A startling debut from one of the UK’s most unique talents, The Kick Inside has since been eclipsed by better received (and better selling) Kate Bush albums, but there is still a section of her audience that maintain that she never bettered her first album.
The Kick Inside certainly has an abundance of whatever it is that has made Kate Bush such a compelling recording artist over the last forty years. Having launched herself into the public eye by way of the astonishing and massively successful “Wuthering Heights”, Kate Bush couldn’t have been further from the punk movement that was also changing the musical landscape of the time. “Wuthering Heights”, with its memorable promotional video managed to pull the neat trick of appealing to both the literate pop kids, and a massive prog-starved audience. Given that Kate Bush was barely twenty years old at the time of The Kick Inside’s release, some of the maturity displayed could be translated as precociousness or even pomposity, but that does little to detract from the achievement here.
The Kick Inside is a lot more than one hit single though, as it signaled the arrival of an utterly unique talent, and one of the best singer songwriters the UK has ever produced. “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” was a single of equal quality, although several other songs on The Kick Inside could have fulfilled the role of follow-up single equally as admirably. “Strange Phenomena”, “Feel It”, “Oh To Be In Love” and “Them Heavy People” all display a strong grasp of pop dynamics, and disturbingly mature lyrics from one so young. It was obvious to everyone that EMI had invested wisely.
After four decades The Kick Inside remains a strong opening statement of intent, and one of Kate Bush’s best albums. It’s particularly heartwarming to note that even the most cynical punk bands have subsequently recognised her astonishing achievement at the time, even though she stood as a one woman antidote to the UK punk movement at the time.
It’s a shame then that Kate Bush herself does not hold her early career particularly dear, as displayed by the fact that she included no material that pre-dated Hounds of Love on her return to live performance, not even her biggest hit single. Perhaps she doesn’t feel that her early work matches up to the maturity of the material on her later albums, but listening to The Kick Inside forty years after its release, it’s a stunning achievement by one so young.