on 9 May 2015
I've listened to the directors cut quite a few times and much as I adore kate bush and all her albums it simply doesn't do it for me. As some other reviewers have said the originals sound so much better to me despite the 80's/90's production
On certain songs like moments of pleasure and rubberband girl she redid the songs to make them an alternative version, most of the others were simply remixes of the original songs .The new version of deeper understanding was self indulgent compared to the original and superior version. If you need to buy this album for completeness buy the vinyl version - a beautiful gatefold with lots of stunning pictures (though not many of kate herself!) and worth buying for this alone. I will persevere with this album but still drawn to the originals
This is such an odd album even for darling Kate. Like many other reviewers here I have been a Kate fan since day one and have patiently waited year after year for some new sounds. Kate returns to two of her most over-produced albums here and pares back the "wall of sound" ~ the specific element that made those two albums such mystery listens. There were some sounds on The Red Shoes that were totally unnameable; unquantifiable, alien and magical. By reducing these to the bare essentials of, basically and acoustic set the magic has been lost;the lace trimmed back to stubble; the mysteries revealed. She has shown as the girl behind the curtain and I , as do many others, still crave the blasts of purple smoke, fireworks and the unfathomable esoteric genius that was Kate at her most otherworldly.
This is an alternative take on Kate ~ she may have been better off lending out the tracks to classic remixers to see what they would have come up with. Having said all that I can never get enough of Ms Bush and even have a fine collection of screechy demos and live performances. This is Kate attaining her Ph D. in music creativity and I will willingly embrace the new album as an old friend
on 18 May 2011
The Red Shoes was not by any means my favourite Kate Bush album. As for Ariel - the second disc is great, but I will happily never play disc one's collection of songs again ... and I am certainly a fan of Ms Bush.
There are a number of problems with Director's Cut - some are technical, others more subjective. Technically I think there is an obvious problem with the sound engineering - the de-esser seems to be on overdrive - turned up to 11 just like it was on Ariel and, frankly, going much further back into Ms Bush's catalogue (listen to the line 'it's just started to snow' on the original version of Moments of Pleasure).
This problem is all over every track on Director's Cut - on these recordings the vocals are not well served by whatever technology (a combination of analogue tape and Protools according to a recent interview). The result is that some tracks sound like karaoke - namely And so is Love, Song of Solomon and the truly awful Flower of the Mountain.
Subjectively it is clear that Ms Bush wishes us to effectively replace previous versions with these new recordings, otherwise there's little point in releasing them on CD. They could have happily remained in her studio yet even on the CD packaging she states she was never happy with the original versions ...
But these are, largely, tweaked versions of the original recordings. The new drum tracks can hardly be described as radical, the new vocals are not so new - not so interpretively revolutionary as to remake the songs, and if you're going to get Danny Thompson to play bass on one of your tracks, perhaps that track shouldn't be a godawful pub rock style jam that effectively buries his contribution.
Obviously the tracks that do work are the very stripped down, intimate new recordings. Perhaps it would have been wiser to commit to this approach for the whole album.
Something that really jars (for me): Michael Kamen's previous exemplary string arrangements have been entirely removed in these new versions, yet the dreadful Eric Claption guitar solo remains. Michael Kamen died a few years ago...
I have no problem with people rerecording their material. This worked well for John Martyn and has allowed Joni Mitchell to revisit her incredible catalogue. But neither of these artists stated their motive was in any way related to improving what they'd done previously. If they had, I am certain they'd have ended up regretting it.
Hopefully Ms Bush can rapidly move forward from this failed experiment.
on 20 May 2011
Being a life long Bush nut I ought to like this but I don't.
Firstly, going back over material which has already being released into the public domain and been well received is somewhat brave/foolish. If there were some artistic merit or something that needed fixing, maybe, but I can't see how any or these works have been significantly improved or fixed. Secondly, and because I already know the material I felt the new versions seemed a little forced or formulated. Thirdly, I have always rated the quality of Kate's recordings but the mastering on this one is bit ropy with too many low and middle frequencies making some tracks sound muddy and confused.
