Nowadays, few young people are familiar with the music of Kate Bush. A short introduction: Catherine Bush was born on July 30, 1958. She's an English singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and above all an excellent singer. Her eclectic musical style and her high-pitched voice have made her one of the British most successful female performers of the past thirty years. Bush was signed by EMI at the age of sixteen after being recommended by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. In 1978 she surprised the world with the single Wuthering Heights, derived from her debut album The Kick Inside. Eight studio albums followed and she became a million-selling artist. Most devotees of progressive rock embraced her music as well because elements of the genre were clearly present on her albums. Until 1993 she recorded albums on a regular basis, but from that time on it lasted twelve years before Aerial was released. After this album it remained silent for another six years. In 2011 the album Director's Cut came out, but it didn't contain new material.
Director's Cut contains four songs from her previous albums The Sensual World (1989) and seven from The Red Shoes (1993), which have been re-recorded and restructured by Bush though retaining most of the original instrumentation. It's Bush's first album on her own record label Fish People. Regarding the entire new lyrics to the song The Sensual World, now retitled Flower Of The Mountain, Bush said: “Originally when I wrote the song The Sensual World, I had used text from the end of Ulysses by James Joyce put to a piece of music I had written. When I asked for permission to use the text I was refused, which was disappointing. I then wrote my own lyrics for the song although I felt that the original idea had been more interesting. Well, I'm not James Joyce am I? When I came to work on this project I thought I would ask for permission again and this time they said yes. I'm delighted that I have had the chance to fulfill the original concept. For some time I have felt that I wanted to revisit tracks from these two albums and that they could benefit from having new life breathed into them. Lots of work had gone into the two original albums and now these songs have another layer of work woven into their fabric. I think of this as a new album.”
All the lead vocals on Director's Cut and some of the backing vocals have been entirely re-recorded. Some of the songs have been transposed to a lower key to accommodate Bush's matured voice. Additionally, the drum tracks have been reconceived and re-recorded with some of the tracks featuring Steve Gadd. Bassist Danny Thompson also appears and on backing vocals you can enjoy the fine voice of Mica Paris. Three songs have been completely re-recorded: This Woman's Work, Rubberband Girl and Moments Of Pleasure.
The Collector's Edition of the album also contains two bonus- CDs which are new versions of The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. This means that they are remastered from digital to analogue, since Director's Cut was recorded with analogue equipment. Listening to t he three discs will take a lot of time, but even if you're familiar with Kate's albums it's wise to listen to the bonus discs. That way it's much easier to compare the new versions to the original album versions. While listening I realized that these songs are rather strong, but never got the appreciation they deserved in the prog scene. This time I heard a lot more details in the music. Thanks to the perfect remastering the music comes more alive than ever. The album that needs most attention is off course the Director's Cut itself. Sure, some of the tracks tend to sound the same as on the original album and therefore you can't speak of a new Kate Bush-album. However, this doesn't mean that the album isn't worthwhile listening.
On the opening piece Flower Of The Mountain the Uillean pipes are played by Davy Spillane. It makes you realize that the music of Iona is never far away. The mellow pieces such as Song Of Solomon, Deeper Understanding and This Woman's Work are a treat to listen to especially with your headphones on. These songs have such a delicate ambience that I almost got tears in my eyes due to Kate's emotional voice and her strong lyrics. The more up-tempo tunes are rather progressive too. You hear things other musicians hardly dare to use on their albums. Good examples are Rubberband Girl and The Red Shoes. This release also contains a beautiful booklet. All lyrics of the three CDs are included as well as some fabulous artistic photographs and liner notes written by Kate Bush.
If you decide to buy this collector's item, it undoubtedly is well-spent money. The whole package looks and sounds stunning. However, if you want to hear real new music made by Kate Bush you should wait a bit longer for as far as I know she has started to work on a brand-new album. I'm aware that many people who fancy prog rock music dislike the music that Bush released after The Kick Inside. To those people I can only say: ignore this review. Together with all the others I say: welcome back, Kate! We're looking forward to your new album!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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