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Kate Bush – “Directors Cut” Review

Sometimes you need to sit back and not go by knee jerk reactions. “Directors Cut” is one of those occasions. When it was announced Kate Bush would go back and revisit songs from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes many bemoaned they wanted new material while others waited to see what she would do, interested piqued. I think that you need to approach “Directors Cut” in a different way to most albums. Think of it as an alternative versions album. It basically has a completely different sound all of its own and while some songs are simply tinkered with, others are almost rewritten. Almost all of them however have been stripped back to a more intimate sound, everything placed close to the speakers.

Opening with “Flower of the Mountain”, this is The Sensual World with new lyrics from James Joyce’s Ulysses. The whole song has lost its percussive edge and has been transposed into a more soothing, purring number. Also tinkered in the same way is “Song of Solomon” which is still beautifully presented with the backing vocals pushed right to the front as are the Trio Bulgarka which is no bad thing at all. “Lily” however is one of the few songs that packs more of a punch as Kate flows with ab-libs towards the end and the arrangement becomes more of a band effort with more clarity and thus not feeling so drowned in reverb.

“Deeper Understanding” takes the stripping back to a new extreme and see’s Kate getting some fun out of the auto-tune. This is one of the more radical reworkings and seems to have polarised people already. If you’re not a fan, then stick to the original – this is simply an alternative version, not to replace it. I personally think it emulates the whole coldness of online dating… but maybe that’s because this reviewers been trying it for a while and had no joy. The last two minutes of ad-libbing and mouth organ is pure Bush fun. “The Red Shoes” has been given a party edge to it with Kate rasping the lyrics out. It doesn’t feel quite like a barn dance this time but more like a pub classic as the song progresses and things become more like a right royal p*ss up!

Another massive reworking happens for “This Womans Work”. I’ve seen a lot of people upset with this reworking. To me this stripped down electric piano and vocal led version sounds like how Kate would play it live. The original is like an enraged cry when you can’t keep it in, this version packs more sorrowful tears like it’s the cry you have after when you stare into space. For this, they feel like two completely separate songs and I’ll happily have them both and place them at the top tier of Kate’s work. Stunning. Equally as beautiful is the reworked “Moments of Pleasure” which to me sits hand in hand with the previous track and “A Coral Room”. Pulling the song back to an emotional piano/vocal track with deliberate pauses, it takes its time as it gently wades through its memories. It genuinely feels like she’s recounting everything in real-time to the song. Gone are the choruses which are replaced by a montage of hums. Again, unrecognisable, this feels like a brand new song.

“Never Be Mine” is given a more band effort as guitars and piano take to the fore while the chorus itself has a completely different delivery. It feels like a different track with the stripped down route again working its magic vocally and while I enjoy this version, the original is possibly my favourite song from Kate Bush and so it doesn’t quite compare for me. I’d still happily pop back to listen to this version though. “Top of the City” has had its percussion completely jigged about and it makes the big sections almost feel like a broadway show! The jury is out on me for this one as it really changes the songs dynamics. It’s grown on me with each listen however so maybe it’s because of being so familiar to the previous version.

“And So Is Love” is possibly the least tampered with track on the album. Changing the lyrics from “life is sad and so is love” to “life is sweet and so is love” amongst others changes the song from depressive to slightly depressive. Aside from that, the excellent guitar solo’s are pushed right up to the front of the track and its great to hear it in its full glory. The final track “Rubberband Girl” is the most radical change turning it into a hillbilly twanger! It sounds like a demo – Kate’s vocals are muffled and all over the shot in places.

Go into Directors Cut with no expectations about how you envisaged the reworks to sound and I think that’ll make the experience much more pleasant. If you can treat everything as separate and of its own merit – great. If not, rest assured she is tinkering away with new music as we speak!

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