Lastly, I studied the song 'This Woman's Work' as part of may degree ( The original version). It always brings me to tears and is shining example of Kate's ability to encapsulate complex emotions - what she was thinking about in trying to improve it is her affair but to my ears this other version is banal and tired. I think this example illustrates that even when you're Kate Bush, you can't improve on perfection.
I will always be a Kate Bush nut. Her work is brave, complex and emotionally crippling but this offering is one or two marbles short.
on 22 July 2011
I understand there's been a motivation to strip these songs bare of their 80's details, usually rather annoying noises for me, a synthetic intrusion upon otherwise good music - however!! - listening back through the originals, they're not exactly troubled by an overabundance of this 80's nuisance. So, I am disappointed, but what's disappointing for me comes more from the quality of the sound. In listening to the originals, alongside these, one thing that stands out immediately is how these new recordings, of older songs, appear to be a bit dull, especially in comparison. The BBC describes them (above) as having more of a `golden glow,' or something to that affect. But no, for me, this is by no means an enhancement, taking out a rich brightness that the originals so generously ensconced us with. There's something missing in this aptly titled `director's cut,' as there has been in so many other similarly named efforts before it.
on 16 May 2011
As a Kate Bush fan who would consider himself to be borderline fanatical, and considering her sporadic output, I have been excited at the prospect of this new release for ages, even if it was to be re-workings of what I consider to be her more problematic back catalogue. I was initially sceptical, especially when the track listing revealed that Kate Bush places the songs `This Woman's Work' and `The Sensual World' in the same category as `Top Of The City' and `And So Is Love' in terms of needing an overhaul; but her Radio 4 interview and her interview in Mojo indicated that we would be in for some radical reappraisals; after all, that is ostensibly the purpose of this release.
Most of the songs here, with the exception of `This Woman's Work' and `Moments of Pleasure' which I will deal with later, are `re-workings' in the same way that Wuthering Heights [New Vocal] was a `re-working': in other words, they aren't. The dated production continues to dominate, the instrumentation largely remains the same, and despite occasionally adding a few halfhearted screams and yelps here and there along with occasional echoes on key end words, not much has changed in the re-recorded vocals. `The Song Of Solomon' features a risable `Wop bam boo'; her additions to `Lily' are simply silly and a little embarrassing. She has previously asked us to be `kind to her mistakes' - I think this time, this is a big ask - nearly an album's worth.
After following her career closely and delighting in her output, I found `The Red Shoes' a difficult album, too many of the songs I simply didn't like: until the release of Aerial, I considered it an unfitting full stop to her career, the sound of an artist flailing around in more production than ideas. I found the album lyrically naff and sonically over produced. The re-workings of `And So Is Love', `The Song Of Solomon' and `Top Of The City' sound more or less like the original recordings. Perhaps that's my own problem with this release - I didn't like the original recordings enough to connect with them and these re-workings don't offer any radically new interpretations or perspectives. Even `The Red Shoes' is, with the exception of a few accented vocals, far too similar to the original to be worth listening to again. These are more like `alternative versions', artefacts found in a vault somewhere, where perhaps they should have stayed. The vocorder in `Deeper Understanding' made me laugh out loud rather than see the song as a Sybil's vision of a social network dominated dystopia. It really is ridiculous. `Rubberband Girl' sounds like it was recorded in one, live take and therefore could be said to offer some indication as to why the artist has rarely performed live.
