just outside the Top Ten when released almost 15 months before in mid-1981, but it remains her lowest-selling album in her homeland.

However, it is a significant milestone on Bush’s evolution as an artist, a point in a career arc that explains every subsequent move she made. For a start, The Dreaming was entirely self-produced, another step of enormous self-assurance and self-reliance for an artist who was still in her early twenties – although the writer’s block from which she suffered for the best part of a year startled EMI and made them wonder about the wisdom of giving one of their biggest stars the complete run of the studio.

What Bush produced would shape the rest of her career, and set in train a way of working that would make her one of the most acclaimed artists in the world. The fractured narratives of its complex songs, physically represented in the strikingly avant-garde mesh of folk instrumentation, polyrhythmical percussion, samples, loops and uneven time signatures that characterise so much of The Dreaming, seem to reflect Bush’s own quest for artistic autonomy, and also the various anxieties and doubts that sprang from that drive. The tracks are romantic but usually very abstract, and see Bush approach love and human emotion from an almost scientifically inquisitive point of view. As such, its influence on modern artists such as Joanna Newsom and Björk is clear to see, with the latter once declared The Dreaming to be one of her favourite albums of all time.

Title track ‘The Dreaming’ was an amazingly bold choice for the album’s first single, taking as it did its subject matter from the plight of aboriginal Australians, and although it flopped at no.48 in the charts it is totally in keeping with Bush’s aesthetic at the time – a little musical Rubik’s cube that requires patience. She almost shouts herself hoarse crying “I am alive!” repeatedly at the end of ‘Pull Out The Pin’, an eerie evocation of modern warfare inspired by Vietnam, while she croaks as if possessed on the tricky ‘Houdini’. ‘There Goes A Tenner’ was so weird that the single release didn’t chart at all, while the striking, amorphous ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ is another typical head-scratcher. The tempestuously unhappy ‘Get Out Of My House’ closes a baffling but ultimately highly rewarding set. As Bush sings backwards on the gothic ‘Leave It Open’, the key to The Dreaming is to “let the weirdness in”.

It’s possible to see all this as a kind of power-play on Bush’s part, a calculated move towards sonic sensory overload in order to drive away her fair-weather fans who expected reheats of ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Babooshka’ while firming up one part of her fanbase. But really, The Dreaming the sound of an incredibly bold and precociously talented artist making a significant step in self-discovery, and creating striking and unique art in the process. Only the greatest artists use their platforms to challenge their audiences – inferior ones merely placate their fans.

Critics were pretty baffled, but just about enough of them admired the album to ensure that it never got trashed or forgotten, leaving it instead to slowly become a cult classic. While it was comparatively underexposed in Britain, The Dreaming was Kate Bush’s first real exposure in the United States, where the album quickly gathered a cult following thanks to heavy rotation on underground college radio networks – so much so that Lionheart and Never For Ever, which hadn’t even been released there, were hastily issued for the first time.

The Dreaming takes a bit of time to really reveal itself to you, but repeated listens with an opened mind will eventually pay off. A magical, unfairly overlooked masterpiece that deserves to be revisited. (LISTEN) (9/10)

Hounds Of Love (1985)

If you were to compile and average out all of those articles that you see from time to time that profess to list the greatest records ever, it’s quite possible that Hounds Of Love would end up as the highest-ranking record by a British female solo artist. As well as containing some of Bush’s most memorable songs, it very quickly came to be regarded as a classic by reviewers and the record-buying public alike, helping to land its creator a then-record four BRIT Award nominations in 1986. Not only has Hounds Of Love stood the test of time, with Bush’s mystique growing in her increasingly long absences in recording in the thirty years since, but it’s often held up as a kind of yardstick for other female singer-songwriters.

Following the lukewarm reception that greeted The Dreaming, Kate Bush retreated almost entirely from public life, constructing her own 48-track studio at her home in Kent in order to further her mission of keeping the creative process entirely in her own hands. Writing and recorded throughout the whole of 1984 and into the first half of the following year, the process this time around was exhaustive, but yielded her career masterpiece.

Hounds Of Love presents itself to the listener as a concept album, but is really two conceptual suites soldered together in the middle and over two sides of vinyl. Each side is completely different in mood and structure, but is hung together by Bush’s vision and presence. The album’s opener and lead single ‘Running Up That Hill’, driven by that distinctive galloping yet oddly restrained drumbeat, restored Bush to the nation’s airwaves and the Top 3 of the UK Singles Chart. The rest of the album’s first ‘pop’ side, subtitled ‘Hounds Of Love’, serves as a miniature greatest hits package, containing the title track (so memorably covered by The Futureheads in 2004!), the child-like wanderlust of ‘The Big Sky’ and the stunning, ornate avant-pop of ‘Cloudbusting’.

