"The Sensual World" by Kate Bush follows on from the major commercial success of "The Hounds of Love" released in 1985. The album takes influences from Irish and Bulgarian folk music and many of the songs are wistful and about love, be it lost love or love that will never happen. Featuring guitars played by Dave Gilmour and classical violin pieces, "The Sensual World" stands proudly as one of Kate Bush's strongest albums.
1. The Sensual World* – A fantastic opening track inspired by Ulysses, written by James Joyce. Molly Bloom, the character who inspired this song, is mesmerised by the sensuality of the real world rather than the two dimensional pages of a book. 2. Love And Anger* – This song makes me feel so happy. It's a song about self-analysis, understanding one's feelings and emotions and wishing to confide in someone who is trustworthy. “Two strings speak in sympathy”... 3. The Fog* – The dialogue in this song is provided by Kate's own father! (Bet you didn't know that!) It's about growing up but not wanting to let go of the child within, slipping into the fog of being an adult. An incredibly emotive song and a beautiful violin contribution by Nigel Kennedy. This song really appeals to the part of me that loves folk/classical music. 4. Reaching Out – Inspired by a conversation Kate had with someone at the time about an exploding star and how if you reach out to someone they tend to pull away. It's a song about holding onto things that you really shouldn't hold onto anymore. 5. Heads We're Dancing – Imagine the scene – you're out for dinner with this really lovely person. They're sweet, funny, charming... The next morning you read the paper and you see their photograph on the front page. The person you went out with was Adolf Hitler! That's what this song about; one moment the person is charming, the next you find out who they truly are and... Well, you know where it's going. 6. Deeper Understanding – I've already kind of covered this song already in my review of Director's Cut, however there are some changes. Personally I prefer the newer version of this song but each to their own. 7. Between A Man And A Woman – This song is actually inspired by a line in the Godfather. You know when Marlon Brando says “Don't interfere, this is between a man and a woman”? Yeah that bit. The actual lyrics are about external forces disrupting the equilibrium in a romantic relationship. Fantastic drum beat in this song! 8. Never Be Mine* - I love the Irish pipes in this song, again appealing to the part of my brain that loves folk music. Never Be Mine is about enjoying a fantasy because you know it will never become a reality. Speaking to NME, Kate said, “So often you think it's the end you want, but this is actually looking at the process that will never get you there.” 9. Rocket's Tail – Featuring guitar by Dave Gilmour and inspired by Kate's cat, Rocket. Well, actually according to Kate the cat didn't inspire the song, but he started it all off. The Bulgarian chanting in the background of this track is fantastic, something that runs through most of the tracks on this album. 10. This Woman's Work* - As I mentioned in my review of Director's Cut, this is a song I couldn't get on with for a while. Now, however, when I listen to this song it stirs something within me, especially the chorus. A beautiful, haunting song. 11. Walk Straight Down The Middle – A song about our fears holding us back but there's nothing to be scared of so just “walk straight down the middle” and get on with it. Not the first song in Kate's discography to contain an impersonation of an animal (that sound at the end is meant to be a peacock!)
So if you haven't stepped into "The Sensual World" yet, why not give it a go?
Although 'The Sensual World' was largely derided by certain music journalists/ critics on it's original release ,I have found it to be quite a strong album overall. The album was always going to have an awful lot to live up to ,coming as it did , as Kate's next album after 'The Hounds of Love' .
This particular album may not have the wealth of obviously suitable singles that were in evidence on 'Hounds..' but there are several songs here that would still be among some of my personal KB favourites; plus I have found the album to be quite a 'grower' , having owned it for many years now.
My own personal choices on the album ( in no particular order) are the following...
1 'The Fog' ( Atmospheric and containing stunningly beautiful musicality courtesy of Nigel Kennedy ( violin) and the late Alan Murphy ( Kate's favourite guitarist ).
2 ' Never Be Mine' ( Evocative and wonderfully affecting)
3 ' This Woman's Work' ( An obvious inclusion perhaps but still absolutely deserving of recognition )
4 ' Walk Straight Down The Middle' ( Interestingly different vocal treatment from Kate and a welcome inclusion as the final song on the CD ).
This is one of Kate's more 'normal' albums (when compared to 'The Dreaming' & 'Hounds Of Love' for example) but that doesn't mean it's any less of a masterpiece. You can really tell how much Kate had grown as an artist listening to these songs, the lyrics & production emphasise how she grew into a fiercely confident woman who had already made her mark as a musical pioneer. The title song is just such an erotic eargasm to listen to, it makes you feel like the sexiest person ever (even though you know you're not!) and the haunting relevance of Deeper Understanding to today's society just shows ahead of her time Kate always was. This album also features one of my favourite songs of all time, This Woman's Work; one of the most beautiful ballads ever written. I find it very hard to keep it together when listening to that song.
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.
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!
Kate is immortal! With a voice-range of four and half octaves, she cannot fail to take us into the realms of sheer enjoyment. I'll follow her up that hill anytime. I keep her album 'The Whole Story' by my bed for my daily rations of Kate. I can thoroughly recommend any of Kate's albums. Her song 'Lyra' from 'The Golden Compass' (based on the book Northern Lights) is possessively haunting, and I find myself playing the movie just to listen to that song as the film titles play out the disk....-- need I say more??
If you're feeling even slightly stressed, sit down, put this album on and let go. The title says it all about this gloriously sensual collection of beautiful melodies and arrangements all wrapped together by Kate's rich and emotive vocals. 'This Woman's Work' has taken almost 20 years to rightly be regarded as a classic and it is just one of the achingly gorgeous tracks to be discovered here. 'The Fog' is heartbreaking with its violin interlude from Nigel Kennedy and 'Never Be Mine' & 'Reaching Out' are as good a pair of love songs as you're ever likely to hear, the former about lost love and the latter about maternal love. Possibly the standout track is 'Deeper Understanding' about the connection between the lonely and their computers. Considering this album came out in 1989, it shows yet again how ahead of her time Kate has always been.
I listened to Kate Bush when I was a teenager but then for some reason did not listen for a long time. Now I have rediscovered her music again and it sounds so very good again. Great voice and great music.