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I just know that something good is gonna happen!
Hounds Of Love - Kate Bush
Member Name: Jojoborne
Hounds Of Love - Kate Bush
Advantages: Great album which still listens well 30 years on.
Disadvantages: None for me.
Hounds of Love - Kate Bush
I left school in nineteen eighty-four and at that time, just as at this time, I had a varied taste in music.
In nineteen eighty-five Kate Bush released 'Hounds of Love' album. I already liked Kate as an artist and a person but at seventeen, going on eighteen, I was blown away by the album. I'll talk about what this album meant to me and how I feel about it later on in the review, but first I would like to discuss each album track individually and then move onto the albums commercial success and the work Kate Bush put into producing it.
The review may turn out to be long but it will all be relevant and for an album that is still brilliant nearly thirty years later, I think a few paragraphs would be doing it a major injustice. I suggest that the people who don't like long reviews or think they are written merely to gain higher ratings should give it a miss if that's how they feel. Each to their own, but just know that I write from the heart and purely for my enjoyment and hopefully other people's enjoyment; if it turns out to be long then so be it; it was meant to be.
Individual tracks and my thoughts on them
The first track on the album was also the first single to be released. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) is probably one of the most covered songs in recent years. Not so much other artists covering the whole song, as many do, most notably 'Placebo', but more the actual synthesizer samples being used. Dan Black is one of the latest new wave artists to use it in his Cloudbustin remix which includes the famous synthesizer from this song and the tune of Madonna's Into The Groove. It is the perfect start to the album. Kate's voice is brilliant and fits to the beat exquisitely. I love the lyrics too. One line states 'If I only could make a deal with God'. The song caused controversy amongst pro-religious sectors and anti-religious movements alike. The original title to the song chosen by Kate was A Deal With God but EMI, Kate's record company, refused to release it in that form. Kate eventually changed the name to Running Up That Hill Although she did get her own way to a certain extent as the album title added the 'A Deal With God' in brackets after the initial wording. EMI were so worried by the fact that it might be took off the airwaves and banned from shops that they almost didn't bring it out. EMI wanted to release Cloudbusting as the first single but Kate could not agree as Running Up That Hill was the first track written for the album and she felt that it was the basis of the whole album and therefore deserved to be the first single. EMI eventually relented and the single was released on August the fifth, nineteen eighty-five. It got to number three in the UK charts and number thirty in the American billboard two hundred, which for an English female artist was unprecedented at the time.
The second track was the title track Hounds of Love and what a track it is! Another uber-famous song with an opening line that most people will know. 'It's coming, it's in the trees'. This line comes from a nineteen fifty-seven horror movie called The Night of the Demon and the actor shouting the line is Maurice Denham. Anyone can Google or wiki this and there is more information on the movie if one feels inclined to do so. I still love that opening line as much today as I did as a teenager. This was also the second single release from the album and was released on seven and twelve inch vinyl with The Handsome Cabin as the b-side on the twenty-fourth of February, nineteen eighty-six. Amazingly, in my eyes anyway, it only reached number eighteen in the UK charts. I find that absolutely unbelievable, even to this day, as the song still holds up now. There was some good music around in the eighties but there was also a lot of dross, so it is surprising that Hounds of Love didn't fare better in the charts. Kate directed the video herself and it was her first try. She is a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and she based the video loosely on his The 39 Steps, even managing to place Hitchcock in the video. Anyone who knows Hitchcock will know that he always made a cameo appearance in his movies, so this was Kate's tribute to him.
The third track on the album is The Big Sky. This happened to be the fourth single released from the album on April the twenty-eighth, nineteen eighty-six. It reached number 37 in the UK charts. Another great, chanting melody that exudes the lust for life of a child in its upbeat tempo. It alludes to a pastime that many children and adults have indulged in over the years; that of looking up into the sky and making shapes out of the clouds and broadening their imaginations. The seven inch vinyl included Not This Time as the b-side and the twelve inch also included The Morning Fog which is also a track on the album. The video was nominated at the MTV awards for 'Best Female Video' but unfortunately, for Kate, did not win.
