“I think [The Dreaming] is about trying to cope…to get through all the shit.” — Kate Bush
There isn’t much that one could define as an art that would not work as an adjective for the inspiring figure of Kate Bush. The first female to both write and perform a UK number one after she released ‘Wuthering Heights’ it became quickly apparent that Kate Bush was a singular artist, the likes of which should be heralded and cherished in equal measure. While it is easy to point to that seminal single and, later, the iconic album Hounds of Love as some of her defining work, one LP that deserves more attention is The Dreaming.
Released in 1982, the album has gone on to form a significant part of Bush’s iconography. Despite being one of the most unique artists around and, in no small part, delivering a vision of pop music that had never been seen before, this was the album that saw Bush finally break out on her own. Prior to that, the young singer had simply followed the guidance of her musical advisor and the man who discovered her, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.
Found and brought to the public light when she was only 16-years-old and still finding herself as an artist as well as a woman. Gilmour was working on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here when he was given a demo tape consisting of 50 songs of a young Kate Bush’s own composition. “I was intrigued by this strange voice,” Gilmour says in a new interview for the BBC. “I went to her house, met her parents down in Kent. And she played me, gosh, it must have been 40 or 50 songs on tape. And I thought, I should try and do something.
“I think we had the [EMI] record-company people down at Abbey Road in No. 3,” Gilmour adds. “And I said to them, ‘Do you want to hear something I’ve got?’ They said sure, so we found another room and I played them ‘The Man with a Child in his Eyes.’ And they said, ‘Yep, thank you — we’ll have it.’ [Laughs.] It’s absolutely beautiful, isn’t it? That’s her singing at the age of 16, and having written those extraordinary lyrics.”
Bush would release ‘Wuthering Heights’ and her journey to pop stardom began in earnest. Soon enough her music was being played across the airwaves all over Britain and she quickly gained a fanbase for her wondrous musical viewpoint. Plenty of the singer’ subsequent full-length records would expand on her landmark vocal style and impressive lyricism. But it wasn’t until 1982 and The Dreaming that Bush truly found her feet.
1982 was the year that saw Kate Bush really begin to enact her vision and take creative control in her own hands. The previous records had proved that Bush was more than just a songwriter, she was a bonafide visionary but this was the album that saw her transform into a musician and a bonafide artist. In truth, it was the moment Bush truly found her sound and use the growing world of instruments around her: “We started with the drums, working to a basic Linn drum machine pattern, making them sound as tribal and deep as possible,” said Bush of the use of Aboriginal instruments on the lead single.
It was a sign of how authentic Bush wanted her music to be now. “This song had to try and convey the wide-open bush, the Aborigines – it had to roll around in mud and dirt, try to become a part of the earth. ‘Earthy’ was the word used most to explain the sounds. There was a flood of imagery sitting waiting to be painted into the song. The Aborigines move away as the digging machines move in, mining for ore and plutonium. Their sacred grounds are destroyed and their beliefs in Dreamtime grow blurred through the influence of civilization and alcohol. Beautiful people from a most ancient race are found lying in the roads and gutters. Thank God the young Australians can see what’s happening.”
However, it isn’t the best track on the album, that accolade goes to ‘All The Love’. It may feel strange to ignore the iconic title track on this album, but there’s something special about the unusual jazz tones of ‘All the Love’. It fits the narrative Bush constructed but also provided a canny reminder of her ability to switch that narrative whenever she saw fit.
“After the last album, Never For Ever’ I started writing some new songs. They were very different from anything I’d ever written before,” Bush shared in 1982. “They were much more rhythmic, and in a way, a completely new side to my music. 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. The main link was engineer Jon Kelly. Every time I was in the studio Jon was there helping me, so I felt that in order to make the stuff different enough I would have to stop working with Jon. He really wanted to keep working with me, but we discussed it and realised that it was for the best.”
The album isn’t as full of pop hits as her previous albums, but this is the moment Bush began to become the legend we all know and love today. Taking control of her own destiny, Bush began to break through an unspoken glass ceiling with this LP, and even aside from the great songs on the LP, it’s a landmark moment in Bush’s career. It would pave the way for her dominance as an artist.