Kate Bush Under Review (Sexy Intellectual)

While it may not break new ground, the documentary is still a good retrospective of her career to date.

 


If you’re a Kate Bush fan, you’ll probably give anything that has her name and/or likeness on it a chance. That’s not a criticism so much as a confession; I once bought a terrible concert bootleg (from her one and only concert back in 1979) and an unofficial compilation of all of her B-sides and alternative mixes, as well as a couple interview discs (that were listened to exactly once).

That’s more or less where Kate Bush Under Review fits in. Subtitled “An Independent Critical Analysis,” this DVD bills itself as “not just the only documentary DVD about Kate Bush available” but also “the finest work on this extraordinary performer yet to emerge.” While it may not live up to its own hype, it’s still an enjoyable documentary of the reclusive British singer/songwriter whose career spans 28 years and only eight albums—but what albums they are.

The 90-minute documentary ranges from her earliest songwriting as a teenager to the present, and features interviews with music journalists, DJs, and musicians. It’s a bit unsettling the way the interview subjects refer to Bush in the past tense, as if she were no longer creating or recording (or alive, even) when, in fact, she released one of her most ambitious works just last year, the two-disc Aerial.

There probably isn’t much in here that diehard Bush fans don’t already know. It’s not surprising to hear, for example, that she was headstrong from the start, when she overruled her label (at 19 years old, no less) and insisted her first single be, not “The Man with the Child in His Eyes,” but “Wuthering Heights,” a bizarre and complicated song that was inspired by the Emily Brontë novel—and became the first British No. 1 single written by a British woman.

While it may not break new ground, the documentary is still a good retrospective of her career to date. There probably isn’t much in the way of footage that is all that new, either, although there are some clips from old TV interviews and performances that are grainy but wonderful to see: Bush performing “The Man With the Child in His Eyes” on the BBC or the video for “Wow,” her homage to the stage (watch for the part of the video where she pats her behind while singing the line “he’s too busy hitting the Vaseline”—you have to wonder if anyone could get away with that now). Still, it’s a pity that other footage, like the video for “The Sensual World,” is so poor when my old VHS copy of the video is sharper.

The DVD also includes what’s billed as the hardest Kate Bush Interactive Quiz in the World Ever” (yes, ever!), and if my performance is any indication (“a mediocre 13 out of 25”), they’re not far off. Or maybe I’m not as big a fan of hers as I thought.
No, that can’t be it.

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