An arsenal of heavy hitters and pocket masterpieces, there are few opening sides of albums as strong as this in pop history, but that’s not even the best part of Hounds Of Love. Its second side is a seven-song sequence titled ‘The Ninth Wave’, a sinister yet artful and deeply moving collection that together tell the story of a person drifting at sea. Alone, overnight, he is visited by a series of memories and visions from the subject’s past and future visiting to keep him conscious and awake until he is rescued. ‘And Dream Of Sheep’ is simply one of the saddest songs ever written, while the invigorating ‘Jig Of Life’ rouses the listener from a trance near the end of the sequence. The garbled, digitally distorted voices infesting ‘Waking The Witch’ make it possibly the most abstract track to ever grace a BRIT-nominated album. Full of subconscious dream elements and told in peculiarly ancient, almost folkloric manner, there’s so little in pop music that has ever tried to emulate it.

Because of its structure, the proper way to enjoy Hounds Of Love is to listen to it on vinyl – the CD and digital editions do not convey Bush’s intention to make ‘The Ninth Wave’ its own self-contained universe, and the only way to understand this is to physically get up and turn the record over. The minutiae of each moment is given just as much attention as the overarching narrative of the suite.

Hounds Of Love was the point at which Kate Bush subverted the public’s impression of her, overthrowing the major label system for her own ends and seizing complete control of her identity and destiny, just at the point at which people had thought that she had lost direction and impetus. Bush’s experiences here would provide a model for any strong-willed, independently minded artist refusing to bend to label pressure. Musically, it’s a dramatic and unashamedly romantic tour de force, and though it borrows sounds from all of the British Isles it has an unmistakable, quintessentially English outlook. An intoxicating fusion of classical, operatic, tribal and modern pop styles, with Bush able to communicate the idiosyncrasies of each without coming across as a culturally insensitive dilettante, Hounds Of Love finally confirmed her as a preternatural talent, the likes of which we’ve arguably not seen since. (LISTEN) (10/10)

The Sensual World (1989)

Releasing a greatest hits compilation titled The Whole Story in 1986, tying together her first five records and then recording ‘Don’t Give Up’, a new track with Peter Gabriel that ranks among her finest and most popular songs, Kate Bush drew a line under her twenties and the first phase of her career. No more would she be channelling the youthful, carefree spirits that you can hear in ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Babooshka’ and ‘Hounds Of Love’ – to the extent that Bush had cared at all about hit singles and chart positions, she certainly didn’t from this point onwards, as her sixth album The Sensual World shows, which established Kate Bush in a league of her own.

The Sensual World essentially matures all of the themes that had already made themselves known in Bush’s work, moving them on one step and pairing her pan-global influences with a sense of polished efficiency. This evolution is matched in Bush’s presence in the songs themselves – this time around, having turned 30, she’s more womanly and mature in her sexuality. The depth and care on display is extremely impressive – lesser artists would not have taken the extra steps further with each musical idea in the way that Bush does here. While it means that the album doesn’t immediately grab the listener, it does make it a serious grower in the same vein as The Dreaming. Musically, its dominant mood is one of reverie and reflection. The theme, once again, is romance, but she uses that lens to analyse life, nature and spirituality as well as just the realms of love and relationships.

The Sensual World, despite a not particularly radio-friendly sound and lacking any obvious singles, performed exceptionally well in commercial terms and yielded three Top 40 singles. It went platinum on both sides of the Atlantic, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 1991, making it her most successful album in a country that had not previously warmed to her. Perhaps this is because there’s less of the quirky English-ness that had characterised the execution of previous albums – it certainly does have a more international appeal, partly brought about by Bush’s brother Paddy, a fan of ethnic and world music who set her up with The Trio Bulgarka, who appear throughout the album to provide backing vocals.

The James Joyce feel of ‘The Sensual World’, in which Bush wrote new lines echoing Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses, is a clear highlight. She also reached out to collaborate with various figures from her past and present. ‘Love And Anger’ features a cathartic riff from ex-mentor David Gilmour, is a moment of poised self-analysis; violinist Nigel Kennedy contributes to ‘Heads We’re Dancing’ and ‘The Fog’, the latter of which also features Bush’s father delivering a spoken-word dialogue section about teaching a child to swim. At no point, though, do these prestigious star names dilute Bush’s artistic vision. The maternal warmth of ‘This Woman’s Work’ that closes out The Sensual World, however, is its piѐce-de-résistance and makes it the masterwork that it is.

