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Countdown to Aerial 3: Never For Ever

I had my review of Never For Ever all written up in my head. I'd given the record another spin at the studio during the afternoon and it confirmed what I was going to write. Then I made the mistake of taking the CD home and playing it on the stereo at high volume. Ehrm.
Okay.
I was going to write that Never For Ever was a transitional album, with Kate's new production approach, learned through working with Peter Gabriel in 1980, hastily grafted on to material that couldn't really carry it off. Certainly some of the songs were old by the time the album was recorded: The opening track, "Babooshka", is widely bootlegged as a demo from before the release of The Kick Inside, and "Violin" was played on Kate's only tour in early 1979. Some of the songs might have been newer but still have the stylistic features of earlier Kate Bush compositions; they are, at heart, piano-backed, melody-based songs rather than the rhythmic, textured pieces of The Dreaming and Hounds of Love.
I was also going to write that the album didn't hang together very well, that despite its short length, it has several songs that outstay their welcome and that the thing as a whole drags on a bit. I was going to mention that the three indisputably great songs on the album, "Babooshka", "Army Dreamers" and the spine-chilling "Breathing", are all on the The Whole Story collection anyway, and that that compilation is a pretty good starting point for newcomers to Her Kateness. Finally, I had concluded, in my head, that many of the songs are clever and well-done rather than engaging and that the record as a whole lacks the emotional intensity and urgency of her best work.
I suppose all of those things are still true. But it is also true that when a record doesn't quite hit home, it's often because you're not playing it loud enough. Never For Ever has quite a few rocking moments (she sounds like Nina Hagen in "Violin" and "The Wedding List") and uses dynamics and crescendo a lot in the arrangements, so playing it at high volume definitely improves it. It still isn't my favorite Kate Bush album, but it's a cracking good listen nonetheless.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 2, 2005 8:20 PM.

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