“I do think if you cover records, you should try and make them different – you’ve got to try and give it something that makes it worth re-releasing.” ~ KB (1991, BBC Radio 1)
The first Kate Bush song I ever heard was a cover. The year was 1980 and I was 13. My cool, older brother came home from college with a cassette of Pat Benatar’s Crimes of Passion.
This was in an era when Pat Benatar fell under that rather troublesome umbrella called New Wave. Like most 13-year olds, I was trying desperately to keep up with the musical tastes of my cooler older siblings. I was prepared for the likes of I’m Gonna Follow You and Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I wasn’t prepared for the song that popped up near the end of the tape. Every time track 8 started I just lost myself in a stunning piece of music called Wuthering Heights. I played it over and over, dancing around the room and spinning to the mesmerizing sounds, reeling in the drama of the song. What was going on here–with the music that is, not me, that’s another story–why did one song stand out from all the rest? It was majestic and passionate and strangely obsessive, which for some reason I really got off on (an early indication of things to come). In my new fury, I searched the liner notes to find out more information. Under the song title, in fine print, in parentheses, there it was, the name Kate Bush.
I was transformed. My brothers, much as I love them, were not. At that point, I took an entirely different course from my brothers and never looked back.
There is little to write about the work of Kate Bush that has not been written before. Her music is often described as ingenious, beautiful, strong, deeply emotional, magical, astounding, sexy, brilliant, and amazing. One of the things that Kate often doesn’t get recognised for is her brilliant sense of humor, many time combined with a dark sense of tragedy. Language fails to convey what it is that draws you into the music. In the simplest terms, it can only be described as “The Pull Of The Bush…” (The Dreaming, 1982).
Kate has pioneered an aggressively innovate approach to music-making that has paved the way for contemporary artists including Tori Amos, Paula Cole, k.d. lang, and Sarah McLachlan, all of whom cite Kate as a major influence. There is no question of Kate’s significant impact on a generation of music. If she were a man her name might be as well known as Sting, Pete Townshend or David Gilmour. The men of rock line up to work with her. The fortunate few include Eric Clapton, Prince, Jeff Beck and Peter Gabriel. The music of Kate Bush has been analyzed, dissected, ridiculed and adored. This collection attempts none of these. Rather, this collection celebrates the music and expresses our respect as artists for great songs and the feelings that great songs evoke. Our vision is to share our emotional responses with you – the listener. All of us involved with this album are grateful for the opportunity to perform these songs. We hope you enjoy it. Perhaps someone somewhere will bring it home, and it will touch the spirit of a 13-year old in the same way that it touched me when I found what I needed in this woman’s work. ~ Thomas Dunning, Chicago 1998
(Thanks to Steve Darnall for his assistance with this introduction.)
My deepest gratitude beams out to Peggy O’Neil Dunning Hansen (the bride), Robert Hansen, my sisters and brothers and nieces and nephew. Eddie Carlson and Liam Davis for being as excited about this project as I was, along with Worth Wagers for endless artistic support and technical guidance. Nora O’Connor for so much love and inspiration. Brian Railsback and Tedd Negus for a certain day in a certain September and for every day since, my love and gratitude are immense. CJ Juby, for asking me, “When?” Coco Sallée for her brilliant design work. Mary Jones for legal counsel and Andy Pappas for financial answers. To Seån Twomey for all his hard work and to Love-Hounds everywhere. To Nora Carlson and Shannon Mahoney for your boyfriends. Special thanks to Margaret Hansen and James Dunning for their priceless faith. For moments of pleasure thanks also goes to Danny (on tricycle) & Kathie Dunning, Bess Demopoulos, Liz Cochran, Susan Gogetz-Baird, Patrick Finn, Kathy Doyle, Nancy Warran, Jan Hood, Patti Trusk, Lisa Carroll, WIND Records, Phil Arredia and the TRAXX gang, Stan Engelsen, Scott Cummins, Anastasia Davies, Steve Darnall, Schuba’s, Lounge Ax, Todd Kasten and Metro. To Celia Schwartz, Laurie Green, Paul Weil & Kevin Stein (don’t give up the fight). The Meneghini Family for ‘sharing questions’ and belonging. To the Creative Spirit of the Universe: help & thank you.
That cloud – it looks like Ireland! C’mon and blow it a kiss now… Buiochas do mo chaired chore in Eireann: Nicky Duffy of Bangor, Davie Walsh of Cork, Eileen Kerlin of Claudy, Queen Aoife and The McCarthys of Dun Laoghaire, The Rainbow Project of Belfast, The Aidan Griffin and Margaret “Mags” Dardis families of Ennis and especially Johnny Starrett of Derry.