Like most of Bush’s most satisfying music, it may take a little bit of time to seep in, but The Sensual World rounds off a triptych of exceptional albums in the 1980s from Kate Bush. While she has continued to make highly distinctive, interesting and broadly enjoyable albums, none of them have had quite the same intoxicating effect as this. (LISTEN) (9/10)

The Red Shoes (1993)

The years leading up to seventh album The Red Shoes was a painful one for Kate Bush. She suffered the death of her close creative partner Alan Murphy in late 1989, and then the loss of her mother Hannah in 1992, on top of the disintegration of her long-term relationship with bassist Del Palmer (although he continued to work with her). All of these experiences would help formulate Bush’s new material, named after the 1845 fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. Taking the now-customary length of time to emerge from the recording studio, the new album was paired up with a short promotional film ‘The Line, The Cross and The Curve’, starring Bush and actress Miranda Richardson, from which the videos for the album’s five singles were taken.

One of the most common complaints about The Red Shoes is that its production renders the songs rather flat and dull. For an album that she had intended would have more of a ‘live band’ feel, as opposed to the studio wizardry that had brought her last three records to life, The Red Shoes is oddly sterile, with the drum machine-driven percussion in particular sounding under-thought. However, the flaws equally lie with the songs themselves: they are all good, but none of them are great, and by the end of The Red Shoes even the most attentive listener can’t really claim to have been blown away. Even a seriously impressive cast list of collaborators, ranging from Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck to Prince and even comedian Lenny Henry, can’t sprinkle any of the magic that made Bush’s ‘80s output so consistently brilliant.

‘Moments Of Pleasure’, in which Bush notes the aforementioned bereavements she had suffered, is a notable standout, with film soundtrack composer Michael Kamen contributing a musical motif. ‘Eat The Music’ cleverly intersperses Caribbean musical influences with typically classically romantic Bush lyrics. ‘Rubberband Girl’ would have been one of her all-time best singles if it weren’t for the lacklustre production and stiff percussion, something which hinders a great deal of The Red Shoes’ tracks. Prince’s arrangements loosen up ‘Why Should I Love You?’ and are an exception to this rule.

None of this stopped The Red Shoes from performing as well as its predecessor The Sensual World, as it went platinum on both sides of the pond and hitting no.28 in the U.S., her highest chart position there to date. Dedicated Kate Bush fans, however, tend to be much less enamoured with it, and it’s commonly ranked down with Lionheart as her weakest – or maybe that should be ‘least excellent’ – album.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with The Red Shoes is that it’s not brilliant, but merely decent. At best, it was a steady hand on the tiller, with all the same ingredients that made previous works sparkle so beautifully, but it came off as slightly damp in the execution. Little did anyone know, it would be the beginning of a lengthy hiatus that was to last more than a decade. (LISTEN) (6/10)

Aerial (2005)

Following The Red Shoes, Kate Bush dropped off the radar and disappeared from public life almost entirely for over ten years. In 1998, she gave birth to her son Bertie, and dedicated her time exclusively to raising her family, although that didn’t stop Britain’s unusually cruel media from portraying her as some kind of reclusive Miss Havisham-type eccentric. When she did finally re-emerge in 2005, however, she made up for her absence by offering up a sumptuous double album called Aerial.

In what was possibly a deliberate attempt to hark back to her commercial highpoint, the album’s structure is similar to that of Hounds Of Love, with the second disc containing a continuous, 42-minute suite of nine tracks with the title ‘An Endless Sky Of Honey’. A song cycle describing the experience of being outdoors in the summertime, after waking at dawn, moving through afternoon, dusk, to night, then the following sunrise, all the tracks make lyrical references to the sky, sea, and birdsong. Indeed, field recordings of birdsong, animals and even children’s voices play a continual supporting role throughout – what’s surprising is how Kate Bush is able to make these prosaic elements become magical.

The first disc, no less impressive, was a conventional collection of unrelated themed songs around people and historical figures, ranging from her son (‘Bertie’) to Joan of Arc (‘Joanni’). These tracks are richly multi-layered, incorporating elements of English folk, classical music, reggae, flamenco and rock into Bush’s unique oeuvre to create one of her most diverse works, even if its sprawling length can make it a bit testing at times. Lead single ‘King Of The Mountain’, rather incredibly, entered the UK Singles Chart at no.4, giving Kate Bush her first top five hit in two decades, and the third-highest chart placing of her career.

