Kate Bush’s “The Director’s Cut”: Music review

I’m not opposed to the idea of a musician wanting to revisit songs that were recorded years ago, feeling that maybe they didn’t quite capture them the right way. I did precisely that with “How Long, Kitty?” and “The Princess, the Coke Whore, and Magdalena,” which were originally recorded on The Listeners’ first album “Lamentations” (2008), and which I re-recorded for my second solo album “The Game” (2015).
The only question is whether in fact you do re-imagine the song, or get closer to what was originally intended, enough so to justify the re-recording.
The 2011 Kate Bush album “The Director’s Cut” goes back 18 and 23 years respectively to re-visit 11 songs from “The Sensual World” (1989) and “The Red Shoes” (1993).
In some cases there are detectable differences, ways in which the newer version brings something else to the table. In other cases, at least without further listening, I’m not sure I’m hearing a massive change. However, on balance none of the changes, to my ears, seem to explain quite why this was done, but then Kate Bush never really cared whether anyone understood why she was doing what she was doing.
In the opening track, “Flower Of The Mountain” (previously called “The Sensual World”) the violins and uillean pipes sound clearer, more measured, more mature somehow. Like most of the tracks on this album, Kate’s voice is clearer, fuller, more to the front of the mix than on the prior song versions, with more space in the mix, and distinctly better production quality overall. Ultimately, on this opening track, the sensuality of the younger Kate seems more enticing to me.
The new “Song of Solomon” carries more frustration and urgency in the vocals on the “don’t want your bullshit” lyric. She sounds more forlorn, more lost and lonely. I must admit this version really got to me.
“Lily” feels slower with a more measured and deeper rhythm, yet it’s only a few seconds shorter in running length so this may just be my imagination. I prefer the original, though.
“Deeper Understanding” has a longer instrumental section complete with harmonica solo, and the ‘computer voice’ is much clearer and comprehensible, somewhere between Siri and a Japanese Vocoloid.
I vastly prefer the original of “The Red Shoes.”
The new versions of “This Woman’s Work” and “Moments of Pleasure” seem more considered, with a heavier weight of experience behind them, and they carry a heavier impact.
I heard no noticeable difference in the new recording of “Never Be Mine.”
“Top of the City” definitely has a bigger production, with more explosive peaks, but the vocals are not necessarily any better.
In the newer “And So Is Love” the “Shadow of the Beast” feeling is subdued, which, for me, takes something away from the experience.
On the final track, “Rubberband Girl,” gone is the jangly trebly guitar and the tinny 80s sound, in favor of a kind of later Rolling Stones sound on the lightly distorted guitar chords, plus harmonica solo. I can’t say it’s a huge improvement.
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