Standing On the Shoulder of Giants (2000)

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

When it comes to general consensus regarding Oasis, there is near unanimous agreement that their first two albums are masterpieces. After that, it is not so simple. Be Here Now isn’t the most respected album in music history (I absolutely love it as stated in my review of the album) but from my time browsing Oasis message boards and reading various articles about the band, I would say most fans like/love Be Here Now. The other thing the majority will agree on is that the 2nd half of Oasis’ existence (although others might say last two thirds, as I said before it’s not so simple) didn’t reach the standards of their earlier days. With the final four albums, all of them have their defenders and detractors. Fans like myself will never stop debating where it went wrong, at what times did things go right, what tracks should have been removed from the albums and replaced with b-sides, etc.

So where do I stand with Standing On the Shoulder of Giants? Well for a long time I was dismissive of this album. Aside from the first three songs, I found the remaining tracks uninteresting and forgettable. However, in retrospect, I can contribute this to the first three albums being so incredible, Standing On the Shoulder of Giants didn’t stand a chance by comparison (also I feel they shouldn’t have dropped their classic logo, the old one was so much more welcoming). It was only after milking 90’s Oasis for every second of listening pleasure, that I came to revise my opinion of Standing On the Shoulder of Giants. This is not an album full of arena rockers, rather much of it is more slow-paced and mellow than the previous Oasis albums.

Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is, for the most part, a dark record; what happened to my happy go lucky Oasis? Instead we get an album in which the opening song is called F**kin’ In the Bushes and begins with a sound sample of some thuggish sounding bloke shouting “We put this festival on you bastards, with a lot of love we worked one year for you pigs and you wanna break our walls down and you wanna destroy it? Well, go to hell!” (taken from the documentary Message to Love). Or take Gas Panic!, likely Oasis’ darkest song (with a title reminiscent of a certain 20th-century atrocity). Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is very much the opposite of Be Here Now, whereas that album captured the sound of a band on top of the world, this captures the sound of a band fallen on hard times and trying it’s best to get by and I mean that as a good thing; there is a sense of desperation present throughout the album. At this point in the band’s history, they could only go one of two directions – disband or reinvent themselves. Especially considering the Brit-pop era had now come to an end. Resulting in an album which was the most experimental Oasis ever got (with a very distinctive industrial like sound not present in any other Oasis album).

Even before I came to reappraise Standing On the Shoulder of Giants, Who Feels Love? was already one of my favourite Oasis songs – such a spiritual and psychedelic tune. While I’m not a spiritual person, when listening to this song it really does feel like as the song describes, “My spirit has been purified”. However, I hate Sunday Morning Call. I wouldn’t even bother dwelling on it as every artist is inevitability going to have some bad songs but this was a freakin’ single and it’s one of the most dreary and boring songs Oasis ever created. I can agree with Noel on this one; the song was even made a hidden track on the Oasis singles collection Time Flies, good move. Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is not my favourite Oasis album nor it ever will be but it is a good album and it deserves to be reappraised.

 

Standing On the Shoulder of Giants Era B-Sides and Rarities

These songs are some of Oasis’ most mellow tracks so no air-guitaring in front of the mirror (except for Full On) but they are a good selection of songs. Look at them as Oasis’ chill out songs.

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Be Here Now (1997)

Oasis: Beyond Wonderwall

Oh boy, Be Here Now, talk about a decisive album. I’ll cut to the chase and say that I am a lover of Be Here Now and considering it to be one of my favourite albums of all time. The album cover symbolises the bombastic nature of the record, and it even narcissistically has the date of its release is on the cover. The title, on the other hand, represents the arrogant nature of Oasis at the time whether or not that was intentional; it’s like Oasis are instructing that you are going to be here now! If the first two albums were about trying to achieve your dreams, then Be Here Now was about living those dreams. The sound of a band high on coke and on top of the world, a real powerhouse of an album with everything turned up to 11.

Be Here Now is not Morning Glory. I don’t want Be Here Now to sound like Morning Glory, we had Morning Glory and now this is something different. Unlike the first two albums, the songs on Be Here Now don’t have as many hooks and are not instantly catchy; Be Here Now is a dirtier, meaner record. When I first listened to the album I didn’t instantly latch onto it and took me a few listens to grow on me, unlike the first two albums which were love on first listen.