To all the artists on this album who used their talents to to bring a dream in to this sensual world, my heart is full. Cheers to The Blue Meanies (mmm…yes). Casolando, The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, The Drovers, July, Arlene Newson, Poi Dog Pondering, Rover Fido Spot, and The Songs of the Never Wrong. You are all with us here.
To Kate…your music has carried so many, your talents inspire, astound and amaze. Thank you for sharing yourself; your gifts are so deeply appreciated. This is for you. ~ Thomas Dunning, Chicago 1998
Executive Producer in Charge of Compilation: Thomas N. Dunning Associate Producers: Eddie Carlson and Liam Davis Original Mastering for 1998 CD: Geoff Sykes at John Golden Mastering Layout and Design: Coco Sallée and Cindy Anderson All songs written by Kate Bush. Published by Novercia/Kate Bush Music Ltd.
I Wanna Be Kate: The Songs Of Kate Bush.
“Chicago’s vibrant music scene comes alive and comes together to honor the music of one of this century’s most creative artists. Kate Bush has influenced a generation of music makers and Brown Star Records is proud to present “I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs Of Kate Bush”. Presented as a testament to Kate and her music, this collection also recognizes Chicago’s amazing nest of mind-blowing musicians. The collection showcases a wide range of musical styles from rap to folk and from lounge to blues as well as hard rock, pop rock, art rock and punk rock. Featuring Syd Straw and The Aluminum Group as well as members of Poi Dog Pondering, The Jesus Lizard and Shellac.’
I bought my first issue of Homeground back in 1987. It was issue #26 (spring ’87). I was 19 years old. It was wonderful! A connection to Kate fans and to a far-away place called England where everyone was super-cool and dressed like Kate and Depeche Mode. I knew I had something special in my hands because it was an imported fanzine and in 1987 that was beyond cool. This is the first time I’ve ever written anything for Homeground.
Last summer I was listening to the b-sides from This Woman’s Work. “Not This Time” came on and I was grabbed by the swells of the chorus and the dramatic crescendo at the end of the song. An idea came to me from out of the blue to make a Kate Bush tribute album which would include a new recording of this song. This has always been one of my favorite Kate songs, although not too many people seem to be familiar with it. This might not come as much of a surprise to the die-hard Kate Bush fan. Perhaps I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t be the first Kate Bush fan to be called so. I’ve spent the last 12 months fulfilling a dream that I never thought possible. I produced a tribute album to honor the music of Kate Bush. I’ve always been frustrated by people’s resistance to hear new music by someone as daring and gifted as Kate. I decided to invite my favorite Chicago musicians to record my favorite Kate Bush songs. It basically snowballed from there. I talked to producers, engineers, designers, musicians, lawyers, manufacturing plants, and so on. In all 71 musicians and 19 engineers worked together to complete the project. To complicate things even further, the artists recorded and mixed their tracks at 13 different studios.
Many people feel that Kate hasn’t gotten proper recognition from the music industry. I also found the general public has neglected our Kate. When I told people about the Kate Bush tribute album, more than one person asked me if she had died. I’d be like “NO. She’s not dead. Isn’t it great that we aren’t waiting until its too late to let her know how much we love her music?’
This has been a labor of love for me and I hope you will enjoy listening to it as much as I have enjoyed making it. ~ Thomas Dunning, 1998
I noticed with complete horror that I messed up something very important in the liner notes of “I WANNA BE KATE.” I can’t imagine how, but its true. Upon inspecting the CD’s as they came back from the plant, I found that in the liner notes where I write about Kate, I quote the lyric “The pull of the bush,” as being from ‘Army Dreamers, 1980’ instead of ‘The Dreaming, 1982.’ I’m simply aghast and mortified and I beg everyone’s forgiveness, especially Kate’s. Spending a year creating a testament to her influence on a generation of musicians, it pains me deeply to have missed this error in my documentation. If we go into a second pressing, it will most certainly be
corrected. My most humble apologies to everyone.
~ Thomas Dunning
The following link will take you to a two-part interview with Thomas Dunning, the executive producer of I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs Of Kate Bush. The first part of the interview was conducted before the CD was released in 1998…and the second part was completed some months after the original CD was launched.
AND DREAM OF KATE: Thomas Dunning Talks About His Kate Bush Tribute
by David Richards
Thomas Dunning remembers the first time he heard a Kate Bush song. It was Pat Benatar’s version of “Wuthering Heights.” Amazingly enough he didn’t run screaming away, but actually became a huge fan of Kate, collecting everything she put out, from 7″ singles to the CD box set. Now, almost 20 years later, Mr. Dunning has turned his obsession into the new Kate Bush tribute album I WANNA BE KATE.
