Album #30: “Hounds of Love” — Kate Bush (1985)
Kate Bush is … unique. That’s the only way to put it. As much performance artist as pop star, she was a one-women opera company in her prime — singing, dancing, composing, directing, hell she probably even sewed her own outfits — who was unafraid to challenge the scale at both ends with her voice, and unafraid to drench her songs in literary allusions. You either loved that or hated it.
If it weren’t a back-handed compliment, I’d call Kate Bush the ‘smart Madonna’; unlike Miss Desperately Seeking Susan, her sexiness was delivered with a grand theatrical flair, and even though she did some club music, its source was the stage and not the street. Like Madanna, Bush was excessively driven, overly ambitious, and, often, over-wrought. When she missed, it was cringe-worthy — but when she hit, it was alchemic.
And Kate Bush was firing on all cylinders for what turned into her biggest and best album, “Hounds of Love,” when her academic conceits found a near-perfect balance with her musical talents. (Plus, she had something for flight suits, which I always found strangely appealing.)
As with Roxy Music, another set of art-school, avante-garde inspired musicians, I was introduced to Kate Bush by a girlfriend from high school. During a chance encounter a few years later, when I ran into the old girlfriend in a record store where she worked, she told me that I reminded her of a Kate Bush song. We went for coffee, we talked, and a few months later we were dating again. Over the next year I proceeded to pick up every one of Kate Bush albums. It wasn’t just that I had become a huge fan: it was the least I could do to thank her for helping to reintroduce us.