on 30 June 2000
This is the album that smashed all the preconceptions of Kate's music and defined the directions that her music would move in later years. With this release she moved from being just another female singer/songwriter with a quirky voice to a serious artist, continually reinventing herself and seeking out new themes and directions. 'Never Forever' remains my favourite Kate album 20 years on, even though 'Hounds of Love' is probably a far more complete set. 'Breathing' is far and away the best single she ever released, although certainly not exactly radio-friendly. 'Infant Kiss' even now makes me shiver any time I listen to it. 'Egypt' would preview her later instincts for seeking out influences from far around the globe. 'Never Forever' introduced Kate's use of the Fairlight at much the same time as Peter Gabriel's third album did and both these artists would continue to wield extensive influence in the following years. I don't think its possible to underestimate how much the success of this album had on Kate's future work and I don't think that if this one had bombed out, we would have been listening to any more of this woman's work 20 years on. This, for me, is the quintessential Kate Bush recording.
on 24 January 2012
This is a favourite album and when I first heard it as a teenager, fitted well with my dark and broody persona. It tackles difficult subjects jealousy,nuclear war, the death of a young soldier and the complicated, almost Freudian child/parent relationship "Leave the breast and then the nest and then regret you ever left." (All We Ever Look For) Kate Bush pushes boundaries and I have thought that The Infant Kiss maybe goes too far, "I've never fallen for a little boy before" "I want to smack but I hold back I only want to touch." I can imagine that if the song was published now the media would be all over it. However I have read that she wrote it about a scean in the film The Innocents based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw and listening to the lyrics it makes perfect sense. The Governess comes to believe that the child in her care is under the influence of the ghost of an evil servant, in the film the boy asks for a goodnight kiss and she sees something behind his eyes that makes her question his innocence. Having said that I still find the song a bit creepy, maybe because I am now a mother but I do think it was very brave of her to include it.
Although the subject matter is sometimes dark the album is not unrelentlessly sombre the music changes pace with each song and is often upbeat, unlike her latest album 50 Words for Snow, which I found very down beat. I prefer the vintage Kate.
on 11 April 2002
This is one of Kate's darkest recordings - suitably, the front cover boasts a flurry of mythical beasts flying out of under Kate's skirt, and the back has a bunch of bats with her face on them. This sets the scene for a collection of fascinating, morbid and haunting songs with very different subject matter to most pop/rock music: The Wedding List is about a woman whose husband is murdered on their wedding day and sets out to get revenge (it's also brilliant to boot), while Breathing, about nuclear war, features the immortal backing vocals: "What are we going to do? We are all going to die!" The album opens well, with Babooshka and Delius, then settles into a warm but slightly disturbing sound. After a while - basically by "Egypt", which is the closest any Kate song has ever come to being a filler - the slow pace gets to you, but then the album springs into life with The Wedding List, Violin and Army Dreamers, then finishes with the epic-sounding Breathing. (Always entertaining, especially with the rumours that an EMI official came into Kate's studio while the backing vocals of "in out in out" were on repeat, and asked her if she was planning on selling such pornography.)
Overall, this album is beautiful, rich and varied (something very rare in pop music), and doesn't sound too dated considering it is more than twenty years old. The lyrics are funny, clever and slightly bizarre (The Infant Kiss in particular), and the music is beatiful and absorbing, if somewhat eccentric at times. Depite the low points of Blow Away and Egypt, it is still a worthy addition to the collection of anyone who likes proper pop/rock music, and an great antidote to most of the stuff going around today.
on 12 September 2000
To follow on from her brilliant 1978 debut album, The Kick Inside, and it's immediate (if overly similar) successor Lionheart, was always going to be a difficult task for Kate Bush. She knew there was a need for a completely different look and feel to her music, consequently borne out expertly via her introduction to the Fairlight synth, with delicate sampling and synthesised sound-sculpting utilised in perfect proportion with a variety of new and unusual instruments throughout Never For Ever (1980).
The album begins with the perfect opening vehicle for Bush, the drama-pop of Babooshka, and from thereon in she takes us on a joyous and meandering ride through her New World of musical soundscapes, with the quality control never diminishing on a single track. From the chilling Infant Kiss, the poppy Wedding List and the Celtic-tinged Army Dreamers to the brilliant hard-rocker Violin and the haunting Breathing, Bush collates an unbelievable array of moods and styles and produced the one of the most startlingly original albums of the 1980's.
