Kate Bush had exploded on the British music scene early in 1978 and had made an immeadiate impact, sweeping all before her and instantly becoming the biggest artist in the UK. Or at least that’s what her record company wanted you to believe. In reality Miss Bush had been groomed for fame for at least the last three years and EMI had invested a vast amount of money in her. “Wuthering Heights” had been a deserved smash hit single and The Kick Inside had been a strong seller, but now EMI were determined to cash in on their investment. As a result of this pressure to put more product on the shelves, Kate Bush’s sophomore album, Lionheart, was released in late 1978, and given the fact she had three years to put together her debut, chances are that it was always going to pale in comparison.
It’s probably fair to assume that much of the material that makes up Lionheart was penned at the same time as the songs that made up The Kick Inside, which automatically leads to the assumption that those were the songs that weren’t considered good enough to go on Bush’s debut album, therefore rendering Lionheart effectively some a kind of out-takes album.
If Lionheart is an out-takes album, then it’s a pretty good one at that, although its big hit single would heave been an obvious choice. This calls into question exactly why the inferior and rather hokey “Hammer Horror” was chosen as the lead-off single, instead of the considerably more accessible “Wow”, a song I’ve always had a soft-spot for as it seems to capture Miss Bush at her most floaty and wide-eyed. It’s Lionheart’s most obviously commercial moment, which probably means that it was written specifically for the new album, rather than being penned alongside The Kick Inside material. The other stand out track of the album is “Oh England My Lionheart”. That’s not to say that the other tracks on Lionheart are sub-par, as they’re similar in style to the well-recorded prog-pop of her debut album, with a couple of the best things about it being the piano playing throughout and the fluid guitar work, which again echo its sister album.
So strongly linked are the first two albums of Kate Bush’s career that I would recommend purchasing both of the simultaneously if possible, but if you can only afford one, opt for The Kick Inside, because Lionheart will always lurk in the shadow of its predecessor.