SOUNDTRACK: KATE BUSH-Hounds of Love (1985).
I have a very specific memory of the first time I heard the song “Hounds of Love.” I was in high school and the Wilderness Adventure Club was heading towards whatever destination we were going to (funny I can’t remember the destination, but I recall the car trip there). The head of the club (who was a teacher, but not one I had) was driving a bunch of us in his station wagon and this song came on. My friend Brad and I howled with laughter at the “barking” that Kate does. “Roo Roo Roo Roo.”
It only occurred to me recently that the driver probably enjoyed the music or else he wouldn’t have had it on, so that wasn’t very nice of us. It also occurs to me that he must have had the disc (actually the tape, as there were no discs then) because I don’t imagine the song was ever on the radio. (Although I also think there may have been a DJ talking about the songs, so my memory is shaky). I just remember laughing and laughing and quite likely Roo Rooing for much of the trip.
So, it’s funny now how much I love this disc (my high school self was a metal head, my college self expanded his musical mind rather a lot).
Kate’s previous two records were a wonderful precursor to this monumental disc. The big hits come at the top: “Hounds of Love” is indeed an amazing song, as is “Running Up That Hill.” But they’re familiar enough that I don’t have to say anything. “The Big Sky” is a rollicking romp of fun. And “Cloudbusting” is just simply amazing. (Look for the video with Donald Sutherland!). It’s five minutes of intense storytelling.
But for me, the second side of the album (starting with track 6 on the disc) is the real selling point. It’s something of a story called The Ninth Wave. And what I love about it (in addition to the awesome music) are the amazing effects and sounds and voices that are all over the tracks.
It begins simply with a delicate piece, “And Dream of Sheep,” a beautiful piano ballad. It’s followed by the mesmerizing “Under Ice.” The opening string sounds evoke someone skating on an ice (which is what the song is about). As the tension grows (is someone under the ice?) voices far back in the distance compete with Kate singing “Its me!”
The next track, “Waking the Witch” begins with some awesome headphone voice work. Voices from various family members implore her to wake up. Left, right, middle, back. Then, a voices asks “Can you not see that light over there?” With a far off voice whispering “over here.” When the song finally bursts forth, her voice is manipulated in a creepy disjointed way. Followed by different musical sections with cathedral bells. All through the track a male authority figure condemns the girl for being a witch. And as the song ends (with a sample of the helicopter from Pink Floyd’s The Wall she is found guilty. It’s quite intense.
The intensity slackens somewhat with the mellow “Watching Me Without You.” But it builds again with the manic intensity of “The Jig of Life” a traditional jig with uilleann pipes in the background and Kate’s vocals over the top. The song breaks into a very traditional sounding step dance seisiun until Kate starts whispering “I put this moment here” (more of that cool headphone stuff) and the song takes of again.
“Hello Earth” starts as a simple ballad reminiscent of “And Dream of Sheep” but it grows in intensity only to break for a choir passage. It then returns to the intensity of Kate’s voice which fades and ends with Kate’s whispered: “Tiefer, tiefer. Irgendwo in der Tiefe. Gibt es ein licht.” (Roughly: Deeper Deeper, Somewhere in the depths there is a light.)
The disc ends with “The Morning Fog” a respite from the intensity of the music and the contents. It’s a light ballad (with amazing fretless bass work) that seems like it could have been used in a John Hughes film. Especially for the “I tell my mother/father/loved ones/brother how much I love them” lyrics.
The Ninth Wave is one of my favorite suites to listen to. It not only demands attention, it usually gets it.
Hounds of Love is, simply put, fantastic.
[READ: November 15, 2009] Gemini & The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie
When I was a kid, watching cartoons on Channel 11, WPIX, there was a frequent, (in my memory it was incessant) commercial for a Broadway play. And the only things I remember about the commercial were two snippets: In the first, a young boy is gorging himself on food and his mother yells “TAKE HUMAN BITES!” The second shows a woman who says “I’m not hungry, I’ll just pick” who then grabs a handful of spaghetti from someone else’s plate.
This commercial was such a part of our culture, that my friends used to shout “TAKE HUMAN BITES” at each other all the time. And yet, after all these years, I couldn’t remember what the play was. So, out of curiosity, I did some searching to see if I could find this mysterious play (and, more importantly find the commercial).
So, thank you, internet, for helping me discover the play is Albert Innaurato’s Gemini. No commercials have been forthcoming, sadly.
Well, I thought it would be fun to read this play and see if it was as funny as the commercial seemed. Who could have guessed that the play would have turned out like this? (more…)
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