British national treasure Kate Bush turns 57 today (July 30), so we thought we'd look back at her incredible career to date and hand pick 10 of her very best songs for the occasion.
Bush, who made a triumphant return to the stage last year with her jaw-dropping Before The Dawn shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, has released 10 studio albums so far in her career - so our resident Kate Bush fanboy Nick Bond has selected one key track from each album to shine a light on.
Of course, Kate being Kate, a 'top 10 list' is always going to be a subjective endeavour, with many incredible songs left off. We've tried to steer clear of the obvious choices here (come on now, even your Aunty who only owns the Michael Buble Christmas album knows Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill by heart) in favour of songs perhaps unknown to more casual fans. Enjoy the Pull of the Bush...
1. Feel It (from The Kick Inside, 1978)
A sexual encounter set to piano, it's not hard to hear why self-penned songs like this caused such a stir when delivered by an artist barely out of her teens back in the late 70s. Kate has always embraced The Sensual World in her storytelling, and that's in full force here - even if Feel It lacks the lyrical sophistication of her later works ("Oh feel it, oh feel it, feel it my love," indeed).
2. Kashka from Baghdad (From Lionheart, 1978)
Kate Bush, just casually dropping a gay rights anthem before Lady Gaga was even a twinkle in her primordial space egg. The titular Kasha from Baghdad "lives in sin with another man, they say." They only leave the house under cover of night and while others may judge, Kate, watching on he sly, knows what's up: "At night they're seen, laughing, loving. They know the way to be happy," she sings. "I watch their shadows tall and slim, in the window opposite - I long to be with them." Kate wants to hang with the gays? FEELING'S MUTUAL, BABES. PLS TEXT US.
3. The Wedding List (From Never For Ever, 1980)
Kate Bush told in three minutes a story Quentin Tarantino took two movies and six bloody hours to in Kill Bill 25 years later. Kate's literally JUST married the man of her dreams when the bugger gets shot dead by a mystery attacker. What's a girl to do? Go on a revenge killing spree, natch. The Wedding List shares a similar camp humour with several of her early songs (see also: Hammer Horror and There Goes A Tenner) and while it wouldn't top many fans' lists today, it's a fascinating look at how Bush commits to characters in her music.
4. Get Out Of My House (From The Dreaming, 1982)
Kate's difficult early-20s-angst album, The Dreaming also represented a massive leap forward, both musically and lyrically. Dark, dense and sometimes daft, it reached its zenith on final track Get Out Of My House, a terrifying home/body invasion allegory. That scream of "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE" at 2:19: Chills. Every. Time. Scariest song ever to include a donkey impression outro (stick around to the end, you can't miss it).
5. The Morning Fog (From Hounds of Love, 1985)
For many a Kate Bush fan, Hounds of Love - home to iconic hits like the title track, Running Up That Hill and Cloudbusting - is the standout star in Kate's back catalogue. That's largely thanks to the album's beguiling second half, The Ninth Wave, a concept-mini-album of sorts detailing the thought processes of a drowning woman. As you'd expect from someone freezing to death under icy water, the narrative is fuzzy at times: Does she survive, or does she succumb to the waves? Bush herself has hinted that her heroine makes it out alive, but it's hard not to hear this, the album's final track, as a 'crossing over' - a peaceful goodbye, of sorts. This song was a definite highlight of the Before the Dawn shows, and if you weren't lucky enough to nab a ticket, you may now deliver me a hard virtual slap for dropping in that shameless humblebrag.
6. Love and Anger (From The Sensual World, 1989)
The only single on our list, we've included this as it sometimes gets a short shrift from both fans and Kate alike - she's publicly admitted she was never too sure what it was actually about. Sure, it may lack the focused storytelling of some of her other work, but it's a driving (dare we say, danceable) rock song with a beautifully poetic chorus: "Take away the love and the anger / and a little piece of hope holding us together. Looking for a moment that'll never happen / living in the gap between past and future..."
7. Why Should I Love You? (From The Red Shoes, 1993)
Poor old The Red Shoes. A victim of its own oh-so-early-90's overproduction, it was Kate's first album that could reasonably be described as 'hit and miss' since the rush-released Lionheart back in 1978. Still, there are many gems to be found here, including this Prince-co-penned ode to the inscrutable nature of love and passion. If you've not yet heard it, I can guarantee it'll be the best song you ever hear with Lenny Henry on backing vocals.
8. Nocturn (From Aerial, 2005)
Ah, THAT twelve-year gap between albums - wasn't that a fun time, Kate fans? (Soz). Thankfully, Aerial was worth the wait, a sprawling, impossibly beautiful double album that stands alongside Hounds of Love as the titan of her discography. Like Hounds, Aerial's second half is a 'concept' - this time a looser theme, as Kate details a summer's day through the rise and fall of the sun and moon, and the changing calls of the birds in the sky. By the time the sun sets for Nocturn, she's well and truly got the horn: the languid, trance-like production coupled with lyrics like "The sea's around our legs... in milky, silky water, we swim further and further..." make this the perfect soundtrack to a midnight skinny dip on a restlessly hot night (or so we'd imagine).
9. Moments of Pleasure (From Director's Cut, 2011)
Surely one of the only songs that would be equally appropriate at a wedding or a funeral, Moments of Pleasure is a divine ode to love and loss, life and death. It first emerged back on The Red Shoes, but for 2011 career oddity Director's Cut - in which Kate reimagined songs from that album and The Sensual World with mixed results - she truly turned it into the hymn it was always meant to be.
10. Among Angels (From 50 Words for Snow, 2011)
Funny isn't it, that Kate's career - characterised by increasingly long gaps between albums - has to date been bookended by two instances in which she's managed to bang out two LPs in a single year. 50 Words for Snow is a gorgeous, glacial record, and its closing track Among Angels is perhaps its finest moment. Sparse, shimmering, almost impossibly beautiful - it's Kate at her distilled best.
Happy birthday, Kate Bush! Now, how do we put this... new album please?