Hounds of Love – Kate Bush

Released September 16, 1985 this was Bush’s biggest commercial success reaching #1 in the UK and certified 2x Platinum. All four of the singles from this album landed in the Top 40. She is the first British solo female artist in the world to top the UK album charts and the first female artist ever to enter the album chart at number one. This album is widely considered to not only be her best but one of the best Alternative albums.

Jason: Up until this point I only knew one Kate Bush song (“Running Up That Hill”) – which you still hear on alternative radio stations or at Starbucks. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hounds of Love. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised by this album!

Brad: I’m glad to hear that. I was worried that you were going to hate it. I love this album. I think Kate Bush can be an acquired taste. It takes a few listens to get into it but she is such a unique and influential artist. 

Jason: It’s great. She’s doing things on this album in 1985 that bands aren’t even doing today. The second side (which starts with “And Dream of Sheep”) is subtitled “The Ninth Wave”, which forms a conceptual suite about a person drifting alone in the sea at night. No one does this now that I know of. Maybe The 1975.

Brad: I love that she did that. It is really interesting and you can definitely hear that concept and go on the journey of what that would be like. All the emotions and memories that would flood your mind as you drifted. I will say I like the first half of the album better. I’m not always in the mood for “Waking the Witch” and “Jig of Life” but I still like those songs and appreciate what she was doing.I hear Kate Bush’s influence in so many artists from Tori Amos to Florence + The Machine and even Perfume Genius. 

Jason: I agree that Side A is more listenable. It’s more commercial. Side B is an experience but I appreciate that she did that. I am going to set our morning alarm to the first 15 seconds of “Waking the Witch” on repeat. 

Brad: I love that part! I’m not sure why but I do. What is your favorite song?

Jason: Hmmm. I think “The Big Sky”. How about you?

Brad: I love “Cloudbusting” so much. I always have. Do you remember when Utah Saints had a big dance hit called “Something Good” that heavily sampled “Cloudbusting”? It was a very 90s dance song. I used to love that too. Although, I don’t think it holds up as well as the original.

Jason: I do not remember any band with “Utah” or “Saints” in it. Let me look that up…(one moment please)…

Okay. I’m back. I have never heard that song before and I never want to hear it again,

Brad: It does have a slight “Jock Jams” quality to it but I love the way they sampled the Kate Bush vocal from “Cloudbusting”.

Jason: Slight?! “Cloudbusting” is a great song though. You said you don’t love “Jig of Life” but I kind of like it. I like when there are fiddles in rock songs. I will say that it’s a bit “traditional” in the middle and then she says “I put this moment…over here!” in a weird whisper and then it goes into an Irish rap? It’s a strange song. Almost like a dream.

Brad: I definitely like that song but I’m not always in the mood for it. 

Jason: Fair enough. Let’s talk about ‘Running Up That Hill”. Those opening chords are instantly recognizable. It’s one of those “I-can-name-that-tune-in-one-note!” songs. We’ve had a few of those in this list. To me it is the mark of an iconic/long-lasting song when you can hear one note and instantly know what it is and it takes you back to a time and place.

Brad: I totally agree. I remember it being different from anything else that was out at the time but still was a big hit. 

Jason: Oh yeah. It’s definitely alternative or progressive especially compared to what was Top 40 then. It was basically made for college radio. By the way this is also I song where I sing the wrong lyrics.

Her: And if I only could/ I’d make a deal with God/And I’d get him to swap our places.

Me: And if I were good/ I’d make a deal with God/And I’d get him to swallow places.

Brad: Ha! I too was realizing while listening to this over the past couple weeks that I don’t know her lyrics as well as I thought I did.  

Jason: It’s her accent. Other than this song she never really caught on in the US.

Brad: She has been popular in the US but with a smaller cult following.

Jason: Right. If you know her, you know her. I will say that this album really makes me want to listen to her entire catalog. In fact she just released an album in 2011 which received critical acclaim.

Brad: I have that album and played it while you were around and you said you hated it.

Jason: Hmmm. That seems about right. Well, maybe I’ll try some earlier ones.

Brad: She is somewhere near the top of my concert bucket list. Right up there with Grace Jones. She stopped performing live shows in 1979 but then did a 22 date residency in London in 2014 called “Before the Dawn” which was a very theatrical concert event. She released a live album from that residency and I highly recommend you listen to that. It includes several songs from this album.

Jason: I don’t like live albums as much because I don’t appreciate random people clapping in my ears. I’ll decide if it gets applause!

Brad: One more thing I have to say about Kate Bush. One of my all-time favorite songs is the duet she does with Peter Gabriel on “Don’t Give Up”.  It is not on this album but is from this era.  Her vocals on that song give me chills every time I hear it. 

Jason: Next time we hug I’m going to sing in your ear for 3 minutes. What letter grade do you give to Hounds of Love?

Brad: I give this one an A- but it is pretty close to being a full A for me.

Jason: I too am on the fence but am going with A-. I can’t believe how impressed I was with this album. Somehow I had never listened to it before. This is right up high school Jason’s alley.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.

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