If there is one vocalist who epitomises the word “unique” it would be south London’s own Kate Bush. The singer transcends genre, defy categorisation and always, always sings with her truest self at centre stage.
This means that you won’t often catch Kate Bush singing many covers. It’s not her style to use another’s work to express herself, especially when her voice, judging by her back catalogue, is distinctly singular. That’s why this 1994 cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic track ‘Sexual Healing’ feels so much more special.
The song is, of course, one of pop’s greatest jams, the foremost facilitator of ‘date music’, and generally one of the smoothest songs you’ll ever hear. Released by Gaye in 1982 the song featured on his Midnight Love album on CBS and the single, ‘Sexual Healing’ would be the singer’s first hit for his new label.
Just a year after leaving Motown Records, Gaye’s decision to join CBS would see him win two Grammys in 1983. He picked up the award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Instrumental Performance. It will remain as one of Gaye’s most ubiquitous bops.
It’s not the kind of song you would associate with an artist like Kate Bush. ‘Sexual Healing’, as the title suggests, is a deeply sexualised and sensual song, hanging largely on Gaye’s buttery vocal. While Bush’s own vocal was nothing to be sniffed at, it’s tone was always more directed towards grandeur and theatricality rather than seduction.
Bush first took on the track as a contribution to an album called A Place Among The Stones by the Irish musician Davy Spillane. Recording the song in the latter part of 1993 Bush’s version is a testament to her ability as a performer and vocalist. Bush uses her honeyed vocals to add texture and vulnerability to the song’s sentiment which, together with Bush’s maturing tone, adds a hefty dose of emotional weight to the track.
While the song was left off Spillane’s album it would be played at a 1994 Kate Bush fan club convention and go down in folklore. It remained unreleased for over a decade until it finally surfaced as the B-side to Bush’s 2005 release ‘King Of The Mountain’, her first new music in eleven years.
But for now, we’re going to listen to the original 1994 recording in all it’s shining