I loved the album `The Sensual World'. Much has made of Bush's delight at having, after twenty years been allowed permission to incorporate Joyce's original text. `The Sensual World' was a perfect track; the changes back to Joyce just show how Bush's lyrics superseded the original- she turned Molly Bloom's monologue into her own invention, turned it into something better, just as she did with `Wuthering Heights'. The song has lost out. The original showed what Kate Bush could do with others' material - use it as a starting point and turn it into something better. `Shall I look for those millionaires / Like a Machiavellian girl / When I could wear / A sunset' becomes clunkingly `When I put the rose in my hair / Like the Andalucian girls / When I could wear red'. These new versions simply don't work. The music, inevitably, stays more or less the same; it's lazy
The Sensual World as an album was for me dominated by the Trio Bulgarka to the point that I worried that in trying to emulate their vibrato, Bush was in danger of transforming her most pliable instrument - her voice - into something less original and unique. `Never Been Mine', which was completely determined by The Trio, has been de-Bulgarka'ed. However, such was their stranglehold over the original that you can't listen to this version without expecting their close harmonies to emerge - SPOLIER - they appear halfway through, and what was truly an `alternative version/vision' reverts disappointingly back to the original.
The one song which surprised everyone when it was revealed it was being `re-worked' was `This Woman's Work', a song held sacred by Bush fans. I don't particularly like the new version here, but at least it is significantly different from the original and demonstrates two fundamental ideas I need to cling to regarding this floundering offering: - firstly that, despite everything else on this recording, Kate Bush does still know what works - even if it is only sometimes; the glass piano and the Music for Airport layering of vocals applied to any other song would have rendered it an instant Bush classic. Secondly, her voice is richer, deeper, more controlled and delivered close up to the microphone there is that sense of intimacy which typifies her more moving works; in other words, there is hope. ` Moment of Pleasure', the absolute high point of the album has been completely transformed - the line `Just being alive / It can really hurt' which was always a little trite, has been replaced with a mournful male voice choir. The changes in pace and phrasing have revealed to me the real meaning of the song, a process I was hoping for with the other tracks. The peripherals have been stripped, the 90's production has been erased and the bare bones of this song have been allowed to breathe: this is what I was hoping for with all the other tracks. These two songs alone are worth the cover price, therefore my advice is to just pay for them as downloaded tracks and save yourself a couple of quid. Ultimately, and depressingly, all these two songs do is indicate what this album might have been, tease us with what could have beens and demonstrate what we have ultimately been cheated of.
This is a lazy affair. It's a significant blip in an otherwise steadfast canon. This album might be a cash cow, but it has effectively shaken my faith in an artist who has a reputation for integrity. `This Woman's Work' and `Moments Of Pleasure' could have been released as a killer double single, something to keep us in suspense until the promised new album arrives. For completists only I'm afraid as sorry, this is a mistake I can't be kind to.
on 6 September 2011
I should first say that I am a bona-fide, card-carrying Kate Bush fan. However, this album is quite simply, awful. I have played it once and doubt very much I will revisit it. The problem is that the songs are almost the same except being longer, emptier and with some different words. I'm not a musician so cannot give causes for this, but my ears know that they are not happy. Unfortunately, all the songs on this album sound better in their original form, without question. 'Flower of the Mountain' just rambles on, with none of the highlights of the original. 'Deeper Understanding' (never a favourite of mine) is now simply a boring song with naff lyrics. The only song I actually like is 'Rubberband Girl', although her voice is hard to fathom. It builds up nicely to what could have been a different, but acceptable song. I heard in an interview that she didn't like the big production, but to me 'Rubberband girl' needed that strong twang which illustrated the idea. Now it just sounds like she's jamming with some chums in the pub. I'm at a loss as to why Our Ms Bush wanted to revisit 'Song of Solomon', when to me it is a song that should have died a death a long time ago. And as one other reviewer said, without the Trio Bulkarga on the 'Sensual world' songs, you're left with just an empty tinkle. I bought the album with copies of Red Shoes and Sensual world enclosed as I had lost them a long time ago and I challenge anyone to listen and compare and then vote that 'Director's Cut' has the better versions.
