“No coward soul is mine – “

After completing a round of triumphant returns to the UK stage, Kate Bush deserves to bask. Audience responses validated her decision to limit set lists to albums recorded after 1985. Before Stylus Magazine folded, the editorial board on which I sat chose her as the third member of our artist hall of fame. A round of appraisals followed: Marcello Carlin’s shrewd overview, Ian Mathers and Mike Orme’s re-examinations of The Whole Story and Hounds of Love, respectively; and my second look at The Red Shoes, which I listened to this weekend and still love, gaucheries and all. Read Katherine’s One Week One Band entry. I stand behind this paragraph:

The standard line by journalists is that The Red Shoes collected the debris of a failed concept album based on the Archers film to which I alluded earlier. The ballet is a rather ponderous hunk of kitsch, its sexuality less brazen than Bush’s. Still, I can see the parallels. Bush has never been leery of kitsch: it’s her muse, the starting point of genuine emotion and ideas few of her art-rock contemporaries have taken seriously. The rhythm of ballet—alternately graceful and plodding—informs the most uneven of her studio albums. 2005’s Aerial would mitigate the enforced maturity of marriage and motherhood with the third-person narrative of one disc and the Woolfian rapture of the other. In 1993, however, Bush was unwilling to separate these tendencies; she needed to risk kitsch. This makes her braver than most.

As I argue, the album suffered from poor timing. Its insistence that adult contemporary moves like “Moments of Pleasure” could sit next to the avid likes of “Big Stripey Lie” is redolent of a braver age in college rock; a spring ’91 release would have been best. Speculation, of course — the album wasn’t getting a release without Bush’s say so.

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