Saturday 10 December 2016

Music: Director's Cut by Kate Bush ****

(Fish People/EMI)

Published 13/05/2011 | 05:00

Kate Bush's standing as one of the most visionary UK musicians ever was secured long ago. She's also among the most influential -- any number of acts today, male as well as female, are indebted to her singular work. But that reputation has been burnished somewhat thanks to the fact that she has become so non-prolific over the past two decades.

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All that goes some way towards explaining why this album -- essentially reworked material from a pair of previous albums -- is causing such a stir.

Bush decided to revisit 1989's The Sensual World and 1993's The Red Shoes because she felt many of the songs were ripe for improvement, especially after the passing of so many years. The former is perhaps the weakest album of her career (especially when compared with the Bush high-water mark, 1985's The Hounds of Love), so it's easy to understand why she would be keen to rework some tracks. It's less obvious why the latter would require such treatment.

What is clear is how cohesively disparate tracks from both records fit on Director's Cut -- which the newly media-friendly Bush is describing as "a new album". The material has been subtly changed in places, much more so in others, and the result is an absorbing, beautifully produced collection that will provide a pleasing stop-gap until a bona fide follow up to 2005's Aerial sees the light of day.

The title track of The Sensual World has been renamed Flower of the Mountain and it now includes some of Molly Bloom's famously orgasmic lines from Ulysses. Bush had tried to secure the rights back in the day, but the notoriously protective Joyce Estate was having none of it. Now, at last, she's been able to deliver the track she originally envisaged. An erotic, highly charged piece with the singer in remarkable vocal form, it's a masterpiece.

Deeper Understanding has benefited from a makeover too. A song that would prove eerily prescient about man's obsession with computers (it was written a few years before the world wide web was born), its length has been increased considerably. In an inspired move, her 12-year-old son Bertie guests, his voice electronically manipulated. (The video, directed by Bush, is a must-see, featuring Robbie Coltrane and Noel Fielding.)

Elsewhere, Moments of Pleasure has been imbued with a poignancy aided by the passing years. A song about looking back, it carries considerably more weight now that Bush is almost 20 years older.

Burn it: Flower of the Mountain; Moments of Pleasure

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