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2012 Reissue wish list / Day 4 / Kate Bush: The Dreaming

Kate Bush / The Dreaming / 30th Anniversary EditionKate Bush’s The Dreaming album from 1982 is my choice for day four of the 2012 reissue wish list.

I’m well aware that a 30th anniversary deluxe release of this rather misunderstood album, is probably a hope in vain. With the exception of Director’s Cut from this year, Kate isn’t particularly interested in her past. There were rumours of EMI planning a deluxe reissue campaign in the 12 ‘quiet’ years between The Red Shoes and Aerial, but they came to naught.

Going Solo

The album was the first to be produced by Kate alone. She had co-produced the 1980’s Never For Ever with Jon Kelly, and after three albums of learning and understanding the production process, Kate felt the time was right to take full control of how her next album would sound.

Peter Gabriel was a definite influence. Kate had recorded with him for his third album (“Melt”) and was thus exposed to his methods, which included not using cymbals on the album sessions. That, combined with new technology in the form of the Fairlight CMI sampler, would have a big role in shaping the approach to how Kate produced the music on The Dreaming.

Standalone single

Kate must have been well aware that she was trying some quite experimental sounds and ideas on her new music, and maybe because of this, she chose to release Sat In Your Lap – one the first tracks to be completed – as a standalone single, a full 15 months before the album was eventually released (the LP came out in September 1982).

It was an interesting thing to do, because Sat In Your Lap exhibits all that made The Dreaming so different to her previous work. The music was very layered, with numerous overdubs, overlapping vocals (often heavily processed) and generous use of the Fairlight sampler.

Sat In Your Lap is a rhythmic piano-driven song with a deliberately flat melody during the verse (“I see the people working…”). The song doesn’t really have a chorus as such, and it’s all very dense and claustrophobic. In many ways, it’s the most challenging song on the album, but a video was made at Abbey Road Studios and in June 1981 the single was issued and the new sound of Kate Bush was there for all to hear.

Bear in mind that Kate’s previous single in November 1980 was December Will Be Magic Again, a song that pre-dated Never For Ever and was actually recorded in 1979. It sounded like a Lionheart outtake. Following this perky Christmas single with Sat In Your Lap is the equivalent of The Beatles following up Please Please Me with I Am The Walrus.

It is remarkable then, that the single peaked at an impressive no.11 in the UK charts. Kate must have felt vindicated in her approach, and work continued with the album. Kate was not to know it at the time, but Sat In Your Lap would be the first and last single from The Dreaming to breach the UK top 40.

Album release

In September 1982 The Dreaming was released in the UK. Ten tracks, full of wonder and imagination, covered subjects from war (Pull Out The Pin) to the protection of Aboriginal  homelands (The Dreaming). The album ended with the remarkably aggressive Get Out Of My House. The pop music on the record was like no other at the time, or since. Kate’s ability to sing low in her range for verses and then come shrieking in with multi-processed ripostes, for choruses or refrains is quite unique.

Although The Dreaming hit no.3 in the UK chart, it was not a commercial success. The Dreaming (the song) was a poor choice of single in July 1982. It’s a superb track featuring Rolf Harris on didgeridoo and Kate singing with her quasi-Aussie accent (“Bang! goes another kanga on the bonnet of the van”) but just not a song that would ever get much radio play (it peaked at no.48).

Commercial failure

In fact, one of the big problems with the album from a commercial point of view is that it contains nothing resembling a commercial single. EMI, perhaps influenced by the ‘success’ of Sat In Your Lap did not seem to pick up on this, and Kate was not asked to do some more work on the record and ‘come up with a hit’ (probably unthinkable for them to do this with Kate).

This lack of hits (third and final single, There Goes A Tenner, didn’t even chart) is one of the reasons why the album is not well known, but on the other hand it makes it much easier to listen to the record as a singular piece of work without a Babookska or Wuthering Heights to remind you of Top Of The Pops appearances and leotards.

Kate was canny enough to recognise this no-singles problem when it came to her next album, Hounds Of Love. For that record she wore her commercial hat on side one (relatively speaking) and then tossed the hat on the fire for side two (The Ninth Wave). Running Up That Hill therefore created the audience for Waking The Witch.

In the end, the critics didn’t really know what to make of The Dreaming. ‘Mixed’ reviews is probably a good summary. “Overproduced” is probably the most common criticism. Generally speaking, it’s come to be recognised as a significant work and many fans would include in their top three Kate albums, if not jostling for number one spot with Hounds of Love.

30th Anniversary reissue

What to include in a deluxe reissue? It’s a good question. A 2CD+DVD could include the b-sides of the singles, plus the slightly different single mix of Sat In Your Lap. Outtakes, demos or work-in-progress would be excellent, but unlikely. The Dreaming could certainly do with a remaster, or even a full-remix, and the DVD could provide all the videos plus some excellent, fairly well-known European TV appearances.

