on December 11, 2003
Never For Ever followed the sweet and mellow Lionheart. This time around, Kate Bush's entry into weird sounds and vocals is in the making. And this album came out in 1980. Pretty progressive and avant-garde-ish. This tops Lionheart and The Kick Inside in its sheer innovation of strange sounds, vocals that reach a manic frenzy, and some sobering songs on social issues.
"Babooshka" tells the story of a woman who tests her husband's fidelity by writing him anonymous letters, disguising herself as a younger her, and seeing if he'll go through with an adulterous affair with his own wife. The piano is struck forcefully during the verses, before the electric guitar riffs kick in the prechorus and chorus. And what's with the glass-shattering special effect towards the end?
"Blow Away�Eis a showcase for Kate's voice, which has her singing about a man too obsessed with music. She wonders where the music he plays goes. "Surely not with his soul?"she surmises.
The slow but brisk piano number, "All We Ever Look For," sporting an accompanying whistle, is another highlight here. Weird stuff: in the second verse, there's a cookie monster sounding growl that comes in every fourth beat. Another open door is what "all we ever look for," where one might find "the truth," "a little hug," "our own tomb," and other things. There are some sound effects that come in when someone walks down the hall and opens doors in search of that something.
"Egypt" is of someone falling in love with the ambience of Egypt, be it the shifting sands, the pyramids, and the Nile. The rhythmic melody is like a ship that keeps time with the beater, and towards the end, a weird cacophony of multiple voices comes in.
"The Wedding List�Eis a bit of a shocker, as it tells of a pair of newlyweds, where a "mystery man"shoots the groom in a passion crime. Kate's lyrics are a bit on the bloody and violent side, speaking of swooning in warm maroon, and "I'm gonna fill your head with lead." In the final lines, we find out why the groom was killed.
The frenzied guitar rocker "Violin" is the closest to punk rock Kate will ever come to. Her voice swoops up to a lunatic pitch when she sings "Filling me up WITH shivers." And her voice soars to a weird pitch and manic madness. Even today, I can still think of people going, "What is this? It's so weird!"
"The Infant Kiss" is a bit of a controversy, as it details a Lolita-like obsession, only the genders are switched and the younger party is a little boy, the older party being an adult woman.
The soft melodic guitar "Army Dreamers" featuring a group of male backing singers in the chorus, including an accompanying male voice. The repeated refrain "B.F.P.O."is a reference to the British Forces Post Office. This tells the lack of opportunity and assets of a now-dead and mourned for army recruit. "What could he do-should've been a rock star/but he didn't have the money for a guitar/what could he do-should've been a politician/but he never had a proper education/what should he do-should've been a father/but he never made it till his twenties/what a waste of army dreamers."
The brooding and haunting piano number "Breathing", a chilling anti-nuclear single, is sung from the POV of a baby still in the womb, affected by the radiation her mother is inhaling following an atomic bomb explosion. The baby knows it's dangerous to take in the fallout, but her instincts tell her to keep "breathing my mother in/breathing my beloved in/breathing her nicotine/breathing the fallout in out in out in..." After a casual and authoritative report of a nuclear test, the music rises to a crescendo, climaxing with a heavy guitar and poignant refrain: "What are we going to do?/We are all going to die." One of Kate's best ever songs. Overall, a sign of better things to come.