The project was started a couple of years ago when Dunning, host of weekly roots rock shows in a Chicago club, was listening to a mix tape of his with “Not This Time” on it. He realized that Ms. Bush’s songs were virtually unknown here in the US. His solution was the tribute album, as a way not only to pay homage to Kate, but also to introduce more people to her great songs.
Growing up, Dunning remembers that the kind of people who put out CDs were “People like the Osmands, people who were rich and experienced.” Despite his lack of funds and experience, Dunning convinced about a dozen of Chicago’s finest bands to contribute to the project. In the end, as word got out, 17 bands gave him songs for the project. He ended up having to go to a CD manufacturer who could give him a 78-minute CD just to fit most of it on. The first songs recorded were done by the Aluminum Group and Nora O’Connor, who used a studio owned by a member of the Pulsars. The two bands bought 12 hours of studio time, but the studio was so impressed with the project that they didn’t say a word as the session stretched into 18 hours.
One of the most interesting tracks for Dunning was the J Davis Trio’s take of “There Goes a Tenner.” He tells the story of how at first, when he was handed a tape of the finished song, he thought, “How am I going to tell these guys I can’t use their version? I didn’t think it had much to do with the original. Then I heard their line about ‘Where the hell is my attorney’ and I realized that they were translating the line in the song about the solicitor, British for attorney. Then as I listened to their version more carefully I began to realize that they had translated all the songs lyrics into “street” American. It was just so brilliant I knew it had to go up front.”
Dunning says the reaction has been very positive so far. People as random as the Indigo Girls and Jane Sibbery have given their approval. And what about She herself? “I’ve sent her a copy, but haven’t heard back yet. I hear she is busy working on a new album. I hope to get a note from her. I hope to God she doesn’t call me, I’d probably faint or something!”
102.3 BXR Music News, June 23, 1998
As Kate Bush works on her first album since 1993’s Red Shoes, Chicago-based indie record label Brown Star Records has announced a forthcoming tribute album. To be called I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush, the homage will highlight mostly obscure Chicago acts. No firm release date has been set for the album, but it should be available later this summer. The recording of Kate Bush’s latest album, meanwhile, remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. Rumor has it that David Gilmour has come on as producer for the project. Bush’s new album won’t be ready until late spring at the earliest, but should be out before 1999.
From the myLAUNCH website column Reasons For Living 8/31/98: By Jim DeRogatis
After a veritable deluge of ’em a few years back during the initial onslaught of alternative, tribute albums have largely receded back into the indie-label margins from which they originally sprang. For the most part, the ones that are being done now are labors of love. Of course, there are exceptions (like the last two entries here), as well as a lot of different kinds of tribute discs besides the obvious collections of covers.
Reasons For Living
Various Artists, I Wanna Be Kate: The Songs Of Kate Bush (Brown Star Records)
Holding Kate Bush responsible for the hackneyed horde of Lilith imitators is sorta like blaming Led Zeppelin for Kingdom Come: It isn’t the originator’s fault if the wannabes who follow choose to amplify all the wrong elements of what was initially a damn fine sound. In addition to her sometimes ponderous poetry and majestic and melodramatic sounds, Kate always had a great sense of humor. The folks here capture that, and they breathe new life into songs such as “The Sensual World” (as rendered by Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering), “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” (Syd Straw) and “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” (the Aluminum Group). Granted, these aren’t major names, but they do the honoree justice. If you’re just looking for a bunch of bloated alt-rockers playing lame-ass covers, read on.
– Jim DeRogatis
Jim DeRogatis is the rock critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, a columnist for myLAUNCH, and a prolific freelancer. He briefly worked as a senior editor at Rolling Stone, until he was fired for complaining when Jann Wenner killed a negative review of Hootie & the Blowfish.
Copyright© 1997-1998 LAUNCH Media, Inc.
By Gregg Shapiro, Outlines, September 2, 1998
In the liner notes he wrote for I WANNA BE KATE (Brown Star), the Kate Bush tribute CD he lovingly and painstakingly put together, Thomas Dunning wrote about his first encounter with a Kate Bush song. It was Pat Benatar’s overwrought (is there any other kind of Pat Benatar song?) cover of Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” By that point in time (1980), I was already a Bush-head, having seen her breathtaking and unforgettable performance of “Them Heavy People” on Saturday Night Live in 1977, and owned copies of her albums The Kick Inside, Lionheart, and Never For Ever. As for other people covering Bush’s material, it is not as commonplace as you might think. However, the one pre-I WANNA BE KATE cover version that proved to me that it could be done was Maxwell’s rendition of “This Woman’s Work,” on his 1997 live/unplugged disc.