ALBUM: The Dreaming by Kate Bush
ANNIVERSARY: 30th
WHY REISSUE?: Could do with a remaster/remix. An underrated classic.

Tomorrow> Day 5> Fleetwood Mac: Tango In The Night

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13 responses to 2012 Reissue wish list / Day 4 / Kate Bush: The Dreaming

  1. Bruno says:

    I believe Suspended in Gaffa may have been a single outside the UK (there’s a TV clip of her performing it on what I think is a French kids’ show) – it would certainly have made more sense than There Goes A Tenner.

    Sadly I fear that with, as you say, Kate’s attitude to her back catalogue – coupled with the world’s worst record company, EMI – we’re never likely to see a decent reissue of this one.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Correct about Suspended In Gaffa. Night of the Swallow also got an Ireland only 7inch release.

      The clip you refer to is one f my all-time favourite Kate clips!

    • Joost Lommers says:

      Suspended in Gaffa was a single in The Netherlands.

  2. Steve Marine says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more regarding this choice. This album is a masterpiece.

  3. Kiwwy says:

    What’s the album like over-all?
    I’ve only ever heard the single “The Dreaming” – very interesting track

    • Patrick Gleeson says:

      @ Kiwwy

      The Dreaming is an album well worth getting – if you liked the title track, the rest of the album will intrigue you even more. An absolute classic.

  4. Julie Skaggs says:

    My wish for this album – which is also my favorite of Kate’s work – is to have James Guthrie mix it for 5.1; but he’s much more keen on giving HoL the Surround treatment (as it is his personal favorite). The Dreaming has so many textures and details which could be uncovered and explored in such a process, IMO.

    However, I tend to think neither of these wish list items is likely to be granted.

    I appreciate your comment regarding the delineation of the two sides of HoL but it was also necessitated by the content of the album itself, as The Ninth Wave is a song cycle it needed to be seperate from the other songs which were seperate narratives (because each of Kate’s song is a story which happens to be set to music). Have you read the KB bio Under The Ivy? There’s a very interesting chapter regarding the creation and recording of The Dreaming, in regards to the different influences (not just PG but Bowie and Roy Harper too, for example) and the contributions of the engineers (as she would adopt the use of multiple engineers on subsequent records). Interestingly even some of the people involved thought it was too over the top, but time has granted a better appreciation of its bravura.

  5. Renaud CRUVELLIER says:

    Definitely the best album kate bush has ever made (with HoL obviously). I’ve always thought it was strange for someone so into the technical side of things to not let up have a peek… I’d love to have a full documentary on the making of this album. A bit like Peter Gabriel’s 4th album that was recording and released around the same time as the dreaming and was also rather uncommercial except for the single Shock the Monkey, and which allowed the making of to be filmed as part of the South Bank Show of the time… It would be s great to have demos and show the evolution of the tracks until their final form. As mentioned above, in the book Under the Ivy there’s a good part of ot dedicated to The Dreaming with contribution from the main engineer, who seemed to have a deep understanding of Kate’s artistic ambitions beyond the realms of chartable pop music.
    Let’s not forget what also available from this period (to add to that reissue), the french single Ne t’Enfuis Pas, even though not a rarity…

  6. Julian Moran says:

    This is a great album, I also really enjoy listening to ” An endless sky of honey” which is my meditation.

  7. Wesmess says:

    Excellent article, very well done. Thank you for the in depth perspective and research. This always will be one for the “stranded on an island” list in my book. I would welcome any additional reflections on this gem to be made available to the fans.

  8. Colin McWilliams says:

    Hi have just been researching ‘remasters’ for Kate Bush and came across ‘The Dreaming’ CD flagged as a remaster see details… is this genuine remastered album ????

    “Detailed item info
    Album Features
    UPC: 5099902929620
    Artist: Kate Bush
    Format: CD
    Release Year: 2011
    Record Label: Noble & Brite
    Genre: Art Rock, Rock & Pop

    Track Listing
    1. Sat In Your Lap
    2. There Goes a Tenner
    3. Pull Out The Pin
    4. Suspended in Gaffa
    5. Leave it Open
    6. Dreaming, The
    7. Night of the Swallow
    8. All the Love
    9. Houdini
    10. Get Out of My House

    Details
    Distributor: EMI
    Recording Type: Studio
    Recording Mode: Stereo
    SPAR Code: n/a”

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      THe Dreaming definitely hasn’t been remastered. This is probably the edition where Kate put it out on her own Fish People label. The only album that was remastered when she did that was The Red Shoes, although she did ‘tweak’ Hounds of Love by changing The Big Sky to the ‘special single mix’.

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