on November 7, 2003
The first Kate Bush album I bought was The Dreaming. I fell in love. And I fell in love with this woman who created this brilliant album, The Dreaming! I then bought Hounds of Love. To my disappointment, Hounds of Love didn't have that oomph of The Dreaming. I head heard that the next best album of Kate's, if not the best, was Hounds of Love. I thought, maybe, like Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, The Dreaming was the one and only brilliant album from her. Then I decided, I should try to explore more of her albums... I got The Kick Inside and absolutely loved it, it's definitely a fascinating debut. But it lacked that lower range in Kate's voice that I learned to love. It also lacked some complexity as well. THEN, I thought I'd give Never for Ever a chance. To my surprise, I fell in love! This album is perfect! Every song has something very special and different to it. Songs that make you giggle, yet awe in their total beauty. I do prefer The Dreaming, but this album has something that The Dreaming lacked... intense emotion in Kate's voice. Considering my favorite album of all time is Radiohead's Kid A, I really enjoy my music to be very "overproduced", if you will, and have lots of time and effort put into the music. This album has some very brilliant sounds and textures to it that pull you in and never make you want to escape. To sum up what this album sounds like to someone who hasn't heard it, or Kate Bush even: Very beautiful crazy wide-eyed mad woman screaming with a good melody while doing the shimmy in a very theatrical manner... good visual... now think of what that would sound like.
PS. I've heard more of Hounds of Love and do think it's a very good album, indeed. It's just over rated in my opinion.
on June 22, 2003
Kate Bush got me through high school. She is my favorite artist, and this is my favorite album by her. For four years (all of my high school years) I was a dj at a college radio station. A friend of mine there let me borrow an obscure little 80's collection, that happened to have "Running Up That Hill" on it, needless to say I fell in love with Kate, and I've been a fan ever since.
I love the feel of her music, it's the type of music you can take to your attic, and listen to, just letting the sun shine in. Her work is deeply satisfying, everything comes together wonderfully, both musically and lyrically. Her ability to be such a dynamic writer, and melody composer is.....well what more could you ask for in an artist.
If you took any Kate Bush fan and stranded them on an island, and they had their pick of any of her albums, 85% of them would choose "Hounds Of Love", and it would be an understandable choice. "Hounds Of Love" is a damn good record, and a watershed moment in Kate's career. I however, would choose "Never Forever" simply because of it's lush beauty, and dynamic subject matter. While she achieves both of those qualities on previous, and succeeding albums, none of them did so quite as well as this one.
The album opens with the driving "Bamboshka", about a women who cleverly tests her husband's fidelity by writing him love letters as a younger woman. It kind of moves like the "Sat In Your Lap" of this album, the music however, is completely different. I simply love the music to "Blow Away (for bill)", and One of the band told me last night/that music is all that he's got in his life is one of my absolute favorite lines in any song I've heard. "All We Ever Look For" is just a brilliant arrangement (I loved the high end bass plucking) "Egypt" I didn't like too much when I first heard it, but it grew on me, especially when I later heard another one of my favorite albums "Solitude Standing" by Suzanne Vega. That album lyrically came from another place, but musically was very similar, and melodies similar to "Blow Away", and "Egypt" can be found there.
"The Wedding List" combines a wedding list with a murder list, inviting, and then killing all of them together in the same room. The song moves with a kind of R&B like pace (like that classic late 70's sound) breaking with sweeping strings and then fading right back into the fast moving beat, you could almost dance to it....almost. "The Infant Kiss" finds a woman finding herself having sexual attractions to an infant. Kate has displayed a strange articulation for subject matters like this "The Kick Inside" on her first album, was about a woman falling in love with her younger brother. The song is one of Kate's most beautiful piano numbers, and it leaves you.....fascinated.
"Army Dreamers" and "Breathing" are especially poignant. In "Army Dreamers" she writes about human potential, and how war interrupts that. It focuses on the true toll of war, and tradigy of it. "Breathing" deals with the slow process of dying after surviving nuclear war. It's a breathtaking slowburner, lush, eerie, and beautiful...it's the album's true centerpiece. The only song I don't like on the album is "Violin" it has a very abrasive violin arrangement, and the rest of the album is anything but abrasive. But that fact alone does not keep this from being a perfect album.