The fourth track is Mother Stands For Comfort and continues along the theme of songs that people can relate to. Mother Stands For Comfort is, as the title suggests, a tribute to all mothers and therefore essentially Kate's own. The song starts off with broken beats and smashing glass. The piano kicks in and Kate starts to sing. A daughter speaks of her own attitude and her Mother reacts to her. Mother Stands For Comfort is the only track of the first five tracks or side one of the vinyl album, to not be released as a single. It is more a ballad and therefore a lot slower paced than the other four. It is quite a haunting track and one that is filled with emotion and angst.
Track five is one of my all-time favourite songs Cloudbusting. It has an even more recognizable synthesizer sound than the albums first two songs if that is possible and there can't be many people who don't recognize it as a Kate Bush song, if not the name of it. I have been listening to this song for twenty-seven years and I will never tire of it, not ever. It is such an uplifting song and the line 'I just know that something good is gonna happen' is challenging to even the most miserable pessimist. The story is based on Wilhelm Reich and his relationship with his son, Peter. Reich designed a machine, which he called a 'Cloudbuster', which he pointed at the sky and, as he would tell his son, should make it rain. Reich was lambasted as a charlatan and a fraud but he was an intelligent man who was a psychologist and a philosopher. His peers viewed him with contempt and he was eventually arrested by the government for trying to mess with nature and charged with, what virtually added up to witchcraft. In nineteen seventy-three, a grown up Peter wrote his memoirs, which was published as a novel. Kate read this and was deeply moved and affected by the story. In tribute to Peter Reich's book, she wrote 'Cloudbusting'. The video starred Kate herself as a young Peter and Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm Reich. The video plays out the story of Wilhelm and Peter trying to get the Cloudbuster to work. The young Peter is forced to watch as his father is taken away by government officials. Peter runs to the top of the building and uses the Cloudbuster. It works and as his Father is driven away he sees the rain start to fall and is delighted as the government officials look on in wonder. The single was released on October the fourteenth, nineteen eighty-five and I remember getting it three days later for my eighteenth birthday. It was actually the twelve inch and I remember the picture of the Cloudbuster on the cover. It only reached number twenty in the UK charts, which to me is another travesty. I still love the marching, pumping electronic beat to this song and it will always be one of my favourites.
The original album on vinyl obviously consisted of two sides and this is where side one ended.
Side two was meant as a complete one track story and started with track six And Dream of Sheep. Kate's voice is, again, haunting on this song. This really is a little belter of a ballad. Kate's soft voice and idyllic piano are interspersed with samples from various sources, such as birds, the sea, and distant voices. John Sheahan plays whistles on the track and Donal Lunny the Bouzouki, which is a lute of Greek origin and adds that melodic plucking sound to the track. Another upbeat song full of great vocals and backing singers and laced with Kate's sampling and production.
Track seven is entitled Under Ice. Another strange little track with the hint of a marching beat and chanting lyrics. Kate's voice is hauntingly mixed with her brother Paddy Bush's voice to create the feeling of a group of chanters. Paddy plays many instruments on the album, including guitar, mandolin, sitar, harmonica and more unusual instruments such as a Fujara, which is a very unique flute of Slovakian descent, a Kato, balalaika and even a didgeridoo. Not one of my favourite tracks but does fit in with the storyline of the second side and keeps the music flowing nicely. Some nice sounds from Kate's brother.
Track eight, Waking The Witch is another track that shows off Kate's production and mixing qualities and gives you an idea of the scope of her imagination and originality. The song starts with various samples of people saying 'Wake up' in different accents, dialects and moods. Basically a song about the female of the story being accused of being a witch. The lyrics include the lines 'What say you good people?' to which the reply is ' Guilty, guilty, guilty'. This song, possibly, contains more samples than any other song on the album and it is a chilling vision of a past where femininity and the female voice were regarded as nothing more than heresy.
