Kate Bush’s 'The Sensual World' At 30

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Kate Bush’s 'The Sensual World' At 30

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Kate Bush. Photo by RB/Redferns.

Kate Bush comes from the rarest order of performers. A genuine gargantuan talent completely unswayed by the trappings of fame; an allusive subject matter, intensely inspired and absolutely authentic; an artist who has never taken a safe step, while always moving with pure confidence. This week, Kate’s 1989 album, The Sensual World turns 30 and to celebrate, we’re taking a look back at the masterpiece of Avant-pop that marked her graduation from teenage prodigy to master artist.

In March of 1978, Kate Bush knocked Abba’s “Take A Chance On Me” off its number one spot with "Wuthering Heights," a self-penned, theatrical tribute to the Emily Bronte novel of the same name, making her – at 19 years old – the first female artist to ever top the UK charts with a self-written hit. From one of the weirder corners of left field, it was a wildly innovative debut that some flagged as a potential one-hit wonder, but it didn’t take long to see that this alluring introduction was anchored in a deep, deep well of off-kilter genius.

Kate Bush | “Wuthering Heights” [Official Music Video]

A decade later, in 1989, Kate once again called upon her literary fascinations for her sixth studio album The Sensual World, which bases its title track on a reimagining of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in the James Joyce epic, Ulysses. It’s an album that transforms an ordinary, common concept – reflections upon the path to adulthood – into the extraordinary with its layers of theatrical sensuality and otherworldly mystique, essentially turning the journey of life into a fervent celebration of eccentricity; one that transcends the confines of genre or pop culture. A stand-alone piece on a timeline of its very own. 

The unforeseen, runaway success of “Wuthering Heights” proved its creator to be one the most imaginative musical auteurs of modern times. The song’s famed music video wasn’t just one of the first music videos ever made, it remains one of the most celebrated and may be the only one to enjoy its own special day (July 13th) on the calendar where enthusiasts around the globe gather to re-enact the scene en masse. 

With proven precision mastery, Kate sat in the directors’ chair for every step of The Sensual World, from writing and producing the music, to writing, directing and starring in the music videos. In this VH1 interview, we get a rare glimpse into the inner workings of her potent creativity as she walks us through her process, from concept to creation. 

Kate Bush | Sensual World Interview 

It all makes so much sense when told with her bizarrely logical sense of wonderment! Just witness her unbridled confidence in the video for “The Sensual World” entwining glacial folk pop with abstract James Joyce imagery as she weaves her way gracefully through a burning forest.

Kate Bush | “The Sensual World” [Official Music Video]

Perhaps now the most famous of the album's songs, “This Woman's Work” condenses the cycle-of-life theme into three-and-a-half minutes of calm wisdom and acceptance.

Kate Bush | “This Woman's Work” [Official Music Video]

The Sensual World seems to bend to the wills and the ways of the natural world into a supernatural landscape of fog and flowers and dark skies that meet the sea. A world purpose-built to communicate the cycles of love, loss and redemption that steer all of our lives.

Get all of Kate's albums on CD or vinyl here. 

Celebrate 30 years of this masterwork with The Sensual World on Spotify:

Listen to The Sensual World on Apple Music:

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