The opening track D’You What I Mean? Is 7 minutes and 42 seconds long. Before the vocals even begin we get a minute comprised of helicopter and Morse code sound effects with the final minute of the song just being guitar feedback; that’s the levels of bombastic indulgence we’re talking about here. This song is not radio friendly yet it was the album’s lead single and went to number 1 on the UK charts; only Oasis had the clout to get a song like this to be a single Yet they still even outdone D’You What I Mean?  with All Around the World, an epic all-devouring song which lasts for a whopping 9 and a half minutes, and it too was a UK number 1; the longest song in length to ever do so. It’s such a monstrous, epic song; a real celebration of everything Oasis had achieved up until that point.

I disagree with the notion that the B-sides from the Be Here Now era should have been included on the album. They’re great songs but they’re more reminiscent of Morning Glory and don’t match the over the top nature of Be Here Now. But aside from the over the top arena rockers of celebration (God knows just how many guitar tracks are on My Big Mouth and It’s Gettin’ Better Man!!), we do get two more downbeat, emotional songs in the form of Stand By Me and Don’t Go Away; the latter of which being one of Oasis’ biggest tearjerkers.

No band could make Be Here Now today, no one would have the clout to do so. But not Oasis back then; I can imagine a record label executive asking the band does All Around the World have to be 9 and a half minutes long, and them replying “Yes if f**king does!”. When was the last time a band made an album that had the same “we’re on top of the world” spirit as that of Be Here Now? I’ve never been a fan of the post-millennium music scene, and for me personally, 1997 is the last year in which there was a number of high profile album releases which I loved. The final sound effect on the album of a door shutting on the All Around the World Reprise signals the end of the Brit-pop era and the end of Oasis’ golden age.

Critics praised Be Here Now on its initial release, only later to detract their praises. The complete opposite to what happened to Morning Glory, which received mixed reviews on initial release and later went on to receive acclaim. Are people just conformist drones who listened to Oasis because it was the “cool” thing to do and backlashed against the band when Be Here Now turned out not to be another Morning Glory; or perhaps I’m just in a minority opinion who think this album is amazing? Who knows? Regardless, for me Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and Be Here Now will always be the holy trinity of Oasis albums. Be Here Now, I salute you!

 

Be Here Now Era B-Sides and Rarities

As I stated before, the b-sides for the Be Here Now were more reminiscent of the Morning Glory era. There are not as many b-sides during the Be Here Now era, but all of them were good. Throughout their entire 90’s output, there are only two Oasis songs I don’t like (Hey Now! and Be Here Now); the band almost literally had no filler. I wonder if the backlash Be Here Now received prevented the album’s fourth single Don’t Go Away (which ended up only getting released in Japan) from having any new songs. (I Got) The Fever is one of my absolute favourite Oasis songs; what a choon! While it’s not the most lyrically significant Oasis song, but it’s one seriously uplifting jam. The band’s cover of David Bowie’s Heros is also superb; you can’t top the original but this is a dam fine cover. Now when will the deluxe edition of Be Here Now be here now?

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

The Master Album

There doesn’t exist an album which I would rate 10.0/10.0, because there is no album in which I would give every song a 5-star rating. (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is one of a handful of albums which comes close. All but one song is a five-star masterpiece of musical greatness. The song I’m talking about is Hey Now!, a song which fails to be catchy or memorable, and should have been replaced by one of Oasis’s many excellent B-sides but why am I beginning this review by focussing on the only negative aspect of what is otherwise one of my top 5 favourite albums of all time. The reaming nine songs are masterpieces of lyrical and musical composition craftsmanship, in other words, each track is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard.

Roll With It; damn, talk about a catchy uplifting song. Possibly the happiest Oasis song and one I always turn to lift my spirit and to remind myself not to care what naysayers think. Why is Wonderwall considered Oasis signature song? It’s a great song but why it? It’s become the cliché song of choice for guys with acoustic guitars at parties. Even the choir at my sister’s school sings it; I don’t deny it’s an amazing song but with a band with an amazing back catalog as Oasis, choose another one to play on the radio. Some Might Say is the song which started my Oasis journey. I feel it’s the perfect introductory Oasis song, summing up what the band is all about. Cast No Shadow strikes such powerful imagery, however, the song Morning Glory is my choice for the centerpiece of the album. The lyric “another Sunny Afternoon walking to the sound of my favourite tune” describes many an afternoon to me; it’s kind of depressing actually. The song is about drug use and that is what this album is, a drug. You can’t stop listening to it, even when you think you’ve had enough of it you keep coming back for more. Even the two brief musical interludes are amazing, even the novelty song She’s Electric is amazing.

