Release Date: May 31, 2011
Record label: Fish People
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The thesis around Kate Bush‘s Director’s Cut is about fulfilling an original vision (or visions and versions), and the results are overwhelmingly thrilling. In a sense, “The Flower of the Mountain” becomes the centerpiece of the record; it is the one song she changes the title of (from “The Sensual World”) and for good reason–she finally gained permission from the Joyce estate to use Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from the end of Ulysses. So where her earlier work paraphrases passages, “Flower of the Mountain” is Bush unbridled, in a dialogue with Joyce, accessing his breadth of ideas, sense of female sexuality, and there is a sense that, finally, two titans are meeting each other.
A quick mental survey of Kate Bush’s career conjures up memories of eccentric, uncompromising brilliance. From her stunning 1978 debut, The Kick Inside (which included songs she’d written at the age of 15) to 2005’s charming grower Aerial, Bush has forged an amazing body of work, writing uncommonly complicated songs that have brought her uncommon success. Ah, but think a little harder and you remember that period around the late ‘80s/early ‘90s when Bush arguably made the only stumble of her career.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Kate Bush has realised the best way to cement National Treasure status is to mostly keep shtum. By removing herself from the usual album release-tour schedule (and, of course, by being an exceptionally talented and original artist), every one of her sporadic communications becomes worthy of rejoicing and dancing in the streets. And with the celebratory peal of bells that opens Director's Cut, her first album in five years, she's knowingly providing the soundtrack to the festivities.
Fiddling with a beloved creation is generally regarded as taboo for an artist, but Kate Bush gets a pass for a few reasons. Firstly, well, she's Kate Bush, so it's exciting that she's releasing anything at all. (Director's Cut is her third album in nearly two decades.) More interestingly, this collection of 11 reworked songs from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes reminds us that the best artists aren't afraid to stare themselves in the face.
Revisiting 11 of her post-[b]‘Hounds Of Love’[/b] tracks, Kate sets to tweaking them into the state she originally intended. Confounding expectations, there’s no whizzy technological updates (unless you count the daft, Auto-Tuned computer voice on [b]‘Deeper Understanding’[/b]), instead she’s sombrely stripped away the late-’80s/early-’90s studio clatter and started all over again.The best moments are the most unexpected, such as [b]‘Top Of The City’[/b], which explodes into colour where previously its sting was dulled. Her vocals now sound stately, and the impression is of a grande dame breathing new life into work made as an ingénue.Priya ElanOrder a copy of Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut from Amazon .
On YouTube, a fan has posted various TV clips of Kate Bush. They come from the first stage of her career, when the general public's perception was of a dippy woman who waved her arms around in videos and said "wow" a lot, rather than, say, the already glaringly apparent fact that she was an artist so unique as to be literally incomparable. In one, Sat in Your Lap blares madly from studio speakers, as strange and adventurous a single as anyone released in 1982.
The beloved English art-pop eccentric’s first CD since 2005 is a characteristically odd proposition, with Bush redoing the vocals and drums on tracks from 1989’s The Sensual World and 1993?s The Red Shoes. (Three songs receive total overhauls.) But if Director?s Cut is a tad superfluous, it?s also gorgeous: She reclaims ”This Woman?s Work,” which has been co-opted by shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, with stunning fragility. B+ Download These:Delicate ballad This Woman?s Work at Last.fmFunky jam Lily See all of this week’s reviews .
This is not, strictly speaking, a new Kate Bush album. Just a warning for all of you who'd gotten used to agonizingly long waits between Bush records. It was easy to hope, when Director's Cut was first announced, that we'd been blessed ahead of schedule with the latest transmission from her private art-rock fairy land. Instead, this is a rethink of a somewhat controversial period in her career, by an artist who claims not to give much thought to her albums once they've been sent to market.
During her early career, Kate Bush released albums regularly despite her reputation as a perfectionist in the studio. Her first five were released within seven years. After The Hounds of Love in 1985, however, the breaks between got longer: The Sensual World appeared in 1989 and The Red Shoes in 1993. Then, nothing before Aerial, a double album issued in 2005.
If Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut had been released, say, 15 years ago, then this odd project would surely have received a gazillionth of the attention it's enjoying now. Back then, in 1996, Britpop was at its lagery zenith and to some degree Bush appeared a relic of the golden age of AOR. Not that you’d find many with a bad word to say about her; indeed, the oompah oompah weirdness of 1982’s The Dreaming was clearly an influence on Britpop’s artier end.
Review Summary: A slightly throwaway album that never quite escapes its own obvious limitations. There can't be many better ways to diffuse excitement about a new album than realizing you already know all the songs on it; it's remarkable how quickly the buzz about new material dissipates once you find out that it's actually a covers album, a live album, or worst of all, an album of re-recordings. Director's Cut is the latter.
Most glory-days retreads come about by way of laziness, with over-the-hill artists finding sneaky ways to gussy up and repackage old material, usually for ignoble or desperate reasons. Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut arrives with different goals in mind. It revisits tracks from 1989’s The Sensual World and 1993’s The Red Shoes not to leech off their success, but ostensibly to fix them.
An artist reborn, Bush tinkers with back catalogue cuts, producing great results. Martin Aston 2011 When Deeper Understanding emerged as the first evidence of Kate Bush’s new album of revisions, the instant reaction was surprise tinged with anger. How dare she play with our memories? How dare she use Auto-Tune on the chorus vocal? "Butchered" and "almost unforgivable" cried the fansites.
Sometimes you’ve gotta wonder: Why do long lauded artists of yester-decade seem so insistent on aggrandizing LPs of eras past in an age of evanescent attention spans? Ever enigmatic English chanteuse Kate Bush could’ve easily ignited the passions of her completists by unfurling her respective 1989 and 1993 efforts The Sensual World and The Red Shoes as deluxe editions, but neither of those expanded packages would’ve likely debuted The UK Albums Chart at number two, as this release, Director’s Cut, did this week. That said, she could’ve also opted to record and release an album of new material, but for fans this will have to do. Not unlike Paul McCartney did by editing Phil Spector out of Let It Be with Let It Be Naked, and almost exactly like post-punk luminaries Gang of Four did on their 2005 reunion record Return the Gift, Cut is — true to its name — very George Lucas.