Friday, October 28, 2011

Kate Bush: the Brockley demos

Kate Bush's Brockley years have been covered at Transpontine before (as has her time using Wood Wharf Studios in Greenwich). In the latest edition of Uncut magazine (November 2011), there's a feature on the greatest bootlegs of all time, with 'The Cathy demos' by Kate Bush at number 12: 'Between signing to EMI in the summer of 1976 and recording her debut album, The Kick Inside, a year later the 19-year-old Bush spent 12 months dancing by day and writing by night in her top floor flat at 44 Wickham Road, Brockley, London. The results are captured on this home-recorded collection of 22 voice/piano demo. Five songs - including 'Violin' and 'Hammer Horror' - later appeared on albums but the majority have never been heard since. The haunting 'Something like a Song' is one of her finest early piano ballads, more intriguingly on Organic Acid her brother John recites an erotic poem about mutual mastrubation while Bush demurely trills the chorus. Also known as the Phoenix demos after the Arizona radio station KSTM' (which first broadcast the tapes). You can find various tracks from this on Youtube and elsewhere.  

At one of the many Kate Bush fan sites, there's some more detail about this period. Seemingly, not all the neighbours were appreciative: 'I'd practice scales and that on the piano, go off dancing, and then in the evening I'd come back and play the piano all night. And I actually remember, well, the summer of '76 which was really hot here. We had such hot weather, I had all the windows open. And I just used to write until you know four in the morning, and I got a letter of complaint from a neighbor who was basically saying "Shuuut Uuuup!" cause they had to get up at like five in the morning. They did shift work and my voice had been carried the whole length of the street I think, so they weren't too appreciative'. 

 And yes in March 1977 she wrote Wuthering Heights on Wickham Road, on a piano bought from a second hand shop in Woolwich: 'I wrote in my flat, sitting at the upright piano one night in March at about midnight. There was a full moon and the curtains were open, and every time I looked up for ideas, I looked at the moon. Actually, it came quite easily. I couldn't seem to get out of the chorus - it had a really circular feel to it, which is why it repeats. I had originally written something more complicated, but I couldn't link it up, so I kept the first bit and repeated it. I was really pleased, because it was the first song I had written for a while, as I'd been busy rehearsing with the KT Band' (Kate Bush Club Newsletter, January 1979). (local photography blogger Danielle Waldman has recently made a pilgrimage to the house).

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