Closing the album is a song with lyrics which are total gibberish but it doesn’t matter. With Champagne Supernova it feels like Noel took every memorising phrase he could think of (“Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball” or “Caught beneath a landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky”) and put them all into one song and somehow made it all work. Even the title is memorising, Champagne Supernova: what does that even mean? Who cares! It’s an amazing title. Ok, I know I’ve said amazing about a million times in this review. Allow me to place (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? on top of a pedestal and worship, it’s greatness.

 

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Era B-Sides and Rarities

With all these incredible B-sides it makes me think Oasis could have possibly made a whole album out of them, or make Morning Glory a double album but nope, they made them B-sides.

Why is Acquiesce considered their best B-side? It’s a great song but like Wonderwall, I don’t get why it’s singled out so much. In my opinion, it’s the most overrated Oasis song. Talk Tonight, on the other hand, sends shivers down my spine on every listen;  it has the most vulnerable lyrics Noel has ever written with the story behind the song seems too incredible to be true. I like to think of Bonehead’s Bank Holiday as Oasis’ attempt at a Blur song, a track previously only included in the vinyl editions of Morning Glory. Is it just me or did the songs that not make it the B-side compilation The Masterplan even better than those which didn’t; It’s Better People, Step Out (sounds like an early 2000’s pop-punk song) and Round Are Way, in my opinion, are better than most of the songs on The Masterplan. Speaking of the actual song The Masterplan, a tune which sums the journey of life within five minutes: that we are all part of a masterplan which we can’t understand, so we should just make the best of it. It contains some of best, no, most incredible lyrics Noel has ever written. I love Noel’s comments regarding the song being a B-side, “Well, I don’t write shit songs!”

Definitely Maybe (1994)

D’Yer Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?

Oasis, a name which invokes power and grandeur. Some might say Oasis sucks, they’re a Beatles rip off, they haven’t done anything good since 1996, the brothers are pricks and just fight all the time, insert British band here is so much better. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life debunking such criticisms just like how I’ll be spending the rest of my life listening to Oasis. Unpretentious songs about liking, nay, loving yourself, being true to yourself, simply trusting what you believe and speaking your mind. Ultimately this brand of non-conformity comes at a price, and perhaps Oasis paid this price; could this be one of the reasons they get the stick they do? I’m an optimist at heart, thus one of the reasons Oasis appeals to me. Few other artists can strike up such an emotional connection with the listener and worth getting passionate about to such a high degree.

In the tradition of the movie High Fidelity’s top 5 lists; top 5 side 1, track 1’s, Oasis – Rock n’ Roll Star of Definitely Maybe. When I listen to this song I have to repeat the final 90 seconds over and over again and absorb every moment of its guitar riffing, drum bashing perfection. Oasis are an arrogant band and this song sums this up perfectly. The band’s combination of Noel’s catchy hooks and Liam’s enunciating on words (Gonnnnnaaaaa Liiiiiivvvvveeee Forevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrr) is what makes Oasis the drug that it is; always coming back for more. Songs like Shakermaker and Columbia are hypnotic; I remember listening to Shakermaker well over a dozen times in a row shortly after hearing it for the first time. The opening lyrics to Supersonic, on the other hand, the song which they first released sums up my life’s philosophy. Like many Oasis songs, it has an obvious message, but I believe at the end of the day we need to reminded of obvious messages in our lives as we seem to forget them all the time.

Choosing a favourite song from Oasis ain’t easy but does there exist a song more emotionally shattering than Live Forever? In 4 minutes and 30 seconds, Liam’s powerful yet at times fragile voice waves a wide gauntlet of human emotion, the desire to be immortal, to never be forgotten. Noel Gallagher was motivated to write the song after hearing a song from Nirvana titled “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”. Let’s face it, it’s easy to be pessimistic and look cool because of it, it takes courage to express optimism.

I have a poster of the Definitely Maybe on my bedroom wall, and will regularly take a look at it to admire its beauty and always noticing something within it which I never saw before. As with the band’s album and single covers throughout the 90’s, the genius comes from their simplicity.

