Just Giblets

Kate Bush’s singles from Worst to Best

14th August 2016
by Michael

Kate Bush’s singles from Worst to Best

Kate BushRecently The Daily Telegraph ranked Kate Bush’s 31 singles from worst to best. I was struck how low some of my personal favorite were, and how well some of the ones I was more indifferent to were ranked. Perhaps it’s a function of being here in the States, where Kate never really broke out, as opposed to England where she did quite well. I thought I would offer up my own ranking, and will include The Daily Telegraph’s ranking and how high the song reached on the British charts as well.

#31 – Deeper Understanding (2011)

from Director’s Cut; ranked #21 by The Daily Telegraph; #87 on the British charts
This track utilized the Trio Bulgarka a Bulgarian vocal ensemble to great effect in its original version lifted from The Sensual World, and it was still a bit cheesy. When Kate re-recorded it for her Director’s Cut album, substituting her son Bertie as the voice of the computer it just didn’t work at all.

#30 – And So Is Love (1994)

from The Red Shoes; ranked #25 by The Daily Telegraph; #26 on the British charts
Kate gets bluesy with a little help from Eric Clapton on this album cut from The Red Shoes. I always used to skip over this song when I listed to the album. Not really my cup of tea.

#29 – The Man I Love (1994)

from The Glory of Gershwin compilation; ranked #14 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #27 on the British charts
This fairly straightforward reading of a Gershwin classic was one Kate Bush song I hadn’t heard until I found this Daily Telegraph list! Kate does a nice job with this song, but alas, it’s not a Kate bush song…

#28 – Wow (1979)

from Lionheart; ranked #8 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #14 on the British charts
This was the first single off the much-anticipated follow-up to Kate’s groundbreaking debut, The Kick Inside. It’s a daring little confection about trying to keep theatrical performances fresh while performing them day-in and day-out, week-in, week-out, with references to bitchy queens and vaseline, but it’s over-dramatic (appropriately so) howling chorus does wear on me after awhlie.

#27 – Lyra (2007)

from The Golden Compass (soundtrack); ranked #13 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #187 on the British charts
Lovely, sweeping vocals play over the closing credits of the sadly disappointing film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantastic teen novel, The Golden Compass. It hit the British charts on the strength of its Digital Downloads alone. A bit of a throwaway, but a nice song. (I wish they’d included Be Kind to My Mistakes, Kate’s offering from the 80’s film Castaway, wasted as a B-side. That would have possibly cracked my top 10!)

#26 – Wild Man (2011)

from 50 Words for Snow; ranked #12 by the Daily Telegraph; reached #73 on the British charts
The lead, and only single from Kate’s last album, Wild Man is reminiscent of her previous single, King of the Mountain — interesting and heralding something new from a notoriously slow to produce artist, but in context, rather straightforward although this one has a rather intriguing chorus with some funky vocals.

#25 – Rocket Man (1991)

from Two Rooms; ranked #28 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #12 on the British charts
Offering her own version of one of Elton John’s beautiful classics, Kate puts her own reggae spin on Rocket Man taken from an early 90’s tribute album. Nice to see Kate having a little fun in the video.

#24 – King of the Mountain (2005)

from Aerial; ranked #22 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #4 on the British charts
Twelve years or so in the making, King of the Mountain heralded a triumphant return as the lead single of a double album masterpiece. It’s one of Kate’s highest charting single, but strangely enough, I never really appreciated it until I saw it performed live with the majesty and menace that lay hidden within.

#23 – Don’t Give Up (1986)

from So; ranked #16 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #9 on the British charts
This duet with Peter Gabriel off his masterpiece album, So, features Kate as the solitary ray of hope trying to reach a defeated man. A review in Rolling Stone magazine said this about Kate: “Don’t give up,” she breathes with the voice of life itself…” That’s Kate. The voice of life itself.

#22 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) (1985)

from Hounds of Live; ranked #11 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #3 on the British charts (#37 on the U.S. charts!)
Kate’s only Top 40 U.S. single, also cracked the top 5 in Britain, this propulsive, rumination on seeing the world through your partner’s eyes has a lot of mileage for a deceptively simple song… although Kate’s simplest songs are more complicated that most pop singers can even imagine. I was surprised that this didn’t make the Telegraph’s Top 10. One of her best videos though…

#21 – Them Heavy People (Live) (1979)

from Live at the Hammersmith Odeon EP; ranked #26 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #10 on the British charts
American audiences weren’t ready when Kate appeared on Saturday Night Live singing about Gurdjieff and Jesu. This live track taken from her first concert tour captured her musical talent, her dancing daring, and her wackiness perfectly.

