One of the best debut albums ever I should think.
It’s incredible to me that she was only 19 years old. and had written some of the songs when she was only 13. I was 11 when this came out and was very weirded out by her top of the pops appearance performing Wuthering Heights as I, and pretty much everybody else, had never heard anything like it before. I think that, early on, the TV sketches taking the mickey out of her detracted from just how extraordinary she was, although perhaps that the sketches existed at all were testament to the impact she made.
So that one was actually quite clever but the next one, by Faith Brown is shite, I never found her funny so perhaps it’s just me but everything she did was just really obvious I thought and her impressions were tosh:
Anyway, enough of all that. Here is the full album, using a lot of live performances.It was quite a while ago so the film quality varies but it is all quite listenable.
It really is a quite extraordinary set of songs, some of which have very strong hooks and some are a little more contemplative and warrant a more concentrated listen as lyrically they really are very interesting.
Track 1: Moving 3:08
Dedicated to Lindsay Kemp, a dance instructor, who inspired her to use her body in videos to represent her songs. The use of Whale song is, according to an interview with Sounds; “Whales say everything about ‘moving’. It’s huge and beautiful, intelligent, soft inside a tough body. It weighs a ton and yet it’s so light it floats. It’s the whole thing about human communication—’moving liquid, yet you are just as water’—what the Chinese say about being the cup the water moves in to. The whales are pure movement and pure sound, calling for something, so lonely and sad …”
Moving liquid, yes, you are just as water
You flow around all that comes in your way
Don’t think it over, it always takes you over
And sets your spirit dancing
Track 2: The Saxophone Song 3:44
This was one of her earliest compositions, written when she was about fifteen, in an interview she said “…I love saxophones so I wanted to write a song about them… The perfect setting was this smokey bar in Berlin with nobody listening except me in the corner…”
A surly lady in tremor
The stars that climb from her bowels
Those stars make towers on vowels
You’ll never know that you had all of me
You’ll never see the poetry you’ve stirred in me
Of all the stars I’ve seen that shine so brightly
I’ve never known or felt, in myself, so rightly
Track 3: Strange Phenomena 2:58
This track speaks about déjà vu, synchronicity and how coincidences sometimes cluster together in seemingly meaningful ways. It has been described as a ‘frank paean to menstruation” by The Guardian.
Soon it will be the phase of the moon
When people tune in
Every girl knows about the punctual blues
But who’s to know the power
Behind our moves
Track4: Kite 3:00
On the one hand, The narrator is tired of life and stress and wishes she were a kite so she could fly and not have worries. Her wish is granted but she soon longs for the safety ground again. On the other hand, this song is about a sacramental mushroom experience, specifically amanita muscaria. “Beelzebub” is a nickname for this fungus and it is mentioned in the Bible. I suspect it is the latter:
Beelzebub is aching in my belly-o
My feet are heavy and I’m rooted in my wellios
And I want to get away and go
From all these mirror windows
Track 5: The Man With The Child In His Eyes 2:40
She explained this song herself when interviewed on TV: “Oh! well it, its something that I feel about men generally (sorry about this folks) that a lot of men have got a child inside of them, you know? they’re more or less just …grown up kids… and that its… its a very… (delayed laughter from audience), no, no! its a very, very good quality… its really good because a lot of women grow up and get far too responsible and its really nice to keep that delight in wonderful things that children have, and thats what i was trying to say;… that this man can communicate with a younger girl because… he’s on the same level”
I hear him,
Before I go to sleep,
And focus on the day that’s been,
I realize he’s there,
When I turn the light off,
And turn over,
Nobody knows about my man,
They think he’s lost on some horizon
Track 6: Wuthering Heights 4:25
This is based on Emily Bronte’s classic book of the same name. The song pretty much tells the same story as the book, only at a much higher pitch. In the book, two young people, Catherine and Heathcliff, are brought together and become lovers. Along the way, they struggle with issues of class and family. Wuthering Heights was Bronte’s only novel, although she did publish some poems.
