on 4 March 2006
Kate Bush, they say, is like Marmite, you either love or hate her work. This album, however, gives some middle ground.
It's as accessible as her best selling Hounds of Love , but more complex,personal and lasting.
The James Joyce inspired title track is possibly her best ever.
However I think this album will be mostly remembered for the sublime "This Woman's Work"...worth the money on its own.
Other worthy notables include "The Fog" and "Never be Mine"
layered to perfection, and deeply evocative.
"Reaching Out" and " Rocket's Tail" see Kate hit the high notes
for the old fans and "Heads were Dancing" mentions Hilter!
"Deeper Understanding" inspired Prince...What more could you want? Fantastic album. 10/10.
on 23 February 2004
I seem to remember my family having a copy of her first two albums when I was about five. Twenty two years ago. I think the only reason we had them was because a family friend wanted my mum to hear the poetry Ms Bush was writing. (At that time Kick Inside and Lionheart had been out for about 3 years). I was allowed to play them in the morning to stop me waking my parents up too early. Even then I loved the sound of her voice. At that age I couldn't always hear what she was singing but that didn't matter. It was the soul she put into her sound that I heard.
Fast forward thirteen years. We had lost the albums, then I heard an interview with Kate Bush on the radio about the making of Hounds Of Love. On the strength of the clips that were played, I bought the album. Then I bought her first two and the memory of their joy all came back.
However, after buying all of her back catalogue, I enjoy The Sensual World more than the rest. Believe me, I have tried.
It isn't dazzling, very ground breaking, commercial, well received, as smokin' as Kick Inside, or relentlessly original as Hounds Of Love, but there's a calm intimacy that I haven't heard anywhere else. There are a few messy songs like Love And Anger, or Between A Man And A Woman where there's a lot going on and it feels too much with the production set up for the album, but I'm nit picking really.
The other reviews I've read for this album say it's over produced, but I say she got it smack on. You feel like you're in an underground cave and the music comes to the listener across a small pool. The way the album was engineered sounds like she's sat next to you but there's a huge, deep feel to everything. A good example is The Fog and Deeper Understanding. The lyrics are at times heartbreaking, simple, very intimate, exhaultary and descriptive. The melodies they are sung with are quite simple compared to her other releases, but this is the strength of the album. The whole point. It is about quiet reflection, even in the angrier moments, but done in such a way as to sound boundless. It's not as dementedly exuberant as her other albums, but I say she does "quiet" just as well.
In the radio interview that prompted me to buy Hounds Of Love, Kate said that she was very angry during the recording of The Dreaming, and still during Hounds Of Love. You can hear that respectively, the drive and dark restless humour. There is still anger present in The Sensual World, but mellowed enough not to overtake the other aspects of the music. Just enough bite to make it all tick over with the myriad of instruments and vocals.
The best musical hug and reassurance I could have wished for.
on 23 July 2009
This album would be worth 5 stars for "This woman's work" alone. I don't believe that i've ever heard a song with so much power in my entire life. Every hair on my body stood on end at both crescendos. As someone who spends his life searching in vain for songs that marry emotional power with sympathetic music and dynamics to match, this is no mean feat.
Leaving this aside The Sensual World is my first real foray into the mind of Kate Bush and I am staggered. As a guitarist i find it difficult to listen to music that isn't driven along by guitars (narrow minded, I know), and am constantly turned off by music that i consider to be sparse. This is one of the hugest sounding albums that i have ever heard.
I would recommend The Sensual World to anyone without reserve as a way into Kate Bush, although i know that others would argue that Hounds Of Love is a better place to start. However, until i hear it (which will be soon, trust me) i couldn't say.
Sounds like we have a consensus out there!
The Sensual World failed ( commercially ) to match the massive success of 'Hounds Of Love'. It's hard to know why. Maybe the time was right for that album - and who can deny that 'Running up that Hill' and 'Cloudbusting' are some of the finest singles ever. Maybe Kate just left it too long, as she often does, and the world had moved on.
The Sensual World succeeds as a great album however. It's cornerstone is undeniably 'This Woman's Work' which reliably brings tears to my eyes. I'm still not really sure what it's about - at one level Kate seems to be at the bedside of her dying mother, while on another the line 'I know you have a little life in you yet' could be about a mother to be. Genius.
Other stand outs are 'Reaching Out' about, well, reaching out - but Kate captures the beauty of such a simple, but essential gesture. 'Deeper Understanding' - about the way people are turning to technology for company is remarkably prescient and captures the mood of someone all alone,bar their computer. 'Never Be Mine' a song about regret - again executed perfectly, with some lovely fretless bass playing.
What I really like about this album is you're drawn into a different soundscape. 'Heads We're Dancing' and 'The Fog' are songs unlike anyone else's. The former is like a modern folk song - a dance with Hitler, Kate being unaware of his identity. The second a smoky misty evocation of a child's first swimming attempt really, for me captures the feeling of a river late at night.
on 30 October 2011
After owning a copy of this album for 22 years, I still rate this a gem. Although perhaps a bit overproduced in places and especially with rather 'splashy' drum sounds there are some tracks on this album which are amongst my favourite Kate tracks even though I prefer her more recent work.
Particularly of note are the beautiful strings on The Fog and Reaching Out. Heads were Dancing is delightfully dark and spooky. Love the wistfulness and sense of longing on Never be Mine.
Although I love the Directors Cut updating of some of these tracks, I am also delighted to experience the nostalgia of the originals.
on 17 August 2012
I remember buying this and hoping for Hounds of Love 2 and so I ended up being initially underwhelmed.
