A lot of Kate Bush’s work has a cinematic feel, but it’s most apparent on The Dreaming; its ten diverse songs are like evocative mini movies. There’s the story of a Viet Cong guerilla in ‘Pull Out The Pin’ and the Aboriginal Australia of the title track, while the tracks range from the music hall of ‘There Goes A Tenner’ to the tenseness of ‘Get Out Of My House’.
First single and lead off track ‘Sat In Your Lap’ is arguably the boldest step here; almost devoid of commercial appeal and full of jarring rhythms and awkward chants, it sets the adventurous tone for the album. On ‘Night of The Swallow’ Bush rasps out the verse, before a plethora of traditional Irish instruments provide impetus for the soaring chorus. The angry ‘Get Out Of My House’ is a dark album closer, with a unique coda where Kate and her brother Paddy engage in a bizarre folklore reference duel; “I will not let you in/I face toward the wind/I change into the mule/Hee-haw, Hee-haw.”
The more conventional piano balladry of ‘All The Love’ would have slotted in fine onto The Kick Inside, but most of this material is utterly unique. The end result isn’t particularly coherent, and it hasn’t dated particularly gracefully, but overall The Dreaming contains some of the most creative music of its era. Bush takes more risks and covers more stylistic territory than some bands do in their entire careers, and it’s not surprising that there are a few rough edges. The Dreaming failed to generate a hit single or sell many copies, but Bush roared back into the mainstream with her next album.