Yeah,yeah, we all love Hounds Of Love and acknowledge that it’s a game changer, but I am rather partial to Kate Bush’s third album , Never For Ever.
Released on September 7th in 1980, it is wilfully eccentric (Babooshka, The Wedding List, Violin) febrile and beautiful.
Even the cover points to the esoteric strangeness within: an illustrated Bush stands on a precipice as a bizarre nature vomit tornado is whirling directly opposite her- a Hieronymous Bush, if you like.
Produced by Bush with Jon Kelly, classical elements fuse with rock, while the storytelling sees Bush morphing into characters like the curmudgeonly composer Delius or the fretful mother of Army Dreamers.
More overtly sexual and dark than before, Bush really seems to blossom here in taking on so many genres and personae.
Night Scented Stock and All We Ever Wanted are floaty, ethereal tracks that seem to take flight, without losing their innate strangeness, but there’s controversy here too.
Inspired by creepy Miles, the disturbed little boy of Henry James ‘ novel The Turn Of The Screw, The Infant Kiss sees Bush meditating on the nanny and said child in her care, possessed by a dead man, who desires her. “I’ve never fallen for/ A little boy before “… “All my barriers are going/It’s starting to show”…”There’s a man behind those eyes/I catch him when I’m bending “… It’s deeply troubling, and not something that would likely be recorded today.
It’s Bush’s willingness to take on controversial subject matter that singles her out as an audacious lyricist and artist. The Wedding List is similarly strange, inspired by Truffaut and typically French cinematic concerns: jealousy and murder.
Trust Bush to not play it safe on her third album. It paid off, too- Never For Ever was the first number one album in the UK by a solo female artist.
Sometimes, it is more interesting to go rogue and wander into unknown territories. Bush, now as then, simply refuses to play by established pop star rules.New wave may have been the prevailing style in the early eighties, but Bush was and is her own, otherworldly genre. Happy birthday, queen.