This was a huge hit of course, and I’ve heard it many hundreds of times, but some chap slowed it down so it is 36 minutes long and it turns into a quite extraordinary soundscape that I wouldn’t mind having a copy of, listen for yourself:
Track 1: James And The Cold Gun 3:33
EMI wanted this to be the first single taken from the album but Bush insisted it be Wuthering Heights, she was right of course, but this is still one of my favourite tracks of hers. The song was inspired by a contemporary thriller, The Day Of The Jackal. Based on the book of the same name by English author Frederick Forsyth, well that’s one interpretation anyway.
James, come on home
You’ve been gone too long baby
We can’t let our hero die alone
We miss you day and night
You left town to live by the rifle
You left us to fight
But it just ain’t right to take away the light
Track 2: Feel It 3:04
In this track Bush sings openly about sexuality, “It’s not such an open thing for women to be physically attracted to the male body and fantasize about it,” she told Phil Sutcliffe in 1980. “To me the male body is absolutely beautiful.” Bush added that with this and a few other songs, she expressed desire, “so bottled up you have to relieve it, as if you were crying.”
After the party, you took me back to your parlour
A little nervous laughter
Locking the door
My stockings fall onto the floor
Desperate for more
Nobody else can share this
Here comes one and one makes one
The glorious union, well, it could be love
Or it could be just lust
But it will be fun
It will be wonderful
Track 3: Oh To Be In Love 3:19
The feeling of being in love with someone and never being able to fall out of love with them, but becoming trapped in this situation. How it can be anyone at anytime, a completely random event.
I could have been anyone
You could have been anyone’s dream
Why did you have to choose our moment?
Why did you have to make me feel that?
Why did you make it so unreal?
Track 4: L’Amour Looks Something Like You 2:27
Almost certainly about a one night stand, but who really knows with Kate Bush, it could have an entirely different meaning.
You came out of the night
Wearing a mask in white colour
My eyes were shining on the wine
And your aura
All in order we move into the boudoir
But too soon the morning has resumed
Track 5: Them Heavy People 3:05
It could be that she is singing about being in therapy, getting help from ‘heavy people’ therapist, psychologists, a lot of heavy talking to work on your mind. Rolling the ball to you because it’s always up to you yourself to do the hard work in therapy. Of course it could be a dozen other things, maybe actually having several meanings.
Rolling the ball, rolling the ball, rolling the ball to me
They arrived at an inconvenient time
I was hiding in a room in my mind
They made me look at myself
I saw it well, I’d shut the people out of my life
So now I take the opportunities
Wonderful teachers ready to teach me
I must work on my mind
For now I realise that everyone of us
Has a heaven inside
Track 6: Room For The Life 4:03
She may be going against the position of many second-wave feminists in this song, saying that women shouldn’t get down on themselves because of men, or it could be about about the womb, or both.
Hey there you lady in tears
Do you think that they care if they’re real, woman?
They just take it as part of the deal
Lost in your men and the games you play
Trying to prove that you’re better, woman
But you needn’t get heavy with them
Like it or not, we were built tough
Because we’re woman
Track 7: The Kick Inside 3:37
The original demo version of this track refers to “Lizzie Wan” (alternately “Lucy Wan”) is an 18th-century English/Irish folk ballad, best known as The Ballad of Lizzie Wan, which recounts the tragedy of Lizzie Wan, who falls in love with her brother and then kills herself while carrying his child. This doesn’t mean that this happened to her but she has always been very close to her brother and it could well be about feelings rather than actions.
I’m giving it all in a moment for you.
I’m giving it all in a moment or two.
I’m giving it all, giving it, giving it.
The kicking here inside
Makes me leave you behind.
No more under the quilt
To keep you warm.
Your sister I was born. Lose me.
You must lose me like an arrow,
Shot into the killer storm.
All of the above interpretations could be rubbish of course, and what is really important is what a song means to each listener and how they interpret it.
The US cover of the album is less interesting than the UK one I think and I don’t know why it had to be different, this is it, Kate Bush in a box:
Apparently Tori Amos pays homage to this US cover with her debut, Little Earthquakes:
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been listening to tracks from this album since 1978, that’s 40 years. I didn’t own it when it was first released, 11year olds don’t have that much disposable income, and I can’t remember when I got it but its been a lot of years now. A brilliant album.