You can see that an immense amount of thought has gone into this album, and Never For Ever saw the beginnings of Bush's fastidious attention to detail and dedication to total perfection on each and every component of every track. It may lack the tight cohesion of her brilliant Hounds of Love outing, but perhaps it is all the better for it. In fact it is one of those rare albums where you you invariably hear something new upon each hearing.
This is certainly one of Kate Bush's finest moments and to this day, no female artist (ie, the likes of PJ Harvey, Bjork and Tori Amos) has come anywhere close to her brilliantly original creativity which was always years ahead of its time (in fact they are all excessively glum or precosciously obscure). Never For Ever is a timeless piece of work from one of our quiet and unassuming national treasures.
Whilst still not quite capturing the 'magic' of her debut 'The Kick Inside', this Album was definitely better and more interesting than the previous release: 'Lionheart'. (see my Review for those titles)
Firstly; it had three pretty big hit Singles to its credit - two of which were her best ever in my opinion, and should really have given Kate Bush at least one Number One; 'Babooshka' and 'Breathing'.
(I recall rather an amusing memory of the latter years ago when I was visiting my Grandmother. She was forced to suffer 'Top Of The Pops' on the television. She was very old (being born in Victorian Times) and knew little of Pop Music, but she was startlingly aware of a 'Ms. Kate Bush'! Anyway; 'Breathing' was climbing the Charts and featured on the Show this particular week, and she was in the Studio if I recall correctly 'theatrically' of course, and so typical of Kate, rolling around in a huge sphere. After the Show, and when my mother turned up at the house to collect me some time later, my Granny (quite distressed) was full of: 'you should have been here (to my mother) it's been terrible! That Kate Bush rolling around like a squealing 'ninny' like this (Granny imitating her movements from within the sphere) in a great big ball'! LOL I've laughed so much about that in the years since... My Granny was rather deaf, and so the only lyric she was able to pick up on was Kate singing the 'Out' from the lyrics: 'In - Out', but being deaf, inevitably sounded very much like a pointless 'Ouch' or needless shrieking/squealing to my Grandmother...)
'Babooshka' I think had already reached Number Five, and a friend had 'fibbed' to me the following week and told me it had gone to Number One when I'd missed the Chart - I believed her, as this had been Kate's best effort since her last chart topper of more than two years previous. I was disappointed to eventually find out that actually Number Five was its 'peak'... However; the other Single featured on this Album: 'Army Dreamers' I was not so keen on, but I would say on the original vinyl LP that Side Two is probably the stronger one of the two. It also contains some interesting Album material; such as 'Violin' in particular and 'Infant Kiss'; the former beginning quietly, and ending up in a kind of 'frenzy' but a great Piece of work and art. Unsuitable of course for Single material.
on 16 August 2010
After putting out two albums in 1978, Kate Bush spent the first half of 1979 embroiled in her feted 'Tour of Life.' A lengthy extravaganza involving singing, playing the piano, dancing, and various other theatrics, it took the dramatic stage craft of David Bowie to another level and remains one of the most iconic chapters in Bush's career.
But afterwards, she was understandably exhausted and opted to retreat into the studio rather than concentrate further on live performance. Work began on 'Never for Ever' late in 1979 and continued until the summer of 1980, the first sign of Bush emerging as a dedicated studio artist. The sessions for The Kick Inside and Lionheart had been relatively quick, with live tracking and overdubs, but Bush wanted a more intricate sound this time and it obviously required greater patience and time.
It was also her first experience in the producer's chair, co-producing with Jon Kelly. Bush parted ways with producer Andrew Powell after the tour, intent on retaining some control of her own work - the huge success of the two LPs (self-written) and the tour (conceived by Bush) allowed her the muscle to exert her own influence. She was still only 21 at the time of recording 'Never for Ever' but occupied a quite remarkable position of power.
Perhaps understandably, it's the sound of an artist not quite committed to what sound she wants to go for. Some of the songs are more conventional live-sounding pieces that grew out of the tour (the raucous mock-punk "Violin" and the guitar-led "The Wedding List," for instance) while others are markedly more experimental with both sound and structure (the shimmering "Delius," the sound effect-drenched "All We Ever Look For.")
Partly the reason was because Bush was introduced to the Fairlight - a keyboard sampler allowing sound effects to be positioned into the songs - relatively late into the sessions, so there seems to be a divide between these songs and the more straightforward ones. But at its best, 'Never for Ever' just slightly trumps the best of the first two albums. "Egypt" is a beautifully evocative, unusual number with a shifting rhythm, culminating in a haunting electric guitar solo and oppressive vocal layering, "Babooshka" is exotic and familiar all at once, "Army Dreamers" is a low-key but extraordinarily effective waltz, and the closing "Breathing," dramatic, beautiful, haunting, was the sign of an artist finding a sound that was truly unique and truly hers.
