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194 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it 6 stars if I could, 13 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Hounds Of Love (Audio CD)
No note, no word, no sound and no song is out of place on this, the greatest album of the 1980s. It is a work of epic mastery, startling originality and monumental solo achievement. No-one should compare Kate Bush to any other female singer/songwriter and this is why.

In the days when albums had sides, the first five songs would have been side one. Four out of five of them were hit singles and the whole side oozes celebration.

"Running up that Hill" is a haunting, atmospheric song about swapping places with someone to share their pain. Its rhythm is urgent and driven by almost warlike drums.

"Hounds of Love" is a wonderfully celebratory song about how helpless love makes you. It too has an urgent rhythm which underpins the song's theme.

"The Big Sky" is Kate at her trippiest best, looking up at the sky and giggling at clouds that look like Ireland, a fact subtly complemented by the folk-like refrain chanted in the background. The video is great too.

"Mother Stands for Comfort". One of the oddest songs she had written by that stage, but odd in a good way. Its relaxed rhythm mirrors the almost nursery rhyme-like quality of its lyrics: being warmly comforted by a mother even when you've done something wrong. There is no "tune" in the traditional sense but that does not stop the song being melodic. She uses drums, piano, bass and even breaking glass to great effect.

"Cloudbusting". This song has often been described as "majestic" and rightly so. It is a sweeping paean to a lost parent and is based on the story of a boy whose father was taken away because he had invented a machine which made it rain. Its chugging rhythm, beautifully arranged strings and even the use of a steam engine perfectly capture the almost menacing feel of clouds gathering portentously and scudding across the sky. The video - starring the intense Donald Sutherland - did what music videos should do: it told the story of the song, thus adding an extra visual dimension and helping us to enjoy this great piece of songwriting even more.

Where the album passes from the sublime to the otherwordly is in the cycle of seven songs "The Ninth Wave", the title of which is taken from Tennyson's poem "The Coming of Arthur" at a point in the poem where the sea gives birth to Uther's heir at Merlin's feet.

"And Dream of Sheep" is the first song and follows the descent into unconsciousness of its drowning subject fighting to stay awake as the freezing sea slowly drags her into its opiate blackness. A soporific mood is deftly created by sparse use of the piano and Kate's vocals interspersed with gentle sounds of the sea.

Things become more sinister in the second song, "Under Ice", which presents an interestingly schizophrenic picture of the woman skating on top of the ice while simultaneously realising she is trapped beneath it. This realisation becomes more urgent as the song progresses and culminates in a keening wail of despair.

The next song, "Waking the Witch" is the most frightening of all seven. It begins in a dreamlike state as its hallucinating subject hears a kaleidoscope of voices bringing her awake, some nice and others menacing, foreshadowing what is about to happen to her. The last voice is sweet and gentle, lulling its listener into a false sense of security before the song explodes into a nightmarish, babbling soundscape of blind terror as she is drowned, her panic overlaid by apocalyptic church bells and the witchfinder's evil, rapacious growl (are you scared yet? You should be). Frantic begging on the part of the witch does not save her as she is repeatedly plunged into the water against a refrain of dark chants and snatches of Latin.

"Watching You Without Me" sees her return to her lover in the form of a ghost and is a very touching song, whose trippy mood and light musicality sit just right with its subject matter. Its gentleness is cleverly interrupted by the panicked babbling of the witch from the previous song to remind us of how she died. Apparently, she sings something backwards but in twenty years I've never managed to work out what it is.

"Jig of Life" is a nod to her Irish roots and celebrates the wisdom of an old gypsy lady, perhaps a reincarnation of the drowning girl or the witch from the past or the future. It is a stomping folk song with a fantastic set of string and drum arrangements.

"Hello Earth" sees her as an astronaut sleepily looking down on a stormy, wet planet Earth and lulls us deliberately to sleep with its Nosferatu-like chants and dragging cello before we awaken joyfully for the last song.

"Morning Fog" sees her reborn into the arms of her family and is a very upbeat celebratory love song which never once becomes mawkish. A very satisfying and uplifting conclusion to an awesome piece of work.

Sheep, little lights, seagulls, snowscapes, babbling witches, ghosts, wise old women, astronauts, storms and newborn babies - it's all there.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Nov 2008, 23:51:38 GMT
Cate says:
Ohmigosh, is that what "And Dream of Sheep" is about?! Oh, that adds so much intensity to the song. In fact, I'm going to listen to it right now. :)

Posted on 6 May 2011, 00:20:23 BST
In Watching You Without Me, she sings "don't ignore, don't ignore me, let me in and please don't be long" - its not backwards though, it just sounds like it!

Posted on 19 Sep 2011, 03:04:29 BST
I was thinking about adding a review of this album. (To me 'The Hounds of Love' is the geatest work of art of the 20th Century and possibly of all time. I know I will be accused of exeggeration and hyperbole - but I genuinely cannot think of another contender).
The reason that I did not write a review is because basically I am a rubbish writer. Now when I read this review I thought that
1. This person can write; and
2. What a fantastic review of a stunning piece of art.
Thank you Andrew Lewsey.

Posted on 17 Jan 2012, 06:40:15 GMT
G.E.Manton says:
What an absolutely amazing and awesome review! Couldn't have put it better myself. Fantastic! Hounds of Love is one of my all time favourite Kate Bush albums.
Just to point out to any film fans out there, the intro to the track Hounds of Love, "it's in the trees! It's coming!" is from the old classic film Night Of The Demon.

Posted on 20 Feb 2012, 14:48:45 GMT
Great review but as you are probably aware there is a lot more to this CD and what you have described. I do realise that if you were to expand on just one of the tracks it could run to many pages. So as an overview for people who may not be aware of this work as I said before this is a great review. There is just one thing I would like to add. You can read so much about this CD and the track "Hello Earth" it would fill a book and I don't profess to have all the answers. Only Kate Bush has those. Close the end of this track there are references to " sailors get out of the water," " fisherman head for home." As others have pointed out, symbolic, you can look at the meanings on the Internet. I may be wrong but I was felt that the oncoming storm was actually war and the consequence was an earth in its grave. It's surprising over the years how many people have come to that conclusion without actually reading any background knowledge of this track. Even when it was released I found the morning fog was counterpoint and relief from the frightening end of " hello Earth." After all, as Kate Bush is allegedly a Wiccan life is seen as cyclic, series of birth, life, death and rebirth.

Posted on 13 Feb 2013, 22:27:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Feb 2013, 22:27:37 GMT
Nice review, but you missed something: "Mother Stands for Comfort" if you miss the final words you miss the point of the song:

"Mother... will hide the murderer"

very dark indeed.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2013, 17:41:45 BST
Very helpful, I could never quite make that out. And a brilliant review of Hounds of Love by Andrew Lewsey! Thought I'd throw in that there is 'backwards singing' in Leave it Open from The Dreaming. At the end I think Bush sings something like 'And they said there was a demon'. In the days when I still had a deck I remember spinning the record backwards and could just about make the words out.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2014, 07:46:24 BST
Gursel Ali says:
Not sure .. for me get out of the waives get out of the water and head for home were just telling us that something has changed ...help is not needed any more stop the search I'm ok. I've landed on a beach and Im safe and I'm just about to sing about it in the last song

Posted on 27 Jun 2015, 22:49:15 BST
Marters says:
A passionate and enthusiastic review, however you may want to give "Running up that Hill" another listen.
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