Tag Archives: kate bush

1001 Songs – 1977: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Black Betty – Ram Jam

Okay, I started listening to a later remix of this before the beat was a bit too modern and dancey for a blues rock song from 1977. Then when I found the correct version… it still felt incredibly modern and one of those songs that really was crying out for a dance remix.

‘Black Betty’ is this brilliant mixture of boogie-woogie and hard rock that is a cover of an old African-American work song. Needless to say, that due to the origins and content of the song (and that this band were white) this song managed to conjure up a bit of controversy at the time. It’s still a great execution, even if the content is a bit wanting.

Born for a Purpose – Dr. Alimantado & The Rebels

The further we get into reggae’s evolution, the more it is progressing into something that I am no longer dreading. The production is cleaner, which means that the lyrics are taking centre stage. There is also a whole lot more variation in the song, which is really necessary when you are making something nearly 6 minutes long.

It’s just a pity that these developments never became universal within reggae, but horses for courses I suppose.

Zombie – Fela Kuti & Africa 70

Time for the list to make a rare veering off of Western music and highlight a genre that I have yet to hear before: Afrobeat.

This is a word I’ve heard a number of times to generically refer to music from Africa, but I’m not surprised that such a cool name has also been applied to a genre; in this instance a genre fusing West African musical styles with jazz and funk from America.

At twelve and a half minutes long, and lyrics only starting just before the halfway mark, it’s definitely hard to ignore the jazz influence. Like Fela Kuti himself, ‘Zombie’ is a very political song aimed at the military in his native Nigeria for following orders without thoughts.

Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

Time for debut song of one of my favourite artists of all time. The first time where a woman got to number one in the UK charts with a song she wrote herself. And she was 18. And she was raised in a neighbouring major town.

I’m biased because I love Kate Bush, but ‘Wuthering Heights’ is one of those watershed moments in music. This song is 458th in this list and there hasn’t been much like this before.

It’s the birth of art pop and a host of other genres It’s the song that influenced a huge section of female singers afterwards. And she was 18 with massive acclaim still to come in her life.

Not bad for a song written from the perspective of a ghost in Emily Brontë’s classic gothic novel (specifically from the BBC adaptation… not the book) because Kate Bush just happened to like the idea.

Uptown Top Ranking – Althea & Donna

I believe that this is the first reggae song I have heard on this list with female vocals. That alone makes this a really interesting entry. Then you figure in that it was the first song by a female duo to top the UK starts and it was all down to radio DJ John Peel playing it by accident… welll it just makes for a really interesting story.

The song itself is more of a step back to earlier reggae, especially when compared to ‘Born For A Purpose’ in terms of the repetition and the overall style. However it still has the progression because of the cleaner production. Not entirely sure how this became a hit, but it’s great to finally hear some female reggae artists.

I Feel Love – Donna Summer 

Third female vocalist in a row, that must be some sort of record for this list so far. Like ‘Wuthering Heights’ earlier, ‘I Feel Love’ is another of those landmark records. Not only is this the moment where disco went electronic and started to bleed into other neighbouring genres and inspire new ones, this was the moment that electronic music gained sung lyrics and a kick drum.

Giorgio Morordor’s production is sublime as he takes you on this hypnotic journey. Together with Donna Summer’s breathy and other-worldly vocals, ‘I Feel Love’ is one of those songs that can still make you take time and zone out completely. It was an instant classic in a year of genre-defining moments that still has plenty of songs to go.

Peg – Steely Dan

Time for something a bit more conventional as we get to ‘Peg’ by Steely Dan (a song I first heard as a cover by Nerina Pallot). After some pretty major songs, it’s actually quite nice to have this as a mental break after so many heavy hitters.

This isn’t a revolutionary song, but it’s a nice song that helps exemplify the jazz-infused soft rock genre. It’s a nice signpost of the other types of rock that were out there at the time. Nice to hear the softer side sometimes.

Marquee Moon – Television

Well, I did say at the beginning of the month that I would be hearing ‘Marquee Moon’ again. Thanks to my initial listen to the album, I now associate this album (and song) with the ill-informed act of putting up a flatpack bookshelf in 33 degree heat.