#20 – Babooshka (1980)

from Never for Ever; ranked #9 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #5 on the British charts
Bush’s third album saw her reaching toward the gorgeous madness that culminated in what many feel is her masterpiece fourth album, The Dreaming. Yet somehow, even as the edges of her music frayed with brilliance, she retained a strong pop sensibility while howling out, “I’m all yours, Babooshka!” This is a fun song, but not deserving of the Top 10 spot that The Daily Telegraph bestowed upon it.

#19 – This Woman’s Work (1989)

from The Sensual World; ranked #5 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #25 on the British charts
Kate wrote this song for the John Hughes film, She’s Having a Baby, and it’s an interesting take on the power of childbirth from the man’s point of view. It’s a gorgeous ballad, with Kate’s voice at it’s most emotional, starting of tremulously, then building with a grand crescendo that will chill you. Still, I rank it far lower than The Telegraph, which has this song at #5!

#18 – Hammer Horror (1979)

from Lionheart; ranked #20 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #44 on the British charts
Kate mines her love of horror films, particularly the classics produced by this movie studio, to spin a tale of a dead colleague who can’t let go of life. It features her trademark swooping vocals that soar into the stratosphere before plunging deep into the ocean. And a great little video too.

#17 – Breathing (1980)

from Never for Ever; ranked #17 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #16 on the British charts
Here is the moment when Kate began to take control of her musical career, and it’s fitting that it’s where The Daily Telegraph and I agree. Tackling a powerful subject, a song sung from the point of view of an unborn child who doesn’t want to be born into a post-apocalyptic world, Kate starts to move away from the child-like vocals and introduce a darker element to her music. It’s a chilling song, and the video is a mini-masterpiece, complete with cheesy 70’s special effects!

#16 – Experiment IV (1986)

from The Whole Story; ranked #19 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #23 on the British charts
When Kate released her greatest hits collection to introduce her music to America, she included one new track, the haunting, dystopian Experiment IV. Kate likes to imagine a dark future, and in this track, she imagines a world where scientists have created a sound that can kill from a distance. In the dark vision of Ms. Bush, this takes the form of a demonic entity played by the musician herself. The video features appearances by Dawn French, Hugh Laurie and Gary Oldman.  I thought as a follow-up to Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) Kate might have another Top 40 hit in America. Shows you what I know.

#15 – December Will be Magic Again (1980)

stand-alone Christmas single; ranked #10 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #29 on the British charts
Only Kate could release a Christmas single that’s also a love letter to England. With her trademark vocal swoops and dives evident in full force, this is an easy song for non-believers to make fun of, but it’s just beautiful, and it captures the magic of Christmas and England beautifully.

#14 – The Dreaming (1982)

from The Dreaming; ranked #31 by the Daily Telegraph; reached #42 on the British charts
While it lacks the polish of Hounds of Love, The Dreaming may actually be my favorite Kate Bush album. It was a commercial flop, but  it is so audacious; so insane, that it pushes the boundaries of pop music. For the title track, Kate tackles the plight of the aboriginal in Australia, and the mystic place between life and death called the Dreamtime. This was The Daily Telegraph’s lowest ranked single, but for me it’s sheer boldness merits a place in the Top 20 — and it’s multi-layered sound is rather amazing.

#13 – Love & Anger (1989)

from The Sensual World; ranked #29 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #38 on the British charts (and #1 on Billboard’s Modern Rocks chart!)
To kick off The Sensual World, Kate chose a logical follow-up to her triumph of Hounds of Love. Lots of drums, guitar by David Gilmour, and a cool video kept Kate in the American consciousness. Kind of the grown-up version of the fuck-you/adolescent cockiness of Sat In Your Lap. It’s a solid Bush song.

#12 – The Red Shoes (1994)

from The Red Shoes; ranked #30 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #21 on the British charts
Kate’s 1994 album, The Red Shoes was pretty hit and miss with me, but the title track was a explosive, manic dance number driven by Irish melodies, pipes and strings, and Kate’s intense vocal delivery. It was the high point in a bold, yet nearly conventional album that left Bush with an eleven-year gap between albums. Here, and with the previous Love & Anger is where The Daily Telegraph and I really differ.

