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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kate Bush

The Dreaming

Review by Steve Alspach

There were signs of Kate Bush's musical maturity in 1980's "Never For Ever" but not too many people may have been expecting the curveball she threw with 1982's "The Dreaming." Often referred to as the "She's gone mad" album, "The Dreaming" is far removed from "The Kick Inside," the 1978 album that introduced the helium-tinged starry-eyed waif to the world.

"The Dreaming" is an album that takes chance after chance, and few if any miss the mark. Many of the songs, and the characters in the songs, have a dark side to them, the arrangements are adventurous, and it all adds up to an album that has aged extremely well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at https://garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2005.

Track by Track Review
Sat In Your Lap
Kate looks at the benefits and pitfalls of the pursuit of knowledge. The song has a driving 5/4 rhythm to it, and the drums - toms only - have the "Phil Collins ambient drum" sound that seemed to be the rage back then.
There Goes a Tenner
The verses are simple enough, but the chorus allows Kate to show off the CMI Fairlight in all its glory, whether it sounds like trombones or rather ethereal.
Pull Out the Pin
This may be one of Kate's most unnerving songs. Addressing the Vietnam War from the eyes of a Vietnamese guerilla, here Kate lets loose with her banshee wails. David Gilmour joins in on backing vocals and Danny Thompson adds in admirably on acoustic bass.
Suspended in Gaffa
This is a bouncy 6/8 piece, and Paddy Bush's mandolins and Stuart Elliott's percussion work with sticks give the song an eastern European feel. Kate's tongue-in-cheek lyrics - "I'm much more like that girl in the mirror / between you and me she don't stand a chance of getting anywhere at all" may have been an influence to a young Tori Amos.
Leave it Open
This is an ambiguous theme - I'm not really sure what Kate is getting at here, though the refrain "Harm is in us / Harm in us but power to arm" shows that she's not in a good mood. This is perhaps the least adventurous of the songs on the album.
The Dreaming
Another one to raise the hair on the back of your necks, this one looks at the mysteries of the Australian outback, and again the arrangement (which includes soccer crowds, cars screeching, orchestral blasts, bleating sheep, and digeridoos) are something not found before or since. Kate's line of "Woomera" has to do with a small town in Australia inadvertently destroyed by an atomic bomb test. This is one of those songs where any video is best created in the listener's head.
Night of the Swallow
"The Dreaming" segues into a Celtic jig as a prelude to this track. The chorus has an all-star lineup of Sean Keane (of the Chieftains) on fiddle, Liam O'Flynn on whistles and penny whistle, Donal Lunny on bouzouki, all arranged by Bill Whelan, the man who wrote the music for Riverdance and Dancing at Lughnasa.
All The Love
The line between love and death gets straddled on "All the Love." A haunting line: "I needed you to love me too / I wait for your love" - is delivered angelically by Richard Thornton, a young choirboy. The kicker on this is Kate actually using voices from her answering machine, a series of people saying goodbye.
Houdini
"Houdini" sounds like something that Kate might have done earlier in her career, but the strained voices, string arrangement, and Eberhard Weber's bass are indicative of Kate's development as a writer and arranger.
Get Out of My House
Kate hits her gothic peak on this closer. The transformation of Kate from woman to mule is something that only she would have the nerve to attempt, or the skill to pull off.
 
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