Kate, if this was an experiement while working on other stuff, you're forgiven. If this is really how you want these songs to sound, then this fan may listen before buying in future.
on 9 November 2014
It took several years and seeing kate.love four times for me to "get" why she revisited sobgs from the sensual world and red shoes. Lily, top of the city worked wonderfully live and made me revisit directors cut. I love the redshoes reworking too. Kate has matured marvellously as an artist.
on 20 May 2011
What a soppy bunch of people Kate Bush fans are. Mostly in their 50's they took her to their collective hearts many years ago. She's the one who never sold out, the one who never blew it. She has that magical factor: integrity. It helps that she was utterly original and more startlingly gifted than most of her peers but that was years ago. And whilst her fans have kept the trembling flame of loyalty alive through years of musical drought has the talent remained?
This is an odd release even by Kate's standards because it's so straightforward. Mundane even. If it's an exercise to free up her musical muse again then at least it has a purpose. Other bands do this sort of thing and release it for free on their websites. Perhaps they might release a track or two to go on those ghastly CDs you get stuck on the cover of 'Mojo', 'Classic Rock' or (god help us) 'Q'.
So all those lovely Kate fans are out there, beaks open like a sea of baby chicks waiting for a morsel, anything at all from Kate Bush. And suddenly we get this. Flashes of dodgy judgement are mixed with really nice ideas. Genuine lapses of ability seem like charming foibles when they come from 'Crackers Kate'. But it's what's behind it that's really fascinating. It's like she's flexing her musical muscles in familiar territory before going for the real push. Out into the world! Flitting like a phantom from rare interview to exclusive phone call! And like mummy bird coming home with an extra big worm all the little chicks are flailing about like mad, chirrupping their little hearts out with bulging eyes yet to open.
This album really is for those fans and they can discuss their little hearts out about how brilliant or how awful it is but it doesn't matter. Kate's an entertainer and does it all on her own terms. Even Frank Sinatra didn't manage that all his life. If you like Kate and you 'care' you'll buy it. You'll listen to it a little bit and put it proudly alongside your other Kate CDs. If you don't 'care' you'll download it for nothing and it'll end up in some dusty digital corner of your hard drive.
This release is really a kind of slight fanfare. It's the announcement that Kate Bush is considering the possibility of returning to work! There'll be another album! There'll be a tour! It's even more amazing than Pink Floyd at 'Live 8!' The chicks are in a frenzy! Careful now...
on 2 June 2011
I totally agree with H.A. Davis' points about everything being mastered too loud these days; it's indeed a terrible annoyance, not least with many 'remastered' cds. However, this doesn't explain the sound quality (or lack thereof) of this album; listen to "Aerial": it was one of the 'quietest' masters I heard in the last ten years, and it sounded fantastic, with full frequency range, perfect clarity and all. "Director's Cut" has none of this: it sounds terribly muffled, with all the treble cut off, no clarity, and not even with a big dynamic range despite of the 'quiet' mastering. Don't get me wrong: I like 'adventurous' sound shaping in general and would be the first to come to the defense of some 4AD recordings from the early 80s that you could easily criticise for not being 'hi-fi' technically speaking, but which have a totally unique sound (listen to "Head over Heels" by the Cocteau Twins for an example). But I can't defend this one here.
I don't know what went wrong, perhaps someone over-employed some 'tube emulation' plug-in or the like; but I find the aural result disastrous. And this has nothing to do with all of us having forgotten how voices and instruments really sound; they simply don't sound like THIS. Actually, even some of Kate's early piano demos floating around on some inofficial cds don't sound much worse.
I must confess that I haven't really made up my mind about these re-interpretations themselves so far, but would at least say that I rather like "Flower of the mountain" with its original Joyce-lyrics. They might fit the song less well than Kate's lyrics did, but really turn the song into another direction, more like a contemplation on the wonderful words by Ireland's greatest writer. "And how he kissed me under the Moorish wall" is simply so much more to the point in the context than the vague "And how we wished to live in the sensual world".