#11 – The Man with the Child in His Eyes (1978)

from The Kick Inside; ranked #7 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #6 on the British charts
She wrote this song when she was 13. That’s all you really need to know about this exquisite ballad that rivals those written by musicians years her senior. Simple, understated, and beautiful. It just misses my top 10.

#10 – Army Dreamers (1980)

from Never for Ever; ranked #24 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #16 on the British charts
As Bush started to spread her wings lyrically and musically on her third album, she tackles one of her most devastating ditties, about young men going off to war and coming back in coffins. Sung as a lilting waltz, she marries a light musical touch with serious lyrical overtones. I’ve always loved this song, and its accompanying video. It’s a strong anchor for my Top 10.

#9 – Wuthering Heights (1978)

from The Kick Inside; ranked #4 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #1 on the British charts
Here’s the song that started it all. The precocious Kate Bush released a debut single not about falling in love, or getting your heart broken (although really, it’s about both of those things) but about Heathcliff and Cathy, the characters from Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights. More specifically, about Cathy’s ghost haunting Heathcliff forevermore on the moors. It was like nothing heard before on pop radio and it kicked off a career that is unparalleled still today.

#8 – Moments of Pleasure (1993)

from The Red Shoes; ranked #1 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #26 on the British charts
In what is most likely Bush’s most personal song, this beautiful, emotional ballad is clearly inspired by the death of her mother as she fondly remembers loved ones who have been part of her world. Although slightly overblown production-wise, you can’t deny the power of Bush’s delivery and turn of melody. And when she sings, “Hey there, Michael, do you really love me?” The answer is a resounding yet.

#7 – Cloudbusting (1985)

from Hounds of Love; ranked #3 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #20 on the British charts
Despite the mainstream success of Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) it was the other three singles from Hounds of Love that were the triumvirate of pop genius. Cloudbusting, coming it at #7 on my list, and #3 on The Daily Telegraph’s ranking, is epic in scope, complete with a 7-minute movie/video starring Donald Sutherland to accompany it. As the closing encore to her Before the Dawn concert in 2014, it left the audiences gloriously uplifted.

#6 – There Goes a Tenner (1982)

from The Dreaming; ranked #18 by The Daily Telegraph; did not make the British charts
The only Kate Bush single to miss the British charts completely, I attribute that to the backlash against The Dreaming album, which for me is sheer genius, and evident by the #6 ranking of this delightfully quirky, and hilarious ditty about a bank robbery gone wrong. I loved the videos from The Dreaming ear as well, and this, another mini-epic, is delightful. (In fact, my favorite non-single by Bush is arguably from this album, Suspended in Gaffa.)

#5 – Rubberband Girl (1993)

from The Red Shoes; ranked #23 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #12 on the British charts
I’m not sure why I love this song so much. Maybe because it’s such a mainstream, pop ditty from Kate Bush. It’s basically one chord with some funky instrumentation and trademark swooping Bush vocals. Why on earth EMI elected to release the far more mundane and less interesting Eat the Music for the American single is beyond me. This is a far better choice. I’ve included both the UK version (from The Red Shoes film) and the US version of the videos because they’re fun.

#4 – Sat in Your Lap (1982)

from The Dreaming; ranked #6 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #11 on the British charts
This was the single that heralded a new day for Kate. It was the lead single from The Dreaming, and I’m sure some people thought she’d lost her mind. Especially when they say this whack-a-doodle video (one of my favorites). I just love this song about the challenge of staying motivated to improve creatively. Something Bush clearly knew a lot about with this change in musical direction. It never stopped after The Dreaming. Nice to see the high ranking on the Telegraph as well… and that the British public responded pretty well too – almost getting her back into the Top 10. And come on, isn’t this the best video?

