An Unpopular Opinion about “Never Forever”.

Whenever I mention this to other Kate Bush fans about my relationship with Never Forever, I kate_bush_gallery_37tend to get the same wide eyed looks, dropped jaws and disbelieving squeaks.

Never Forever was a pivotal album for me as a fan. It was the point at which one of two possibilities could have transpired.  One I was dreading, the other I very definitely had my fingers crossed for.

I had been to see The Tour of Life which contained a couple of new songs and both of them disturbed me slightly.  I thought that it was just unfamiliarity at first, but something else niggled. There was nothing wrong with the songs, per se. There was, however, a feeling that they had been written more for Stage or TV Specials than as stand alone songs. Sure enough, both appeared on TV specials and looked very much at home . . .

But there was this nagging doubt.

They felt like a compromise.   There was an unnerving air of ‘light entertainment’ about them. Almost as if Kate were being groomed to be the next ‘Cilla’ or ‘Lulu’ or ‘Dusty’.   Is this what the record company wanted?

Never Forever was an incredibly schizophrenic album veering between the ‘light entertainment’ model – as seen by ‘Violin’, ‘Egypt’, ‘Wedding List’, ‘Babooshka’ and the like, and the full on creative blast of ‘Army Dreamers’, ‘Breathing’, ‘Infant Kiss’, ‘Delius’.

It was touch and go.  Had she been weaker of personality, I fear that she would have descended into light entertainment hell. Six episodes a year featuring an up and coming music artiste and a comedy sketch – with a special at Christmas.   Things could have been very bleak.

As it was, she wrestled control of her own career and come out with the brilliant, if baffling “The Dreaming.” Still My favourite Kate Bush Album.

I still find Never Forever and extremely difficult album to listen to, not least because it kicks of with my least favourite Kate Bush song; Babooshka, a song that epitomises the light entertainment ethic that was rearing it’s head. Most of side one, I could happily live without – with the exception of the beautiful, delicate ‘Delius’, side two gets off to a dodgy start with ‘The Wedding List’ another light entertainment extravaganza.

The entire album pivots on ‘Violin’.  For me, that song in that position in the running order seems like Kate saying “Right. I’ve had enough of this light entertainment stuff. I’m going to have FUN!

And boom. Infant Kiss, Night Scented Stock, Army Dreamers, Breathing. If that’s not a call to arms – ironically – and two fingers up at EMI, I don’t know what is.

That pivot point could easily have seen me give up on Kate.  I’d have two great albums and that would be fine.  I’d probably even have watched the TV shows – but the last four stellar tracks convinced me to hang on for one more album, at least.

I’m so glad I did.

 

 

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