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Under the Ivy: The Story of Kate Bush Hardcover – 4 May 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press (4 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847729304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847729309
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graeme Thomson is the author of several books. UNDER THE IVY: THE LIFE & MUSIC OF KATE BUSH (Omnibus, 2010) was described by The Irish Times as "the best music biography in perhaps the past decade" and by MOJO as "superb". Record Collector called I SHOT A MAN IN RENO (Bloomsbury, 2008) "one of the most informative and fulfilling music books you're ever likely to read."

BEHIND THE LOCKED DOOR, his definitive biography of George Harrison, will be published in the autumn of 2013: http://amzn.to/16nloR7

Graeme Thomson has written for the Observer, New Statesman, Oxford American, the Telegraph, Time Out, MOJO and Rolling Stone, and contributes regularly to the Guardian, Uncut, the Herald and The Arts Desk. He lives with his family in Edinburgh.

"The best music biography in perhaps the past decade... an absorbing, painstakingly researched and downright fascinating book" - Irish Times

"Superb .... A compelling examination of an artist in a constant state of becoming - Mojo

"Respectful, fascinating and full of insight" - Q

"A masterful biography. Thomson's descriptive language is gorgeous" - The Word

"Sheds a light on the women behind the inspiration of many a modern-day chanteuse - NME

"That rarest of rock & roll studies: expertly researched, restrained yet stylish, and in perfect tune with its subject's work" - Austin Chronicle

"Those with even a remote interest in rock music of the past 30 years will find his book utterly mesmerizing" - Library Journal

"A vital read ... Thomson here returns one of rock's most elusive figures to flesh and blood ... Definitive." - Uncut
"Brilliantly written . . . in the absence of Elvis Costello putting pen to paper himself, this is far and away the next best thing." - Record Collector

"Better musical surveys are hard to find, and the results are positively life-affirming." - Paste

"Its contents more than live up to the billing.... a rich and masterful read." - The Word

"Shows an electric ability to craft delectable imagery with informative reporting..... Dude knows the best musical death trips!" - KEXP, Best Books of 2008

"An essential volume for anyone interested in pop as an all-pervasive social force that soundtracks our lives right up to our last breath.... One of the most informative and fulfilling music books you're ever likely to read" - Record Collector

"A wildly cheering history of the subject of death in popular song." - Observer, Best Music Books of 2008

"An excellent biography. Thomson is too shrewd a biographer to take [Nelson] at his own estimation." - Paul Du Noyer, The Word

"Thomson tells the Nelson story with incision and insight. Sharp writing, astute observation and a wry attitude .... make for a lively read and a vivid portrait of an often baffling talent. Recommended." - Neil Spencer, Observer Music Monthly

Product Description


...an exhaustive and engaging account of Bush's career. --Metro

Thomson's descriptive language is gorgeous. --The Word

Thomson's book sheds a light on the women behind the inspiration of many a modern-day chanteuse. --Nme

[A] compelling examination of her music... --Mojo

Thomson's book sheds a light on the women behind the inspiration of many a modern-day chanteuse. --Nme

About the Author

Graeme Thomson is the author of biographies of Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello and a regular contributor to The Guardian, Observer, the New Statesman, The Word and The Herald.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Whiteside TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is far and away the best book I have read about Kate Bush. There are a few out there but none have come close to this excellent biography.

Graeme Thomson has really attempted to unearth just what makes this unique artist tick and by and large he has succeeded. It comes as no surprise that Kate herself had no input whatsoever with this book but there are many recent interviews with old schoolfriends and several people that have worked with her. At times it is a totally engrossing read and it had me hooked from the very first page.

One of the best chapter's is about the 'Tour Of Life' that Kate undertook and it is here particularly that the author excelled with his research and he gives a deep understanding as to why she has never toured again. If there was one tour from history that I wish I had seen it was this one and reading this made me really want to turn back the clock and buy my ticket! But I was a lot younger way back then and I wasn't into Kate quite as much as I was a year later or so and this book has awoken my interest in this marvellous artist and I have found myself playing her albums constantly.

It is a struggle for Graeme Thomson to fill in the gaps from 1994 onwards but he does the very best he can and it must have been difficult without any input from Kate or those closest to her. He isn't afraid to be critical about some of her work and that is fair enough. Even the most ardent of Kate's fans have to admit that at times her music is maybe a touch too personal or experimental. I didn't agree with some of his verdicts but by and large he hits the mark.

'Kate Bush: Under The Ivy' is the best book you could buy about Kate, it is as simple as that.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Kate Bush is without a doubt one of Britain's most influential rock artists. Given that Bush will not write her autobiography there is a definite place for a well-researched and well-written biography. Happily after Rob Jovanovic's average 2005 cut'n'paste job, in Under The Ivy Graeme Thomson provides just that. The product of extensive research, this is an fascinating account of Bush's career arc from overnight sensation in 1978 to the cultural icon she had become by the late 2000's. The book is particularly strong on Bush's early years and the strong influence that her middle class but bohemian family had on her developement. Also well covered are Bush's only tour and the working methods that mark her progression from singer-songwriter to studio alchemist. After Hounds Of Love in 1985 things inevitably become more sketchy as Bush accelerated her retreat from the limelight. Thomson obviously admires Bush's work but he is not uncritical. The reader may disagree with his judgements, as I do on several occasions, but still accept that they are well thought out.
(The one omission from the book that I would have liked to see is a discussion of how this artist who had cult figure written all over her came to sell so many records that she has exercised iron control over almost all her career)
The portrait that emerges of Bush is of a very nice (almost universally agreed upon), private person who is nowhere near the mad Miss Havisham figure of tabloid legend (although at the same time she is undoubtedly eccentric, but no more so than several people who live in the same street as you!). Bush may be less mysterious than is sometimes assumed but the figure that emerges from this book is in no way diminished by being de-mythologised.
(Added on 27/10 - Only a year after it came out this book will very soon be 2 albums out of date, something this long term fan of Bush would never have expected! Luckily an updated version will be coming out in early 2012)
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By M.B. on 16 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book.

Graeme Thomson deserves a huge amount of credit for not only conducting some (useful and insightful) research and interviews with key people, but for sculpting his work into a biography that is immensely readable, well-crafted, and genuinely engrossing. It's a biography that goes pleasingly in depth about Kate Bush's life and career without mining for needless gossip or tabloid tittle-tattle; instead, it's a respectful yet objective look at one of our most fascinating, original, and talented creative artists - a fine line difficult to navigate, but one Thomson pulls off remarkably well.

Anyone with a genuine knowledge of Kate Bush will already know that the tabloid reports of a strange, reclusive, "witchy" character are laughably inaccurate and that the truth is more that she acts just as any normal person would - she does her job, and then she lives her life in private. It just happens to be that her 'job' is making music, which of course leads to publicity, naturally. After reading the book, you really get a sense of Kate Bush the person - warm, genuine, determined, normal, but not without the odd endearing eccentricity - alongside Kate Bush the artist - hard-working, experimental, committed. Thomson's insights are well-judged and more than once I felt he was articulating exactly how I felt about her and her music but hadn't been able to properly express. His writing style is accessible but sophisticated, lending the book the air of a proper critical analysis as opposed to some previous biographies, which felt like extended magazine articles.

The book is excellent throughout but a few episodes are memorable, such as the new interviews with old schoolfriends of Bush from the 1970s shedding some light on her childhood.
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