Under The Bush: Top 10 Kate Bush deep cuts and hidden gems

Kate Bush
Photo by Gered Mankowitz

Kate Bush has released 10 studio albums in the last 36 years, so to celebrate her London shows – which start tonight – we thought we’d take a look at ten ‘deeper cuts’ from her catalogue, the hidden gems that the casual fan may not be aware of. The rule was one track per album… hope you enjoy the music below.

L’Amour Looks Something Like You (from The Kick Inside – 1978)

Such is Kate’s ability to stretch and distort phrases and vowels you can go decades without knowing the ‘proper’ words to some of her songs, including this effortlessly melodic mid-paced sensual tale. Who knew that she’s actually singing “Sleeping it off at a station” in the chorus. The one rather bold lyric that is clear is the one about “the feeling of sticky love inside”. L’Amour Looks Something Like You gained some prominence when it was one of four tracks featured on the On Stage EP which peaked at number 10 in the UK charts in 1979.

In The Warm Room (from Lionheart – 1978)

Of course Kate’s music has always been the primary attraction, but it would be churlish to deny how powerful her sexuality was, particularly to adolescent males. There’s no getting away from *that* poster and *that* pink vest. Still a teenager herself when she recorded her second album Lionheart in 1978, the cover of the album with Kate in lion costume hiding away in some attic room, certainly got the imagination working. She was not afraid to sing about sex and sexuality (not just lurve) and sounded very much like the girlfriend-you-wished-you-had much of the time. The Kick Inside had Feel It to stir the loins (as well as L’Amour Looks Something Like You) but In The Warm Room turned the dial of desire to eleven with Kate singing about a lustful encounter “She’ll let you watch her undress, go places where you fingers long to linger”.  Time for someone to open a window, surely? The less said about the “soft musk of her hollows” the better, but not a comfortable track to listen to with your parents in the room. Kate at her most erotic. The video above is are live footage of the song from the 1979 Tour Of Life.

All We Ever Look For (from Never For Ever – 1980)

This quirky album cut from Never For Ever is about the parent-child bond and how things don’t quite work out how you might expect. Like a few songs on the album this featured the newly discovered Fairlight, with some Art of Noise style sampled footsteps and doors (of opportunity?) opening and closing.

Leave It Open (from The Dreaming – 1982)

Not (quite) as bonkers as Sat In Your Lap or Get Out Of My House, and lacking the accent “skills” on show with There Goes A Tenner and The Dreaming, Leave It Open is nevertheless an incredible track and has all the facets that make The Dreaming such a great record. The deep-voiced Bush heavily treats her vocals, opening with the line “With my ego in my gut, my babbling mouth would wash it up” which earns the high pitched retort: “But now I’ve started learning how, I keep it shut”. The track continues in this very dark call and response manner. Kate’s voice has always worked well with male voices and the “Harm in us but power to arm” chorus is ominous and rather scary. When Kate tells us that she “kept it in a cage – watched it weeping, but I made it stay”, you know this isn’t going to end well. The drums kick in at the end to the “what you letting in” refrain and it feels a bit like Keyser Söze is knocking on your door to say hello. Even then we still have some eerie backwards vocals which put the icing on the cake of this chilling warning of man’s ability for evil.

Hello Earth (from Hounds Of Love – 1985)

The penultimate track on The Ninth Wave from Hounds of Love, Hello Earth is Kate at the very height of her powers. The song is about distance and detachment (“with just one hand held up high, I can block you out of sight”). The Ninth Wave tells of a person trying to survive the night out at sea in the water, and this is a point of despair and they are contemplating their own death imagining themselves sky-high perhaps on their way to the pearly gates. Typical of the musical ambition of Kate at this time, she was not content with just a pretty piano ballad with a heartbreaking vocal, she wanted a break in the song which would contain singing/chanting reminiscent of music used in Werner Herzog’s 1979 version of  Nosferatu.  Working with composer Michael Berkeley (and conductor/choir leader Richard Hickox) they created their own new language (!) and developed the phrasing for a group of male choristers to sing at Bush’s home studio. With such commitment and attention to detail for one part of one song, it’s no wonder that Hounds of Love is considered her masterpiece. This is a very moving track and as if extra kudos was needed, it was used on an episode of Miami Vice.

Rocket’s Tail (from The Sensual World – 1989)

Bulgarian vocal ensemble The Trio Bulgarka featured on a few songs on The Sensual World Kate’s 1989 follow-up to Hounds of Love and they make an appearance on this track along with some guitar courtesy of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (who seemed to pop up every few years for moral support whether contributing vocals to Pull Out The Pin or leading the band on the 1986 Secret Policeman’s Ball version of Running Up That Hill). Rocket’s Tail starts off instrument-free with Kate and the Bulgarian vocalists blending their voices to stunning effect, but what makes this song so much fun is when the drums and guitar burst in powerfully after about 90 seconds as if to say ‘I had enough of all this acapella shit, let’s rock!’. Rocket was Kate’s cat, apparently.

Big Stripey Lie (from The Red Shoes – 1993)

As the B-side to the slightly annoying Rubberband Girl, Big Stripey Lie was one of two tracks from The Red Shoes that fans got to hear before the album was released. If Rubberband Girl left this listener somewhat underwhelmed and anxious about what to expect from Kate Bush’s seventh studio album, Big Stripey Lie was a reassuringly textured piece of distorted guitar and weirdness. Kate is credited with playing bass and guitar and Nigel Kennedy also gets his violin out. Unfortunately this track turned out to be rather atypical of the album and The Red Shoes remains a big inky blot on Kate’s copybook of excellence.

Nocturn (from Aerial – 2005)

Kate had no right to come back in 2005 with an album that was almost as good as anything she’d ever produced. Aerial‘s structure mirrored that of Hounds of Love twenty years earlier with the second side (or disc in this case) concept-based and the first side/disc gathering together individual songs. Nocturn is from A Sky of Honey which traces the day from sunrise to sunset. The fan-made video above is a stunning accompaniment to a stunning track.

This Woman’s Work (from Director’s Cut – 2011)

Kate, perhaps surprisingly, chose to rework the semi-classic This Woman’s Work (a 1989 UK single) on her Director’s Cut album. Against all the odds this twinkly, ethereal treatment is really rather beautiful. Perhaps not ‘better’ than the original, but a lovely alternative, unlike the single Deeper Understanding which was dire.

Snowed In At Wheeler Street (from 50 Words for Snow – 2011)

This Elton John duet from 50 Words for Snow starts a little shakily, like a nervous lead in a broadway musical Kate speaks the lines ‘Excuse me I’m sorry to bother you, but…” [changes to singing] “…. don’t I knooooow yooooou? There’s just something about yooooou!”. It turns out they do know each other, as Elton points out “we’ve been in love forever”. To be fair this is a rather hypnotic track about a couple who keep bumping into each other across space and time (“I don’t want to lose you again”). It’s a nice little idea that Kate could well have stretched into side two of an album.

Don’t agree with the selections? Tell us about your favourite Kate ‘deep cuts’!

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