Kate Bush has played a large part in my life. In my formative teenage years, lacking the sort of parents that could provide me with the sort of role model that could, well, sort me out, I looked further afield. In 1987 John Noakes was too bourgeois and Burt Bacharach wasn’t hip enough so that only left Kate Bush. I discovered her accidentally of course. I guess that’s how most of the best things in life are discovered, by accident, like gravity, penicillin, and nocturnal sexual deviancy.
In 1985 the word on the street was that Back To The Future was a film worth watching. It had all the plot ingredients that can be found in any classic movie from Casablanca to Saving Private Ryan, namely, incest and skateboarding. However, Back To The Future mixed all of this with time travel and school, which was a stroke of genius.
My father took me to the main cinema in Newport, South Wales to watch it. It was October 1985 and I was fourteen years old. I loved going to the cinema. I loved the red velvet seats, the sordid red lighting, the long red curtains and the red flock wallpaper. I think that’s why my favourite colour is blue.
Back then, it was common for some ‘B’ feature to play before the main presentation. Just a year ago I had been to watch The Smurfs And The Magic Flute and had to sit through a full length feature film about a samurai warrior that had been frozen in ice and had come back to life in modern day New York. That was a bit of a bizarre feature to put on before a cartoon but hey, it was the 80s and a lot of bizarre things happened back then.
The ‘B’ feature on this occasion was the pop video for Cloudbusting, the second single to be released off the album Hounds of Love.
I had no idea who Kate Bush was at the time. But this strange music video, which had been produced and directed as if it was a genuine mini movie, entranced me. The images it contained, of a boy on a hill grappling with some strange mechanical machine that could create rain, remained in my head for a long time afterwards. A few months later, scouring the track listing on various compilation albums, I came across her name again. The album was Hits 4, a slightly less successful competitor to the Now That’s What I Call Music series of albums. The Kate Bush single ‘Hounds of Love’ was included on it. By this time I had forgotten the name of the song Cloudbusting and thought that Hounds of Love was, in fact, Cloudbusting. It wasn’t but I enjoyed that song just as much. Incidentally, that album also included The Captain of her Heart by Double, which I sometimes used to sing while standing in the queue at the dole office.
I played Hits 4 constantly, but mostly I would skip to track 2, side 4, to listen to Hounds of Love. I was living in St Arvans Road, Southville, Cwmbran. It was 1986 and Cwmbran had yet to experience the industrial revolution – we still didn’t have a Somerfield, Waitrose or Morrisons. We had to make do with a Gateway and a Famous Army Stores. Online retailers like Amazon didn’t exist back then either. Most of my music was bought from Martin’s the Newsagents which doubled up as a Hornby retailer too.
At the end of 1986, the Kate Bush compilation album The Whole Story was released on a suspecting world. It sold a few million and was promoted by an extensive television advertising campaign, as well as a mention in my favourite comic, Whizzer & Chips. I bought The Whole Story from Boots, ‘the dispensing chemist’. Today, in 2012, Boots are mainly known for their toiletries, perfumes and pharmaceutical wares. In the 80s, they also used to sell computer games and music. Interestingly, I watched the classic film Brief Encounter the other day, which was made in 1943. There is a scene in that film that takes place in a branch of Boots that had a huge book department! Who knows – ten years from now Game might start selling fridges and Waterstones might begin offering in-store cognitive behavioural counselling.
So I bought The Whole Story and spent the next month listening to it at least twice a day on my Sony Walkman, scrutinising the cassette inlay and concentrating on the lyrics.
I noticed on the inlay that there was an official Kate Bush club, based in Welling, Kent. The next day I posted an s.a.e to them, asking for more information…
TO BE CONTINUED…