For this first-time listener The Sensual World seemed subdued in comparison. What I can say is that this album may grow on you--it has grown over the years into an album that I appreciate more and more. At the time I found songs like Never Be Mine and Deeper Understanding a little plain by Bush's standards, but now I love both of them, especially the former. Hounds of Love is an extravagant, extrovert album, but The Sensual World is best-viewed as its introvert cousin. It took time (in my case) to see beyond its unassuming style.
The Sensual World--loved this from the first. The video was one of her best and a great fit with the song. I think this single created expectations as much as Hounds of Love. I wanted more of this style and was slightly disappointed because in it's own quiet way the album is more diverse than the style of this song. This song is truly sensual, and I actually prefer the original lyric to the Director Cut's Joycean version. The DC version just comes off as a tribute to Joyce whereas this feels like it's own possession.
Love and Anger--the third single. This is great and reminds me of the HOL era. It fits with that style I think. It's a big song, and one that builds and builds as it proceeds.
The Fog--this was my favourite when I first heard the album and I still love it. I love the Oriental strings, and the voice samples. This is a lush, opulent and complex affair, and it reminds me of a refined version of early Bush in some ways. A psychodrama of a song.
Reaching Out--this was never one of my favourite, and to this day it is, in my view, one of two weak links on the album. I feel it's a little bland and safe. The lyrics seem to me to be a little mawkish and simple. They make sense in relation to the theme of the album but even the title of the song seemed to indicate a more conservative Kate bush than the one who wrote HOL.
Heads We're Dancing--I didn't like this when I first heard it, but now, I think it has aged quite well. It seemed to jar in relation to the rest of the album at the time, but now I think it fits. I like the story of the song (love Bush's use of story songs). Now it seems to me a perfect descendant of parts of The Dreaming, and the waltz strings tether the blippy electronics to the dominant style of the rest of the album.
Deeper Understanding--I think this bored me for a long time, but over time I've come to appreciate its lyric and how prophetic it has become. It also has a beautiful hypnotic minimalism that anticipates later songs like Pi on Aerial.
Between a Man and a Woman--This, for me, is one of the two weakest tracks on the album (along with Reaching Out). Though I much prefer it to Reaching Out. It starts really well and seems to lack structure and doesn't peak or progress. To my mind there is a good song in there somewhere, but here it's underdeveloped. This sort of song seems to anticipate The Red Shoes (an album I never grew to love) in the sense that it just felt more everyday and more banal fare than the best KB song.
Never Be Mine--A song that seemed too plain to me when I first heard it, but now I think its gorgeous. Love both this and the DC version. It's one of her most emotional songs and beautifully autumnal (I see this as an autumnal album). I think it grew because its subtle, elegant and understated and possibly not immediate for every listener. But it is one of her best songs.
Rocket's Tail--always loved this and still do. This is classic KB in the sense that it is a wonderful marriage of concept and soundscape. There's no other song quite like this and I think it was quite bold to start acapella and just depend on vocals at the beginning though the Trio's voices are the signature of this song. I think even the potential cliche of the guitar solo later in the song makes sense in the journey of the song and is entirely justified.
This Woman's Work--another effortless elegant song. It is so delicately structured--I always find her piano ballads uniquely idiosyncratic and this is no exception. It is very nuanced and musical phrase is matched with words in a way that creates a very intimate mood. This is in some ways the template for what she would go on to do in long form in A Coral Room and on the entirety of 50 Words for Snow.
on 24 July 2004
I first heard about Kate Bush when Pat Benatar covered "Wuthering Heights" and since then I have learned a lot more about her innovative musical career. I think "The Sensual World" is clearly her best album on the strength of what are probably her two best songs: "Love and Anger" (with Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour on Guitar) and "This Woman's Work" (orchestrations by Michael Kamen). If you think the latter was used effectively in the 1988 movie "She's Having a Baby," you should see Kate's music video. She is certainly one of the most evocative musicians of our generation.
on 27 September 2002
This album contains some of Kate's best work, and certainly the most beautiful. Perhaps slighlty over produced in places, if only there was a live version, for me it ranks alongside The Kick Inside as Kate's best.
Standout tracks are the title track, Love and Anger, Reaching Out, Deeper Understanding, and one of my favourite tracks of all time This Woman's Work. The only slight downside is Rocket's Tail, but this is purely above average rather than bad.
The Sensual World is one of the few albums which I can play again and again and not tire of. Here's hoping that the new album can even come close in quality (if indeed it does ever come out)
on 17 July 2003
My favourite Kate Bush album, perhaps as it brings back many memories of my final year at college. These songs reach into the essence of our humanity. They speak of yearning, love, desires, meaning and meaninglessness, many possessing a haunting, sometimes-painful beauty (The Fog, Reaching Out, Never Be Mine).
Notably her penultimate album, as the genius so clearly displayed here seemed to have waned somewhat by the time The Red Shoes was released. Perhaps Kate realised this too, and stopped while she was ahead.
on 9 November 2010
I had a copy of this KB Album on tape, and after a few years it got lost.
I decided to get the CD version recently and was amazed to find that it wasn't available anymore. Those available were all 2nd hand and prices up to £20+. Luckily I was able to find a copy in 'as new condition ' from a US supplier via Amazon Market place at a reasonable price.
I had to wait about three weeks for it to arrive - the tracks and Kate Bush sound every bit as good today as it did when first released. This album was breaking new ground for Kate Bush and to me it is the best she recorded.
I play it in the evening - through a Tannoy and Tri amp set up, it is amazing, and tried through a normal amp/ speaker set up it is also very good. The recording quality is just excellent.
Buy it if you can finf it and want the best album Kate Bush ever made!