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.

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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.