For quite some time in my own musical development, Kate was the standard everything came down from. This is probably the reason some of my favorite artists found her as a major influence (ie Tori Amos, Bjork, Goldfrapp ect.) We haven't had anything new from her in 10 years, and a lot of people (myself included) are wondering will she ever return. I for one hopes she returns like her friend Peter Gabriel did last year, and knock everybody's socks off. That certainly would come as no surprise.
on January 19, 2003
I want to call this a transitional album by Bush, the bridge between the comparatively "simple" song style of her first two albums and a hint of the intense musical elaboration of her next album, "The Dreaming". But Bush was a perfectionist who would wait years to put out a new album, so it cannot be accurate at all to construe this as some kind of work-in-progress. The overall tenor of the album certainly contrasts with her first two albums, specifically for its explorations into more refined sonic backbones for many of the songs.
"Babooshka", an O. Henry type of marital infidelity narrative, begins the album with a very nicely affecting mild rock ballad full of various sound effects, vocal flourishes and Del Palmer's perennially exquisite bass.
"Delius", by comparison, is a rather bland little song about summer graced nevertheless by a lovely chorus. Pretty as it is, though, it's always seemed too slight to me, or a bit underdeveloped perhaps. Simply not up to the level I expect from Kate Bush.
"Blow Away", aside from seeming a bit overly personal (i.e., dedicated specifically "For Bill"), again seems a bit too slight, or not fully developed. Maybe boring is just the word I'm looking for, though it hardly seems fair.
"All We Ever Look For" is actually nearly as slight as its two predecessors, but is much more full of charm. More varied orchestration, harpsichord, a very wryly coy chorus with squeaky background vocals, and a montage of footsteps, opening doors and various noises toward the end show signs of more thought, more development and more intelligence than the previous two songs.
"Egypt", by contrast, is a fully and exquisitely developed song from Bush. Notably and almost entirely non-Egyptian in sound, the chorus, moody-eerie bells, enchanting piano accompaniment and gorgeous development of the song overall almost single-handedly makes me pull out this disk to listen to the whole thing again. The break toward the end, with that rarest of things in a Bush song (a solo), is positively magical in its mood.
Being too much of a good thing to follow, "The Wedding List", with its "James and the Cold Gun" orchestration and sensibility simply does not measure up. The song is a bit of a showcase for a newer, harsher vocals by Bush (compared to her first two albums), but where the bridge of the song finds her mark with her gun, Bush's attempt goes just a bit wide. Of course, by normal "pop" reckoning, this song is magnificent, and the quiet vocals leading into the chorus are very fine.
"Violins" is an even more rocking relative of "The Wedding List" that is both more and less successful than its predecessor. Musically, the orchestration is tougher and manages to be so conventional to actually have what might be Bush's first traditional guitar solo. It's the vocals that are hit and miss throughout. Bush actually very successfully gets her howls down, switching deftly over to her usual warbling, but the glissandos .... well, I'm sure they seemed like good ideas at the time. In any case, this song most clearly hints at the vocal direction Bush will perfect on her next album.
"The Infant Kiss" is a gorgeous piano ballad reminiscent of "Under the Ivy". Elsewhere, she has recorded this song in French. A kind of throwback to her first album, though the then-dreamy romanticism has been replaced by near-pedophilia, the song is another genuinely beautiful masterpiece that no Bush fan should go without.
"Night-Scented Stock", at 51 seconds, is like one of Chopin's preludes, comprised entirely of vocal harmonies aimed at pure atmospherics.
"Army Dreamers" is again a very slight song, but it's spareness contributes to the quietly brutal mocking of war that the lyrics reflect. There are also a number of subtle flourishes throughout the song that save it from its somewhat martial repetitiveness. It's a nicely crafted little song, I just don't happen to like it much.
