The Whole Story?
PHOTO CREDIT: Clive Arrowsmith
Why Now Is the Time for Another Kate Bush Greatest Hits Collection
THIS is not just me…
PHOTO CREDIT: John Carder Bush
finding any excuse to write another Kate Bush feature (although I don’t need much of a reason!). Whilst the world awaits Bush’s eleventh studio album – whenever that might be -, I do think it is a perfect time for another Kate Bush greatest hits package. Not only is The Sensual World thirty on 17th October – as we celebrate her classic albums, inevitably, we will cast our mind to her work in general and fondly remember -, but Bush has only really put out a couple of packages that collated her best tracks. The Whole Story was released way back in 1986 and was intended to capitalise on the commercial success Bush enjoyed following Hounds of Love’s release the previous year. The Other Sides was released this year and, as the title suggests, is a collection of B-sides and non-album songs fore the most part. Last year, we did get box-sets that not only included her studio albums but dd give us these B-sides and cover versions. It is wonderful we have the original albums in the world, and we can get hold of all Bush’s work in gloriously remastered condition! I never thought she would put her albums back out and, prior to last year, there were some albums that were not available on vinyl or were expensive to buy. I do think there are many coming to Bush’s work now who might want a narrower representation of her work.
Sure, everyone should consume as much of Bush’s work as possible but, with vinyl so expensive to buy, I do worry a lot of people are missing out. I think 1986’s The Whole Story was the best first musical autobiography but, as thirty-three years has past since then, a revision and update would be fitting. Consider the fact that Bush’s work has evolved since 1986 and she has released a lot of great material since. Some might claim that, as we are not streaming mostly, can’t we just get her music online and compile our own ‘Kate Bush’s greatest hits’?! That point is valid, yet I think a physical product that one can carry around and keep is much more special and less subjective. I do think, in terms of vinyl, we might be limited to about twenty tracks at the most, so it would be a squeeze narrowing things down. Even so, I think you could put out a pretty healthy spread that would be career-spanning and please most fans. Over ten studio albums, you’d roughly get two tracks per album. I think you could extend it to a four-vinyl, twenty-four track collection and not price people out. You’d imagine Wuthering Heights and The Man with the Child in His Eyes would be shoe-ins from The Kick Inside (1978); Wow from Lionheart (1978) and Babooshka, Army Dreamers and Breathing from 1980’s Never for Ever. There are familiar selections there and, to be fair, these tracks appear on other compilations.
Even as an ardent fan, I would buy a new greatest hits, because I think it would be fascinating seeing a track from 50 Words for Snow (2011) stacked up against one from The Kick Inside. Perhaps a further retrospective would encourage Bush to bring out a new studio album! I do think we will see new material from Bush in the next year or two, but there is an opportunity to bring Bush’s music to fresh ears; give her fans a collection of her best material. I can appreciate people saying that, when it comes to Bush, her albums are so rich and stunning that one could not break them up and it is impossible to distill her essence to a greatest hits package. Rather than see the endeavour as commercial, it is more a chance to put out a stunning body of work that shows how extraordinary Bush is; how she has captivated us and put out some of the most affecting music ever. Bush received a CBE in 2013 but, as I have argued in another feature, why has she not been made a Dame?! It seems an extraordinary oversight considering Bush’s career spans five decades. Lesser names have been made a Dame and I do think those in power – who can decide who is made a Dame – forget just how important and phenomenal Kate Bush is; what she has given to music and how inspirational her music is.
I do think some forget how many artists owe a debt to Bush and how unique she (Bush) is. We have all her albums out into the world, but a 2020 release of her essential songs – whether twenty-four tracks or a few more -, would underline and emphasise Bush’s brilliance and raw talent. When it comes to the brilliance of Kate Bush, one must look beyond the music itself. It is clear her visual aesthetic has inspired others; her sense of ambition and the boldness of her lyrics has changed the landscape of Pop. I do think a new greatest hits collection of Kate Bush’s work would help influence a whole new generation of artists coming through. I found this article from 2014, where Bush’s brilliance is celebrated. CHVRCHES’ valiast, Lauren Mayberry, talks about Bush’s influence on her and others:
“Yes, Bush has a distinctive aesthetic but this is another part of her as a performer – a furtherance of her art, rather than a tool to sell records as is, and has been, the case for many less talented artists. And talent Bush has. By the bucket. Her vocal – admired by nerdy singer types such as myself for its four-octave range – is instantly recognisable, beautiful, strong and cited as an influence by artists from Björk to Florence Welch. Her lyrics are deep, thoughtful, sometimes completely mad (she may well be the only artist to have reached the Top 20 with a song about James Joyce's Ulysses) but always idiosyncratic.
PHOTO CREDIT: John Carder Bush
I have found in this industry that outside observers – be they label bods, critics or the public – often have a very strong idea of what they think you should be doing. It covers everything from what one should and should not discuss in interviews to how to dress, how to sing, what to sing about and how to perform. It is endless, but you have to drown it out. Bush is one of the many performers who taught me that being whoever and however you want to be is the most genuine thing that any artist can be. Just make sure that vision is completely yours, and protect it with everything you've got”.
There are a lot of people around the world asking whether we will get another Kate Bush album; whether it will be in the next year or so, or whether we will need to wait a bit longer. Even as we pine and speculate, the appetite and love of her existing music is so strong. I do think there are a lot of people either fresh to Bush’s music or not aware of its width and variety. I think a fresh greatest hits package would bring more people in and demonstrate just how consistent and original Bush is. In any case, one can find her music on Spotify, and I would encourage people buy her albums on vinyl. To listen to her music is to be taken away and transported into the song itself. There is no other musical experience like it and, since 1978, Bush has stood out on her own! You never know when an album will arrive and what Kate Bush is up to. You can bet your bottom dollar she is working on something but, as we well know, one never knows…
WHAT will come next.