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Review of I WANNA BE KATE

By Gregg Shapiro, Outlines, September 2, 1998

In the liner notes he wrote for I Wanna Be Kate (Brownstar), the Kate Bush tribute CD he lovingly and painstakingly put together, Thomas Dunning wrote about his first encounter with a Kate Bush song. It was Pat Benatar's overwrought (is there any other kind of Pat Benatar song?) cover of Bush's "Wuthering Heights." By that point in time (1980), I was already a Bush-head, having seen her breathtaking and unforgettable performance of "Them Heavy People" on "Saturday Night Live" in 1977, and owned copies of her albums The Kick Inside, Lionheart, and Never For Ever. As for other people covering Bush's material, it is not as commonplace as you might think. However, the one pre-I Wanna Be Kate cover version that proved to me that it could be done was Maxwell's rendition of "This Woman's Work," on his 1997 live/unplugged disc.

Now, after much anticipation, we have I Wanna Be Kate, which was well worth the wait. Among the many notable aspects of this album is the fact that performers and bands are all based in the Chicago area. In other words, this is not some huge celebrity undertaking (although each and everyone of the performers is a huge celebrity in their own right), where egos often get in the way of the material.

And what material it is! There is at least one song from all seven (not counting her greatest hits album, The Whole Story) of Bush's domestic albums. Among those songs are those that many Kate Bush fans hold close to their hearts, such as "L'Amour Looks Something Like You" (by The Aluminum Group), "The Sensual World" (by Susan Voelz), "Hounds Of Love" (by The Moviegoers), "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" (by Syd Straw), "The Saxophone Song" (by Nora O'Connor), "Love And Anger" (by Trinkets of Joy), "Running Up That Hill" (by The Baltimores), "You're The One" (By Justin Roberts), "And Dream Of Sheep" (by Thomas Negovan), "Jig Of Life" (Catherine Smitko), "The Kick Inside" (by Victoria Storm), and "Coffee Homeground" (by Mouse). I have singled out these particular versions, because I think that they were treated with such conscientious devotion, that while they managed to remind us of Kate, they also made us forget (albeit briefly) her original versions, so that we could take them in like fresh air. However, there were also Bush songs I was unfamiliar with (such as "Home For Christmas"), and of those, it is "Not This Time," by Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends that was the most indelible.

- by Gregg Shapiro


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