Oasis hit their peak early on; I remember hearing comments from Noel Gallagher stating he could never write songs like that again or else you would get laughed out of town; you can only write like that when you’re uninhibited and nobody is listening to your music. Definitely Maybe is the punkier, dirtier companion to the cleaner, more commercial sounding Morning Glory; not that makes Morning Glory any less album. The way I see it, Definitely Maybe is like The Terminator, whereas Morning Glory is like Terminator 2. Sometimes I wish I could erase my mind of songs so I can listen to them again as if hearing for the first time, that couldn’t be truer here. Definitely, Maybe the best debut album of all time? Not maybe, definitely!

 

Definitely Maybe Era B-Sides and Rarities

What band has better B-sides than Oasis? Their B-sides are better than most bands biggest hits. It’s the greatest collection of unknown songs ever. Their singles where all like mini albums, each with a cover which was a work of art itself. For a time I was content with just listening to Oasis’ albums, but when I really started to delve into the band’s B-sides it was like falling in love with Oasis all over again.

The 1998 compilation album The Masterplan contained most the band’s B-sides up until that point but not all of them; a shame too as there are some absolute gems which didn’t. The deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe brings all the B-sides from the Definitely Maybe era together as well as various other rarities, all apart from a live version of Bring It On Down from the Shakermaker single. Not a major loss as there is nothing particular stands out about it, but it would be nice for it to be there for completist sake. Now if we can just get a deluxe edition of Be Here Now then all will be well with the world.

Take Me Away is such a simple yet powerful song, with Noel’s vocals being so fragile; you can hear the desperation in his voice. Another downbeat song with Noel on vocals D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman? is so beautiful it hurts; plus it also gets the vote for my favourite Oasis song title. The story goes that Liam didn’t want to sing these downbeat songs as he considered himself a “rock ‘n’ roller” and didn’t want to play that wimpy shit; says the guy who later wrote songbird. You haven’t heard Oasis’ cover of I Am the Walrus until you’ve heard the full-length version from the Cigarettes & Alcohol single; The Masterplan version was shortened by two minutes. The Beatles created it, Oasis stole it. Then there’s Half the World Away, a song which sums up a period of my life (and many other people’s lives), being stuck in a dead-end town where you can’t express yourself creatively.

Cloudburst is the only slightly weaker Definitely Maybe b-side; it has energy to it but lacks a coherent structure. Everything else are absolute gems, like a secret collection of songs just for Oasis diehards. It makes me wonder what Oasis have never seen the light of day, perhaps those are the greatest Oasis songs of all.

The Red Shoes (1993)

It’s Really Happening To Ya!

It’s a close call but The Red Shoes is my favourite Kate Bush album; a record which really is all killer and no filler. This is her most pop sounding album, not that being necessarily being a bad thing as pop music is an art form itself, while the album still has Kate’s stamp of unusualness. The back cover of the album shows an array of fruit which is appropriate as The Red Shoes contains some of her most rich compositions. Bush was going through emotional turmoil at the time of the record’s production with a series of personal bereavements and it shows on the album. The album has both the happiest and saddest songs of her career with songs of both despair and hope.

To discuss the happy side of the album, the lead single Rubberband Girl feels very distant from the grace of Running Up That Hill or The Sensual World; instead, this is probably the most danceable song Kate Bush has ever done. If Kate Bush was going to do at least one song which echoes a mainstream pop dance song, at least it still has her trademark weirdness. If Kate had to outdo the epic nature of This Women’s Work with another haunting cinematic in nature ballad then she certainly achieved that with Moments of Pleasure; a song about the journey of life itself with every lyric being a piece of powerful imagery. There’s no point even identifying any single examples, all the lyrics to this song are so majestic.  Eat the Music is her most erotic song, loaded with sexual imagery in a seemingly innocent tune. Constellation of the Heart on the other hand, what a jam! This regularly appears on lists of worst/least best Kate Bush songs, but sorry, I absolutely love it. Why Should I Love You? features Prince on back vocals, and it’s clear he definitely had a part to play in this song’s evolution with the final product feeling like something out of Paisley Park; not that there’s anything wrong with it. I highly recommend listening to the un-Princed demo; I find both are excellent in their own way. The vocals on the demo are haunting even if the song does meander a bit; the album version tightens it up. Big Stripy Lie is the least pop/most avant-garde song on the album, one which isn’t pleasant to listen to but it’s not supposed to be; it is, after all, Kate taking on organised religion. The title track of the album continues the line of Kate’s Celtic infused songs, and in my view one of her most energetic; I don’t know about you but this song gets me pumped every time I hear it.

