Kate Bush – The EP’s

Kate Bush has been one of the most innovative and eclectic songwriters of the last 50 years. She was an innovator because she moved away from conventional instrumentation, being one of the earliest exponents of the Fairlight CMI sampler. She was one of the first people to use a headset wireless microphone so her hands would be free during the choreographed dance sequences of her one and only concert tour. She was also the first female artist to achieve a number one hit single in the UK charts with a songs that she had written herself. None of her original albums have failed to break the top ten in the UK charts, and her singles have also achieved high chart status on a regular basis. Not bad for someone who has only released two albums this century. 

As is my want at this time of year, I have decided to put together a Christmas themed what-if release, and as this is the season of good will, I have added a second one for good measure. The first is a selection of recordings Kate Bush has completed that have a Christmas theme. There aren’t many different songs that could have been included here and three versions of the same song might be overkill, but they are all different so I am sure the Kate Bush completist would like it.  

‘December Will Be Magic Again’ in its original studio version was recorded in 1979 but not released until a year later. It was a Top 30 hit in the UK and did a lot better in Ireland. This is followed by ‘Home For Christmas’ which originally appeared in the Comic Strip Presents film, ‘Wild Turkey’. It then appeared on the B-Side of the UK single ‘Moment of Pleasure’ which came out in 1993. She also privately pressed a number of these on a 3” CD single (anyone remember these?) which were sent out as a Christmas card. We end Side A with a non Christmas song, but it did feature in the Kate Bush Christmas Special that was broadcast in 1979. It was written as an introduction to guest Peter Gabriel and was performed as a three part harmony with her brother Paddy and Glenys Groves. Side B has two more versions of ‘December Will Be Magic Again’. The first is from the aforementioned Christmas Special and was performed live with Kevin McAlea on Keyboards, with Kate on piano and vocals. The last song is the bongo mix of ‘December Will Be Magic Again’ which has, as far as I can tell, not appeared on a Kate Bush released but has found a home on Christmas compilation albums down the years. 

The Christmas EP

Side A

  1. December Will Be Magic Again
  2. Home For Christmas
  3. The Angel Gabriel (Kate – Christmas Special 1979)

Side B

  1. December Will Be Magic Again (Kate – Christmas Special 1979)
  2. December Will Be Magic Again (Bongo Mix)

The second EP complies folk songs that Kate Bush has released. I was quite surprised that she had covered any at all, considering that she has focused mostly on her own compositions. The opening song was released in 1996 for a compilation album ‘Common Ground – Voices of Modern Irish Music’. Bush herself was born in England but her mother was from Ireland and said that he mother helped out with the recording as she is not a speaker of the Irish language. She had to learn it phonetically before laying down her recording. The song itself tells of a woman that represents Ireland, and is given over her gifts (such as cattle, her land and even herself) to the cruel English and wondering why Irish men do nothing to defend her. 

The second might be pushing it a bit as being a folk song, because it is not a traditional song like the others on this disc, but was written by Donovan for his ‘HMS Donovan’ album. Donovan may well have started off as a folk singer but quickly morphed into something distinctively more psychedelic. ‘HMS Donovan’ was his second album directed at children and did draw on traditional folk songs, poems and hymns. Bush covered the song for the B Side of her ‘Sat In Your Lap’ from 1981. 

Side B starts with another Irish folk song, ‘My Lagan Love’. The Lagan might refer to the river of the same name that runs through Belfast or a stream that flows into Lough Swilly in County Donegal. ‘The Handsome Cabin Boy’ is another traditional folk song which refers to girls impersonating sailors and heading off for a life at sea. This was released on the B-Side of the ‘Hounds of Love’ single in 1986. Even though this is a traditional song, some pressings of this single credited Bush as the sole writer of the song, instead of the trad arr. by credit you’d expect. It is a shame Kate Bush did not release more traditional songs as she had an excellent voice for interpreting this style of music. 

The Folk EP

Side A

  1. Mna Na H’Éireann (Women Of Ireland)
  2. Lord Of The Ready River

Side B

  1. My Lagan Love
  2. The Handsome Cabin Boy

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