Have you noticed that I go through phases of music? My most recent phase has been Afro beats and Afro funk but I am rather passionately in support of Kate Bush and feel that I must include this as June’s album in the month. Never For Ever was Kate’s 1980 superb offering to the altar of pop and includes some of her best work.
The album opens with one of her great hits, Babooshka. This track is well known but much like the Police’s Every Breath You Take, the subject matter is oft ignored. This track tells the tale of a wife who is saddened by her husband’s lessening attentions toward her. Taking matter into her own hands, she disguises herself as another woman, seduces her husband and makes him fall in love with her again. It propagates the idea that outer beauty is finite but inner beauty, the original foundation of her husband’s love for his wife, is eternal. Equally, the track itself is a real whopping great pop track. Try and get it out of your heads!
She signed her letters All Yours! Babooshka Babooshka Babooshka yeah yeah
Delius is an interesting one, I have read that it is a tribute to the god Apollo, and I have read that it is an ode to the English composer Frederik Delius. The latter is likely to be more accurate on account of the lyrics describing a grumpy old man and the shifting from the I and IV chords mimic those for which Delius was famed. Paddy Bush and Ian Bairnson are singing back up here which is just superb. This is an excellent track and a testament to her excellent pipes.
Built on a verse that primarily shifts between the I and IV chords of B (B major 7th and E), “Delius” is melodically simple, working in rigid parameters to homage its subject. Providing an understated biographical statement of the composer without describing any of his life’s events, it conveys the cadences of Delius’ legacy with parsimony and depth. Kate Bush Songs
Blown Away was the first song chronologically, written for this album. The song was inspired by the death of Bill Duffield, a sound engineer for Kate’s band killed tragically on the first night of Kate Bush’s then only tour. It is beautifully produced and simply orchestrated. It speaks of death and consciousness. I find it deeply evocative.
All We Ever Look For is a meditation on the limits to and primacy of the role of the family. Kate Bush sings about searching for meaning in a world rife with possibilities. The piano refrain after the bridge in the latter section of the song is just beautiful.
Egypt is a lovely track. In terms of context, at the time of writing this track, the PM of Egypt Menachem Begin signed the Israel Egypt Peace Treaty which ended the Israeli occupation of Sinai. Israel agreed to withdraw from the entirety of the Sinai Peninsula. Israel subsequently withdrew in several stages, ending on 26 April 1982. Egypt was also selling vast amounts of oil to Israel. This track is quite extraordinary in the way that Kate acknowledges a violent conflict in a land far away. She embodies this in several chilling screams throughout the track.
The Wedding List has the be the catchiest murder-suicide track ever written. It tells the story of an aggrieved bride whose husband was murdered on their wedding day. In this sense we could call her a widow but I believe matrimony is a precondition to this term hence she may just be called a rather peeved party. This has to be one of my favourite Kate Bush tracks. It embodies everything which is awesome about her, she represents a vexed lady, a quartile not necessarily well presented in 1980, getting her revenge on the men who have wronged her. The production is as aggressive as the substance matter of the track, which is another terrific facet of this track. For me this is the best track on the album.
Violin takes a theme consistent in Bush’s works – the idea that there is inherent magic in the universe and that we can use this as a source of catharsis. Kate was forced to take violin lessons at St Joseph Convent Grammar as a kid, this is the source of this track. The track makes use of the multi faceted possibilities of the instrument and indeed almost abuses the violin while screaming in deranged anger, mimicking how she must have felt at school. The frustration in this track is palpable but ends up being quite magical.
The Infant Kiss is perhaps an echo of This Woman’s Work. I find it a tad sentimental but the message is powerful – talking about the fear of losing a child, putting motherhood, rightly, on a pedestal. The orchestration matches the mood of the piece and this is put across impeccably, again.
Night Scented Stock is an a capella track showing off Kate’s extraordinary pipes. The harmonisation is beautiful.
Army Dreamers was at a point my least favourite track on this album but I have come to enjoy it very much. It was banned in the UK along with a number of other tracks during the Gulf War for its sentiments questioning the necessity of war and highlighting the bereavement of families who lose loved ones to conflicts. The music itself goes back to Kate’s Irish jig proclivity which we see fully developed in Jig of Life on Hounds of Love. SeetheUK7″cover below, which I think is wonderful.
The album ends on Breathing, following in the theme of motherhood. This track, amazingly, is about a foetus in the womb of a woman living through a nuclear holocaust, aware of the happenings of the world outside. The tone was inspired by Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and Kate was of course discovered by David Gilmore of Floyd. The spoken word, the simulation of breathing through lyricism, the production and sheer subject matter all make this for a fascinating end to a stunning album.
Breathing her nicotine, breathing the fallout in out in