Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside”: Music review

It’s hard to understand where a song like “Wuthering Heights” comes from, with its loopy swoopy vocals and its marching triumphant chorus wracked with all the passion and tempest of a stormy night on the heath, with its peculiar corners that leave you stunned. To realise this is on Kate Bush’s debut album is a humbling moment for any songwriter.
It’s frankly unbelievable that at age 17 Kate Bush wrote a song as unexpected, unique, and surprising at “The man with the child in his eyes.”
Already at this early stage of her career you can hear the sheer brazen craziness breaking free – in the “la la la” backing vocals towards the end of “Moving,” followed by the strange whale sounds (are these whale sounds or vocals, I can’t tell?), the unapologetically bizarre ‘backing vocals’ during “James and Cold Gun” (“You’re not here”?) the relentless oddness of the “Kite” melody.
While much of the album leaves you unable to comprehend the precedent, the ether out of which Kate pulled these songs, other tracks carry more easily recognizable contemporary contexts – “James and Cold Gun” with its late 70s rock bass sounding like something out of a stomping Thin Lizzy song (“Chinatown,” anyone?); the chorus line in “Oh to be in love” is reminiscent of a chorus from a David Bowie song (“Changes” perhaps, or “Oh! You Pretty Things”) while there is something Beatlesque about the “Oh to be in love”‘s synth-trumpet melody even if the sound of the synth itself is more Pink Floyd than Beatles (and why not, considering David Gilmour discovered Kate and produced this album).
Despite these brief touchpoints, where Kate Bush came from musically remains largely a mystery, although listening to these songs certainly helps explain a thing or two that happened later. Tori Amos, for example.

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