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Great B-sides: Under the Ivy by Kate Bush

Kate Bush The Hounds Of Love

Kate Bush‘s 1982 album The Dreaming was excellent, but it wasn’t especially commercially successful. She’d previously enjoyed ground-breaking UK success; her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ made her the first female artist to hit UK number one with a self-penned song. Her third album, 1980’s Never For Ever, was the first studio album by a female solo artist to reach number one on the UK charts.

But The Dreaming had been a step down commercially from her previous triumphs, and tracks like the lead single ‘Sat In Your Lap’ were artistically challenging. Like Peter Gabriel, a kindred artistic spirit in this era – the pair would later duet on ‘Don’t Give Up’ – she built tracks up on the Fairlight CMI synthesiser, layering strange instrumentation and unusual time signatures.

There was a lot of pressure for her followup, and Bush responded with a magnificent album that perfectly balanced her commercial and artistic sides. She went as far as to partition her two facets off – the first side of Hounds of Love was dedicated to hit singles, while the second half was a conceptual song cycle about drowning.

It’s clear in hindsight that this was an extraordinarily creative time for Bush, and the 1997 reissue highlights several excellent non-album tracks, including a beautiful solo vocal on the traditional ‘My Lagan Love’ and ‘Burning Bridge’, the uptempo and memorable b-side to ‘Cloudbusting’. But the prettiest song from the era is ‘Under The Ivy’, originally released as the b-side to triumphant lead single ‘Running Up That Hill’.

It’s a gentle, restrained song, with only a hint of drama, centered around Bush’s piano, with choirs of multi-tracked Kate Bush providing emphasis as required. Bush says that it only took an afternoon in a studio to record, and also noted that:

It’s very much a song about someone who is sneaking away from a party to meet someone elusively, secretly, and to possibly make love with them, or just to communicate, but it’s secret, and it’s something they used to do and that they won’t be able to do again. It’s about a nostalgic, revisited moment. (…) I think it’s sad because it’s about someone who is recalling a moment when perhaps they used to do it when they were innocent and when they were children, and it’s something that they’re having to sneak away to do privately now as adults.

from http://gaffa.org/dreaming/doug_int.html

It wouldn’t take me long
To tell you how to find it
To tell you where we’ll meet
This little girl inside me
Is retreating to her favourite place
Go into the garden, go under the ivy
Under the leaves, away from the party
Go right to the rose
Go right to the white rose
I sit here in the thunder
The green on the gray
I feel it all around me
And it’s not easy for me
To give away a secret
It’s not safe
To go into the garden, go under the ivy
Under the leaves, away from the party
Go right to the rose
Go right to the white rose
Go into the garden, go under the ivy
Go under the leaves with me
Go right to the rose
Go right to the white rose
I’ll be waiting for you
It wouldn’t take me long
To tell you how to find it

18 thoughts on “Great B-sides: Under the Ivy by Kate Bush Leave a comment

    • I’ve been listening to Neil Diamond’s Tap Root Manuscript this morning. He’s not on Kate Bush’s level as an album artist, but it uses its two sides to its advantage. The second side is dedicated to an African suite, which is sometimes awesome (‘Soolaimon’) and sometimes bizarre (‘I Am The Lion’).

      Liked by 1 person

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