Listening to this in a historical context as a song, rather than in the running order of the album, really does change how I perceive this song. In the album, ‘Marquee Moon’ is this epic moment, but on it’s own it overstays its welcome as a nearly 11-minute song.

It is worth repeating though that ‘Marquee Moon’ and its album really were what punk had to morph into after the initial explosion went alight like touch-paper. This post-punk genre persisted much longer than punk every could have, and I am thankful for that.

Like a Hurricane – Neil Young

It’s probably because it’s been a long time since I last did a Neil Young album for the blog (which it definitely is and I still have his 1975 album Tonight’s The Night to listen to), but I have never heard him embracing his electric side.

I know that this is one of Neil Young’s big songs and that it is a classic within the genre, but surrounded by the other songs of the year I just don’t see it doing anything particularly big or new. It’s a song that overstays it’s welcome, unlike the longer ‘Zombie’, and… yea it just left me really cold.

The Passenger – Iggy Pop

What a great song to finsh the post on. Such a change from his earlier 1977 song ‘Dum Dum Boys‘ where he was casting off the identity of the past as part of his solo debut album.

‘The Passenger’ comes from Iggy Pop’s second album of 1977 (because why not release your first two solo albums in the same year) and is far less experimental and more focused on bringing an older rock and roll style and applying some more punk musical elements to it.

Like most people my age, I know ‘The Passenger’ from a car commercial and it’s one of those songs that has managed to make me smile whenever I hear it being played. After his previous song from 1977 it’s great to hear Iggy Pop back in his element and with a lot more confidence.

Progress: 464/1021

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In Review: Music Of 2016 (10-1)

Thanks for tuning in again. Yesterday I counted down my #20-11 albums of the year. Let’s finish off that countdown and see who ended up at #1.

#10 – Emotion: Side B by Carly Rae Jepsenemotion-side-b

This is an album of B-Sides and yet she is still able to give some of the best pop tracks of the year. Released on the anniversary of the parent album Emotion: Side B became a refuge for me in a year where pop music hasn’t been as strong.

Usually a collection like this feels a bit disjointed, but this very much feels like an album in its own right. The thread of 1980s electro-pop and dancing as your heard breaks or soars (depending on the song) permeates every moment.

This album ended up being the ultimate gift to her fiercely loyal fan base. With it she has become the Canadian Robyn… and that is not a title that should be given lightly.

Top Tracks: Cry, The One, Higher

#9 – Familia by Sophie Ellis-Bextorfamilia

When Sophie Ellis-Bextor released Wanderlust a few years back I was struck by the extreme left turn in her music. Gone were the glorious electro-pop days of Trip The Light Fantastic and here we were down something a lot more nuanced.

With Familia she is still on this road and vocally I don’t think she has ever sounded better. Both this and Wanderlust have allowed us to see her as the artist she is rather than the singer.

Nothing on this album quite hits the heights of “Love Is A Camera”, but as an album this feels more cohesive and consistent. She still lets her electronic side out (after all she is still Sophie Ellis-Bextor), but she couples this with some more Latin influences as well as a whole mess of other touchstones. Despite being a fan for nearly 15 years I don’t think I have ever found her music as interesting as I do now.

Top Tracks: Death of Love, Crystallise, Come With Us

#8 – A Moon Shaped Pool by Radioheadmoon-shaped-pool

It took until May before I felt I had heard the first great album of 2016. I have been a real latecomer to the music of Radiohead, but the more I listen to them the more of a fan I find myself becoming.

Since, like with In Rainbows, I was able to listen to A Moon Shaped Pool without any preconceptions from music critics all the discoveries I made about this album felt profoundly my own.

I think it has been agreed that A Moon Shaped Pool is one of the more accessible albums in the Radiohead back catalogue and that may be why I like it so much. It’s dark and dreamy in a way where I think the title of the album feels eerily accurate. For a perfect listen I think you need a few fireflies, but that might just be me.

Top Tracks: Ful Stop, Burn the Witch, Daydreaming

#7 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Soundtrack by Crazy-Ex Girlfriend Castcrazy-ex-girlfriend

I don’t care if this feels like a cheat or not. Rachel Bloom and everyone else working on the Crazy Ex Girlfriend cast team are some of the most talented people working in television right now and it is just not getting the viewership it deserves.

