The rules for being a successful prog rock act were seemingly set in stone. You had to be a band, predominantly male, you were not allowed to have hit singles after 1974 and the majority of your songs had to clock in at at least twice the length of the average pop single.
…And then there was Kate Bush. A female solo artist, who had hit singles and wrote compelling songs that she was able to edit to pop-single length without losing impact. Oh and she broke the golden rule and made progressive rock ‘sexy’. Like her occasional collaborator Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush swam against the prevailing trends and became a success on her own terms.
After The Dreaming Kate Bush retreated to take stock of her career to date and plan her next move. She also decided that she should write some hit singles for her next album. She was merely twenty four years old and she’d released a string of four successful studio albums and had established herself as the premier female songwriter of the era. She deserved a rest.
When she did return, she did so with one of her landmark albums. Hounds Of Love was a bang up to date re-establishment of everything that had made her great in the first place. Containing no less than four durable hit singles (check The Futureheads hugely cover of the title track for further evidence) and the bonkers (and occasionally claustrophobic) side-long “Ninth Wave” suite it was everything that her fans wanted and more. At the time it sounded like a throughly modern rock album and despite it’s reliance on mid-80s technology, it still sounds remarkably fresh today. Gone is the wafty and precocious talent of “Wuthering Heights”, Hounds Of Love announced to everyone with ears that Kate Bush was now a fully matured talent and one of the key artists in the history of popular music.
If you’re at all interested in Kate Bush and are allergic to compilations, there really is no better place to start.