10 Hounds of Love by Kate Bush 1987
At 20 I was a bit old to have a schoolboy crush but Kate Bush about this time (even in the strange flared grey trouser thing she wore when performing Running up that Hill) had me smitten.
Since buying Hounds of Love I went back to get the earlier lps and everything seems a run up to this lp. I still could take or leave the first 3 lps , The Dreaming is a big step forward but lacks a bit of focus. It is with Hounds of Love where is all comes together.
The production, especially of side 1 is a bit dated ( a sound she seemed unable to fully shake off , with 2005's King of the Mountain sounding like it could have come from these sessions, until 50 Words for Snow)
I probably wouldn't have bought the lp if the lead off single hadn't been so dam strong. I can distinctly remember seeing it on Wogan. If you are going to mime , at least do it with some imagination
The backing vocals alone didn't really sound like anyone else at the time. With female singers nowdominating the charts it is difficult to remember how unique Kate Bush was
However even better was to come.
Cloudbursting was inspired by a book written by Peter Reich about his father who invented the Cloudbursting machine of the title claiming he could form clouds and create rain. He bought 160 acres in Maine to experiment in, but was arrested by the Us authorities for contempt of court and died a few months into his 2 year sentence aged 60.
The video is a small piece of cinema with the wonderful Donald Sutherland as the father and Kate Bush playing the son (not altogether convincingly but that's not really the point). Lots of great small touches marry the music and the images.
When the lp came out , Running Up That Hills kicked things off , we then get the warning cry from Night of the Demon "Its in the trees its coming" and one of the other big 4 singles from side one
Despite the complexity of songs subjects (and we haven't even got to side 2s concept yet) , the theme that runs through the lp is the oldest of all pop songs ,love - Fear of Love in Hounds of Love , overwhelming all consuming love in Running , love of a son for his father in Cloudbursting , love of a Mother for her son in Mother Stands for Comfort and the love of life in Big Sky
Big Sky is the weakest track on side one and runs out of steam a bit towards the end but like the video it is one of the few times that she lets rip and seems to be having fun
So we get to side 2 and the 7 song 9th wave. It's a concept in the loosest sense about a girl lost at sea. This is where the samples really work and add so much to each song rather than just being window dressing.
The cycle starts with the girl fighting off sleep with only the light on her inflatable jacket providing any kind of comfort.( the beautiful Dream of Sheep) . She falls into a sleep with dreams of being trapped under ice (Under Ice) . The girl's subconscious takes her back in time as various voices from her past try to wake her up, until her mind makes the link to the old persecution of drowning alleged witches (Waking the Witch). She then drifts back to present day and imagines her home and the love of her family (Watching You Without Me). The girl next gets a visitation from her future self telling her she cant die ,she has to let her future self live (Jig of Life) . We then zoom skyward as the girl contemplates her insignificance (Hello Earth) . Finally the girl is brought back to land , back into her life with that theme of love again the redeemer (Morning Fog) with the lp finishing with
"I tell my mother
I tell my father
I tell my lover
I tell my brother
How much I love them"
Side 2 saw a level of creativity that for me would only be matched again with the 2nd disc of Aerial some 20 years later.
It is a mark of how good the lp is that she couldn't find space for one of the best things she has ever recorded the piano ballad Under the Ivy which was relegated to a b side.
For a much fuller and more articulate comment on the lp Graeme Thomson's book Under the Ivy is well worth a read