If the album was more cohesive and focused, it would no doubt again be a five-star experience. It's clear that "Army Dreamers," "Babooshka," and especially "Breathing" are five-star songs. But as an album, it's too much of a transitional piece to earn classic status. It has one foot in the previous two records and one foot in the experiments to come. There's a charm in that, though, and no Kate Bush collection is complete without it.
on 28 August 2011
Kate's true pop album. It's also in my opinion her best ever. Starting with "Babooshka" - a sure fire hit and Kate's most 'pop' single ever, this sets the tone for the rest of the album and it's brilliant. Highlights come thick and fast thereafter; "All We Ever Look For", "The Wedding List", "Violin", "The Infant Kiss", "Breathing". A career peak, and certainly there were many more great albums to come, but this is Kate at her most accessible. With only one lowpoint (the plodding "Egypt"), this is a good starting point for anyone looking to get into Kate Bush. Wonderful album cover as well.
on 23 April 2011
I'm one of those rare people who believe it's important to start with an artist's first release, slowly get to know it, and then move on to the 2nd, 3rd, etc. So that means that this is my 3rd Kate Bush album, after The Kick Inside and Lionheart.
Just by looking at the cover artwork, I suspected this album was going to be an interesting one, and I was definitely right! While maintaining the excellent production values, in terms of vocals and instrumentation, this album goes into a much more experimental direction than the first two albums had gone. One of the first things I noticed is that the instrumentation is a lot "bigger" and much more powerful than the first two albums. This album is quite a bit darker and has some slightly spooky moments, which, combined with the overall sweetness of Kate's vocals, is really quite unique.
Highlights for me are "Delius (Song of Summer)", "All We Ever Look For", "The Infant Kiss", "Night Scented Stock" (which I'm sure inspired Goldfrapp to write their track "Voicething" from their 2010 album; Head First). "Army Dreamers" and "Breathing" are absolutely beautiful songs that are just as perfect as "Wuthering Heights" is, but both in totally different ways. Both of these songs were released as singles and charted at number 16 in 1980; which I think shows how the mentality of the public has changed. These days something as beautiful and experimental as these songs probably wouldn't even be on the chart at all... The last minute or so of "Breathing" is incredibly powerful, and makes me just want to listen to the entire album again, and again, and again. I'm always listening to music, and I have a LOT of stuff to choose from, so it's very rare that I came across an album that I can listen to on repeat (which I have done for most of today!).
This album is, in my opinion, much better than "The Kick Inside" and "Lionheart". As the cover artwork suggests, I think Kate let a lot of what was inside her to release and the result was a magical, moving, unique, and incredibly powerful album that is just pure art in every way.
Anybody reading this review who is thinking of exploring Kate's music, I would strongly suggest starting with the first album, then the second, and then this one. "Never For Ever" seems to be, sadly, overshadowed by Kate's later work. I actually read a review saying that this album is "too much of a transition to be considered a masterpiece". I'm quite glad that I haven't yet heard her later albums so that I can't compare this one to them and, in the process, spoil my own enjoyment of this absolutely beautiful, amazing, and moving album. I consider it to be a masterpiece!
If it's true what so many people say about Kate's later albums being better than this, then I really do have a lot to look forward to...
on 14 October 2013
This album is better than Lionheart, however I actually find it less accessible. Huh. Still, it's a gooden!
1. Babooshka - FANTASTIC> About a woman who dresses up as someone else to see if her husband will cheat. Bonkers, brill. 9/10
2. Delius - Really dreamy and perfect for a balmy summer evening! This has summer solstice written all over it. Plinky plonky, chanty, great. 8/10
3. Blow Away - This song was written about one of KB's engineers (i think he was an engineer?) who died in tragic circumstances. A nice ballad for him. 7/10
4. All We Ever Look For - Ahh great, mad, fun, ballad, medium pace. 8/10
5. Egypt - There is something dangerous and romantic about this ode to Egypt. It's great 8/10
6. The Wedding List - a proper KB pop song! About a groom being murdered, and the bride seeking revenge. 9/10
7. Violin - Yes! More mad pop track! This is about... a violin. Very fun to sing along too. 9/10
8. The Infant Kiss - I find this track forgettable. Many would disagree with me! 2/10
9. Night Scented Shock - An interlude, very nice sounding. 8/10
10. Army Dreamers - Instantly this song grabs you. The haunting sound lulls you in. About an Irish mother whose son died in war. 10/10
11. Breathing - Drama! Big ballad! Kinda shows you what KB will become (a step towards more dramatic pop, not to say that anything before this isn't dramatic!!) 6/10
Overall, a good album. Some nice upbeat songs, which are better than the ballads.
on 12 March 2009
kate Bush is a one in a million artist, and that is certainly a well earned title to have, i have always loved her since i heard Babooshka and Running Up That hill, therefore i decided that i will purchase each of her albums one by one.