Moving away from happy street to depression alley, these sad songs on The Red Shoes contains some of Bush’s most powerful vocal performances from the impassioned plea in Top of the City (a song which may be about literally about suicide) to The Song of Solomon; her only song in which she curses. But if you think The Song of Solomon is sad bastard music then you ain’t heard You’re the One. What strikes me about this song is that there is no hidden meaning; the lyrics and obvious and direct. Right from the first line, “It’s alright I’ll come round when you’re not in, and I’ll pick up all my things”, you know what you’re in for. It’s such a desperate song and she sure saved the most tragic track for the end of the album. Every song on The Red Shoes is a fascinating piece of work; a rare album in which I can say I find every song memorable.

The songs on The Red Shoes were given more of a live band feel as it was proposed Kate would tour the album. Sadly this never materialised but what we got in its place was a 40-minute film featuring a selection of songs from The Red Shoes and directed and starring Kate entitled ‘The Line, The Cross and The Curve’. Anyone who is a fan of Kate Bush and her Kate Bush-isms, this film is pure nirvana. Granted Kate’s acting isn’t the greatest but its still Kate, I could watch her in a feature-length film and still be completely entranced even if her acting is dodgy. Ok, I’ll try and keep the fanboy sentiment aside. It seems hard to believe this is Kate Bush’s first (and only) foray as a film director as the direction itself is superb. It’s a low budget film but that doesn’t get in the way. Ok, the shot of her legs moving uncontrollably is a rather poor special effect and unintentionally funny but you could see it as part of the film’s camp appeal which has always been an element to Kate Bush’s work (dancing devils anyone?). The film is full of breathtaking imagery and recaptures the warm and soft colours reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger and even the ending is suspenseful. It’s a shame this was Kate Bush’s only foray into filmmaking; she later dismissed the film as “a load of bollocks”. How can an artist create such a powerful piece of work but for them to think little of it themselves? Unfortunately, this would be the last we’d see of Kate for 12 years.

The Sensual World (1989)

This Woman’s Mediocre Work

It brings me great displeasure to say this but I don’t like Kate Bush’s 6th studio LP The Sensual World. This is the only Kate Bush album I’m not keen on (unless you also count Director’s cut). However, I would think based on the album’s three singles this would be another masterpiece. I’ll begin with the good.

The title track, well it has sensual in the title for a reason. The combination of synthesizers and uillieann pipes creates the most well, sensual sound. Like Wuthering Heights I question if there exists another song like it and if it is one of the reasons why Kate Bush’s work acts like a gateway to a world of high culture. This Woman’s Work is my favourite Kate Bush song, despite this being my least favourite album of hers. This is it; this is the saddest song ever – the crème de la crème of tear-jerking songs. I can’t listen to this song in a public place or else I’ll well up. Although the song is about having a baby from the father’s perspective, the lyric “Of all the things we should have said that we never said, all the things we should’ve done that we never did” always conjures up thoughts of regret that I have in my life of things I should have done but didn’t; but not necessarily in a depressing manner.

Upon hearing the song Deeper Understanding I could not believe just how ahead of its time it was; a song from 1989 about people not only being addicted but having relationships with computers. I wonder if this song if any way helped inspire the movie Her. Even the music video for the Director’s Cut version in 2011 is reminiscent of Her. By comparison, what could you do on a computer in 1989 that you would be spending hours on it? Is she predicting the invention of the World Wide Web? Also take the lyric “But I was lonely, I was lost, without my little black box, I pick my phone and execute”. Did she just describe an IPhone? Man screw Nostradamus, Kate Bush is where it’s at. This is one of two Kate Bush songs which speak to me the most, the other being Sat In Your Lap.

The rest of the album is mediocre to average. The Fog, Reaching Out and Never Be Mine; I feel there are great songs in there but these tracks feel incomplete to me. Heads We’re Dancing is a song I find lyrically interesting, involving a story about dancing with Hitler himself but the rhythm of the song is lacking. Between a Man and a Woman is completely disposable with its generic lyrics and mediocre rhythm but my least favourite song on the album, as well as my least favourite Kate Bush song, in general, is Rocket’s Tail. The choir featured in the song are far too loud, to the point that I feel like saying “guys can you keep it down, I’m trying to hear Kate sing” and right in the middle of it all is a very obnoxious guitar solo. It pains me to write this review but I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Hounds Of Love (1985)

Her Undisputed Masterpiece

Do you like Kate Bush? I’ve been a big fan ever since the release of her 1978 debut album The Kick Inside. In ’85 Kate released this, Hounds of Love, her most accomplished album. The whole album has a clear crisp sound and a new sheen of consummate professionalism which really gives the songs a big boost, while at the same time it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding four albums.

