Kate Bush – Remastered Part 2 Box-set Review

30 11 2018

KB remastered 2Kate Bush has released the second set of remastered versions of her albums – as a box-set and as individual albums, on CD and vinyl. You can read my review of the first box-set here.

Remastered Part 2 contains remastered versions of Aerial, Director’s Cut and the winter-themed 50 Words for Snow, plus the original (not remastered) version of the live Before The Dawn album and 4 disc collection of 12″ mixes b-sides and covers.

2005’s Aerial is still a highlight of Kate’s back catalogue. The 2018 remaster, if anything, is a little quieter than the original release. This is noticeable on opening track King Of The Mountain. Kate’s vocals sit better in the mix now, and it is really clear on How To Be Invisible, where the soundscape of the song feels wider and slightly less compressed. Aerial is definitely an album to play loud on CD or vinyl, even more so with this new mastering.

The most obvious changes can be heard on the second Aerial disc – A Sky of Honey. Much has been made of the removal of Rolf Harris from An Architects Dream and The Painter’s Link. The latter track is taken from the Before The Dawn live album (according to the sleeve notes). The remaining tracks on side two work so well as one movement, and the joyful end to Sunset and the whole of Nocturn (and the title track) sound amazing with the volume pushed up on CD. The rhodes piano on Nocturn sounds delicious.

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-3-(Flat) 3

Director’s Cut is not a major improvement, the biggest change I noticed was the clarity of This Woman’s Work and the slightly more background drums on Top Of The City.

50 Words For Snow is a much more sympathetic remaster. The bass sits naturally in the mix on Snowflake, and the piano on the intro to Lake Tahoe is softer, as is Kate’s vocal. This is normally the time of year that this album gets played heavily by me, so the box-set is well-timed. The remasters of the later album’s are less obvious than on the earlier ones that feature in box-set 1, but it is still the best these tracks have sounded.

The final four albums don’t appear to have been remastered, but offer a nice selection of 12″ remixes (including my favourite KB 12″ – Experiment IV), ‘b’ sides, soundtrack cuts and more. I can’t comment on the Other’s Words (the covers disc) as the box-set I bought does not have this disc, and has two versions of disc 3 instead! Luckily Amazon are sending a replacement, but I won’t get to hear this until next week.

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-4-(Flat) 4

Sadly The Other Sides does not catch all of the non-album tracks – The Empty Bullring, Ken and the Live On Stage EP in particular are noticeable by their absence, but we do get one previously unreleased track, Humming.

Humming was recorded in 1975 and was produced by Andrew Powell, who also worked on The Kick Inside & Lionheart. It sounds very much of its time, with a mid-70s country lilt to the guitar work, but the song is missing the playful and adventurous arrangements of the songs that followed three years later. Recorded when Kate was 17, its a strong vocal performance and whilst it is good to hear music from Kate’s formative years, I feel that Humming would have sounded out of place on The Kick Inside.

A highlight of The Other Sides is Lyra, Kate’s contribution to The Golden Compass soundtrack. This is the first time the song has been released on a Kate Bush compilation. Its an understated but emotional track, and Lyra reminds me a little of the early recordings from the sadly now inactive Clannad.

Similar to the first collection of remasters, this Part II collection is a must-have if you don’t already own the albums. If you already own them, you will appreciate hearing the albums in these best sounding versions. The album’s are also available as individual releases, apart from The Other Sides, which remain exclusive to the CD and vinyl box-sets.

Kate Bush – Remastered Part II Box-set

KB remastered 2

Aerial (2018 remaster) – CD or vinyl


Director’s Cut (2018 remaster) – CD or vinyl

directors cut

50 Words for Snow
(2018 remaster) – CD or vinyl

50 words for snow.jpg

Before the Dawn
(NOT remastered) – vinyl
before the dawn

Vinyl box-sets

Remastered in vinyl III (Aerial / Director’s Cut / 50 Words For Snow) 

Remastered in vinyl IV (12″ mixes / The Other Side 1 / 2 / In Other’s Words)


The albums below are only available as part of the CD box-set or in Remastered in Vinyl IV, they are not available as separate releases.

12″ Mixes
Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
The Big Sky (Meteorological Mix)
Cloudbusting (The Orgonon Mix)
Hounds Of Love (Alternative Mix)
Experiment IV (Extended Mix)

The Other Side 1
Walk Straight Down The Middle
You Want Alchemy
Be Kind To My Mistakes
Under The Ivy
Experiment IV
Ne T’Enfuis Pas
Un Baiser D’Enfant
Burning Bridge
Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) 2012 Remix

The Other Side 2
Home For Christmas
One Last Look Around The House Before We Go
I’m Still Waiting
Warm And Soothing
Show A Little Devotion
Passing Through Air
Humming (previously unreleased)
Ran Tan Waltz
December Will Be Magic Again
Wuthering Heights (Remix / New Vocal from The Whole Story)

In Others’ Words
Rocket Man
Sexual Healing
Mná na hÉireann
My Lagan Love
The Man I Love
Brazil (Sam Lowry’s First Dream)
The Handsome Cabin Boy
Lord Of The Reedy River
Candle In The Wind

Kate Bush – Remastered Part I Box-set Review

Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

15 11 2011

So here it is, the 10th studio album from Kate Bush and the second release this year.  The last time Kate released two albums in one year was in 1978, when The Kick Inside & Lionheart were released.

