Monday, August 1, 2016

Video Affects: 'Wuthering Heights' - Kate Bush

It's a point of historical fact that for probably the first years of my life my family don't own a modern TV. Ours is big, blocky, and black and white. When we finally have the luxury of two TV sets, the old one is housed for a while in the bedroom of my older sister, and on it of a Saturday evening she, my brother and I will watch the early evening fare before bedtime. Probably The Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk or Little House on the Prairie. But crucially also, among my sister's M*A*S*H and Scott Baio posters, some tidbits of pop music via classic chart show Ready to Roll. I am eight years old, and about to have one of the great frights of my life.

Picture a night-black studio, its floor smothered in dry ice fog. Out of it and strobing with the same video feedback trick that made The Jackson Five's Blame It On The Boogie so memorable, is something more starting. A ghost. A wailing, wide-eyed spectral woman in white with a high pitched mournful song that could only itself be about a ghost. At eight I think I've heard of a banshee - and this seems the most accurate depiction of one I could imagine. Somehow, I think the song's creator would approve.

Kate Bush's oeuvre has always had elements of the supernatural and horror about it, from Hammer Horror to Experiment IV, the opening snippet of Night of the Demon leading into Hounds of Love to the wonderfully (and literally) batty cosplay on the back of fourth album Never For Ever. But no song is as redolent as Wuthering Heights, its Gothic imprimatur well intact. Unsurprisingly for what follows, Bush is a revelation - and Wuthering Heights sets out her agenda with aplomb. Eerie, arty, outsider music of a kind which ought not to be able to escape its Seventies trappings were it not for Bush's own ability to follow the trend and her ability to reinvent herself.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. For the moment this is the first time I'll ever see Kate Bush, and I'm ready to run to the hills in terror. There are two videos for Wuthering Heights; this is the lesser-seen one, but it's the one that will haunt my nights for a good few weeks to come.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you have a sister. Sometimes you are an enigma to me!

    There are about four pieces of music where I had to reassess what it could be, songs that at the time I found unusual but now look back on with affection. This is one of them, though I first saw the woods one (in white - there's a second identical woods one where she's in red).

    Other turning-point songs for me were Split Enz's "My Mistake", and "Lucky Number" by Lene Lovich.

    And speaking of Kate Bush, I likes me some Babooshka.