Album: Kate Bush – “The Red Shoes” (1993)

It’s flown by hasn’t it? Only a little while ago I was starting this off, and now I’m on the penultimate album, the last before her lengthy hiatus. So what do I think? To be honest this has been a difficult one, oddly it’s the “Mad old Kate” that I’ve found it easier to get into, but The Red Shoes suffers by lacking some of that mental spark. All isn’t lost, but I found this album a bit of a struggle simply because it often felt a bit pedestrian.

In a rather strange twist, I discovered there was a short film “The Line, The Cross and the Curve” that accompanied parts of this album, apparently described by the lady herself as “a load of bollocks”. So I’m watching that while I write up this review.

(originally posted April 2010)

09 Rubberband Girl: For me, the standout track. Catchy, memorable and rather offbeat, presumably about an un-coordinated young woman. I love its energy, and strangely fun instrumentation (that robot chicken thing) and that weird UHHH-uh! Uhhhh-uh! segment towards the end. Wonderful.

08 And so is love: Another standout for me, though a very different track to the opener, much more mournful. Given the amount of personal grief and turmoil Bush was going through, she can be forgiven for really spiralling down. That pan-pipey sound throughout the song is very sad … I guess we all go through that sometimes.

07 Eat the music: The film is in a different order compared to the album … hmm well I’m sure it wouldn’t make MUCH more sense. But we start off with a ridiculous face-off between a mono-browed Miranda Richardson and Kate. A pleasant video to go to a totally tropical song, I like the mood of it. It’s not really my sort of THING generally but it’s very upbeat. Not really sure what this is about, presumably it’s NOT about eating fruit. And yet it feels like we aren’t really GETTING anywhere, it’s a rather featureless track despite the pleasant music.

09 Moments of pleasure: Oh she’s no actress is she? Anyway I didn’t know about the subject matter before I heard this the first five or so times, it’s very sad now though, I totally get it. Reminiscing about good times with people who are gone, or things that can never happen again. I suppose everyone can relate to that. Love the orchestra and the overall feeling of optimism and fond memories rather than just dropping into depression. The end of the video where she’s in the snowstorm and these people are sort of tumbling past, it’s all very touching. All this somewhat at odds with the single cover where she is dancing on skulls, but whatever!

06 The Song of Solomon: Another slowie, don’t really like it that much, hinges a lot on that chorus but even that isn’t THAT great. This is probably the first track where it all seems to grind to a slow death for most of the remainder.

07 Lily: Another change of tempo, an odd one, I don’t know who Lily is but her advice about using fire is a bit QUESTIONABLE. No idea what this is about but the production is memorable at least, I just can’t really get into it THAT much without really understanding it.

08 The Red Shoes: Mental old Miranda tricking Kate now, though it serves her right for taking the shoes from a burns victim. Anyhoo, I can imagine people who liked the Jig of Life enjoying this, very Celtic again. Probably doesn’t mean much without the movie, even referring to the line, cross and curve from the title. It’s pretty jaunty, I like the pipes and the storytelling but I can’t shake that feeling I’m missing something.

06 Top of the city: Dreary time again, the music isn’t really objectionable but it’s just sort of THERE. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair, but then I think back to Never for Ever when nearly all of the songs had something about them. This just feels a little recycled.

06 Constellation of the heart: Oh a bit of funk, not sure what to make of this. Feels a bit 80s, which is at a bit of a contrast to her earlier stuff that I felt was quite ahead of its time. Has more to it than the previous track but again it’s just like audio sawdust to me. Given what I’ve sat through before this I think at least I don’t think it’s completely MY problem.

05 Big Stripey Lie: I like how things have sonically a bit more substance to them than they did in The Sensual World, but somehow it falls into the same trap, I’m just not really taking much from it. Animal effects? Not really going for it now, I’ve heard this woman making her OWN mule noises before!

07 Why should I love you?: Finally a little bit of a chorus, even though horribly Prince was behind it. Considering he is responsible for one of my least-liked Madonna tracks (Love song), this is a bit of a step forward. It’s a little meandering but at least it’s quite a pleasant listen.

08 You’re the one: Oh Kate… this is my type of song, from the lyrics to the music, it’s all a bit romantic/pathetic and “SIGH I’m sure I’ll struggle on but I won’t get over it” as a last-ditched attempt to keep hold. I suppose I’ve misinterpreted this and it’s really about a dead lover or something. She’s had better closing tracks, but this is a good mopey track.

Sorry guys, but this was a bit of a dud for me. It struck me that some of the songs just seemed to sound the same a quarter of the way through as they did at the end, and while I noted that in Never for Ever on occasion, the difference is that the songs were better and NOT 5 minutes long each time. This album really was a struggle to get through, this write-up was a real drag too. I’m sorry if that has affected its readability but it’s how it has made me feel.

It’s difficult to feel that an artist is sliding down a slope, and I really hope the 12 years she spent prior to Aerial was well-spent because a disappointment like this could easily put someone off being more than a casual fan.

Keepers for the iPod: Rubberband girl, Moments of pleasure, The Red Shoes, You’re the one.

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