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By David Richards, Lexicon: New Wave and Beyond, Fall 1998

Various Artists I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush

Last issue Lexicon named Kate Bush as the most influential woman of the '80s, so you know that people around here looked forward to a "tribute" album to her about as much as we do to our next Visa bill. Well, I'm here to tell ya, quit your worrying and head down to your local record shoppe and pick up a copy of this top-notch collection.

The first thing this collection does right is to not treat the songs as the word of Allah. I personally think that the original versions of these songs are some of the best "pop" music ever made, but that doesn't mean I want to hear virtual reproductions. This set's only misfires are the songs that do just that, try to recreate the songs note for note. It simply doesn't work. Luckily that happens on only a couple of the songs. The rest use Kate's songs as a road map, pulling off on interesting side streets and alleys, finding new richness and depth in the material. Perhaps the best example of this is the J Davis Trio's version of "There Goes a Tenner." That is, their rap version. I know, I know, I can almost see thousands of Kate Bush fans gasping in horror, but believe me, it works. Very well. The group's approach is reminiscent of De La Soul or a Tribe Called Quest, and if you think about it, Kate's original version was more talked than sung.

Other standout tracks are the loose jazzy approach by The Aluminum Group to "L'Amour Looks Something Like You" and the Baltimores' punked-up, sped-up deconstruction of "Running Up That Hill." An outstanding version of "Hounds of Love" comes from the MovieGoers and a radical (but refreshing) bluesy version of "Home For Christmas" comes from Diamond Jim Greene. Even the album's creator, Thomas Dunning, turns in a heartfelt and joyous version of "Not This Time" (which at times sounds like it was done back in 1985 by one of those "serious" British video bands, and that's a good thing). Those songs that escape the pull of Xeroxing don't usually go as far afield as the J Davis Trio or the Baltimores, but manage to put just enough of a spin on the songs to shed new light on them.

Most of the bands are local Chicago collectives. The only "name" on the collection is Syd Straw, who turns in a version of "The Man With the Child In His Eyes." A tricky thing, that Kate herself re-did the difficult vocals on the song for her own best of. Ms. Straw, as talented as she is, has a voice that is just too weak to handle the demands of the song.

Highly recommended. If fans of Kate Bush approach with an open mind, they will be amply rewarded.


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