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Thread: Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

  1. #1
    Grumpy Old Man Music Head's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Lancaster, Kentucky, United States

    Default Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

    online listen
    high hopes here, too high
    love Kate and have most of her work
    this one was too mellow for me
    trouble getting through the first two tracks
    picked up a little after that, only to tail off again
    very long tracks
    clip is the best thing

    from the album - Wild Man

    released Nov 22nd, 2011

    from all music


    One of the most successful and popular solo female performers to come out of England during the last several
    decades of the 20th century, Kate Bush was also one of the most unusual, with her keening vocals and unusually
    literate and complex body of songs. As a girl, Catherine Bush studied piano and violin while attending the St.
    Joseph's Convent Grammar School in Abbey Wood in South London. She also amused herself playing an organ in the barn
    behind her parents' house. By the time she was a teenager, Bush was writing songs of her own. A family friend,
    Ricky Hopper, heard her music and brought Bush to the attention of Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour, who
    arranged for the 15-year-old Bush to record her first demo. With Gilmour's help, Bush was signed to EMI Records at
    age 16, though the company made the decision to bring her along slowly. She studied dance, mime, and voice, and
    continued writing. She also began thinking in terms of which of the 200 or so songs she'd written would be part of
    her first recording, and by 1977, she was ready to begin her formal career, which she did with an original song,
    "Wuthering Heights," based on material from Emily Bronte's novel (and more directly inspired by Bush's seeing the
    1970 film directed by Robert Fuest and starring Timothy Dalton and Anna Caulder Marshall).

    The song would set a pattern for much of her future work, which was filled with literary and other external
    thematic allusions, and sometimes made even fans feel as though her lyrics ideally would come with footnotes --
    heady stuff for a teenage rock singer in the late '70s. Her precocity was demonstrated by the approach she took to
    the song, deliberately affecting what she felt -- in her mid-teens -- was the voice of a ghostly Cathy, whom she
    regarded as a dangerous, grasping figure, reaching out to her lover even from the grave. "Wuthering Heights" rose
    to number one on the British charts when it was released in 1978, and Bush became an overnight sensation at the age
    of 19. Her debut album, The Kick Inside, a collection of material that she had written from 15 onward, some of it
    displaying extremely provocative and sophisticated sexual references and images, reached number three and sold over
    a million copies in the U.K.

    Bush's second album, Lionheart, reached number six but didn't achieve anything like the sales totals or critical
    acclaim of its predecessor, and in later years Bush regretted the rush involved in planning and recording that
    album to capitalize on the success of her debut. In England during the spring of 1979, Bush embarked on what proved
    to be the only concert tour of her career to date, playing a series of shows highlighted by 17 costume changes,
    lots of dancing, and complex lighting. Bush was also apparently the first rock performer (at least since the days
    in the early '60s when Sweden's Spotnicks experimented with a more primitive version of the technology) to make use
    of a wireless voice microphone, which freed her up to move around the stage as few singers before her had been
    capable of doing. The tour proved both exhausting and financially disastrous, and ever since then Bush has avoided
    any but the most limited live concert appearances, primarily in support of certain charitable causes. This absence
    from the concert stage, the extended periods -- often as much as three to five years -- between albums, and the
    dense, reference-filled nature of her songs and lyrics have also resulted in Bush becoming one of the more
    enigmatic pop artists in England since the Beatles; her relatively private personal life has only added to the
    mystique surrounding her. But her relative aloofness and her unusual sound and approach to pop music also made it
    more difficult to "explain" or encapsulate her work in a few words to the uninitiated, especially in America, where
    radio play and television exposure proved much harder to come by during the first few years of her career.

    By the start of the 1980s, Bush was established as one of the most challenging and eccentric artists ever to have
    achieved success in rock music, with a range of sounds and interests that constantly challenged listeners,
    encompassing literature, art, poetry, cinema, history, and all manner of other subjects. "Babooshka" (1980) became
    her first Top Five single since "Wuthering Heights," and her subsequent album, Never for Ever, entered the British
    charts at number one in September of 1980. During this period, Bush began co-producing her own work, a decisive
    step toward refining her sound and also establishing her independence from her record company. Although 1982's The
    Dreaming reached number three, the single "There Goes a Tenner" failed to reach the charts, and most observers felt
    that Bush had lost her audience. Bush was unfazed by the criticism, and even began taking steps to make herself
    more independent of her record label by establishing a home studio, this partly in response to EMI's huge studio
    charges on her previous records -- from the mid-'80s onward, Bush was free to spend her time at her leisure working
    out her sound, and it seemed to pay off with her next release.

    After two years' absence, Bush re-emerged in August of 1985 with "Running Up That Hill," which became her second
    biggest-selling single. The accompanying album, Hounds of Love, the first record made at her 48-track home studio,
    debuted on the British charts at the number one position in September of 1985 and remained there for a full month,
    and soon after "Running Up That Hill" gave Bush her long-awaited American breakthrough, reaching number 30 on
    Billboard's charts. By this time, in England Bush was ranked alongside Madonna in terms of her musical impact,
    "Running Up That Hill" having bumped "Like a Virgin" out of the number one chart position. The changes in her sound
    and her development as a writer/performer were showcased in the January 1987 best-of collection The Whole Story,
    for which she also re-recorded the lead vocal for "Wuthering Heights" to bring the song more in line with her sound
    as it was in her twenties (she later admitted that she would have liked to have done something similar with several
    of her other early recordings done when she was in her teens). The album also featured her latest single,
    "Experiment IV," whose lyrics were built on a science fiction story line that was echoed in the video, which Bush
    directed with a cast of familiar movie performers, and which came out like a miniaturized musical version of a
    Quatermass-like chiller. That same year, Bush won the Best British Female Artist award at the sixth-annual BRIT
    Awards in London.

