Kate Bush’s “The Dreaming” album is 30 years old

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The Quietus music site has posted an article about Kate Bush‘s The Dreaming record being released thirty years ago this month. Thirty years! Sheesh, the 1980s really are starting to become the distant past, or at least that’s the way it seems.

“The Dreaming” seems to be the most overlooked of her continuously pored-over canon. She went out on a limb, buoyed by watching Peter Gabriel‘s far-reaching experiments with his third solo album. Recorded over the space of a year in four different studios, the songs would almost give her nervous exhaustion, trying to perfect the sounds she heard in her mind.

The resulting melange was avoided by the punters and the singles from the record didn’t disturb the charts much. Like The Beatles before her, when “Strawberry Fields Forever” didn’t hit the top of the charts, there was doubt as to where Kate was going with her latest long-player. EMI bigwigs also expressed their doubts and called her in for a dressing-down about the budget for the LP. She was just too progressive and strong-willed in 1982. If “The Dreaming” had been released ten years earlier on EMI’s Harvest label, home to her influences Pink Floyd and Roy Harper, among others, I suspect it would have fared much better and original-press copies of the LP would no doubt be going for £100 on eBay.

In my view, “The Dreaming” continues on from the path set in Kate’s third LP, “Never For Ever”, released in 1980. She yearned to move on from the ‘girl with the piano’ image and exploit the possibilities of more rhythm and technology in her music. “The Dreaming” just gets more overtly psychedelic (albeit a kind of dark, claustrophobic psychedelia) and multi-faceted. As the article points out, between Kate’s record, Siouxsie & The Banshees’ A Kiss In The Dreamhouse and Danielle Dax‘s Pop Eyes and The Jesus Egg That Wept, formed an almost alternate dark psychedelic early 1980s, at least in the UK. It seemed a world away from the pomp and frills of the New Romantic scene and the robotic glam of techno-pop like the newly souped-up Human League and Gary Numan.

After the album’s cooled reception, Kate high-tailed it out of the city and set up a home studio at her parents’ place in Kent. She was able to work at her own pace and keep recording costs down. By the time she returned in 1985 with arguably her finest record, Hounds Of Love, the musical landscape had shifted again. This time, though, possibly because the songs were more radio-friendly, the punters were more receptive. While “The Dreaming” remains her ‘difficult’ album – surely without it, “Hounds Of Love” wouldn’t be quite the masterpiece that it seems.

You can read the Quietus article here.

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2 responses »

  1. Interesting appraisal. I’ve never been much a of a fan but that’s me and not her, I’m sure. She is certainly one of the true great British eccentrics.

  2. It’s all good, Bear – I’ve been a big fan since about 1990 or so – sorta after “The Sensual World” was released. I went back and checked out all of her older albums after that. At one point – I was listening to her stuff all the time. I still really dig her, but not quite as much as in the mid-90s.

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