#3 – The Sensual World (1989)

from The Sensual World; ranked #2 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #12 on the British charts
There is no song out there that better embodies the sensual, the sumptuousness of lush, sexual beauty, than Kate Bush’s The Sensual World. And to add to that this song is actually the soliloquy Ms. Bush interprets for James Joyce’s Molly Bloom, plucked out of the novel Ulysses and set free to feel and experience that real, sensual world, as opposed to the literary world of words. And surely one of the most gorgeous videos ever made as Kate/Molly dances through the woods as the seasons change, in a gorgeous, form-fitting, velvet dress. The breathy vocals, and that last look into the camera as the song comes to a close. Wow.  Look how close The Daily Telegraph and I are on this one. There’s no denying it. You just need to experience it.

#2 – The Big Sky (1986)

from Hounds of Love; ranked #27 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #37 on the British charts
For the longest time, The Big Sky was my stock answer when asked what my favorite Kate Bush single was. As you can see, that has changed, but it’s still pretty close. I love the joy Kate expresses in this song… it’s so exultant and fun — a celebration of the sky, but at the same time a bit of a diss to the press, and a song about putting things into perspective. Such a gloriously fun video too. The audience is filled with members of the Kate Bush Club, and I remember thinking the first time I saw it, if I had been in the audience when Kate ran down the catwalk blowing kisses into the crowd, I would have swooned. I don’t know what The Daily Telegraph is thinking by ranking this single to low. They’re just wrong in this case.

#1 – Hounds of Love (1985)

from Hounds of Love; ranked #15 by The Daily Telegraph; reached #15 on the British charts
Over the past 10 – 12 years, Hounds of Love has emerged to be my favorite Kate Bush song. It’s a perfect song for me. From the spoken intro, “It’s in the trees, it’s coming” and the tribal pounding of the drums, you know something amazing is about to start. The rhythmic driving of the strings provide the perfect combination of propulsion and menace beneath Kat’s frantic vocal that is both filled with fear, and filled with longing. The song is a perfect allegory, the fear of love and commitment being likened to a fox fleeing the hunt… it’s the hounds of love are hunting… and Kate captures the range of emotions beautifully. The title track off her seminal album, this song just lifts me up to glorious heights until Kate’s final exultant cry, “I need love, love, love, love, love, love, yeah,” puts the transcendent cap on the this perfect pop song.

And there it is, Kate’s 31 British singles ranked from least favorite to most favorite according to me. I definitely skew to mid-career — The Dreaming and Hounds of Love being her pinnacle for me. Although I always thought How to Be Invisible from Aerial should have been a single, and it would have ranked very high on this list. I will leave you with one of my favorite non-singles from Kate that she also happens to have made a video for. Suspended in Gaffa was taken from The Dreaming, and I’m not sure why she made the video since it wasn’t released as a single, but I’m sure glad she did.

 

 

 

 

 

posted in Kate Bush, Lists, Music | at 11:35 am | 0 Comments
22nd August 2013
by Michael

Tusk!

Fleetwood Mac circa 1979I periodically go on a Fleetwood Mac jag, where I can’t get enough of their albums.  And not being a Stevie Nicks sycophant (although I do enjoy a lot of her work) but a Christine McVie fanatic, my Fleetwood Mac listening is not limited to their 1975 white album on, but goes back to the early 70’s, pre-Buckingham Nicks, when the likes of Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan were members.  My latest obsession from the last couple of weeks has been Tusk, their 1979 follow-up to the phenomenally successful, life-changing Rumours.

tuskTusk was a curious album.  There was no way the band was going to repeat the magic that emerged out of their personal break-ups and formed Rumours, number 10 on the list of best-selling albums of all time.  (You can see that list at http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/whats-the-biggest-selling-album-of-all-time/).  I’m sure the pressure from their label, Warner Bros. was pretty intense to do just that, but the band went in a completely different direction.  While it seems that Lindsey Buckingham was the driving force between the pseudo-punk, vaguely country tone of Tusk, certainly throughout all of his, the majority, contributions, his quirky production served Christine and Stevie’s compositions well.  Back in 1979, when Tusk was released, it was a rather shocking turn from Fleetwood Mac.  When listened to today, it seems even more incomprehensible juxtaposed with Rumours, but it works all the better for it.  The double album cost $1M to record, an exorbitant amount at the time, and with it only reaching #4 on the U.S. Billboard charts it is considered a disappointment.  Still, it did sell over 2M copies, earning a double platinum certification.

