Review: Kate Bush – B-Sides & Rarities

OK this is it, the final push. The albums are dealt with, now all that is left are these B-sides and rarities that I’m told are fabulous. So with some trepidation I went for it… To be honest I would be hard pushed to find a song that the corresponding studio album could have used. That said, it’s not all bad. Let’s just do this. *deep breath*

07 Don’t give up – Gabriel-heavy, but I do sort of like it. His voice has a nice coarseness to it that fits well with Kate’s syrupy reassurances in the chorus. Goes ON for a bit doesn’t it though? Pleasant enough, but feels a little dated now but I suppose it doesn’t sound too bad after 24 years.

07 Experiment IV – Ah, back to it now, with an interesting tale of research into a killer sound. But not in the street sense, actually killing people dead with sound. In the rather lush video, with a Dawn French cameo, this sound eventually gets out of control, manifesting as Kate herself, then some horrible gorgon. The song itself is a little demure considering the subject content. It’s decent enough song but just a bit dull. Maybe Experiment V will be better.

07 Rocket Man
– Oh now a cover version, of a song I’m reasonably familiar with … hmm well again like these other two songs it’s a bit of a DUD. The reggae-tinged bridge is quite sweet, and the chorus is ALRIGHT. Sigh … disappointing really, just doesn’t have much DEPTH to it but pleasant enough.

08 The empty bullring – The thing that strikes me is that you can be nearly 99% sure which album these songs come from. Early Bush, and this just feels like it has The Kick Inside written through it like a stick of rock. As a result the vocals are going up and down with gay abandon, which is something I never quite got into. It’s quite fun though really, the piano is a nice accompaniment, though the matador metaphor is a little lost on me.

09 Ran Tan Waltz – Feels like Lionheart now, and I like this. The oopah band waltz is lovely, I can imagine Bush in lederhosen doing that thigh-slap dance. Is this basically Gold Digger (1980 remix)? Anyway I like it, could have got on board with this on Lionheart.

08 Passing through air – I like how this feels quite dated, or of its time to use a kinder phrase. A quite fuzzy 70s vibe, even if the song itself is a little flimsy and just sort of fizzles out at the end.

08 December will be magic again – A Christmas song, lovely! I can see why it never made it to the usual Christmas compilations, same reason Lionheart wasn’t really appreciated. She certainly doesn’t pull any punches with the sleighbells and using any Christmas reference she can. Maybe it’s difficult to appreciate it in Spring though. I like the music.

08 Warm and soothing – Another Lionheart offcut I guess, WHAT does it remind me of? Was this a prototype of a later album track, or just very similar? Anyway conscious as I am about giving out 8s and 9s so far, I think I just like this period of Kate. Best in small doses, but I can’t hold that against something that isn’t even on an album. I like it, maybe a little sleepy but doesn’t outstay its welcome.

07 Lord of the reedy river – Hmm she’s in love with a swan, of course! Maybe the crazy bird lady tendencies were always there. A rather unhinged pipe organ to go with her rather haunted vocals. A bit UNSETTLING, like the sound of someone totally losing the plot. Certainly stands out from the pack, is this a Never for Ever brainchild? She did like her concepts on there, and this would fit in, even if it I would probably get the same WTF reaction and wish it wasn’t on there.

06 Ne T’en Fui Pas – A French double-bill now, and this is the weaker I think. Without understanding the French, musically it’s a bit dreary, and I pass through the 2:30 without much reaction.

09 Un Baiser D’Enfant – French version of The Infant Kiss from Never For Ever. I quite liked the theatrics of the original despite that paedo-tastic content. But the drama is not lost in translation and this is still a pleasure. I love that outro, very dreamy (or something).

09 Brazil – Not sure how this fits in, apparently not the theme to the 1985 Terry Gilliam movie after all. But very dramatic and sweeping, I like it. This must have been used somewhere, it is very big-budget sounding, delicious.

08 Under the ivy – This is quite pretty, poor Kate is finding it all a bit MUCH and is running away. I can RELATE sort of, it’s quite a pretty little ballad, makes me a bit sad really.

07 Burning Bridge – Oh I don’t like that little vocal riff thing that appears from the outset. This feels like a Hounds of Love track, that sort of choral backing feels like The Big Sky in some ways, but lacking quite the spark that I liked from that song. Just sort of continues, not a fan really even if the music reminds me of the glory of Hounds.

06 My Lagan Love – I remember this, the Corrs did a version I think. Anyway a very stripped down version of it, and I think that counts against it, especially when she’s done some quite accomplished Celtic music before now.

