Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Kate Bush – The Dreaming – January – March 1982

For The Dreaming, Kate Bush throws herself in headfirst, all batshit and piss, incorporating vocal loops, reverb, and a masterful use of new electronics, in an LP that is campy, romantic and emotive, yet inexplicably avant-garde. She's angry and pensive throughout the LP and typically poetic while pushing around the notions of our male-dominated world. It was here that Bush began to assume more diverse characters in her songs, as well, while utilizing the full range of her voice for dramatic effect. As one would expect from a novice in the producer's chair, there are moments of clutter and fluff, but for every misstep, there's a sense that Bush set out to make The Dreaming something more than she, or any other artist, had made before. The real reward, with this critical success/commercial failure, was how she was able to go so far towards the avant-garde and recover in better shape than before. Even in England, which treated her as a national treasure prior to the album's release, only one single ("Sat In Your Lap") cracked the top twenty. Why her label, after taking such a gamble, agreed to let Kate don the controls again for Hounds of Love is quite astonishing. The Dreaming shows a young woman, manic with ideas and creativity throwing caution to the wind and delivering an off-her-rocker theatrical and abstract masterpiece that very few artists have ever had the courage to make before or since.

Each track covers subjects from war ("Pull Out The Pin") to the protection of Aboriginal homelands ("The Dreaming"). Although The Dreaming hit No.3 on the UK charts, it was not a commercial success. "The Dreaming" (song) was a poor choice of single in July 1982. A superb track featuring Rolf Harris on didgeridoo and Kate singing in a quasi-Aus
sie accent ("Bang! goes another kanga on the bonnet of the van"), but simply not a song that would ever get much radio play (it peaked at No. 48). In fact, one of the problems with the album from a commercial point of view is that it contained nothing even resembling a commercial single. EMI, perhaps influenced by the success of "Sat In Your Lap" did not seem to pick up on it, and Kate was never asked to "come up with a hit" (a probable mandate for any other artist at the time). This lack of hits (the third and final single, "There Goes A Tenner," didn't even chart) is one of the reasons why the album is less well known. Conversely, it makes it much easier to listen to the album as a singular piece of work without a "Babookska" or a "Wuthering Heights." (Kate was canny enough to recognize this no-singles problem when it came to Hounds Of Love, on which she wore her commercial hat on side one (relatively speaking) and then tossed the hat in the fire for side two. "Running Up That Hill" creating the audience for The Ninth Wave and "Waking the Witch.") In the end, critics didn't really know what to make of The Dreaming. "Mixed" reviews is probably a good summary. "Overproduced" is the most common criticism. Generally speaking, it's come to be recognized as a significant work that many fans would include in their top Kate albums, jostling for the number one spot. True Gaffa fans will argue The Dreaming to their death. For this writer, it's among Kate’s best while certainly the least accessible, and frankly, it's just too sexy to talk about. The Dreaming is erotic art for the senses.

The album was recorded over an extended period from 1980 into 1981, with Kate stepping back from the project late in the year. She would return to the studio in January 1982 for the LP’s finishing touches and not complete the mixes until March.

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