The title track was released as a single in advance of the album, and should have been a good indication that this was not going to be a Fleetwood Mac album like anything we’d expected.  From the jungle beat of the drums, the bizarre lyrics mumbled, then half-shrieked, and the overlay of the USC marching band, this was something visceral and different.  I was transfixed.  I ran around my high school (I was a senior) shouting Tusk!  I even included it as one of my quotes in the yearbook.

Now as I listen to Tusk some 34 years later, I am struck by how forward thinking it was, and how I think it might be Fleetwood Mac’s best album.  Okay, maybe not their best, but certainly Lindsey Buckingham does his best work ever with the band, or at least, most original.  Stevie Nicks turns in some pretty interesting work as well, and while Christine McVie has always been, in my opinion, the most reliable of the Mac songwriters, she doesn’t disappoint on Tusk.  While Tusk is arguably Lindsey’s album, it’s the way he pushes Christine and Stevie to the far reaches of what could be their comfort zones that really shines on Tusk.  (Although, part of me hopes that they all had fun trying out stuff they’d never usually perform – just take another listen to ‘The Ledge.’)

My current obsession is Christine McVie’s ‘Think About Me.’ It was a third single off the album, and is considered a minor hit for the band, only reaching #20 on the Billboard singles chart.  When I first heard ‘Think About Me’ it seemed a typical McVie single, reminiscent of ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Say You Love Me.’ Listening to it today, I am struck by the rock ‘n roll and punk influences, and the sparse, powerful mix of the song.  Lyrically, McVie injects a little wry sarcasm into the song, something she is not usually known for.  ‘Think About Me’ really features the power of McVie’s piano driving the song rhythmically forward, and Buckingham’s chunky guitar blends to create something truly rollicking.  Once again, McVie choses to alternate vocals with Buckingham, the former taking the lead on the vocals, the latter leading the bands trademark sublime harmonies on the choruses.  The vocal mix is perfect, with each of the unique voices easily picked out when they sing together.  Add to that the solid foundation of Fleetwood’s drums and McVie’s surprisingly flashy bass and it thrills me every time I listen to it.  McVie’s other contributions include the album opener, ‘Over & Over,’ the haunting ‘Brown Eyes,’ the gorgeously simple and heartfelt ‘Never Make Me Cry,’ the intricate confection ‘Honey Hi,’ and one of the best album closers ever, ‘Never Forget.’

Stevie Nicks’ most memorable song on Tusk for most people is ‘Sara,’ the second single from the album, and the highest charting, climbing to #7 on the Billboard charts.  I’ve always found ‘Sara’ to be rather uninspired, overlong and little boring.  The fourth single from Tusk was Stevie’s ‘Sisters of the Moon,’ a dark, pseudo-sequel to ‘Rhiannon.’  Nice enough, but pretty standard Stevie-fare.  Her other three compositions for Tusk are some of her finest work.  ‘Storms’ is a gently rumbling lament, beautifully constructed, and more complex than much of her Fleetwood Mac work.  ‘Angel’ is probably my favorite song Nicks wrote for Fleetwood Mac.  It’s got a bouncy, bluesy chord progression that makes it sound like a Christine McVie composition sung by Nicks.  The hauntingly lovely ‘Beautiful Child’ closes out Nicks’ contributions to Tusk.  Powered by McVie’s gentle piano and flush with the vocal interplay Fleetwood Mac is known for ‘Beautiful Child’ is a heartfelt ballad that highlights Stevie’s strength as a songwriter.  While Nicks’ songs are possibly the least affected by Tusk’s strangeness, Buckingham keeps the arrangements sparse and raw lending an urgency even to her most gentle numbers.