08 The handsome cabin boy – Another quite stripped down one but someone a lot better. A sea shanty (or something), very old-fashioned but quite charming, it is quite disarming and I tend to stop concentrating on whatever else I am doing when this comes on. Maybe it drags a little, but I can get over it.

07 Not this time – Not sure what I feel about this, a little strained but I think maybe the lack of energy is part of it. I think it’s something about her getting finally sick and tired of some MAN who she’s been a bit TOO into. But maybe I’m projecting… It’s a bit of a struggle really.

05 Be kind to my mistakes – I think I HAVE been kind to her mistakes for the most part (my average score for her tracks shouldn’t really be in the 7-8 bracket, I feel). This one is just a bit of a mess, not doing anything for me.

06 I’m still waiting – Why are the rubbish ones always the longest? OK that’s harsh, once this gets going it’s not too bad, reminds me a bit of Love and Anger, but suffers by not being anywhere near as good as it. In fact I sorted these tracks chronologically, maybe this came from The Sensual World. This wouldn’t have been good on the same album as L&A I think.

07 Ken – Yikes … You know for some reason in my head I thought this was about Ken Livingstone, and it turns out I am right! Apparently written for an episode of The Comic Strip, maybe I should track that down. Who’s a funky sex machine? KENNNN! Definitely a bit of an oddity but at least there is some reasoning behind it.

09 One last look around the house before we go – Not really much to it, a 1 minute instrumental, though the title really explains it all. Quite lovely and sentimental, with a really tearful piano score. I don’t know why I love it, but it just makes me feel sad.

08 Rocket Man – This is actually better than I thought, especially the first 45 seconds. The remainder isn’t as reggae as I remember, it’s all quite pleasant. Not totally watered down either, I love the chorus. I know OF the original, it’s just one of those songs. But this is a great version, though LONG.

07 Candle in the Wind – I wondered how I would feel about this, if I’m totally honest I am only that familiar with the 1997 version. Now I’m a little more familiar, I feel even more about how icky it feels to recycle a tribute song for someone else. Anyway I don’t think it’s a perfect song lyrically at all, but it’s done really well by Bush. I love that faux-choral business in the background.

07 Home for Christmas – Another Christmas song now, a bit of an acoustic effort like the Aimee Xmas album. Quite pleasant, but not very Christmassy, which feels like a bit like it’s missing the point. But it’s quite pretty, and thankfully quite short.

06 Show a little devotion – Nearly there loves! But this is rather dreary, I am imagining this is a Red Shoes track, it figures. Doesn’t really do anything for me, same lack of connection I had with The Red Shoes really. DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE PLEASE.

07 The man I love – A Gershwin tribute album track, or something. It certainly fits the feel of that, and it’s quite a cute jazzy track. I’m not totally into this genre, though the occasional venture isn’t unwelcome. Good for what it is.

08 Mna Na Héireann – A bit of an oddball now, for some compilation album of Irish music. Despite not knowing what it’s about, it’s quite a colourful language, and she delivers it with some passion at least. It’s hypnotic, with a big sweeping background, what’s not to love?

07 Sexual Healing – Now on to Aerial’s sole B-side, and a cover. A 6-minute rendition of Sexual Healing … mercy. Anyway it’s not that bad, though her vocals rather JAR with the lyrics somehow (Bayyybeeee). I do like when people pronounce it “Sec-sioux-al” though, even though this whole cover feels like a bit of a WTF moment. I can’t feel this fitting in with ANYTHING to do with the Aerial project, but whatever.

08 Lyra – Now I HAVE heard a lot about this one. The latest appearance of Bush on this list, for the movie The Golden Compass (which was a big letdown). From what I’ve read, this was a bit rushed, but I really quite like it. The first 30 seconds particularly, after which it sort of feels like a first draft, though musically it’s quite atmospheric. I can see why people would have been disappointed, considering this is the only peep we’d heard from her in 5 years. Still, I don’t hate it at all.

So that’s that. TBH although I was quite generous with my marks, I think most of these tracks were where they belonged (i.e. not on the albums). At least I feel like I’ve been quite EXHAUSTIVE in my mission, or at least I certainly feel exhausted now.

Keepers for the iPod: Ran Tan Waltz, Un Baiser D’Enfant, One last look around the house before we go, Rocket Man, Lyra

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2 Comments

Filed under Music, Reviews

2 responses to “Review: Kate Bush – B-Sides & Rarities

  1. Marcus

    Can I ask where you got hold of these tracks? I have some but some are news to me, and I’m looking to complete my collection. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Marcus

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