Now, after much anticipation, we have I WANNA BE KATE, which was well worth the wait. Among the many notable aspects of this album is the fact that the performers and bands are all based in the Chicago area. In other words, this is not some huge celebrity undertaking (although each and everyone of the performers is a huge celebrity in their own right), where egos often get in the way of the material.
And what material it is! There is at least one song from all seven (not counting her greatest hits album, The Whole Story) of Bush’s domestic albums. Among those songs are those that many Kate Bush fans hold close to their hearts, such as “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” (by The Aluminum Group), “The Sensual World” (by Susan Voelz), “Hounds Of Love” (by The Moviegoers), “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” (by Syd Straw), “The Saxophone Song” (by Nora O’Connor), “Love And Anger” (by Trinkets of Joy), “Running Up That Hill” (by The Baltimores), “You’re The One” (By Justin Roberts), “And Dream Of Sheep” (by Thomas Negovan), “Jig Of Life” (Catherine Smitko), “The Kick Inside” (by Victoria Storm), and “Coffee Homeground” (by Mouse). I have singled out these particular versions, because I think that they were treated with such conscientious devotion, that while they managed to remind us of Kate, they also made us forget (albeit briefly) her original versions, so that we could take them in like fresh air. However, there were also Bush songs I was unfamiliar with (such as “Home For Christmas”), and of those, it is “Not This Time,” by Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends that was the most indelible.
– by Gregg Shapiro
From an independent Chicago label comes an inspired and long-overdue tribute to the Great Ms. Bush, arguably one of the most influential female rock artists ever. The disc features no artists you’ve heard of (except former Golden Palamino Syd Straw, “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”). Still, Bush is done justice here. The Baltimores give “Running Up That Hill” a goof-rock run; The Plunging Necklines successfully wed “Kashka From Baghdad” and “Babooshka,” while Catherine Smitko and Thomas Negovan offer gorgeous renditions of Hounds of Love’s “Jig of Life” and “And Dream of Sheep,” respectively. The star here is The J Davis Trio’s acid jazz reworking of “There Goes a Tenner,” from Bush’s masterful and highly experimental 1982 album THE DREAMING. Even though they’ve completely changed her original lyrics – something Bush fans would normally frown upon – the Trio has managed to stylishly update her noir crime story to a gangsta rhapsody.
Star-Telegram rating: 3.5 stars
– by Mark Lowry
By Chelsea Spear, “Consumable Online” #155, Sept 21, 1998.
In the liner notes for the tribute to Kate Bush, I WANNA BE KATE, executive producer Thomas Dunning talks of discovering the adventurous, innovative singer/songwriter through Pat Benatar’s cover of “Wuthering Heights”. Somehow I find this heartening. While I have a great deal of respect for Bush’s considerable craft, and love the musicians to whom she’s served as muse, I can’t call myself a huge fan of her work. Sacrilege, I know, but if this die-hard can discover Kate through the leotard-clad forebear to Alanis Morrisette, there’s hope for us all.
My main reason for wanting to hear this record was to experience Syd Straw’s rendition of “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”. Her spare, emotionally evocative and utterly beautiful rendition of the classic tune does not disappoint, though Straw’s considerable voice sounds thin and strange from using her upper register so extensively. Nevertheless, her voice retains in emotional content what it loses in technical prowess – it still sounds like a nerve ending, crackling with life and imbued with deep sonic hues.
The other artists on the album succeed through different avenues. Susan Voelz’ erotic reading of “The Sensual World” and the Celtic-flavoured “Jig of Life” as performed by Catherine Smitko remain faithful to the original recordings, while putting their own personality behind them to great affect. Justin Roberts’ rendition of “You’re The One” is better than it has any right to be, given the Casio instrumentation and Roberts’ unfortunate vocal resemblance to Jim Creggan of the Barenaked Ladies, but his belief in and love of the material helps him to pull it off. The Moviegoers ride a bright, euphoric pop crescendo to excellent affect on “Hounds of Love”, and the Middle Eastern tones that the Plunging Necklines and Trinkets of Joy respectively bring to “Kashka from Bagdahd/Babooshka” and “Love and Anger” complement the source material, with the Necklines’ haunting vocal harmonies enducing goosebumps in this writer. Even The Baltimores’ radical retread of “Running Up That Hill”, which owes a significant debt to Butterscott’s cover of “Karma Chameleon” and the playful indie-rock of Tully Craft, works.
