September 1982: Kate Bush Releases THE DREAMING
By the dawn of the 1980s, Kate Bush was ready for something new. Just 22 years old, but already with three successful full-length albums and a #1 hit single in the UK ("Wuthering Heights") to her credit, the artist felt creatively stagnant.
Breaking out of her bout of writer's block by sitting down with a piano and drum machine to bang out no less than 20 demos, the first new song to take shape was "Sat in Your Lap." Working with drummer Preston Heyman, Bush set up shop in the "stone room" of London's Townhouse Studios. The space is famous for being where Phil Collins and producer Hugh Padgham inadvertently created the gated drum sound heard on Collins' timeless hit, "In the Air Tonight." Bush wanted to get a similar effect on "Sat on Your Lap."
Released as the lead single in July 1981, the thunderous "Sat in Your Lap" roared up the UK charts, peaking at #11.
Having broken through her writer's block, Bush decided to produce the new album on her own, utilizing the latest musical technology in the form of the Fairlight CMI sampling synthesizer. Crafting a wild array of characters in the new songs, she worked with a revolving cast of fellow musicians, including her brother, Paddy Bush, Ian Bairnson of Alan Parsons Project and Seán Keane of Irish band the Chieftans.
"After the last album, Never For Ever, I started writing some new songs," Bush explained in 1982. "They were very different from anything I'd ever written before - they were much more rhythmic, and in a way, a completely new side to my music. I was using different instruments, and everything was changing; and I felt that really the best thing to do would be to make this album a real departure - make it completely different. And the only way to achieve this was to sever all the links I had had with the older stuff."
Bush worked on The Dreaming for almost two years, sharing the title track as the second single in July 1982. The moody and hypnotic track about the destruction of Aboriginal Australians' traditional lands by colonists mining for uranium seemed to confound critics and listeners alike, only managing to reach #48 on the UK Singles chart.
With recording costs climbing, and the record label growing impatient, Kate Bush released The Dreaming on September 13, 1982. The LP arrived with a cover image shot by Bush's brother, John Cader Bush, depicting the artist as the magician's wife from the song "Houdini," slipping him a key stashed in her mouth with a kiss.
The music inside was just as high concept, veering from the simmering piano ballad, "Night of the Swallow," to the explosive and cathartic LP closer, "Get Out of My House." Third single, the quirky "There Goes a Tenner," arrived November 1982 in Ireland and the UK, while the equally unorthodox "Suspended in Gaffa" served as single number three in continental Europe and Australia.
While critics were divided about the record's dense and innovative production upon its release, fans eagerly snapped up the new Kate Bush sound, sending The Dreaming up the UK charts to peak at #3.
"Since 1978, when everything really started happening to me, with 'Wuthering Heights' reaching number one and the British Rock and Pop Awards, I've been very lucky in the sense that people have really helped me out," Bush said back in '82. "It made me feel that people were really interested in my music, and it was great. It gave me an incredible amount of courage to go for things, never to be scared of a challenge. I'm sure that if people hadn't accepted me so warmly, I would have become a more conventional performer."