The Dreaming

Kate Bush

Noble & Brite / EMI, 1982

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


The Divine Miss Kate refers to this as her “she goes mad” album.

Good enough for me. Let’s wrap this review up.

All right, perhaps it deserves more detail than that. Kate Bush is known for being a creature of extremes, hard to grasp sometimes, prone to whimsy and dark imagery, someone who is not quite on the same planet as most of the rest of us. The Dreaming does nothing to dispel that; in fact, this CD—produced and arranged by Kate when she was just 23—is probably her most difficult, strange, and fey album. To be honest, when I decided to revisit it for this review, it was also my least favorite of her CDs. I found it disjointed, inconsistent, and very hard to appreciate.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I’ve changed my mind a bit. It’s still inconsistent, but I’m starting to see a pattern within it, a central theme on which its musical journeying is centered around. The Dreaming is, when you strip it down, an album about people. Some are horrid, some are beautiful, some are mad, and some are unreliable narrators to their own lives. They rob banks (“There Goes A Tenner”), are undecided and self-centered (“Sat In Your Lap”), and fight wars (“Pull Out The Pin”). Their realities are layered, complex things—as is this CD; there’s a lot of Kate warbling, screaming, and whispering in the background. Another advisement; do not go into this album expecting songs in 4/4 and C major. There is a lot of experimentation here.

There are moments of genius. The three-track sequence of “Night Of The Swallow,” “All The Love,” and “Houdini” is amazing; they are drenched in metaphor and imagery while still being somehow accessible. There are moments of real fear in “Leave It Open” and “Get Out Of My House,” and an unblinking look at horrid reality in “The Dreaming.” But in the end, it never quite jells into a comprehensive whole; if anything, Kate is too random, too whimsical, too inconstant here to make this work. On her next CD, Hounds Of Love (currently enjoying a renaissance due to one of its track showing up in Netflix’s Stranger Things), she would pull it together into a magnificent, cohesive whole. This is, indeed, an album about people—but people are strange things, hard sometimes to quantify or bring into a cohesive whole.

Should you listen to The Dreaming? In the end, the answer is yes, but go in understanding you may not get it all on first listen. Hell, it took me 30 years.

Rating: B-

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