of I WANNA BE KATEBy Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader October 2, 1998
At her best, British composer, dancer, and diva Kate Bush is a visionary who creates elegant and detailed missives from a better parallel universe; at her worst she's a thinking man's Stevie Nicks. The new tribute album I WANNA BE KATE (Brown Star), compiled by Chicago musician Tom Dunning, is a mixed bag, displaying both Bush's best and worst tendencies--as well as those of the mostly local performers who render them. Without Bush's cat-disturbing voice and eccentric phrasing, acts like the Moviegoers prove that tunes like "Hounds Of Love" can sound as ordinary as any other pop song, and that's no tribute. The orientalist flourishes of Susan Voelz's violin and piercing soprano (on "The Sensual World") are more what you'd expect from a Kate Bush cover, and that's not an entirely good thing either. The most successful tracks are those by artists who find their own path into a song and then work their way back, turning it inside out in the process: Syd Straw's strained, urgent acoustic "The Man With the Child in His Eyes," the J. Davis Trio's smoky, funky "There Goes A Tenner," Catherine Smitko's declamatory "Jig Of Life." At this CD-release party, the Aluminum Group (who cover "L'Amour Looks Something Like You" on the record), Voelz, the Baltimores ("Running Up That Hill"), the J. Davis Trio, My Scarlet Life ("Suspended In Gaffa"), Nora O'Connor ("The Saxophone Song"), Dunning himself, and eight others will perform.
- Monica Kendrick