Hounds Of Love

Kate Bush

EMI America, 1985


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Kate Bush was always just a little ahead of her time. In the nineties era of Girl Grammy Power and ethereal ectoplasmic songstresses like Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKinnitt, she'd be feted and probably headline the Lilith Fair. In the group-dominated '80s, she was lost in the shuffle, never quite finding her niche.

And to be fair, it wasn't completely radio's fault. Kate's music is eclectic at best, spastic at worst, all over the map in terms of both quality and content, and her voice is an acquired taste. (My wife describes it as 'the ritualistic torture of rusted door hinges', and admittedly sometimes it whines and squeaks like a power drill on a chalkboard). I actively dislike at least one of her CDs, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Dreaming... and love the two immediately after it, including this one, Hounds Of Love.

This was a transition CD for Kate; she was switching away from her old backup band (which included Stuart Elliot and Ian Bairnson of the Alan Parsons Project) and her old engineer, Andrew Powell (Kansas, Pilot, Alan Parsons, others) to her new engineer, Del Palmer, who she would eventually marry. The CD is semi-themed, the second half of it being one long piece, "The Ninth Wave". The sounds used on it were experimental, an odd mix of Celtic and synthesizer alternative. Everything added up to what should have been a disaster.

Surprise. It wasn't. Stylistic ideosyncracies aside, Kate turned out a solid, enjoyable, complex, and textured work, the best thing she's released so far, maybe the best thing she could -ever- release. The CD starts off with the ethereal and dreamy "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)", the closest thing she ever had to a hit in America, then careens into the pounding drumbeat of "Hounds Of Love" and the powerful, dynamic "The Big Sky". The extended suite "The Ninth Wave" is well-constructed, with the eerie "Waking the Witch" and "Under Ice" showing off the oddities of Kate's voice and "The Morning Fog" countering the darkness with a hopeful ending to a CD that at times gets downright dark. Special note should be given to "Jig Of Life", as well, with the minor keyed, driving fiddle jig that Paddy Bush, Kate's brother, discovered on a trip to Ireland.

The instrumentation and production on the CD is without fault. Kate produced her own work here, and does so with a surprisingly light touch, letting the textured depth of the music speak for itself without too many effects or twists. The sole question here is Kate's voice; do you like it, or does it pain you deeply? That is the one thing this review can't answer, but if Kate Bush intrigues you at all, this is the CD to start with, the CD where it all came together.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI America, and is used for informational purposes only.