ALBUM (1985)
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LIFE

Rewind, album: 'Hounds of Love' by Kate Bush (1985)

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 10:18am

Hounds of Love
Kate Bush
EMI

It's hard to imagine there was ever a time when Kate Bush was regarded as anything but the grande dame of British rock.

However, in 1985, the general consensus was that the singer responsible for classics such as the sublime Wuthering Heights had gone Awol. Her 1982 album The Dreaming failed to make an impression and the New Musical Express had even included her in a "where are they now" feature.

But the report in the music paper was badly timed: two days later, she debuted her new track Running Up That Hill, demonstrating exactly where she was - on the cusp of releasing an album that would make her an international superstar.

Running was the public's first taste of Bush's fifth album, Hounds of Love, which would comprise what she called two LPs in one - an A-side of catchy radio-friendly hits-in-the-making and a B-side mini-concept album called The Ninth Wave.

Side one spawned hits in Running, the quirky The Big Sky and the title track. For sheer emotional power, however, the album's centrepiece was the second single and for many critics the album's standout track: Cloudbusting.

Bush wrote the song after reading A Book of Dreams, a moving biography of the close relationship between disgraced Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Reich and his young son. Reich died in prison when his son, Peter, was still very young. Based on the pair's cloudbusting escapades - Reich built a machine he believed could focus so-called "orgone energy" to induce rain from clouds - the song is an emotional exploration of filial love and heartache.

Bush said she was touched by the book, the boy's adoration of his father and how the scientist - dismissed as a crank and jailed for fraud - taught him "to be open-minded and not build up barriers", she told her fan club magazine that year. Cloudbusting's lyrics flit back and forth between the happy moments on the hill with the cloud machine and memories of Reich's arrest. The melody is in turns melancholic, uplifting, threatening and twitchy, mirroring the lyrics' emotional complexity.

It's been suggested Bush drew inspiration for the song from the deep well of love within her own family. They were so tight-knit that the singer lived with her parents throughout much of her career, built a studio behind their house and recorded much of her work with her brother, Paddy.

Hounds of Love charted well globally and songs from the album have been covered by such disparate artists as Placebo and The Futureheads.

While Bush has released only four albums of new material since and rarely appears in public, she is often regarded alongside groundbreaking artists such as David Bowie.

Charlie Carter