In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Take the lyrics to Cloudbusting, in this song Kate Bush addresses the problem of abusive political authority.

Running Up That Hill is the most moving pop song of the 1980’s, about understanding and commitment. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it’s not too late to better ourselves. It’s impossible in this world to emphasize with ourselves unless we emphasize with our other. It’s an important message, crucial really, and it’s beautifully stated on the album.

It’s hard to choose a favourite among so many great tracks, but I think The Ninth Wave is her undisputed masterpiece; it’s an epic meditation on mysticism. The final song is extremely uplifting, her lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything as anything I’ve heard in rock.

Take The Big Sky, a great, great song, a personal favourite. A song so catchy, people probably don’t listen to the lyrics, but they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of pensive daydreaming and the importance of the inner child, but is also a personal statement about the artist herself. Hey Paul…

The Dreaming (1982)

Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie!

The Dreaming is a very hard album to get into. I won’t blame you if your initial reaction to this album is “what the hell is this?!” There’s no instantly accessible pop hit from the album such as Wuthering Heights or Babooshka. I was in doubt at first that I would ever get into The Dreaming and that I would consider it an album that I would happily come back to listen to again and again. Well after much persistent listening, I now find my aforementioned comments hard to believe. Admittedly I wouldn’t even play any of these songs in front of my relatives; they’re just that weird and would probably turn them off Kate Bush. This is the last Kate Bush album I would recommend for newcomers, despite it being a masterpiece.

Sat In Your Lap is the Kate song I relate to the most, a real “This was written for me” track; a song which deals with humanity’s pursuit of knowledge and the unwillingness to devote the effort required to obtain it. My own further interpretation of the song is the belief that obtaining knowledge will make you happy and give you a high, yet this only leads to eventual dissatisfaction as you see it’s just a foothill for a bigger mountain of knowledge behind it, yet we keep doing it again and again. Talk about story of my life. Whenever I feel like I can’t go on with a task (such as writing this very review), this song helps inspire me to finish it.

There Goes a Tenner is initially off-putting with Kate singing in a Cockney accent but the thing which helped me eventually fall in love with it was the moment I deciphered this lyric: “You are Bogart, he is George Raft, that leaves Cagney and me (what about Edward G!)”. While Kate is generally not an angry artist, this is a great album to vent off anger, with the title track, in particular, a song about the destruction of Aboriginal homelands by white Australians in their quest for weapons-grade uranium. Who writes stuff like this?! Kate does! Get Out Of My House (aka the song in which Kate makes donkey sounds) is terrifying, not to mention they sure saved the weirdest song for last. Like many Kate songs, if anyone else did this it would be moronic but because it’s Kate, it works.

The Dreaming is an album which is overlooked by critics and the public but is widely considered among Kate Bush fandom to be her greatest work.  My personal favourite Kate album is either The Dreaming or The Red Shoes. Kate has never made an album more bonkers than this, which unleashes the weirdo in all of us.

Lionheart (1978)

Oh Kate, My Lionheart

Lionheart is the underdog of Kate Bush’s work; usually dismissed as the inferior, rushed follow up to The Kick Inside. Pfft, what album are the people who say this listening to? Lionheart was released only nine months after The Kick Inside but you would never know it. The album is campy, theatrical and is the kookiest thing Bush has ever recorded but it doesn’t care who knows it. What do you expect from an album which has Kate dressed as a lion on the cover?

There’s not a track I dislike here and choosing a favourite is hard. Ultimately have to go with Kaskha from Baghdad, a song which creates such a visualisation in my head with lyrics such as “Cause when the alley-cats come out, you can hear music from Kashka’s house”. The song is believed to be about a male homosexual couple: “Kashka lives in sin they say, with another man”. Is Kashka the name designated to a man? Lionheart has some of the best representations of Kate’s ability to tell stories through her music. Likewise, with the song Fullhouse, a particular favourite of mine, contains lyrics real cinematic scope, describing a scene which could come straight from a film noir.

