Catherine Bush recorded her first demo under the financial guidance of Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd. Presenting it with shaky hands to giants EMI, they signed her and she quickly issued her fist single. The self penned ‘Wuthering Heights’ went straight to number making her the very first British female solo artist to accomplish this feat. Followed only a month later by her release of her first album, ‘The Kick Inside,’ went almost achieved equal success by placing itself at number three in the album chart. An album written totally by her, she had already been well experienced in singing and writing. Forming her first band titled KT Bush with her brother, Paddy at the tender age of sixteen, she had already been composing on her piano since she was eleven. A pure child prodigy, she was destined to become the strangest, most curious of all female artists to tread the musical ground.
Boldly walking the very male path of art rock, she was self assured and focused to the very last penned note. Studying music, dance and mime, she incorporated these art forms into her every movement both musically and visually. The latter, perhaps fitting her operatic voice, she used visual dress to accentuate her music leaving the viewer mesmerised at such a performance of dance as well as voice. Her creativeness was originally inspired by her love of all that was the occult and the supernatural. Collaborating with her passion for classic literature, she chose to use classical heroines for the themes of her earlier songs. Theatrical epics were what she actually produced, probably wasted on the general buying public at the time, she managed to touch a chord and drew into her a still and very attentive audience red rock entertainment review.
Casting a drifting shadow of mystery around her being, she was shy, thoughtful and deeply sensitive when being interviewed, a situation she was far from comfortable with. Touring very little, she, over the years became introverted and felt awkward as though her place in the world had been and gone. Building a fortress around herself, she apparently, although briefly, changed her name to Kathy from Wuthering Heights. (Yet it does not take too much thought to work out that this name was a shortening of her own name anyway..) Feeling disillusioned with the world and the music industry she felt that her music did not have a place and she curled herself up in a little ball to the world and ‘disappeared’ for over a decade. Eventually coming to the surface by the nagging voices of surrounding influences, she conducted herself into writing suddenly, a new album, ‘Aerial,’ again, a mythical character but this time, her recognition was for her composing and her ability to surprise with the most extraordinary prose and music to fit. Not so much now gawped at for her striking beauty as a young woman. Now she was older, stronger and more a legend with starry eyes looking now up at her, rather than those early years where it had very much been the other way round.
Self designing her own studio at her home, she spent hour after hour perfecting sounds and effects for her records. She craved for the ability to create a visual effect through music to plant an idea into the listener’s head. She accomplished this by using her knowledge on classic literature. Having that imaginative brain herself, she found it easy to use descriptions of not just scenes in her music but recreating feelings and emotions of those characters who were devised so many years before her time. Catherine Bush from Bexleyheath in Kent had written her own first album from start to finish marking the start of a career that made her into the most influential British female artist of the twentieth century and beyond…
Moving on to this featured album, it includes the number one ‘Wuthering Heights,’ from February 1978 and ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes,’ which reached number 6 in June the same year. Both songs featuring the fantastical lyrics that she was quickly becoming famous for, and also her voice swooping up and down like a fun fair ride made her vocals more often than not difficult to follow. May it be then a blessed relief to us to find the lyrics written down on the back cover. It is advisable to read these words through thoroughly before attempting to understand the album through playing it. Once fully educated, we can proceed with the album in hand…
The first track is titled ‘Moving,’ and it promptly introduces us to the sounds of whales, are we surprised? No, this is a Kate Bush album after all and we should be prepared for anything. What we do hear throughout the album is a prominent piano by her fair hand as well as a vast array of instruments all cunningly conceived on intelligent keyboards. Whilst focusing on inspiration from Celtic and Eastern sounds, we find this theme amongst the tracks. Even the front cover shows our heroine dangling from a kite with a red dragon fiercely portrayed on it and to the left, we see a giant eyeball, although, who’s it is, remains a mystery. With Mr Gilmour at her side, she boldly stepped in the public eye with this album which was recognised more as a personal diary of all her accomplishments in composing to date. Never afraid to experiment with styles and textures of music, she was the first female artist to walk into a predominately man’s prog rock territory. This first track is fundamentally flat in chord and solemn in lyric. What we are immediately struck with is the clarity of her translucent voice. What we can’t understand is the words. I actually found that this feat was just as difficult listening through headphones! Her voice has a natural four octave range so to keep up with what she is actually singing about is difficult beyond belief. This track is soothing when perhaps the opening track to an album should require some more energy. A strong drum backing together with electronic keyboards surround the song with drifting and winding depths of feeling. Again, we have to remember that this is an album for Kate Bush, damn what the public think…ah, those whales again….
‘The Saxophone Song,’ opens with out us actually realising. Sounding like the continuation of the previous track, its feature is that Pink Floyd sound. What we do discover is that her voice sounds like that of a twelve year old, primitive and faint, but yet handling its work well. Produced by the firm hand of out hero Dave Gilmour, a song about saxophones probably isn’t out or the ordinary for a man whose band is obsessed with the instrument. I do believe Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, designed the entire album around what appeared to be just a saxophone. Again, what we find to be residential PF is the endless rolling theme of a bizarre instrumental breaks towards the end of the track. Rather meaningless and perhaps unfitting on a Kate Bush album, but yet peacefully at home on a concept Pink Floyd EP.
‘Strange Phenomena’ appears to be on the same theme as the previous two tracks. Her vocals are however, on a catty theme and we await for the slightest mieow! Perhaps the backing vocals weren’t Kate at all, but a small litter of kittens allowed to roam freely around the studio. The rain drop effect of the piano is entrancing however, since up until now her voice has been soothing and transparent, she extends now into a theatrical trance using her voice as an acting tool, rather like that of a musical piece featured in an Andrew Lloyd Webber show. The theme takes on different shapes and styles in the same vein and the music shifts and changes tempos which we still find easy to keep up with. Yet, this strange mysterious piece unfolds in our ears then without warning, whole track fades out as quickly as it faded in.
Perhaps ‘Kite’ and the previous track should had swapped titles as this is basically a blind mixing of a Specials backing, Barbara Dickson and a little Stevie Wonder as a side order. The alley cat vocals of Kate whine and whinge throughout the track and leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth. The opening lines are of somewhat a disordered understanding, ‘…Beelzebub is aching in my belly-o, my feet are heavy and I’m rooted in my wellios…’ We wonder who the devil she got herself together to compose the next two tracks. An extreme effect of the previous track, we imagine her curling her body around the microphone stand, twisting and turning in a Gothic dance. This theme is generally a grunge reggae effect. These tracks we find, as the album rolls on, become more experimental as if she is dipping her toes in our ears to see what she can get away with before we find it too diverse to cope with.