But it’s true, Tusk is really Lindsey Buckingham’s album, and his creativity and originality really show through on his songs.  Penning nine of Tusk’s twenty songs, Lindsey’s short, energetic numbers are like exclamatory punctuation marks sprinkled through the narrative.  His songs burst with heavy, distorted guitars and raucous vocal shrieks that convey frustration, anxiety and anger.  In some cases the bizarre lyrics seem interchangeable (and in fact, listening to the demo tracks included on the 25th anniversary release, snippets of lyrics are used on various songs).  The first of Lindsey’s songs you experience is the punk/country hybrid called ‘The Ledge.’  You might think, ‘he’s lost his mind, what the heck is this?’ but it’s a powerful locomotive of a song with the three vocalists harmonizing with wails and whispers the likes of which Fleetwood Mac had never explored before.  ‘Not That Funny’ is Buckingham’s punk response to Rumours’ ‘Never Going Back Again.’  It’s a bouncy pop ditty that leaps off the record with a high-pitched acoustic guidtar part that sticks in your head.  Along with ‘That’s Enough for Me’ and ‘I Know I’m Not Wrong’ these are three musical outbursts that highlight Lindsey’s new musical direction and his frantic energy.  ‘What Makes You Think You’re the One’ is almost traditional anchored by a pounding piano line that McVie once said made here wrists hurt after a day of recording.  ‘Save Me a Place’ and ‘That’s All for Everyone’ are lush, dreamy tracks that retain the quirky sensibilities of Lindsey’s current vision, but are less confrontational and again, use the trio’s vocal interplay to maximum affect.   Buckingham’s most beautiful number is yearning falsetto-powered ‘Walk a Thin Line.’  It highlights his adept vocals but it once again takes the expected Mac oohs and aahs and pushes them slightly left of center to remind us that we’re not listening to Rumours.

The first time I saw Fleetwood Mac live was during the Tusk tour at the Boston Garden.  It was a glorious show, and was the first of three (or maybe four times) that I was able to see them live.  I know they have had a bit of a return in the past few years, but without Christine McVie, it’s just not the same for me.  There was some sort of magic when those five made music together, and Christine McVie is one of my all time musical heroes.  I’m just glad the band has a long history of music to which I can return.

posted in Favorites, Fleetwood Mac, Music, Nostalgia | at 9:52 pm | 0 Comments
22nd April 2013
by Michael

What a Life!

Chrissy AmphlettTerribly saddened to hear this morning of the death of Chrissy Amphlett, former lead singer of the Australian band Divinyls.  She passed away in her home in New York City where she lived with her husband, former Divinyls drummer, Charlie Drayton, after suffering from breast cancer with which she was diagnosed in 2010 and MS in 2007.  She was only 53 years old.

Although best known in the States for her titillating Top 5 U.S. hit “I Touch Myself” in 1991, the Divinyls came into my life in 1983 with the U.S. release of their first album, Desperate.  I was introduced to Divinyls by my friend Doug, who was the one who often discovered these bands first, and I wasn’t thoroughly convinced right away.  Their first single, “Boys in Town” was a smash, Top 10 in Australia, but it only got a little airplay in the States.  The song that captivated me from their first album was the clever love song, “Science Fiction.”  With its witty lyrics and catchy pop hook, “Science Fiction” just gets in my head and keeps me singing.

Their follow-up album, “What a Life!” was arguably their breakout album on alternative radio in the States, led by their first charting single in the States, “Pleasure and Pain,” written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman.  Every song on that album is a winner, but once again, it was their second single that had the biggest impact on me, the beautiful pop confection, “Sleeping Beauty.”  It’s a beautiful song with subversive lyrics, barely contained sexuality, and a feminist twist that was often found in Amphlett and McEntee’s songs.

Divinyls will be well remembered for their intense stage performances, and Chrissy’s wild antics and school girl outfits.  She hurled herself across the stage, pouting, sneering, careening into her partner-in-crime, guitarist Mark McEntee.  I was fortunate to see Divinyls perform life several times, from tiny clubs like Axis to much larger venues, and even got to go backstage to meet them after their self-titled album that spawned their biggest it.  I will cherish a photo I have with the band, and Chrissy running her fingers through my hair.  I like to say, the woman who touches herself was touching my hair.

They went on to record several more albums peaking with their afore-mentioned smash hit, “I Touch Myself.”  Chrissy also performed on stage and screen.  Her film debut was the Austrlian film MONKEY GRIP, released in 1982.  She had successful theatre experiences, playing Judy Garland in the touring company of “The Boy from Oz,” and playing the lead in “Blood Brothers.”