The Directors Cut, a revisiting of material from earlier albums The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, was released earlier this year. The Directors Cut to me was in some ways the soundtrack to a tour that never was, an album that reworked songs in a way that Kate might have done if she had taken the tracks out of the studio environment and onto the live stage.

50 Words For Snow is an entirely different beast – 7 brand new songs clocking in at just over an hour, and unlike The Directors Cut, an album that demands repeated listening.  It’s also unlike any other Kate Bush album.

Opener Snowflakes rides on a soft synth pulse and simple piano, with hushed, reverb-drenched vocals, subtle strings and guitar.

“The world is so loud, keep falling, I’ll find you.”

Previous Kate Bush albums sound as if they have been put together over many months, or even years, whereas this album sounds very organic, with spaces that in the past may have been filled with instrumentation.  50 Words For Snow uses these spaces to create a unique atmosphere, perfectly in keeping with the glacial theme.

Lake Tahoe starts off like a long-lost Blue Nile track, and features male choral vocals alongside Kate’s.  There are a couple of very unique moments during Lake Tahoe, when the song stops, and after Kate exhales, starts again, which give the impression that you are there, in the room, listening to the performance as its being recorded.

“They say some days, up she comes, up she rises, as if out of nowhere.
Wearing Victorian dress.
She was calling her pet, “Snowflake! Snowflake!”
Tumbling like a cloud that has drowned in the lake.”

The song references the story of a woman who fell into the water, and in later years is seen rising from the lake. The songs focus of attention then shifts to a faithful pet dog, waiting for his owner to return, searching for her, pining for her as he gets more frail. Gorgeous minimal strings underpin the middle section of this song to great effect. Lake Tahoe is one of the saddest songs you will hear all year, and a real highlight of the album.

I won’t talk too much about the subject matter of Misty, other than to say I’ll never be able to watch Raymond Briggs The Snowman again without blushing. To some, this may be this albums Mrs. Bartolozzi moment, but Misty really captures that silent, deepest winter feel, and features some lovely double-bass and playful jazz drumming.

“He won’t speak to me.
His crooked mouth is full of dead leaves.”

The strings are sublime on the latter half of this track, which due to its length (over 13 minutes) has the space to develop fully, with off-kilter piano and guitar added to the increasingly frenetic ending, as the subject of the song looks for her now departed ice-cold lover.

Wild Man was released as the first single from the album, and is the most conventional track on 50 Words For Snow.  Sitars, chorused guitar and whispered vocals take centre-space on this song, unlike the piano led arrangements of the rest of the album. It breaks up the intensity, a little light relief from the emotion of the rest of the album. At times, the percussion almost seems to echo Kate’s 1980 single December Will Be Magic Again. I’m not sure if that was the intention?

“Lying in my tent, I can hear your cry echoing round the mountainside.
You sound lonely.”

Wild Man on Youtube

Snowed in at Wheeler Street is my favourite track on the album.  Kate’s voice is now deeper and with a more husky timbre at times, which suits this song, a duet with Elton John, perfectly. A recurring theme of losing people – lost in the London Fog, in the 9/11 attacks, in the city’s crowded streets, run through this powerful, deeply haunting track.

“I still have your smiling face, in a heart-shaped frame…We look so good together.”

I wonder if the title Snowed in at Wheeler Street is a nod to the Thomas Dolby track Cloudburst at Shingle Street?  Both songs have a similar synth sequence underpinning the track as well.

The title track 50 Words for Snow features Kate encouraging Stephen Fry to list 50 different expressions for the word snow. Backed by what sounds like mid-period Siouxsie & The Banshees, this track is heavily percussive and extremely playful, as Kate encourages the wordsmith Fry “Come on man you’ve got 44 to go!”. It works surprisingly well.

The album ends with Among Angels – another song that gives the impression of being an intimate live performance, with just you and the song. As the strings arrive, the feel of the album seems to change, almost as if the first shoots of Spring are arriving. A lovely end to the album.

As a fan of Kate’s music from way back in 1978, it’s comforting to hear an album as ambitious, as lyrically eccentric and as rewarding as this, so far into her history. 50 Words For Snow is an intense listening experience, this is not background music, and it’s not the sort of album to be scattered amongst other tracks in your playlist.

It’s early days yet, but this could turn out to be one of Kate’s finest albums.

Lake Tahoe
Wild Man
Snowed in at Wheeler Street
50 Words for Snow
Among Angels

All lyrics & images in this review © Kate Bush

Buy 50 Words for Snow on Amazon

Kate Bush website

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