So what doesn’t work as successfully? Every compilation and artist tribute must have a few clinkers, and I WANNA BE KATE is no exception. The comp hits its nadir with Diamond Jim Greene’s banjo-happy take on “Home for Christmas”, which bears an inappropriate resemblance to something from the Lowell George songbook. Mouse put a stunningly awful grunge-metal spin on “Coffee Homeground”, which left a bitter taste in my mouth, and the rap version of “There Goes A Tenner” by The J Davis Trio loses something in translation.
All in all, I WANNA BE KATE is a decent collection of covers that inspired me to dust off my old Kate Bush albums and throw them on. While this compilation will hold special appeal for die-hard fans, this reviewer recommends it especially to people who might have found her work intriguing but didn’t know where to start.
– by Chelsea Spear, “Consumable Online” #155 Sept 21, 1998.
By Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times, September 20, 1998
Various artists, “I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush” (Brown Star Records) 3 Stars
Various artists, “For the Masses” (1500 Records) 1 & 1/2 Stars
These two tribute albums illustrate how the genre succeeds and fails. The Kate Bush disc is the better of the two because the artists not only capture Bush’s majestic and melodramatic sounds but her sense of humor. In contrast, the second disc, a tribute to Depeche Mode, takes it all way too seriously.
Among the highlights of “I WANNA BE KATE” are several songs by Chicago musicians. Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering tackles “The Sensual World,” the always effervescent Syd Straw performs “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” and the ork-pop/lounge-exotica buzz band the Aluminum Group delivers “L’Amour Looks Something Like You.” None of these cuts will make you a convert, but if you’re already a Bush fan, you won’t be disappointed.
“For the Masses” takes advantage of a bigger budget to round up a bunch of predictable electronica-tinged big shots (Smashing Pumpkins, the Cure, Gus Gus), plus a few guitar-driven ringers (Veruca Salt, Monster Magnet). Most of these bands plod like dinosaurs through Depeche Mode’s lazy lugubrious tunes. If any of them are particularly inspired by Depeche Mode, they don’t let it show.
– Jim DeRogatis
By Liisa Ladouceur, Alternative Press, September 1998
This Woman’s Work…REWORKEDKATE BUSH Subject of Indie-Rock Tribute
Kate Bush fans awaiting the follow-up to the elusive singer’s 1993 album The Red Shoes can soon bide time with a compilation of covers. “It’s the ultimate mix tape,” says compiler Thomas Dunning. The longtime Kate Bush fan has assembled I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush, a tribute featuring contributions from 17 Chicago-area artists, including the Aluminum Group, Mouse (featuring Mac McNeilly from P.W. Long’s Reelfoot and the Jesus Lizard), Syd Straw, Susan Voelz (Poi Dog Pondering) and My Scarlet Life. Coinciding with the 20-year anniversary of Bush’s debut, The Kick Inside, the disc is ripe with with eclectic interpretations, avoiding some of her signature songs in favor of album tracks and obscurities. Surf-rock combo the Baltimores give Bush’s biggest hit, “Running Up That Hill,” a beach-party vibe, and blues legend “Diamond” Jim Greene tackles her jazzy “Home For Christmas.” I WANNA BE KATE is scheduled for release this month on Dunning’s newly formed Brown Star label.
– Liisa Ladouceur
By Liisa Ladouceur, Chart, October 98
Various Artists I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush (Brown Star)
With all the Kate wannabe singers in the public eye of late, one could easily fill a tribute to the great songstress with crap. Happily, fan Thomas Dunning has assembled an eclectic collection of interesting interpretations on I WANNA BE KATE. The acts are indie and unknown (most from the Chicago area), but their tracks prove them worthy. There are some female singers here (Nora O’Connor is stunning on “The Saxophone Song”) but it’s the sounds you don’t expect that make this work. The Moviegoers give “Hounds Of Love” an indie-pop make-over; “There Goes A Tenner” becomes a jazzy hip-hop track in the hands of The J Davis Trio; Mouse’s “Coffee Homeground” is gritty and The Baltimores make her biggest hit, “Running Up That Hill,” into a twisted surf-punk sing-a-long. All in all, a solid compilation that shows how Kate Bush’s influence extends beyond her most obvious followers.