Track nine is called Watching You Without Me. Another slow ballad with a chanting element to it. You can hear the bongos and drums, which are prevalent in the foreground as opposed to being a back beat. More samples towards the middle of the song as kate begins to chant in a foreign language, which could be made up but is more likely to be tribal or ancient knowing Kate. The end of the song reverberates with mixes and samples of Kate's voice all mutated, stuttered and reversed and reminds me of an exorcism or something equally as bewildering and frightening.
Jig Of Life is track ten and has another brilliant blend of regular and exotic instruments throughout the track. Notably Donal Lummy again on the bouzouki with John Carter Bush adding all the narrative lyrics and backing vocals, which again reek of kate's mixing and sampling. Liam O Flynn adds even more of an unearthly, angelic sound on the Uilleann pipes, which are like an Irish version of the Scottish bagpipes. This song has a very Irish feel to it and the word 'Jig' sums it up perfectly. If some of the songs on this album could be described as upbeat, then Jig Of Life is positively exploding with energy. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Kate's vocals are heady, vibrant and full on. The Uillean pipes in the middle section of the song are amazing and it makes you want to Riverdance in public with thousands of Irish dancers, well that's how it makes me feel....ahem.
Track eleven is Hello Earth. More smooth vocals from Kate and a lovely balled which encapsulates the whole story of side two of the album. I absolutely love the chorus. Again Kate manages to mix fine melody and vocals with a heady burst of samples And chanting. I don't think anyone could do it this well and this song sums up just how unique and original this album really is. The backing vocals sound brilliant over the enchanting piano and then an army of singers kick in to really bring the song alive. An accomplished track to say the very least.
Onto track twelve and The Morning fog. Brilliant way to finish the album. A great upbeat and lively track with great vocals, both lead and backing. It may be the shortest track on the album but it is in no way the least memorable and continues the theme to its end very well indeed. The piano is very heavy and evident on this track. The eclectic mix of the backing vocals along with Kate sound amazing and they chant lyrics that only Kate Bush could come up with.
In nineteen ninety-seven EMI released the album in a new version, which was remastered and included six extra tracks, which consisted of two twelve inch remixes, three B-sides from the single releases and one track from the nineteen eighty-six movie 'Castaway'. These tracks were as follows....
Track thirteen The Big Sky Meteorogical mix. Brilliant remix and extended version of the single. This track was released in memoriam of the Chernobyl disaster, just two days after the event and was something that Kate felt very strongly about. Also released on seven and twelve inch formats.
Running Up That Hill twelve inch mix was track fourteen and was another extended version of the single. The remix on twelve inch also included the instrumental version, which Kate fans love to sing along to and do so often at gatherings and conventions.
Track fifteen was called Be Kind To My Mistakes and was the title track to the nineteen eighty-six film 'Castaway' starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donahoe about a man who advertises for a woman to spend time with him on a deserted island. Essentially a love song about two people being brought together through their apparent lack of knowledge of one another. A bit more conventional than the original album tracks but still not a bad song.
Under The Ivy was track sixteen on the extended version of the album and was the original B-side to Running Up That Hill on the single release. A very short song at just over two minutes. Great vocals, as usual, from Kate and a nice little ballad which gets more intense towards the end of the song.
Track seventeen is Burning Bridge. The brilliant B-side from the brilliant Cloudbusting single. A mad mix of drums and chanting all molded neatly into a great rhythm and melody worthy of being on the original album. It may have been one of the intended tracks which was not used on the final copy. I love this song and it is another upbeat, bouncing epic.
