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Saturday, July 26, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #32 - Baffling

Ever since Wuthering Heights hit number 1 in 1978, Kate Bush had been on an endless treadmill of recording, promoting, recording, promoting, touring, recording, promoting, recording. By the end of 1982 she had released four albums, numerous singles and embarked on her first tour. Everything she touched had turned to gold. And then, suddenly, it just didn't.

Kate must have felt confused about the the public and industry reaction to The Dreaming. Here was an album she had poured her heart and soul into, her first completely solo production, with hours of toil and sweat and blood and tears, and nobody seemed to care. The album charted at number 3, but sales soon quickly dried up. The title track stalled at 48 in the UK chart. EMI seemed bemused with what Kate had delivered and did little to help her promote it. After years of building to this moment of total creative freedom, suddenly the walls fell in.

Of course the fans stayed true, but in those days you couldn't tweet your support or post love to a Facebook page. Eventually The Dreaming would be reassessed and recognised as the masterpiece it is. If The Dreaming is Kate's great lost album, then its singles are similarly forgotten gems that deserve the attention of pop archaeologists.

The third, and final, single released in the UK was There Goes A Tenner, an uptempo romp about a robbery gone wrong. It became Kate's only single to fail to reach the top 75. Ok, it doesn't have a chorus to speak of and it's hard to pin down Kate's character as she veers from posh to cockney, but come on 1982 record buyers! What is your problem? Witness the genius at work in this completely trippy performance on children's TV show Razzmatazz.

In the rest of Europe a different track was released, my personal favourite from the album, the mystically whimsical Suspended In Gaffa. If you must know what it's about, it explores what it must be like to live in hell having had only a glimpse of God and then being made to spend the rest of your eternal life pining for more.

I don't think you need to know that to appreciate the song's brilliance, it is aural ecstasy. Here's Kate on French TV baffling another studio audience.

After all the disappointments of 1982, Kate decided it was time to take a proper break and regroup. It would be three long years until we heard from her again, but when we did...

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