– by Liisa Ladouceur
By Rev. Forestter, Lumpen, October 1998
This is the season of little witches and goblins, running from house to house, killing the inhabitants within…Thinking of digging out your old Kate Bush records for the (Halloween) season? Why listen to Kate’s creepy songs about Wilhelm Reich or Houdini or dying children when you can listen to local bands’ covers of her songs? I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush (Brown Star) is a record I had been eagerly anticipating since I heard about it last winter. It includes such artists as The Aluminum Group covering “L’Amour Looks Something Like You,” to Nora O’Connor covering “The Saxophone Song,” to a cover of “The Sensual World” by Susan Voelz. While not every cover could possibly live up to the remarkable genius that is Kate Bush, there are a few that come quite close. Catherine Smitko’s cover of “Jig of Life” is an amazing yet similar rendition to Kate’s original, not to mention Syd Straw’s stirring rendition of “The Man With The Child In His Eyes.” My Scarlet Life pull off a lumbering gothic version of “Suspended In Gaffa,” and the Baltimores do an off-handed ska-type thing with “Running Up That Hill.” Of course, the soft sensual version of “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” by The Aluminum Group is worthy of anyone’s listen, but as with most compilations, its always hit or miss. The more cynical I become, the more I question the bother of listening to any other artist’s cover of a good song to begin with. However, I still enjoy this quite a bit.
– by Rev. Forestter
By Mark Guarino, Daily Herald, October 2, 1998
KATE BUSH GETS HER OWN CD TRIBUTE AND RELEASE PARTY
Last summer, Chicago music nut Thomas Dunning had a vision: “I was listening to the song ‘Not This Time’ and thought, ‘I really wish one of my friends would record this.’ So much of Kate’s work is lost on this continent.”
“Kate” is Kate Bush, the British songstress whose dreamy and almost operatic art-rock cultivated an impassioned cult of fans since the early 80’s, influencing the careers of Tori Amos, Paula Cole and other more-known but lesser talented piano goddesses. Because Dunning is a DIY-type guy (he has a knack for cold calling local clubs and recommending they book his favorite bands), he decided to self-produce a tribute album to simply “turn the world onto Kate Bush.” A social worker by trade, Dunning also hosts Hoot Night, a music cabaret every two months at Schubas that operates under themes like “R.E.M. vs. U2” or “Dylan vs. Bacharach.” Most of the Hoot Night performers are on the album (titled I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush) including Nora O’Connor of The Blacks, Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering, the power pop band The Moviegoers, the suave Aluminum Group, songwriter Syd Straw and the lush dance band My Scarlet Life. They, and several other local outfits will play Kate at a CD release party Thursday at Double Door. “We don’t talk about Kate Bush because she’s not in the newspaper every week,” he said. “But I’ve been so inspired by her music. It’s so dramatic, so majestic and so powerful.” Kate herself was mailed a CD although Dunning hasn’t received a reply just yet. “I’m sure I’ll get a note in the mail or who knows – I’d love a plane ticket to come over and have dinner.”
– by Mark Guarino
By Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader October 2, 1998
SPOT CHECK: Kate Bush Tribute With Aluminum Group, Susan Voelz, And Others 10/8, Double Door
At her best, British composer, dancer, and diva Kate Bush is a visionary who creates elegant and detailed missives from a better parallel universe; at her worst she’s a thinking man’s Stevie Nicks. The new tribute album I WANNA BE KATE (Brown Star), compiled by Chicago musician Tom Dunning, is a mixed bag, displaying both Bush’s best and worst tendencies–as well as those of the mostly local performers who render them. Without Bush’s cat-disturbing voice and eccentric phrasing, acts like the Moviegoers prove that tunes like “Hounds Of Love” can sound as ordinary as any other pop song, and that’s no tribute. The orientalist flourishes of Susan Voelz’s violin and piercing soprano (on “The Sensual World”) are more what you’d expect from a Kate Bush cover, and that’s not an entirely good thing either. The most successful tracks are those by artists who find their own path into a song and then work their way back, turning it inside out in the process: Syd Straw’s strained, urgent acoustic “The Man With the Child in His Eyes,” the J. Davis Trio’s smoky, funky “There Goes A Tenner,” Catherine Smitko’s declamatory “Jig Of Life.” At this CD-release party, the Aluminum Group (who cover “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” on the record), Voelz, the Baltimores (“Running Up That Hill”), the J. Davis Trio, My Scarlet Life (“Suspended In Gaffa”), Nora O’Connor (“The Saxophone Song”), Dunning himself, and eight others will perform.
