Kate Bush, Hounds of Love

I'd been a fan of Kate Bush pretty much since the beginning, but it was a fanaticism that I kept to myself...she was making music that was far removed from most of what I was listening to at the time. Kate Bush was an artist I admired on my own and it stayed that way for a long long time.

The Hounds of Love was the first album I ever bought on CD and it seems a shame that I chose to make my first steps into the modern world of shiny, silver, plastic discs by buying an album that is so clearly an album of two sides, an album made for vinyl. Two sides that are so different and both so stunning - the pop side and the prog side, the safe side and the experimental side, "The Hounds of Love" and "The Ninth Wave". There was a period of probably a year or two where I listened to The Hounds of Love every night - it was the album that I went to bed with but never slept until it finished (if I did doze off "Waking the Witch" would generally bring me back to consciousness).

Hazel is a huge Kate Bush fan and in the discomfort and awkward uncertainty of our fledgling relationship I found comfort in our mutual love of Kate Bush. It was something that we could talk about passionately and open up about, something that we could "try out" our relationship on, something that allowed us to see if there was more to this...and there was. I distinctly remember one of our first lunchtimes at the Nelson where I gushed uncontrollably about Kate and particularly about The Hounds of Love, in times of panic my mouth can occasionally run away with me because talking is better than awkward silences.

The album sounds as stunning now as it did on its first listen. It doesn't sound dated and for an album released in the dire depths of the 80s to avoid the hellish taint of that time is testament to Kate's genius. It is too rich and deep, too layered and arranged, too lush and clear, too real, too organic to sound anything but timeless. Until Joanna Newsom's Ys was released a couple of years back there was no other album that could make as excited and enthralled by music the way that The Hounds of Love did...and still does.

If there's one down side to the album it's the sadly uninspiring sleeve but as Hazel pointed out a while back Kate has always had a tendency to wrap her masterpieces in "naff" sleeves.