We’ve been celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Dreaming on our Facebook page with videos of the 5 singles from Kate’s incredible 1982 album. It was released on September 13th 1982. I wrote about it in the special new 40th Anniversary Issue of HomeGround Magazine (available free here). Also coming this month is a two-part Bush Telegraph podcast episode all about The Dreaming album with some very special guest interviewees. Here’s some of what I wrote:
“Earlier this year I was contacted by the editor of one of the UK’s major music magazines, asking to pick my brains about a Kate Bush cover article they were hoping to run. For a change, they were mulling over doing a cover feature on The Dreaming album, 2022 being the 40th anniversary of the album’s release (almost impossible to believe). As we have seen over the last decade, having Kate on the cover of a music monthly can shift a healthy amount of magazines but typically those feature articles will focus on Kate’s very early career, the live 1979 tour or the perennial favourite album – Hounds of Love.
I was emphatically enthusiastic about the cover idea and reeled off a list of reasons to the editor why Kate’s extraordinary, ground-breaking fourth studio album still deserved every bit as much attention from the music press as the beloved Hounds of Love – it was indeed time for them to recontextualise this darkly complex, astonishing record. It was the first album Kate produced entirely by herself and of course many of you reading this still regard it as her greatest masterpiece out of a triumvirate of her most acclaimed works that includes Hounds of Love and Aerial. The daring, complex experimentations within are not fumbling towards something more accomplished, they are often more startling than those on Hounds of Love itself. The complexity and inventiveness are insane. In the wider world, The Dreaming is normally mentioned as the album she had to make in order to go on to create her “true” masterpiece, Hounds of Love, but many fans feel it mightily holds up all by itself. This is the one that meant she had “broken free of pop stardom’s strait-jacket, to infiltrate the ranks of art-rock aristocrats” as The Quietus put it. It was Never For Ever that was surely the essential transitional work – The Dreaming was her arrival at an amazing new place in her career, a seismic shift.
There’s so much fascinating drama and intensity around this particular record’s creation and reception. Kate was only about 22 when she wrote the songs and 24 when she released it, but she still had the guts to produce it herself – she was utterly driven to do that. Years after release we still get insights into the making of the record from some of those that were there – Graeme Thomson did a good job in his Under The Ivy biography getting new insights from studio types like Hugh Padgham, Nick Launay and Paul Hardiman. I imagine what it would be like to have been a fly on the wall during the concentrated experimentation of those sessions across expensive London studios like Townhouse, Abbey Road and Advision on Gosfield Street (hence the “Gosfield Goers” credit) as Kate figured out the new technology and sound possibilities at her disposal – the Fairlight, gated reverb drum patterns, the undeniable influence of Peter Gabriel’s studio work. Crafting layers of utterly new, and to some listeners, baffling soundscapes to press forward her post-Never For Ever ambitions. “I was using different instruments, and everything was changing; and I felt that really the best thing to do would be to make this album a real departure – make it completely different. And the only way to achieve this was to sever all the links I had had with the older stuff”
“Game changer”. “Jarring”. “Cinematic”. “Pulsating”. “Obsessional”. “Thunderous”. “Sonic Assault”. Wading through the word salad that exists to try to describe The Dreaming album makes one thing clear – forty years later, this remains a record you can’t be apathetic about….
…the Uncut magazine cover feature that eventually surfaced in February this year was, refreshingly, not a re-hashed archive article – a considerable line-up of people involved in the creation of Kate’s dark masterpiece are interviewed by writer Peter Watts, including Preston Heyman, Paul Hardiman, Richard Burgess, Brian Bath, Roy Harper, Hugh Padgham, Dave Lawson, Howard Gray, Danny “Dan Dan the Sushi Man!” Dawson, and Teri Reed…
In 2014 on a BBC documentary Del did finally reveal the truth behind the mystery man on the cover of the record, the ‘Harry Houdini’ that Kate is passing the key to – yes, it was Del himself. A great rehearsal shot of Kate (with key on tongue) and Del in the same pose (Del donning a fetching knitted jumper) appears in the stunning book of photographs Kate: Inside the Rainbow by John Carder Bush. John described the final shot thus: “A slightly cloudy day outside in the kitchen garden at the back of our parents’ house. Apart from Kate looking very beautiful, the ivy behind her is wonderfully textured and full of hidden spaces and shadows amongst the glossy leaves themselves. Ivy may look wonderful, but it likes to slowly strangle any tree it lives on. It’s not poisonous, and in ancient times a poet’s crown was made of ivy.”
…it’s interesting to wonder how Kate feels about The Dreaming album now, from this perspective. In the intervening years she’s been asked far more frequently about Hounds of Love, and it’s obvious that her follow-up to The Dreaming is one she’s very pleased with. No song from The Dreaming was performed live on stage in 2014, although an understanding of how the show came to be structured mostly explains that omission. Guitarist David Rhodes let us know that yes, Kate did initially want to do Sat in Your Lap for Before the Dawn but then this got switched out for Top of the City and, sadly, her 1981 single never made the rehearsal stage – we can only imagine. In the 90’s she recalled looking back at that record “and it seems mad. I heard it about three years ago and couldn’t believe it. There’s a lot of anger in it. There’s a lot of ‘I’m an artist, right!’” With that in mind it’d be fascinating to know how Kate felt relatively recently, listening back to the sparkling new version of The Dreaming she worked on with James Guthrie for her 2018 Remastered project. It remains, a very special treat for our earholes – and in this 40th anniversary year in particular we just need to remember to “Play it Loud”