Words by Simon Button
Lavishly packaged and sonically stunning, the Kate Bush - Remastered CD boxsets might be unimaginatively titled but they’re beautifully done. And if this collecting together of all her studio work to date is Kate’s way of saying she’s retiring from making music she couldn’t have left a more indelible or incredible legacy.
From the howling banshee wails of arresting debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ (which soared to the top of the UK charts after an equally arresting Top Of The Pops performance) to the title track of her most recent album ‘50 Words For Snow’ with Stephen Fry supplying those 50 words, hers has been a renegade career.
Spread across two CD boxsets as well as four gorgeous vinyl sets, with all the remastered studio albums available separately, this career overview shows just what an extraordinary career it’s been.
Unparalleled as a songwriter of great originality and depth and wit and whimsy, Bush is also a vocalist with an astonishing range that runs the gamut from the tear-jerking restraint of ‘This Woman’s Work’ to the donkey brays of ‘Get Out Of My House’ - the bonkers closer to 'The Dreaming' which to my mind is her true masterpiece, although the much-adored 'Hounds Of Love' comes a very close second.
Kate worked in conjunction with James Guthrie on the remastering and they’ve done an amazing job. Rather than just pumping up the volume, they’ve gone for nuance and clarity so the drums on ‘Running Up That Hill’ pound a little harder and the shattered glass on ‘Babooshka’ is crystal clear.
An even bigger treat for fans is 'The Other Sides', a four-disc compilation of 12 inch mixes, B-sides and rarities (like the haunting ‘Under The Ivy’), one-off singles (like ‘December Will Be Magic Again’) and cover versions such as Kate’s reggae take on Elton’s ‘Rocket Man’ and her surprisingly faithful version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’.
Also included are the 1986 remix of ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the underrated ‘Experiment IV’, both of which originally featured on singles collection 'The Whole Story'. The fact said best-of isn’t included in either set and nor is the live 'On Stage EP' means this isn’t quite the whole Kate Bush story.
The somewhat muddy sound of the 'Before The Dawn' live recording (from Kate’s 22-date run at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014) also hasn’t been corrected and it seems the filmed record of the show will never see the light of day.
These are minor niggles, though, because the boxsets have been lovingly curated and they prove that this woman’s work is absolutely second to none.