Never For Ever was where i started and what a wise decision it was...no artist has made an album as sensual or as fun/quirky as this.
already this is one of my favourite albums of all time after owning it for just a week, Kate is that sort of artist.
Never For Ever shows kate exploring a range of ideas and styles on each of her 11 songs here.
they are all of a high class standard and certify as being classic.
Babooshka-a song that got me interested in this singer, the style is unique while also extremely thought provoking with it's unusual lyrics even with todays music it is strong and as exceptional as when i first heard it, a classic in many different ways as it shows kate's interest in literature and human nature taken to new heights.
Delius (song of the summer)- here we have a quirky and unusual song which is pure and exceptional as it links directly from the concluding 'shatter glass' verse of Babooshka and then it turns into summery sounds and backing vocals which makes this a very memorable song indeed.
Blow Away (for Bill)- another change in direction with a song that makes me feel really good as the vocals are as ever as chanting as ever they could be (a Christmas feel) and another gem.
All We Ever Look For- more of a melodic song than the previous three with some nice whistling effects in the background and even some unusual film effects toward the end of the song with party bangers and bird songs just audible with foot stamping(just to add to her artistic edge with this song) overall it basically sums up how unusual kate can be while still showing her at her best, evidently it shows purity and paganism as a source in its tune material.
Egypt-a very ethnic song and pure in it's delivery with that oriental feel behind the tune and the vocals, it is sensational in many ways with vocals that reflect a positive attitude while also conveying a majestic appeal behind the message of the song, it gathers a haunting pace towards the middle of the song adding that surreal attitude behind the song making it an exceptional standout.
The Wedding list- brutal and violent in the message which shows Kate's attraction to literature and film media with the message taken from the plot line of the revenge film The Bride Wore Black, also Quentin Tarantino sought the song to give him the style needed for the classic Kill Bill franchise, it show Kate showing off a new style with a more rock approach to the song with a strong baseline to enhance Kate's vocal ability and delivery with it's haunting message, the brutality of the song is told to the listener in such a subtle way 'in his red-still wet' hiding the violent attitude and adds to Kate's quirky style of artistic direction making this one of my favourite songs.
Violin-continuing with mature sound and with the sythesiser effect on her vocals to create more edge with this song, this shows kate with more of a rocker's edge than any other song she has done...and with the use of violin with the pace of the song it adds to that precise balance and wit adding to the power conveyed withing the song as Kate sings as both angel and banshee with this song, basically this is as perfect as it gets with the most basic of messages...the love for the violin instrument.
The infant Kiss-now for a change of pace from the previous songs, Kate goes more mellow with the ballad of the album, but unlike most ballads this is told with Kate's unique style and kitsch attitude with sound effects while the message still hits as deep as it should with pure emotional resonance, as pure as Kate can be.
Night Scented Stock-the interlude song which changes pace and has Kate providing background vocals with a strong and steady paced beat making for a fantastic 50 seconds of sound waves as it links with the end of the previous song, genuinely haunting and stunning use of synthesisers creating great orchestral style.
Army dreamers- a stunning song with pure resonance now more than ever before, the message is stronger than any other ballad and deeper than a cut, the backing vocals add to the purity of Kate's vocals and the beat is gentle if unique with the clockwork toy style effect showing how life can be wasted through fighting when you haven't yet come into your true form, your life hasn't started yet don't waste it when you're still young.
Breathing- haunting yet again and extremely unique, unusual that it portrays Kate as a fetus aware of the struggles in the outside world, it chills you as it refreshes with the rhythm and pacing' out in out in out in out 'and the fantastic messages and sense of unease executed through the best production a song could ever have, a favourite song of mine in general and possibly Kate's most powerful song to date.
Never For Ever stands today as being one of the greatest albums ever to be made by an artist, currently i am waiting for Hounds of love to be delivered as that is meant to be her greatest album and i cannot wait until Hounds Of Love finally arrives.
overall Never For Ever is one of the mst epic albums Kate has done and one of my top 25 favorites, a must for everyone.