Old music: Kate Bush – Wow

The Guardian’s “Old Music” segment gets to Wow:

Kate Bush’s second album may have been a rushed disappointment, but it provided one undisputed highlight.

Wow was the second single from Kate Bush‘s difficult second album, Lionheart. It was difficult not for the usual reasons – overindulgence, procrastination, artistic crises – but because it was rushed. Lionheart came out only nine months after her debut, The Kick Inside, and frankly, it’s a bit of a stinker. It’s fortunate she was starting out in the late 70s rather than the impatient music scene of today, or we may never have enjoyed the rich pickings of her subsequent work ...”

About Peter

My Kate CV: Kate fan since 1978. Saw Tour of Life at the London Palladium 1979. Went to first KBC Convention 1980. Founded Homeground with Dave 1982. Worked on 1985, 1990, and 1994 Kate Bush Conventions, and the 1986 Video Party with Dave, Lisa of KBC and Krys. Appeared in videos for The Big Sky and Experiment IV. Wrote Introduction, Chronology and Discography for EMI Music Publishing's 1987 "Kate Bush Complete". Wrote the sleeve note for the remastered 1998 reissue of "Hounds of Love". Invited to write sleeve notes for other reissues which never happened. My other CV: born 1955 in Bermondsey London, educated at Galleywall Primary, Walworth Comprehensive, and London School of Economics BSc(Econ)(Hon) 1976. Currently an Officer of the Crown Court determining legal costs in crminal cases. Met Krys in 1982 through Homeground, we were engaged on Glastonbury Tor on Kate's birthday in 1983, and married in November 1984.
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16 Responses to Old music: Kate Bush – Wow

  1. “A bit of a stinker”?

    The only problem with being a complete genius – they expect you to be able to turn it on and off like a tap! The recording history explains why it is a mixed bag (like most of Kate’s albums with 4 honourable exceptions) but it was a necessary experience for her toseize complete control of her destiny and therefore to be still active 34 years later!

  2. Keith DeWeese says:

    I just don’t get what the problem is with LIONHEART–“Wow” isn’t the only exceptional song. There are at least 4-5 other songs that, IMHO, are tops. LIONHEART was the album that introduced this U.S. guy to Kate Bush in ’79 and regardless of what might have been thought of it in Europe, it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I admit that the production is a bit on the MOR side, but there’s still the voice of genius running through it. It’s undeservedly underrated as far as I’m concerned. I love “Wow,” but there’s more to LIONHEART than just that one song.

  3. JohnnyGee says:

    I think it is ludicrous to describe Lionheart as “A bit of a stinker”. I cannot fathom why this album is regarded by some in this way. With the exception of Coffee Homeground (that just doesn’t work for me) I find this album as delightful, evocative and hauntingly beautiful as any of Kate’s best work. Kate has expressed dissatisfaction with it, which is her prerogative as the artist/creator – but for my part as a listener I love it.

  4. Anthony Ingram says:

    Lionheart was the first album I ever purchased. I bought it in 1980 and played it for years until some tosser nicked it from my car in 1991. Anyway whoever nicked it had good taste because I think it is very beautiful and if you listen to 50 words for snow you can hear a couple of interesting Lionhearty sounds. Well I can anyway.
    I have had Lionheart for years on cd and I still play it sometimes.
    She was very young and really clever to write these songs. Genius!!!

  5. giulio says:

    I love the ‘Lionheart’ album, from beginning to end. I’ve never seen it as a weak record.
    Glad to see ‘Wow’ is recognised as a wonderful song :)

  6. Nigel Morgan says:

    I’ve never understood why this is regarded as the black sheep of Kate’s output. I absolutely adore this album and if I was to arrange a list of her ten albums in order of preference, this would be high on the list. I would certainly put it on a par with TKI. It has an attractive but deceptively innocent simplicity, which I’m pleased she has to some extent recaptured on ’50 Words for Snow’. It doesn’t feel rushed to me at all.

