The Kick Inside
Kate Bush’s debut was released when she was a mere 19 years old, and a couple of the strongest tracks were recorded when she was only 16. Bush went on to make more ambitious and creative albums, but The Kick Inside is a stunningly assured debut. It’s homogeneous in texture, with sophisticated pop tunes inflected with theatrical and jazzy touches, but it’s expertly performed and arranged, and Bush is a unique enough front-woman to stop The Kick Inside from ever becoming generic.
It’s difficult to find too many direct influences on Bush’s style, even from this early stage she’s doggedly following her own path. Most of the song structures are relatively straightforward, but the lyrics are often on the point of controversy. The title track takes on incest, while there’s plenty of sexual imagery scattered among the lyrics; Bush obviously made use of the new boundaries set in the wake of The Sex Pistols and other punk bands in the late seventies, even if her music itself owes more to confessional singer-songwriters, mystic folk, and progressive rock complexity.
The tour de force here, and the song that launched Bush’s career, is ‘Wuthering Heights’. Making full use of Bush’s theatrical instincts and soaring vocals, the song places Bush in the role of Cathy from Bronte’s work; it’s approaching progressive rock in its ambition and scope, and ends with a Gilmouresque guitar solo. It’s certainly a whole lot more entertaining than reading the book. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is far and away the best song, but everything else is entertaining in a more modest fashion. ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ is an incredible song for a sixteen year old to write; the classy passing G chord during the “Ooh” makes the song, while the impressionist beauty of the voice, music and lyrics is breath-taking.
Bush has a talent for this pop-oriented material, and The Kick Inside is a very strong record, but Bush was only just getting started as she veered off into artier and more idiosyncratic territory with her next record.