    In October of 1989, Bush's first new album in almost four years, The Sensual World, reached the British number two
    spot, and received an unprecedented promotional push in America, where she signed with Columbia Records for her
    future releases. Bush's next album, The Red Shoes (1993), inspired by the 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric
    Pressburger, debuted in the American Top 30, the first time one of her albums had ever charted that high -- Bush
    made a rare personal appearance in New York that December, an autograph signing at Tower Records on the Lower East
    Side, and the resulting line of admirers stretched almost six blocks, and required her to extend her appearance by
    several hours (she was still delighted and amazed by the procession five hours into the event).

    It would be another 12 years before Bush would resume her recording career. Rumors of a new album began circulating
    in the late '90s. During this time, Bush became a mother and quietly retreated to her countryside home in
    Berkshire, Reading, England. In 2005, Bush finally released her follow-up to The Red Shoes, the double-disc set
    Aerial. After another six-year silence, Bush released The Director's Cut in 2011. It was a collection of 11 redone
    songs taken from 1989's The Sensual World and 1993's The Red Shoes. Bush claimed she was never quite satisfied with
    what was released, and therefore decided to rework elements in the chosen songs -- she recut all of her vocals and
    drums, and left virtually everything else unchanged. That said, the title of the song "The Sensual World" was
    renamed "Flower of the Mountain," because there, Bush also changed the words. Bush proved somewhat prolific in 2011
    when she released 50 Words for Snow on Anti in November, an all new concept recording containing seven long tracks.
    Jazz drummer Steve Gadd plays throughout, with Bush's son Bertie guesting on one track and Sir Elton John duetting
    with Bush on "Snowed in at Wheeler Street."

    Album Review

    Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow follows Director's Cut, a dramatically reworked collection of catalog material, by
    six months. This set is all new, her first such venture since 2005's Aerial. The are only seven songs here, but the
    album clocks in at an hour. Despite the length of the songs, and perhaps because of them, it is easily the most
    spacious, sparsely recorded offering in her catalog. Its most prominent sounds are Bush's voice, her acoustic
    piano, and Steve Gadd's gorgeous drumming -- though other instruments appear (as do some minimal classical
    orchestrations). With songs centered on winter, 50 Words for Snow engages the natural world and myth -- both
    Eastern and Western -- and fantasy. It is abstract, without being the least bit difficult to embrace. It commences
    with "Snowflake," with lead vocals handled by her son Bertie. Bush's piano, crystalline and shimmering in the lower
    middle register, establishes a harmonic pattern to carry the narrative: the journey of a snowflake from the heavens
    to a single human being's hand, and in its refrain (sung by Bush), the equal anticipation of the receiver. "Lake
    Tahoe" features choir singers Luke Roberts and Michael Wood in a Michael Nyman-esque arrangement, introducing
    Bush's slippery vocal as it relates the tale of a female who drowned in the icy lake and whose spirit now haunts
    it. Bush's piano and Gadd's kit are the only instruments. "Misty," the set's longest -- and strangest -- cut, is
    about a woman's very physical amorous tryst with, bizarrely, a snowman. Despite its unlikely premise, the grain of
    longing expressed in Bush's voice -- with bassist Danny Thompson underscoring it -- is convincing. Her jazz piano
    touches on Vince Guaraldi in its vamp. The subject is so possessed by the object of her desire, the morning's
    soaked but empty sheets propel her to a window ledge to seek her melted lover in the winter landscape.

    "Wild Man," introduced by the sounds of whipping winds, is one of two uptempo tracks here, an electronically pulse
    -driven, synth-swept paean to the Tibetan Kangchenjunga Demon, or "Yeti." Assisted by the voice of Andy Fairweather
    Low, its protagonist relates fragments of expedition legends and alleged encounters with the elusive creature. Her
    subject possesses the gift of wildness itself; she seeks to protect it from the death wish of a world which,
    through its ignorance, fears it. On "Snowed in at Wheeler Street," Bush is joined in duet by Elton John. Together
    they deliver a compelling tale of would-be lovers encountering one another in various (re)incarnations through
    time, only to miss connection at the moment of, or just previous to, contact. Tasteful, elastic electronics and
    Gadd's tom-toms add texture and drama to the frustration in the singers' voices, creating twinned senses: of
    urgency and frustration. The title track -- the other uptempo number -- is orchestrated by loops, guitars, basses,
    and organic rhythms that push the irrepressible Stephen Fry to narrate 50 words associated with snow in various
    languages, urgently prodded by Bush. Whether it works as a "song" is an open question. The album closes with "Among
    Angels," a skeletal ballad populated only by Bush's syncopated piano and voice. 50 Words for Snow is such a strange
    pop record, it's all but impossible to find peers. While it shares sheer ambition with Scott Walker's The Drift and
    PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, it sounds like neither; Bush's album is equally startling because its will toward
    the mysterious and elliptical is balanced by its beguiling accessibility.

    Track Listing

    1. Snowflake
    2. Lake Tahoe
    3. Misty
    4. Wild Man
    5. Snowed in at Wheeler Street
    6. 50 Words for Snow
    7. Among Angels
    A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
    Will Rogers

  2. #2
    External Communications TraceNspace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Florida, United States


    I didn't make it through the first 2 tracks!
    "I said, I found the secret to life, I found the secret to life
    I'm okay when everything is not okay, is not okay"

    ~Tori Amos, Upside Down

  3. #3
    Serial Under Achiever Tiggi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    United Kingdom


    I have a copy of this to listen to tonight. Doesn't sound promising...
    "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture"


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