    For me there isn’t a bad track and some are pure magic – ‘In Search of Peter Pan’,’ Kashka from Baghdad’, and one of my very favourite Kate’s tracks the wonderfully wacky ‘Coffee Homeground’. I still play the album every now and again, and have done for the past 34 years. Definitely an under-appreciated gem.

  7. André says:

    “It’s fortunate she was starting out in the late 70s rather than the impatient music scene of today …” I’m sorry, but that sentence is bulls**t. Obviously the music scene back then was impatient, otherwise Lionheart wouldn’t have been published so soon after “The Kick Inside”. Today nobody would release a second album just nine month after the first one. Sorry, sometimes “back in the old days”-arguments just don’t make sense.

  8. Harry Horton says:

    Here on February 21 the British Music Awards have concluded and Adele continues her momentus sweep of a good deal of the prizes, landing best album and best female vocalist amongst other categories in the awards ceremony. She also racked up at the Grammys earlier in the month. THere was an interesting article from the internet concerning Kate Bush. The article: “Theo Bleckman covers Kate Bush on Hello Earth!” The tracklisting is carried within this article. April 7th album release at NYC’ Highline Ballroom. Many kate Bush songs comprise the Bleckman album. In anycase I wonder what Kate Bush’s reaction to the recent British Music Awards results would be.

  9. Gio Willis says:

    Lionheart…. I love that album….. It is eccentric and genial … I do not consider it in any way inferior to The Kick Inside… I love ”In Search Of Peter Pan”. ”Symphony in Blue” is a wonderful melody…. who could ask for more?

  10. Kent says:

    Have to agree with Nigel, probably Kate’s most under-rated album. 50 Words For Snow echoes a lot of this, so it’s worth a re-listen. (If you don’t care for one, you may not care for the other.)

    I don’t know whether it was rushed or not — Kate had probably written hundreds of songs by then — but none of this album’s much fit the mold of the pop song, then or now.

    • Tom says:

      I agree with you; from what I have read and heard Kate had quite a library stored up so perhaps the production might have been a bit rushed but the song writing certainly was not!

      Lionheart is a great album and both Wow and Hammer Horror are some of my favorite Kate Bush songs. The author of that article has no idea what he is writing about.

  11. Bertie says:

    “he’s too busy hitting the vaseline” She was very norty. On Top of the Pops it came out as “he’s too busy hitting the bustling”. And the Infant Kiss – “and what is this the infant kiss, back home they’d call me dirty”. “Every girl knows about those punctual blues” “The more I think about sex the better it gets”. No wonder my mother thought she was a bad influence.

  12. Nanette says:

    “Lionheart” doesn’t really do it for me. It’s not that it’s bad, really–it’s just that her other albums are so darned good.

  13. A bit of a stinker??? Really??? I mean… REALLY???? I’d like to know by what standards or whose standards, considering the garbage that’s continually spewed out in this day and age.

    I find it interesting how Lionheart and The Red Shoes always seem to get the short end of the stick in these “reviews”, which leads me to wonder if these articles have been written by people that have actually listened to the albums, or if they’re just rehashing a lot of old fanzine and online opinions. Personally, I think it’s the latter. Although Lionheart isn’t my number one favourite Kate album, it’s far from being a stinker. It has a lot more going for it than it clearly gets any credit for; a variety of subject matter, a truly wonderful flow of tracks throughout and some very magical moments along the way.

    One of the biggest things I’ve always enjoyed about Kate’s work is her willingness to experiment with her music, whether that’s through the writing itself or the overall sound. Each album is a unique, self-contained experience, and Lionheart is no exception to that.

    And for new fans just getting into Kate’s music, don’t let your minds be swayed or clouded over by ill-informed drivel like the above article. You’ll miss out on some wonderful music around you if you do.

  14. André says:

    mmm…..
    I think it’s time to put it on now,
    Symphony in blue, In search of Peter Pan, Oh England my Lionheart, Fullhouse, Kashka from Baghdad,

    we’re all different, I’m a great fan although I never liked Red Shoes, Sensual World,

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