Last but by no means least is track eighteen Lagan Love. Another song from the B-side of Cloudbusting. Another ballad and a haunting one at that. Kate shows off her vocals and it makes you realize just what an amazing voice this woman has. A song that rivals any to feature any of the angelic Irish voices that there have been. Kate definitely puts her three octaves to use on this track. A nice way to end the extended album and a joy to listen to with a hot chocolate and your headphones on in a hot bath.
The making of an album. My thoughts and Kate Bush
Kate Bush has long been an artist that I have admired and Hounds of Love has always been an album that I have held in high regard. The album reminds me of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood in the fact that it is an epic story told across an album or an album side. Seven years ago I was fortunate enough to see Marillion's old lead singer and founder 'Fish', who wrote Misplaced Childhood and still owned the rights, perform the whole of the album live again, but this time with his session musicians on a revamped 'Misplaced Childhood Tour'. It was an epic night and the reason for me mentioning this is that I think it would be amazing if Kate would do this with Hounds of Love. She has expressed a wish to perform live in the near future, even if that does not entail touring, which it probably won't. A live show of this album in its entirety would be a massive thank you to her fans and a great live spectacle. Kate hasn't toured and only done a handful of live appearances since the seventies. There have been many stories and rumours passed about the music industry and among like-minded fans. Fear of flying was one, stage fright another. The real reason however, is that a close friend of Kate's died while working as part of her road crew when a piece of equipment fell on him. It affected Kate badly and she never toured again. There may even be some truth in the other reasons and he may be a mixture of all three but the stage fright rumour is unlikely as Kate is a very driven person, very strong willed and charismatic. She doesn't find it difficult to take control of a situation and that is, in fact, one of her strengths.
Most music critics berated Kate Bush for trying to be too clever with Hounds of Love but far from over-stepping her own creative boundaries, she, in my opinion, of course, did a masterful job and the album is testament to what a good job she did. Kate wanted this album to be one of her own making, something entirely from her own mind, her own creation. That is the most likely reason she was at loggerheads with EMI over the 'Deal With God' wording and lyrics and the commotion it created. Make no bones about it though, this is all Kate's work and was, in fact, recorded at her own studios which she had built into her home. The fact that she was willing to try out and sample new things speaks volumes. Whether it be the folksy instruments, the choir type chanting vocals or the mix of several experimental agents, you can be sure that every note was mulled over, chopped and changed until Kate had what she wanted.
Something else that was new to Kate, if not new to music, was, as mentioned earlier in alluding to Marillion's album, the two-sided album of different meanings and the story as one track as opposed to several separate ones. Side One or The Hounds of Love was the ultimate upbeat pop explosion and one which spawned many famous tunes, which are so recognisible today. Side Two, which is known as The Ninth Wave is an emotional journey of human psyche and alludes to being born, growing up and living through life until eventual death. Something we will all experience. It could have been deemed as a morbid or miserable album with the ballads it contains but Kate still managed to keep that pop beat and folksy upbeat tempo which is prevalent throughout.
The CD versions for me are not as personal as the vinyl releases. Not just because of any nostalgic feeling but because the two side element is removed, at least in the fact that you don't have to turn over the record to side two to begin the story of The Ninth Wave. The extended CD version released for EMI's one hundredth anniversary is a nice CD to have though.
The album was a commercial hit but still not as big as it should have been regarding the single chart positions. However, in a time when people actually bought records, Hounds of Love faired rather well. She would've lost a lot of sales today and probably potentially still does with illegal downloading and piracy. Good for Kate that she released such a brilliant, ahead of its time album, when she did.
The DVD release Hounds of Love a classic Album Under Review was released in 2009 and a host of music critics, journalists and musicians that played on the album give you a great insight into how it was made and how it came about. A great DVD to own if you're a Kate Bush fan and a must have for the collector.
One of the best albums of the eighties and still an amazing album today. This is one of my guilty pleasures and it is a privelege to write about it for you here. Thanks for reading and go out and buy it if you haven't got or heaven forbid have never heard it.
Summary: Kate Bush at her hardworking best.