Mojo Magazine: Last Night A Record Changed My Life

Aug, 2016

Neil talks about Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush

Neil Hannon on the perfect combustion of Kate Bush's 1985 opus Hounds Of Love.

I was 14, coming out of the plastic-y Nik Kershaw/Howard Jones period, living in Enniskillen. I'd started writing songs - terrible songs. I liked [1980 Bush 45] Army Dreamers a lot, but when Running Up That Hill was in the charts, I thought, "Oh wow, that is stunning". And Cloudbusting - just the fantastic momentum of it, and the strings.

I got it on cassette, and it completely changed my ideas of what an album can do, what it could be about and how it could sound, which was wonderful, because I loved pop music but it wasn't quite doing it for me. It was, not in a Hooked On Classics way, a way of having action-packed classical music married with pop. I love how they married the real strings with the Fairlight's crude samples of strings, and how a lot of the songs are built around simple chord structures, but she's doing something completely different and more complicated over the top. There are wonderful moments - the plain chant in Hello Earth, the call-and-response on Under Ice. I used to go to sleep listening to The Ninth Wave, 'cos it disappears into dreamland. Obviously there are moments - parts of Jig Of Life - which even at that tender age I thought were a bit silly, but you forgive that for the ambition and originality of the rest. And it's very visual. Even [without] the great videos, you see everything.

So I remember the feeling - all wrapped up with hormones and my burgeoning romanticism. There's references to relationship matters, but it wasn't a sexual album, it's more metaphysical, spiritual, psycho-analytical. I had her poster on my wall but I never really looked on her in a lustful way. I thought she was above that.

When I started tuning in to Top Of The Pops, it was synth pop time and I adored The Human League and OMD. I always wanted to be Phil Oakey but never had the guts. But listening to Hounds Of Love I thought, "Maybe I could be Kate?" it was something I could hear myself doing, musically, trying to get that amazing detail in my records. That's her fault.

A year later I listened to The Unforgettable Fire and suddenly I was a U2 fan. Now? It's Kate Bush, every time, and I think U2 would agree.

Ian Harrison
Mojo Magazine, September 2016