I was listening and singing along to this soundtrack for about a month before I even started watching the show in September. I was sharing music videos and spreading the word of this amazing show based solely on YouTube playlists.

These songs aren’t just funny (some like ‘What’ll It Be’ and ‘Stupid Bitch’ actually make you want to cry). They are fantastically realised and performed of pastiche. The sources of inspiration have included the dream ballet from Oklahoma, 1980s hair rock, Shakira and the Dreamgirls soundtrack – and we are still part way through Season 2.

It’s on Netflix and the music can be found on YouTube and Spotify. spread the word!

Top Tracks: Feelin’ Kinda Naughty, I’m A Good Person, Greg’s Drinking Song

#6 Before The Dawn by Kate Bushbtd-rgb1

I cried when I was unable to get tickets to see Kate Bush live. The tickets sold out within 15 minutes and I had to watch as the 5-star reviews rolled in. Still there was consolation in knowing that a live album was going to eventually be released (sadly the DVD was scrapped).

Having a live album on this list isn’t too dissimilar to having a greatest hits, but it’s new arrangements and Kate Bush so sod it. This live album is amazing. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there, but this will do.

What makes this more than a greatest hits album… is that it isn’t your typical greatest hits. If anything it’s a live realisation of the two concept halves of Hounds of Love and Aerial and that’s what catapulted this right to the top end of my year-end charts.

Top Tracks: Sunset, Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God), Lily

#5 – My Woman by Angel Olsenangel-olsen-my-woman

I missed the boat when Angel Olsen released Burn Your Fire For No Witness a few years back. So many people had that in their end of year list and I had not even heard of her. This year, with the release of My Woman I wanted to make sure I was there on the ground floor.

Like with Mitski’s album, this was a grower. The moment I finished the first playthrough I thought My Woman was okay, but I wanted to listen to it again straight away. So on some level I think it really must have struck me.

A few listens later and here it is at number 5 on my list, as well as placing high on many critics lists. Angel Olsen is still someone where I don’t know many people who listen to her, so whilst I am a bit late to the party it’s nice to feel like it’s still a select party.

Top Tracks: Shut Up Kiss Me, Sister, Heart Shaped Face

#4 Fantôme by Utada Hikarufantome

It has been a very long eight years since her last album, HEART STATION. Ever since I first discovered the wonders of JPop some 10-15 years ago she has been my unquestioned queen of the genre. For her to comeback with an album like this was more than I could have hoped for.

It’s very much a Utada Hikaru album and yet it is a real development from where she was before. Okay so I can’t understand what she is saying, but there is a greater confidence and maturity in what she has delivered. It is not the album made to appease fans after a long time and it’s not a throwback to what she used to be.

This might, in fact. be the best album she has done and I can only applaud her for that. Here’s hoping we get the next album in the near future.

Top Tracks: 桜流し, 道, 二時間だけのバカンス

#3 – case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirscaselangveirs

A new release from Laura Veirs was always going to feature high on this list. Since coming across July Flame as a reviewer for a university news site I have been keeping a very close eye on her releases.

With this team up with kd lang and the amazing Neko Case there was only one way that this could go wrong: if one dominated the others. Thankfully that did not happen. Each singer has their fair share of leading tracks and then contribute backing vocals or other support on the remaining.

For a while it looked like this would have been my number one album of the year, but then second half of the year proved to be incredibly strong.

Top Tracks: Best Kept Secret, Greens of June, Blue Fires

#2 Blood Bitch by Jenny Hvala3923298497_10

I started making this list in November and have slowly watched Blood Bitch climbing up the ranks before popping a squat at number two. This is an album I have had a hard time recommending to people as the moment I say it is a Norwegian avant-grade pop concept album about vampires, menstruation and the moon… well you get the picture.

With the exception of the standout tracks listed below, this is an album where most songs cannot be played in isolation. They all bleed into each other and most tend to only make sense as part of a full playthrough (‘The Plague’ is one of these).

This is very much an album for the colder months, so makes a nice counterpoint to case/lang/veirs which dominated my early summer.