"Breathing", the closing track, is the single unmitigated masterpiece on the album. To my ear, it actually belongs more on "The Dreaming" and so is a hint of things to come. A beautiful combination of piano and bass as only Kate Bush seems capable of putting together, washes of keyboard, an exquisite melody, and even the rather dubiously effective lecture on the nature of an atomic explosion all conspire to create an extraordinarily affecting song. It definitely ends the album on a high note.
on January 8, 2003
"Never For Ever" was Kate Bush's third album, after "The Kick Inside" and "Lionheart", both of which were afflicted by wafer-thin late 70s production which destroyed her already apparent mystical depth. On "Never For Ever", Kate moved away from Andrew Powell, who produced her first two albums, and co-produced with Jon Kelly.
The results of this effort were somewhat varied but worthwhile. The opener, "Babooshka", gave her a huge hit in Australia with a simple pop tune, and "The Wedding List" and the hot rocker "Violin" were similar in tone: simple rockers driven largely by guitars, bass and drums - though even here occassional odd flourishes added interest to the songs, such as the barely audible harmonica on "The Wedding List". All these songs certainly benefit from a rather thicker (though still not ideal) production, but the late 70s atmosphere was not suited to Bush's deeply feminine character. "Breathing", however, was somewhat overdone with guitar lines and Roy Harper's backing vocals that removed much of the song's beautiful melody.
The rest of "Never For Ever", though, was much less accessible, with "Delius (Song Of Summer)" moving away from the pure pop of "Babooshka" to a Cocteau Twins-like dreamscape. "Egypt" possessed an outro that showed the direction Kate was headed in on her following albums, whilst "All We Ever Look For" was slow and challenging, but ultimately beautiful with Kate singing one of her most melodic vocals. "Blow Away (For Bill)" was a oddly mature tale about the casualties of the music business, whilst "The Infant Kiss" solidified her early piano-based style into a lovely string-driven ballad, and "Army Dreamers" was a simple but effective tale of a soldier's death. The album was filled out with the a capella "Night Scented Stock", a short but coldly beautiful piece that showed Kate in a light most would never hear.
Though hugely successful in Britain and Australia, "Never For Ever" gained no exposure in America and never dented the Top 200. It does stand as a more developed performance by a woman who was to produce the most well-though and brilliant tales of spiritual wisdom in rock history later in the decade.
on September 25, 2002
Mmmm how to describe 'Never Forever.' Neally as difficult as trying to describe any Kate Bush album. I think the best word is 'whimsical' but that's only half the story.
Lyrically this album is almost perfect, touching on a range of topics that can only be a result of a vivid and very left of centre imagination. 'Babooshka' is about a wife who tests her husband's faith by writing him letters pretending to be a seductive young woman. 'All We Ever Look For' revolves around the standards we impose upon ourselves and others. 'The Wedding List' evokes a scenario in which a bride clevery combines a wedding list with a murder list. 'Infant Kiss' is VERY twisted: a woman tries to suppress sexual feelings towards a small infant, 'Army Dreamers' laments the wasted human life in war, and 'Breathing' is about trying to live through but slowly dying from nuclear fallout. Not very typical stuff really is it.
Musically, although mostly I really enjoy this album, it seems to pale compared to 'The Dreaming' which I believe takes ideas from this albums and takes them to greater levels. And while 'The dreaming' is layered and dense, some of the songs on here seem to float and fluff around. I've never been a big fan of the way Kate does ballads, and 'Blow Away' 'All We Ever Look For' and 'The Infant Kiss' all have that classic broadway musical quality, kinda airy without having a big emotional drive to them. I much prefer the raunchier driving numbers like 'Babooshka' 'Violin' and 'The Wedding List' (this REALLY should have been a single.) And I find 'Delius'and 'Egypt' odd but fascinating. With my obsession with 'The Dreaming Album' the last two tracks really seem to form the blueprints for that album. 'Army Dreaming' combines a quirky medievil jingle with sampled army noises, but although I really like the song it seems a bit lacking of structure in the melody department, a minor problem for a bit of the album actually. The last song however, 'Breathing' wow...no words for it. Haunting, innovative, dramatic and grandoise, close to the best she's ever done I believe. If the rest of the album is sometimes up and down, than this song alone deserves 2 billion out of 5 stars.
