I have just recently filled in the gaps I had in my Kate Bush collection, largely inspired by Chrissi Johnson's current show on 88.2 Paekakariki FM.
But I looked up a few album ranking lists and was interested to see that my favourite album of hers Lionheart is often ranked last, so that inspired me to say a few words about why I think this album is so good.
So Kate was 19 when she put out her first album but was 11 when she started writing songs and apparently had a tape of 50 demo songs the she put out to try and get record company interest and which did get David Gilmour's interest and she got a contract. While I love the Kick inside her debut album, Wuthering Heights always stands out as a single and the album doesn't feel like an album to me. She was learning in the studio and she had the good fortune to have an excellent producer and arranger in Andrew Powell. With the success of the first album there was pressure to quickly put out a second and I think this is one of the reasons why Lionheart isn't perceived that well Kate didn't have time to write much new material so dipped into her earlier material which meant that we got more of her early material than we otherwise would have and her early style is more romantic than her later work which is more artsy and maybe existential. But back in the studio with producer and arranger Andrew Powell, I think they were more comfortable with how to record Kate, her excellent piano playing and songwriting and perfectly complimented by Andrew's arranging.
The cover has Kate in an attic dressed up in a lion suit, which perfectly encapsulates the qualities of the album. The sense of Englishness, quirkiness, the disparate individualism and of course romanticism all come together in a series of songs that flow into one another.
I am a fan of The Dreaming, I thought that was so wonderfully self expressive, her first self produced album showing that she had a singular strength of vision and this has continued throughout her career. But that early romanticism, the fabulous focus on melody centred around her piano playing with a sensitive arranger well that's what i love the most and that is Lionheart.
She's surely one in a million.