One of the more acclaimed albums in 1985 flew under the radar of the mainstream, as British vocalist Kate Bush released her fifth album, “Hounds of Love”. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this record, but I did like it more than I expected to, and it is rated as the #68 album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Most may recall her most well known single, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”, which leads off the album, but there is more to see and hear here.
The sound of her music is very theatrical and dramatic, and her voice is very unique and resonates nicely against her own piano playing, along with the accompaniment of many other musicians. Aside from that first song, which I really enjoyed hearing again, the rest of side one is a collection of stand-alone songs that all were nice to learn and appreciate, even if one might not consider Bush to be an easy listen. My other favorites on side one include the title track, “The Big Sky”, and perhaps my second-favorite song on the album, “Cloudbusting”.
Side two is a thematic collection of songs, about being lost at sea and drifting in the darkness, physically and psychologically. It is very inventive and unique, and while some of it I like better than the rest, I really enjoyed the creativity and alternate sounds that were bold choices in the highly commercial times of the 1980s music scene. A personal favorite in this suite is “Jig of Life”, with a very Irish sounding and lively string ensemble. I envision that a live performance of this music would be equally nontraditional and theatrical in nature, best set in an intimate setting with its subtle musical reflections.
I understand why this record remains highly thought of, and I really respect the creative leadership and ownership Kate Bush displayed for shaping her music.