So in conclusion, very original and interesting material, just that sometimes it pales when compared to 'The Dreaming' which I feel matches this album in intent but pushes the musical ambitions to further brilliant horizons. Reccomended
on January 8, 2002
I've written a review for this one a few weeks ago and then gave it 4 stars, because I regard The Dreaming as her masterpiece and automatically gave that one 5 stars, and Never For Ever got 4, because it was the runner-up. It's a wrong thought I now realise; as Never For Ever is a total masterpiece too, though in another way as The Dreaming.
The Kick Inside was the first Kate Bush record I bought, only for Wuthering Heights actually. I thought it was OK, but after a few listens; it ended up somewhere in a dusty closet and I never listened to it again. Luckily for me, the turning point came when I bumped into a second-hand (third-hand even, maybe) copy of Never For Ever on vinyl at a little flea-market in Amsterdam. It was so cheap that I bought it. When I heard it, I liked it OK, though it took some time to fully appreciate it. I didn't invest that much time into it, just thought it was nice for it's seventies artwork and sound, but I know better now.
Never For Ever is, from beginning to end, a breath-taking, out of this world, fairytale-ish and haunting experience. Here, one can sense a certain kind of mood that is not to be found on other albums, I just can't describe it. On The Dreaming and this one, Kate was at her absolute peak, it's amazing what she does here.
Babooshka combines gorgeous melody and a funny little tale about a wife being suspicious about her husband and sends him letters
under another name and finally meets him in disguise. It flows into the awkward, beautiful Delius (Song Of Summer). It has a haunting melody that sometimes pops into my head at night and then I just feel kind of uncomfortable or something. Don't know what it is with that song, it's so eerie, strange and beautiful that I can't put it into words.
Blow Away (For Bill)... One of my favorites on the album. In the part where Kate goes 'Please don't thump me, don't bump me, don't dump me back there, I want to stay here' I just feel shivers down my spine. You can hear that it's sung with emotion, it's like she's really in despair in that part.
All We Ever Look for sounds like a fairytale being told in music, amazing song, with amazing effect if you hear it through headphones (a door slamming, a woman walking on high heels, birds twittering, Hare Krishna's chanting...).
On to two of the more challenging songs: The Wedding List and Violin. The first one is another favorite; it tells the tale of a bride killing her future husband and has a fantastic ending with Kate using her vocal abilities quite good. Same goes for Violin; a song many people are scared off by, but is a nice one, though it does break the carefully built up atmosphere a little with it's kind of outdated, rocky guitars and not really deep theme (she just likes the violin quite much, that's it).
Though, when The Infant Kiss starts, there is that feeling again. That strange feeling. It's musical beauty taken to the extreme, as far as I'm concerned, and the lyrics are quite daring for that time; it tells about a grown woman falling in love with a little boy.
And then there's Night Scented Stock. No words, only Kate's voice recorded on about 10 tracks (I think), creating a one-woman, angelic choir that is the perfect bridge to the wonderful, and well known Army Dreamers and the heavy-themed Breathing.
I can't express my true feeling about this album, as that stuff really only sounds really logical to yourself, but I think it's clear that this is an album that is essential for every Kate fan and everyone claiming to be a serious lover of music. For me, Never For Ever leaves Hounds Of Love far, far behind. There's so much dreamyness, melody and beauty (in a different way than most people know it, like in shallow sounding ballads like And Dream Of Sheep) to be found here that it's sometimes overwhelming. An album I will cherish until the day that I die.
on December 31, 2001
Although it clearly belongs to the same style as the previous THE KICK INSIDE and LIONHEART, NEVER FOREVER marks a decided change in Kate Bush's direction; less whimsical and considerably more overtly macabre, on this particular recording Bush largely eschews both the purely playful and the warm love songs of previous recordings. Her tone of voice is also fuller and considerably less girlish than on previous recordings.