Lionheart is probably the most English album ever; Oh England My Lionheart is probably the most English song ever. I’m not an anglophile but when I listen to this song I sure feel like one! An unabashedly romantic to the highest degree, yearning for an England that no longer exists, or perhaps never existed to begin with. I also notice the lyric notes on the CD and Vinyl for Lionheart has those of Oh England, My Lionheart is in Kate’s own handwriting; odd when you consider that Kate apparently doesn’t even like the song.

With Symphony In Blue Kate sings from the point of view of a girl who realises the joy of sex is not only what makes life worth living but is essential; “Here we have a purpose in life, good for the blood circulation, good for releasing the tension, the root of our reincarnations”; a liberating mindset from a woman who is only 20.

From Kate’s first three albums, I have decided this is my favourite. Lionheart represents Kate Bush’s musical progression;  It’s more varied and thematic than The Kick Inside and feels more complete than Never for Ever (not that I’m putting down those albums, they’re both also amazing), no two songs here sound alike. My advice is to listen to this album on a cold winter’s night, such atmosphere! Grab your tea and crumpets and be whisked away to Kate’s English dreamland.

The Kick Inside (1978)

The Kate Inside

It was in 2012 in which I had my first exposure to Kate Bush when I heard Running Up That Hill on an ITunes radio station. I was immediately hooked on the song and listened to it many times over the next few weeks. However, at this point in my life, I wasn’t actively exploring music, although just a few years earlier I had been but my love of cinema pushed music the side for a number years so I only knew Kate Bush as that Running Up That Hill singer. Although I thought Running Up That Hill was an incredible song, I assumed she would have been an artist who I would only like one song from. Otherwise how come I had never heard of her until now?

Fast forward to 2014 and I am hearing news reports of Kate Bush embarking on her first series of concerts in 35 years. With this renewed interest in Kate Bush in the media, I heard Wuthering Heights on the radio. “Holy crap!” was my reaction. This was the beginning of my descent into the weird and wacky world of Kate Bush. I HAD to check out this woman’s work. Which I did, followed by checking out the albums, followed by buying them, followed by listening to every song carefully and deciphering every lyric. Kate Bush reignited my interest in music which I had lost over the past few years. How did this woman bypass me for so many years?! Was it due to her reclusive nature, or not having released an album for 12 years of my life (I was born in 1992). I need answers!

Kate Bush doesn’t fit into any one music genre. She is a genre!

 

“What’s your favourite music genre?”

“Kate Bush.”

 

Has there ever been another song in history like Wuthering Heights? Even Kate herself has never made another song like it. How many pop songs base their lyrics of classic literature that makes you want to read the novel it’s based on. Listening to Kate makes you feel smarter. Kate’s story-driven songs such as this always create such a visual image in my head. Although Heathcliff and Cathy are not strictly Kate’s creation, her ability to conjure characters in her songs is unparalleled.

Although The Kick Inside doesn’t have recurring theme like her subsequent albums, being more of a collection of songs, every track stands on its own. Kite is the most bonkers and innocent song on the album, James and the Cold Gun reminds me more of Bruce Springsteen, one of Kate’s least Kate like songs but a superb rocker. The Saxophone Song has a very sinister sounding final minute which I can’t help but listen to over and over again. Them Heavy People is one of Kate’s most infectious songs, it will never leave your head, especially the uttering of “Rolling the ball”; admittedly this song can get a little annoying if you listen to it enough times but I still like it. Strange Phenomena is (apparently) about having a period; Kate Bush, daring to go lyrically where no one else dares! Feel It, on the other hand, makes no effort to disguise that it is about a sex, completely directly and honestly. Wrapping of the album is the title track, which shows how Kate Bush isn’t afraid to experiment with controversial subjects. It’s speculated that the song deals with a brother and sister who have a sexual relationship resulting in her getting pregnant with her baby and the decision to commit suicide rather than brining shame on her brother (just where does she come up with this stuff?). Although we can’t be sure; it’s fun deciphering these songs which are as mysterious as Kate Bush herself.

All the songs on the album make me want to jump around the room and mime-like Kate does in many of her music videos, although I’d probably look like a mad git if I did so. Pop on the album, dim the lights, sit back with your eyes closed and allow The Kick Inside to kick your own insides.