Those impressive figures were repeated for Aerial itself, nominated for Best British Album at the following year’s BRIT Awards which also saw Kate Bush herself in contention for British Female Solo Artist. The fact that, in her late forties, she could hold her own in such a category with such resolutely non-commercial music showed her longevity and the respect held for her in the industry, just at the point when people were preparing to give up on hearing from her again. Aerial deservedly revived her reputation among the public at large. (LISTEN) (8/10)

Director’s Cut (2011)

Following the commercial and critical return to glory of Aerial, Kate Bush began to dismay her loyal fanbase once again, maintaining radio silence for the rest of the Noughties, with another hiatus that threatened to drag out for several years. However, she began the new decade in unusually inscrutable fashion, announcing that her next album would see her revisit old material, re-recording songs from 1989’s The Sensual World and 1993’s The Red Shoes. As an idea, this sounded unappealing on paper, considering both were commercial successes at the time, but in practice, it kinda worked.

Some of the tracks selected for treatment were re-structured, clipped or elongated, some were merely remixed, and others were re-recorded altogether. All of the vocals were done again, this time transposed to a lower key to accommodate Bush’s lower and more mature register. The tracks from The Red Shoes – seven of the original 12 – benefit the most from the treatment, with many of them taking on a warmer, richer sound in comparison to rather lacklustre productions from first time around.

‘Moments Of Pleasure’, with the dramatic orchestration of the original removed, sounds more affecting. ‘Rubberband Girl’, completely re-vamped, is the knock-out single it should have been first time around. ‘The Sensual World’ received a significant overhaul, with Bush writing entirely new lyrics and re-titling it ‘Flower Of The Mountain’. Even ‘This Woman’s Work’, one of the sacred totems of Bush’s catalogue to her fans, benefits from sounded emptier and darker. At worst, the songs sound as good as their originals, and the miraculous result is that nothing on Director’s Cut sounds superfluous or unnecessary.

Director’s Cut, by its very nature, is the least essential album in Kate Bush’s fascinating catalogue, with no new material on offer, strictly speaking, despite the singer’s insistence to the contrary. One can only guess as to her motivation for doing so, and even diehard fans scratched their heads at why she should choose such a project for her first outing in six years. However, what originality there is comes in the re-interpretation of existing art, something that Bush turns out to be incredibly adept at. (LISTEN) (7/10)

50 Words For Snow (2011)

Kate Bush albums are like London buses – you wait ages for one (12 years in some cases!) and then two come along in the same year. Released just six months after the curious exercise in self-curation that was Director’s Cut, Bush’s tenth studio album was regarded as her ‘real’ next album by her fans.

Rather than resting on her laurels, 50 Words For Snow is a portrait of restlessly creative artist entering a new phase of her career. Like all of Bush’s finest work, it’s a self-contained little universe, an inviting escape hatch where the listener can get lost in the wintery themes and plush ambience – a musical snowglobe, if you will. It’s immersive and spacious, tinged with jazz influences

The orchestration is absolutely beautiful and complements the album’s themes perfectly, but there’s nevertheless an organic, live-band feel to proceedings, as if Bush and her minimal backing band are sat together in a room and intuitively feeling their way forward in these meandering, jazz-influenced structures. Compared to the carefully planned and intricately layered albums for which she became famous originally, 50 Words For Snow is strikingly different but works just as effectively and consistently.

In terms of how it should be approached, 50 Words For Snow is reminiscent of classic Brian Eno albums, and on occasion of Scott Walker’s notoriously impenetrable latter-day work from Tilt onwards, only a lot more friendly and inviting. Of all of Bush’s work, this is the trickiest to understand first time out, but one of the most rewarding over time.

The pristine, crystalline production of opening track ‘Snowflake’, telling the story of a single snowflake as it descends from heaven to a child’s hand, is pure fairytale wanderlust, and features Bush’s son Bertie on vocals. The decadent ‘Lake Tahoe’ and the shifting, disorientating ‘Misty’ are simply breathtaking. ‘Wild Man’, the record’s sole promotional single, is a contender for the weirdest moment in Bush’s whole catalogue. The rather glutinous Elton John duet ‘Snowed In At Wheeler St.’ is the only moment in which proceedings threaten to get derailed, and the addition of Stephen Fry on the title track as he lists words for snow in different languages is a complete outlier, even on an album of artful chamber-pop specifically not designed for radio play.

50 Words For Snow dazzled fans and critics alike, hitting no.5 in the UK and making Kate Bush the first (and still only) female solo artist to register Top Five albums in five consecutive decades. Along with PJ Harvey’s career-best Let England Shake and Adele’s commercial behemoth 21, it completely dominated the awards scene the following year, making it a very good year for British female soloists.

Although she hasn’t recorded anything new in the subsequent seven years, Bush did move to capitalise on her newly ascendant public profile, memorably performing a series of unbelievably well-received live shows in 2014 called ‘Before The Dawn’, a 22-date residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. These were her first concerts of any description since 1979, the very start of her career three-and-a-half decades previously, and provided a unique, all-at-once overview of a varied and inspirational discography. (LISTEN) (8/10)

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