The material here is also considerably more violent in terms of lyrics. In her previous recordings Bush certainly showed a tendency toward images of impending or actual death ("James and the Cold Gun" and "Don't Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake" leap to mind), but in NEVER FOREVER she is less inclined to present such pieces as "character pieces," less inclined to romanticize them with a gothic flavor. And irony, never far beneath the surface in earlier work, is much more apparent.
Such tracks as "Violin" (concerning a neurotic/erotic obsession with the instrument, in which Bush's voice mimics the tone of the instrument), "Wedding List," (in which a frustrated bride contemplates the slaughter of the whole wedding party), and "Breathing" (in which the singer is dying of radium posioning following an atomic blast) are perhaps the logical extensions of Bush's earlier work; at the same time, with such tracks as "All We Ever Look For" and "Army Dreamers," we begin to see a transition from material based on internal private fantasty into something much broader and considerably more subtle: deliberate commentary on the world around her. This is particularly true of "Army Dreamers," which is very clearly a percusor to her next album, THE DREAMING--which will be a radical departure from her earlier sound.
Even as she is toying with new dimensions in her lyrics and vocal interpretations, Bush is also toying with increasingly complex arrangements. There is a sense of greater delicacy and greater deliberation in terms of pure music on this particular recording, again with "Army Dreamers" a case in point. Fans of the earlier recordings will find enough similarity to them in NEVER FOREVER to enjoy them as a continuation; fans of her later work, however, will see in it the build toward her two finest recordings, THE DREAMING and HOUNDS OF LOVE, both of which are as completely unlike her early works as can be imagined.
on April 1, 2001
I must say this album is perfect, in my mind , it certainly needs no room for improvement. Babooshka, well what can i say, a true classic if there ever was one!!! Delius, is a perfect follow up, it is hard to describe but almost instrumental, and one of my favourites of all Kates work. Blow away is a song which starts off mysterious and has a a great ending, after continued play i found this to be one of my favourites. All we ever look for is a brilliant, original song with thought provoking lyrics and a memorable tune. Egypt is truly wonderful, and its songs like this i often find myself wondering how any person could make such music. The Wedding list is enough to make you not want to get married!!!!! And then comes Violin which i think is my favourite song on the album, it is very upbeat and bizzare, If you can find me a song crazier than gosh, i would love to hear it!!! Infant Kiss is simply GORGEOUS!!! Im not sure ive heard anything quite so haunting before in my life!! Army dreamers is one of Kates finest songs, and a perfect build up to THE song, BREATHING!!! Which is one of the best she has ever made. PERIOD. A perfect ending to a perfect album....
on March 29, 2001
This is the very first Kate album I ever heard, and boy, did I fall hard for Ms. Bush! I can still remember it - eighth grade, and my best friend comes into school one day with the tape her anglophile sister had brouhgt home from England saying "You have GOT to listen to this!" This was the first time a pop artist had reached me at a gut level - and all other music has been held up to that standard ever since.
That being said, this is a lush, intense album, laden with emotion. La Kate uses her voice in every imaginable way, cooing and whispering, shrieking and screeching, and makes use of every note in her impressive vocal range. And you know, one of the things I love about Kate is the references she makes. For example, "Delius" is a song about the composer Frederick Delius, who in his old age became blind and paralyzed; the "Fenby" referred to in the lyrics is Eric Fenby, to whom Delius dictated his final works. This song is gorgeous - but it also made me curious, and led to a little research on my part. God love an artist who *thinks* and who writes about more than her poor achy breaky heart and all of that!
Every song on the album is amazing. I simply couldn't pick one above the others. There's the O'Henry-esque "Babooshka," the plaintive "Army Dreamers," the tabloid story of "The Wedding List" - argh, as soon as I get home I'm putting this CD on! Almost twenty years after I first heard it, this album's stil got me under its spell.