These days, for artists like Kate Bush, singles are almost irrelevant. Kate has released just one single apiece from her last three albums, really as a promotional tool to get radio interested, and only one of those had a physical release. How different it was back in 1980, when to stir up anticipation for her forthcoming third album, Kate released not one, but two singles ahead of its launch. Breathing had performed respectably, but it was her next single that would firmly signal that Kate was back in business.
"Babooshka is about futile situations: the way in which we often ruin things for ourselves."
That was Kate's take on her new single, set out in her fan club newsletter. Babooshka is indeed a tale of misadventure, of mistrust and jealousy leading to deception and disaster. It tells the tale of a woman who tests her husband's fidelity by posing as a secret admirer. You just know it's all going to end in tears. Let's see what happens in this stunning performance from German TV.
Despite it's dark subject matter, Kate's catchy tune and hooky chorus caught the public imagination and she had her biggest international hit since Wuthering Heights. The song's broad appeal wasn't hurt by the costume Kate chose to represent the temptress in the video, which has perhaps become her most iconic look.
Oh, and that smashing glass sound at the end of the track was achieved by Kate and her band breaking box-loads of crockery in the recording studio. Apparently the canteen ladies were less than impressed.
Sometimes in life, everything just comes together to create perfection. That's the case with Babooshka. The song, the visuals, the routine; it all synched. It is Kate, the storyteller, at the height of her powers. A strange delight indeed.
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