Top Tracks: The Great Undressing, Conceptual Romance, Secret Touch

#1 – 22, A Million by Bon Iver22-a-million

I don’t think anyone can be more surprised than me to have an album by a man top my list for the second year running (I’ve made these lists for the last 12 years and this is the second time that an album by a woman/women has not topped my list).

With the year that 2016 has been politically it feels like 22, A Million is exactly the sort of album you need to have to calm yourself down. Okay so it’s a glitchy folktronica album with song titles that upset the users of last.fm, but it’s beautifully honest.

You don’t always get what Justin Vernon is singing amongst the samples and the distortions. The thing is that it all just adds to the beautiful atmosphere and has made this album incredibly repeatable whether you are walking the streets of London, playing Skyrim or simply working in the office. Just gorgeous.

Top tracks: 8 (circle), 666 ʇ, 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄

Music Monday: Hounds of Love by Kate Bush

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 16/250

Hounds_of_loveTitle: Hounds of Love
Artist: Kate Bush
Year: 1985
Position: #162 (Previously: #197)

I need to ration my coverage of female singers. As someone who listens to women almost exclusively this is something of an annoyance. Thing is on this consensus list of albums there are not a lot of women who feature within the Top 250. I have already used up both of the PJ Harvey albums and now is time for me to use up the only Kate Bush entry. The great thing about Hounds of Love being that in essence you are looking at two mini-albums with the vinyl A-side being titled Hounds of Love and the B-side being a concept album called The Ninth Wave.

The first five tracks aka Hounds of Love plays like a miniature greatest hits with ‘Running Up That Hill’ and ‘Hounds of Love’ acting as the ultimate one-two punch. I don’t care what people say about The Futureheads cover of ‘Hounds of Love’ being better than the original, you are wrong and that is all I have to say on the matter. ‘The Big Sky’ is a big song celebrating the joie de vivre that children get from things like spending all day staring at the clouds and then you get ‘Mother Stands For Comfort’ which is Kate Bush starting to toe the line a bit more between experimental and radio-friendly.

Now, whilst people will turn to the first two tracks of the album to pick a favourite I have to say that I am torn between two rather different ones. The first is ‘Cloudbusting’ which tells a story of the relationship between psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and his son Peter. The ‘cloudbuster’ was a rather odd machine invented by Reich in order to make rain and in the rather brilliant video (featuring Bush as a young boy and Donald Sutherland as her father) they even recreate a simplified cloudbuster. The reason that this song works so well is because of both the strong undercurrent of cello that drives the melody (somewhat ferociously at times) and the bittersweet lyrics. The son begins to realize, possibly for the first time, that his father may be in the wrong about something as the government come to cart him away. The moment that she sings the lines “cloudbusting daddy” breaks you heart just a little bit since it does mark the loss of some sort of innocence.

So what is the other favourite song candidate? Well it is a bit of a cheat since it is actually a combination of two songs on the B-Side… but I’ll get to that in a second. Where Hounds of Love is a collection of radio-friendly songs with no real connection The Ninth Wave tells the story of a girl (or woman) having to survive a night after falling through the ice and her survival.

This brings me to ‘Under Ice’ and ‘Waking the Witch’ which together tell the story of the girl skating down a river only to have the ice crack beneath her, her realisation that she’s drowning and then her beginning to succumb to the darkness before being rescued (signalled by the helicopter sounds at the end). This journey is disturbing with demons putting her on trial and condemning her to hell whilst she screams for her life. It’s macabre and it is utterly riveting stuff which is nothing like she has done before or since.

The rest of The Ninth Wave features the girl coming back to life and her eventual waking up. Bush uses her Irish roots as a way to signal this fight for live and within a few tracks manages to do something that Dante took nearly a hundred cantos to do. A journey of a soul travelling (and surviving) through damnation and ascends back to Earth and gets a chance to live again. Without knowing the story behind the tracks The Ninth Wave can be an awkward listen, but some attention paid to the narrative make it incredibly engaging.

As a whole Hounds of Love is one of the most influential albums to come out of the 1980s. The ripples of both this album and The Dreaming (the preceding album which was just a whole heap of amazing experimentation) can be felt to this day since it really helped women to be more accepted as slightly darker pop artists. I know that I probably would not be as into music had this album not influenced every female artist that came afterwards; I therefore owe a lot to this album and the force behind it.