Chrissy announced her diagnosis of MS at the start of their 2007 tour, and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.  The last years of her life were difficult as her body failed her.  But her music will live on.  Divinyls were a major part of the soundtrack of my life in the 80’s.  Everytime I go back and listen to their catalog I thrill to the songwriting skills and musicianship found in their music.  Chrissy Amplett was a pioneer for women in rock, unafraid of her sexuality, rage, and vulnerability that found her a unique and ground-breaking place in the male-dominated industry.  I will remember her and her music as an integral part of my coming-of-age.

posted in 1980s, Divinyls, Music | at 7:51 am | 0 Comments
1st January 2013
by Michael

Michael’s Top Books of 2012 – the Also Rans

The First Time I Heard Kate Bush2012 was a good year for books.  My New Year resolution last year was to read more, and I successfully accomplished that.  Last year I read 33 books, up from twenty-something last year.  Of those 33 books, I have a top 16 that I will post about in the coming days.  For this first post in the series, I’m going to talk about some of the books that I really enjoyed that I just couldn’t squeeze onto my top books of the year list.

There were two books in particular that deserve a special mention.  The first is part of a terrific new series available in ebook only edited by Scott Heim called, The First Time I Heard…  I read the first in the series featuring the Cocteau Twins, which was a delight, but anyone who knows me knows that a later book in the series, The First Time I Heard Kate Bush, was tailor made for me.  Kate has long been my favorite musical artist, and it was really special reading the essays that Scott pulled together from various musicians, artists, authors and the like, all talking about the first time they heard Ms. Bush.  From those who were there from the beginning, fortunate enough to live in England during the late 70’s and the release of her first single, “Wuthering Heights,” to younger folk who first heard of Kate when she finally broke the Top 40 here in the U.S. with “Running Up That Hill.”  The First Time I Heard Kate Bush was ever so fun to read, and perhaps when I’m finished with this series about my top books of 2012, I will include a post about the first time I heard Kate Bush.

Kicking & Screaming

Also in the musical vein, another book that deserves special notice and gave me great pleasure to read this past year was  Kicking & Screaming: A Story of Heart Soul and Rock and Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson.  Again, those of you who know me, know that aside from Kate Bush, Ann Wilson and Heart have had an incredibly profound impact on my life in music.  Ann and Nancy, with their co-writer Charles Cross, chronicle their lives from childhood, through the ups and downs and musical challenges face by that seminal and classic rock band, Heart.  Even though much of the story was known to me, after decades of following their careers (even a lengthy stint in their fan club – I was in Kate’s as well) there was plenty I didn’t, and their candor and insights proved to be terrific reading.  One of my greatest wishes is to one day meet Ann Wilson and thank her for the incredible music she has given us, and now, after reading their story, I feel I know her that little bit more.

Other books I really enjoyed but just didn’t make the list include:

The First Warm Evening of the Year by Jamie Saul
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Eviston
Live By Night by Dennis Lehane
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne RayBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Canada by Richard Ford
Fantastic Four: Season One by Roberto Aguire-Sacasa
The Collective by Don Lee
Falling Backwards: A Memoir by Jann Arden

posted in 2012, Authors, Books, Kate Bush, Music, Year-end lists | at 11:16 pm | 0 Comments
12th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 30 – Your Favorite Song at This Time Last Year

This is a silly challenge to end the meme with. In reality, my favorite song is my favorite song, and while it does change over time, it certainly doesn’t change in a year’s time. So last year, my favorite song was Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, just like it is this year. That said, I did have a “favorite new song” last year… a discovery that made me really excited. An amazing song with an incredible video by an artist I had never heard of that just blew me away. So that’s the song I’ve selected for this Day 30 challenge. (And come back tomorrow, because I’ve got a little added extra in store for this meme).

The artist is billed as Fever Ray, which is actually the solo project for Swedish singer/songwriter Karin Dreijer Andersson. Karin first gained acclaim as one half of the electronic duo, The Knife, for which she sang lead vocals. I can’t remember how I discovered the video for Fever Ray’s second single off her debut album. The song is called When I Grow Up, and the video exemplifies the theatrical nature of Karin’s performances. It’s creepy, it’s primal, it mystical, it’s clever and I do hope you’ll take a look. I still enjoy watching this video every time I think about it.

posted in Memes, Music | at 11:44 am | 0 Comments
9th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 28 – A Song That Makes You Feel Guilty

