Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kate Bush in Covers

Last night, Kate Bush played her first live show in three and a half decades. A lot of people were very excited for this 'comeback concert', and their ecstatic reactions - first to the gig announcement, and now to the performance itself - show just how important Ms Bush and her music are.

And yet it occurred to me this morning that I've never really listened to Kate Bush. I feel like I know a lot of her songs, but on reflection, I realise that I only know them because so many other people have covered them. These are the ones that sprang to mind:

Hounds of Love (Covered by The Futureheads)
I doubt I'm the only person who heard this version before I heard KB's original. The Futureheads' take on Hounds of Love was inescapable on MTV2 for a time, and it pretty much became the band's signature song; I didn't even realise it was a cover until quite a bit later.

Suspended in Gaffa (Covered by Ra Ra Riot)
This song is a bouncy highlight from The Rhumb Line, Ra Ra Riot's debut album. I discovered its origin via a quick glance at the liner notes, and now that I think about, the lyrics are noticeably more whimsical than anything else on that CD - having said that, I still basically consider it to be a RRR song. I haven't even heard the Kate Bush version.

Wuthering Heights (Covered by Jim Guthrie)
Okay, I'd heard Wuthering Heights before, but I don't actually have it on CD. I do, however, have the deluxe version of Now, More Than Ever by Jim Guthrie, which features this lovely autotuned take on Kate's first big hit.

Running Up That Hill (Covered by Placebo)
This track was on some sort of '80s cover compilation that came free with Q magazine a little while back (other highlights: Clayhill doing Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want and a band called Lorraine doing Heaven by The Psychedelic Furs). It may not have been the original version, but I'm glad I heard Running Up That Hill somewhere or The Hold Steady's reference to this song on Hornets! Hornets! would have gone right over my head.

I suppose it's testament to Kate Bush's reach that I'm so familiar with her music in spite of having never properly listened to her. Her songs are so ingrained in the public conciousness that it's possible to ignore her completely and still be familiar with half her discography.

I suppose that's quite fitting for someone who didn't play a single gig for 35 years.

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