– Monica Kendrick
By Moe Ryan, Chicago Tribune, Monday October 5, 1998
ARTS WATCH by Moe Ryan: The Great Kate
Several local bands pay tribute to English chanteuse Kate Bush on a recently released CD called “I WANNA BE KATE.” At the Double Door on Thursday, many of the bands on the compilation, including delightful popsters The Aluminum Group, will celebrate its release. 773-489-3160
– by Moe Ryan
By Dave Chamberlain, New City, October 8, 1998
Rock Tip Of The Week / Recommended
So this local record guy Thomas Dunning had some adolescent crush on Kate Bush when he was 13, and the fixation lived in his head for so long that some eighteen years later, he collected all his friends from Chicago’s burgeoning pop music scene and got them to cover Kate Bush songs. The result: “I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush” (Brown Star), a tribute album boasting the likes of the Aluminum Group, Baltimores, J Davis Trio, Nora O’Connor and Susan Voelz, to name a mere few. How can seventeen covers of a marginally important artist possibly be interesting, you ask? It’s all in the technique. For one J Davis Trio turns “There Goes A Tenner” into an acid-hop song; The Aluminum Group manages to turn “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” into its own brand of light Roxy; The Baltimores attack “Running Up That Hill,” upping the tempo considerably, fuzzing the guitars to East Bay Ray level (who knew that damn Pac-Man guitar could do it?) and mutating the song with the band’s normal level of schizophrenia. Perhaps even more amazing than the fact that this record doesn’t suck is the fact that damn near all the culprits will be appearing together at the Double Door. Can’t really say what to expect, but if the bands can avoid the pratfalls of too many bands sharing one stage, you can bet that nowhere else in the city can you have such an, um, unique experience.
– by Dave Chamberlain, New City October 8, 1998
Lexicon Magazine’s Pick of the Week, October 14, 1998
“I Wanna Be Kate” A Tribute album. Lots of cool stuff, a lot of “college” rock but also rap (trust me) and other stuff. Not radical “trance” covers, but also not stuffy “kate is sacred” versions. Will be out end of September, see issue #9 (next issue) of Lexicon for more info.
PULSE! Magazine (TOWER Records), Novembver 1998
New on Chicago’s Brown Star Records is I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush. It sports covers by Syd Straw, the Aluminum Group, the J Davis Trio, My Scarlet Life, Susan Voelz, and many others.
By Devra First, New Age; The Journal For Holistic Living, November/ December 1998
Holistic Holiday Gift Ideas: 170 top books & CDs…to inspire, heal, and delight.
Thanks for the Melodies
There’s something about this season that inspires us to salute our forebears, and the folkies aren’t holding back. In a bevy of recent albums, they raise their voices in tribute to the singer-songwriters who have inspired and affected them the most.
Various Artists: I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush (Brown Star) It’s not just folk-singers who feel compelled to pay homage to the the musicians who have influenced them. The power of singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s lush, emotional music is captured and reinterpreted here by Syd Straw, members of Poi Dog Pondering, and other Chicago area artists.
– by Devra First
SPOT CHECK: Kate Bush Tribute With Aluminum Group, Susan Voelz, And Others 10/8, Dou
It’s amazing this hasn’t been done before. And on an international scale. But Chicagoans can take the credit for putting together a great little all-Windy City artists tribute album to England’s Kate Bush, who long ago achieved cult status with many fans around the world (Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan owe much of their fame and some of their style to Kate). There aren’t many famous names on here, but there are some pretty worthwhile revisions of Bush standards. The Aluminum Group adds a bit of rock to the brooding “L’Amour Looks Something Like You.” Susan Voelz (of Poi Dog Pondering) adds her violin and layered breathy vocals to “The Sensual World,” and The Moviegoers bring an almost Crash Test Dummies-low vocal in to turn “Hounds of Love” into a straight-up guitar hit. Thomas Negovan wonderfully captures the rare, sad beauty of “And Dream of Sheep,” Syd Straw stays true to the folky late ’70s feel of “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” and Nora O’Connor plays “The Saxophone Song” pretty true to Kate as well. In fact, if there’s a song that comes close to improving on the original, it’s O’Connor’s work on this track. While Kate’s own version tended to be a bit airy fairy in its vocal delivery, O’Connor’s vocals are just a little more anchored and earthy. This disc also has versions of “Running Up That Hill,” “Love and Anger,” and the very difficult to handle rhythm and reel nightmare song “Jig of Life.” There’s also one horrible misstep: The J Davis Trio completely strip the melody and mystery of “There Goes A Tenner” and rap the lyrics over a slow beat. If the title wasn’t on it, I’d never have known this was one of my favorite Kate Bush songs! If you have a Kate fan on your list, they’ll thank you all year for finding this one.
(Can’t find it at the record store? Call (773) 508-5221).