Emm GrynerI had my own rule for this meme, that I would only include songs for which I could post videos from YouTube. I am now breaking this rule for day 28, a song that makes me feel guilty. There’s really only one song that makes me feel guilty, and by guilty, I don’t mean guilty pleasures, because those don’t really make me feel guilty. During the break-up of my previous serious relationship, I felt plenty guilty, and I have a distinct memory of driving in my car, listening to Emm Gryner’s Science Fair album, and this song in particular, and bawling my eyes out. The song as a whole isn’t applicable to that situation, but in general it is, and some of the lines just pierced my heart. The song is called Revenge, and it’s not available on YouTube so click the link below which will bring you to Yahoo Music where you can listen to this heartbreakingly lovely song. I said Tori Amos’ Tear in Your Hand was lyrically spot on about what you feel when you’re going through a breakup, and so it this one.

http://new.music.yahoo.com/emm-gryner/tracks/revenge–8743615

posted in Memes, Music | at 9:27 pm | 1 Comment
8th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 27 – A Song You Wish You Could Play

Come on, there are tons of songs I wish I could play. For day 27 of this meme I am choosing a song I really like, that I wish I could play, and wish I had written. Tori Amos floored me when her Little Earthquakes album came out, and while she’s done some amazing stuff since, that album really set a tone that has never truly been reached again. Her song, Tear In Your Hand is lyrically spot on about the feelings you go through after a breakup, and yet it’s done so poetically and hauntingly. And it’s another song that has got a great driving piano line. It doesn’t seem so difficult, and perhaps I could learn it if I took the time or found the music. But since I haven’t yet, and it’s probably my favorite song by Tori, it gets a spot in this meme.

Enjoy this awesome live performance with a full band from the Glastonbury Festival. Plus, this video has the lyrics too.

posted in Memes, Music, piano | at 10:43 pm | 0 Comments
7th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 26 – A Song That You Can Play on an Instrument

I was in a band in the early 80s, so there are actually a lot of songs I can play on the bass guitar, and a few I can play on the piano/keyboard. When we first started out our band, Psyclone by name, played a lot of covers. We played songs by Pat Benatar, Robin Lane & the Chartbusters, the Pretenders, Split Enz, Motorhead, Donnie Iris, Joe Jackson, Blondie… and lots more. What’s that? Motorhead? Oh yeah, we did a rockin’ rendition of The Chase is Better Than the Catch. I got to sing lead on Donnie Iris’ Ah, Leah, which was a lot of fun to perform. After the band broke up, I kept playing a little, learning songs by some of my favorite artists, but I didn’t have access to a keyboard for many years until just recently.

One song I had learned back in the early 80s, mainly because it was propelled by a great piano part, has stuck with me to this day. I still can play this song pretty much in its entirety by memory, although I do have the music and I recently pulled it out and did a much better job. The song is by Heart, and it’s a bit of a rarity as it was one of the early songs that Nancy sang. It’s from the album Bebe le Strange, and it’s called Raised On You. I love songs that are powered by the piano, and this one is a lot of fun to play.

Oh, what the heck. Here’s a really bad video for Ah, Leah too. This is a really great song, and I really loved performing it. I couldn’t do the screams at the end though, so Donnie, the other guy singer in the band had to do that part.

posted in Memes, Music | at 9:42 pm | 0 Comments
6th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 25 – A Song That Makes You Laugh

As with other categories in this meme, there are lots of songs that make me laugh; the choice comes from deciding which one to post here. So again, I’m posting too. The first is a great, very funny song from an artist who has written many funny songs. Unfortunately, I can’t find a good video of the studio version of this song, but here’s a pretty good live version of this crazy song about a woman who suspects her boss at the shoe store leads a double life. Here is Jill Sobule and Karen By Night.

Another artist who has a knack for writing songs that are pretty amusing is Jane Siberry. On top of that she makes some pretty funny videos too, and this is one of my favorites: Ingrid and the Foortman.

posted in Memes, Music | at 9:31 pm | 0 Comments
5th June 2011
by Michael

30 Day Song Challenge Day 24 – A Song That You Want Played at Your Funeral

I’m not the kind of person who thinks a lot about my funeral, and when faced with the question on this meme, I actually thought of a number of songs I could have played at my funeral. One song did rise above all the others, and some my find it an odd choice for a funeral song, but I think it’s just perfect. Kate Bush wrote Moments of Pleasure for her mother who had passed away while making the album The Red Shoes. The song is a series of memories about people who she loved that had died. It’s quite poignant, but is also a celebration of all the special moments she has shared with people she has loved. Moments of pleasure.

posted in Kate Bush, Memes, Music | at 9:27 pm | 0 Comments
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