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The best of Kate Bush (part 1)

We round-up the queen of comeback's top songs


After a thirty-five year interlude, Kate Bush has made her long-awaited tour comeback this September at Hammersmith.

News of Bush's return to live performances was greeted like wildfire: tickets were sold out in a matter of minutes and she now has EIGHT albums in the charts at one time – a first for any female artist.

January 1978 saw the release of Bush’s debut single Wuthering Heights, a song that she had written as an 18-year-old the previous year after watching an adaptation of the Brontë novel on TV – putting whatever you do after watching a new Poirot to shame. Many have referred to the shock of hearing Bush’s high pitched lament on the radio when it was first released, but Wuthering Heights wasn’t just unique in 1978, it’s unique in 2014, too. Kate Bush might be widely influential but she is rarely imitated, and never imitated well. 

Here are five of Ms Bush's greatest songs (so far). There'll be two more parts coming soon!

Wuthering Heights
Released: January 1978 UK Peak: #1

The thrill of Wuthering Heights’ startling sound has not diminished, but as a gateway to Bush’s first album, The Kick Inside, it’s practically a soft drug. Her debut would cover everything from whale song to menstruation, although it would take a brave man to point out the inspirational effect of the latter to a female friend.

The Man With The Child In His Eyes
Released: May 1978 UK Peak: #6

Let’s skip the cheap gags about the title in light of recent revelations about certain entertainers in the 1970s. Heartfelt and poignant, this piano ballad treads what should be an impossible line between naivety and maturity. The result is one of Bush’s best and most widely respected singles, which showed that she was no novelty act.

Hammer Horror
Released: October 1978 UK Peak: #44

The first single from second album Lionheart echoes her debut with its immersion in a literary narrative, rather than being an observation of the film studio – something of a relief, because most observers of Hammer films at the time were teenage boys staying up late hoping to see a boob or two. 

Wow
Released: March 1979 UK Peak: #14

A wry and camp exploration of theatrical pomposity, Bush sings that one actor will “never be that movie queen” as he’s “too busy hitting the Vaseline”. In the video Bush pats herself on the bottom at this point with a cheeky grin, as if to say that she can’t believe she got away with singing it on the radio either. 

On Stage (EP)
Released: August 1979 UK Peak: #10

A memento of Bush’s live tour, lead track Them Heavy People offers a whimsical chorus and an exploration of spirituality set to a funky beat. The idiosyncratic contrast may go some way towards explaining its particular success in Japan. If you’re wondering what an EP is, ask the guy who’s first on the dance floor whenever Erasure comes on.

Words: Mark Aldridge / Conor Byrne

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