– John Everson
By Mike Mendelson
I WANNA BE KATE CD Release Party — Review and Kudos
I just wanted to put in a good word for Tom Dunning and his cast of local artists who exceeded my expectations at a 5 or so hour-long show this past Thursday night (10-8-98). I am still amazed with how smoothly it ran, what with 12 or so different permutations and combinations of most of the people who performed tracks on the album appearing. Each group did their (or someone else’s) Kate song plus a couple of their own songs. I have lived in Chicago for 8 years and admit to never really ever having gone out of my way to get into the local music scene… I am familiar with lots of the names just from going to shows of mostly out-of-town artists that I like and the odd person might open. And of course from reading the local arts rags. But this seemed to me like a pretty good cross-section of local talent which I might very well seek out in the future. To this end, the monumental Kate cover project that Tom undertook has served at least a double purpose and I am grateful. What more could I ask for in terms of “show local artists who have at least some or at best lots of Kate sensibility” since KT has always been the center of my musical locus (well, at least since the mid-80’s when I discovered her music). The unqualifiedly most moving moment of the evening was when Tom himself performed Not This Time (“The best Kate song ever!” According to him 🙂 ) with a supporting cast of thousands. Other highlights for me were the string ensemble (2 cellos, 2 violins, a viola) on And Dream Of Sheep (When’s the last time you saw a string quintet in a bar??!), and Nora O’Connor’s cover of Saxophone Song (also with lots of supporting musicians). And I enjoyed the (mostly) a cappella musings of Plunging Necklines (a cappella is one of my major weaknesses — and avocations). But in all, it was the magnitude of the feat and the synthesis of the moment that made for me a joyous evening and what may well be the closest I ever get to seeing a “Kate Bush concert.” And what it underscored even more tellingly was how easy it would be for Kate herself to put together a tour and reclaim her live diva status. But we already knew that.
By David Richards, Lexicon: New Wave and Beyond, Fall 1998
Various Artists I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush
Last issue Lexicon named Kate Bush as the most influential woman of the ’80s, so you know that people around here looked forward to a “tribute” album to her about as much as we do to our next Visa bill. Well, I’m here to tell ya, quit your worrying and head down to your local record shoppe and pick up a copy of this top-notch collection.
The first thing this collection does right is to not treat the songs as the word of Allah. I personally think that the original versions of these songs are some of the best “pop” music ever made, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear virtual reproductions. This set’s only misfires are the songs that do just that, try to recreate the songs note for note. It simply doesn’t work. Luckily that happens on only a couple of the songs. The rest use Kate’s songs as a road map, pulling off on interesting side streets and alleys, finding new richness and depth in the material. Perhaps the best example of this is the J Davis Trio’s version of “There Goes a Tenner.” That is, their rap version. I know, I know, I can almost see thousands of Kate Bush fans gasping in horror, but believe me, it works. Very well. The group’s approach is reminiscent of De La Soul or a Tribe Called Quest, and if you think about it, Kate’s original version was more talked than sung.
Other standout tracks are the loose jazzy approach by The Aluminum Group to “L’Amour Looks Something Like You” and the Baltimores’ punked-up, sped-up deconstruction of “Running Up That Hill.” An outstanding version of “Hounds of Love” comes from the MovieGoers and a radical (but refreshing) bluesy version of “Home For Christmas” comes from Diamond Jim Greene. Even the album’s creator, Thomas Dunning, turns in a heartfelt and joyous version of “Not This Time” (which at times sounds like it was done back in 1985 by one of those “serious” British video bands, and that’s a good thing). Those songs that escape the pull of Xeroxing don’t usually go as far afield as the J Davis Trio or the Baltimores, but manage to put just enough of a spin on the songs to shed new light on them.
Most of the bands are local Chicago collectives. The only “name” on the collection is Syd Straw, who turns in a version of “The Man With the Child In His Eyes.” A tricky thing, that Kate herself re-did the difficult vocals on the song for her own best of. Ms. Straw, as talented as she is, has a voice that is just too weak to handle the demands of the song.
Highly recommended. If fans of Kate Bush approach with an open mind, they will be amply rewarded.
By Ken Richardson, Stereo Review’s Sound & Vision, February/March 1999
I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate BushBrown Star* * * (out of 4)
A few too many of the covers here simply duplicate Ethereal Kate (Susan Voelz’s “The Sensual World,” the Moviegoers’ “Hounds of Love,” Syd Straw’s “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”). But the good stuff toys with Offbeat Kate: the J. Davis Trio turns “There Goes a Tenner” into a rap, Mouse ratchets up the guitars in “Coffee Homeground,” and the Baltimores deconstruct and wackily reassemble “Running Up That Hill.”
– Ken Richardso