The Red Shoes

Kate Bush

Noble & Brite/EMI , 1993

http://www.katebush.com

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/15/2022

Portrait Of The Artist Trying To Be A Pop Star.

After multiple albums and, to be frank, multiple personas, this is the album where it seems Kate decided to fully embrace being a pop star. It was a difficult time for her personally; both her mother, Hannah, and her favorite guitarist Alan Murphy had passed away, and she had broken up with longtime partner Del Palmer. She decided with “Red Shoes” to do an album that would be easier to recreate live, as she was considering touring (a tour that never happened, sadly). She gathered up a coterie of guest stars, including Eric Clapton (“And So Is Love”; Clapton’s guitar really is the only reason to listen to the song), Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Jeff Beck, and Prince (?!?).  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And away she went. The result is at best a mixed bag; for me, at least, it seems like something is missing, and something else is strained and tenuous. Bush never seems to settle into a groove; while there are moments where she creates absolute beauty, there are also moments where Red Shoes seems to be the very embodiment of a train wreck, a pickle in a milkshake.

What works? Above and all, “Moments Of Pleasure.” In the middle of an album that frankly doesn’t quite work, Bush absolutely nails one of the most reflective, sad, happy, and brilliant songs in her repertoire: when she rises elegantly to her full power singing “Just being alive it can really hurt / These moments given are a gift from time…” I get goosebumps every damn time. Michael Kamen contributed instrumentation and score on “Moments,” and it’s a perfect collaboration.

Other songs that work: “Lily” (one of the most interesting uses ever of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram); the gentle “Top Of The City”; and the album’s closer, “You’re The One,” where Kate proves she can sing a torch song, aided by impeccable guitar from Jeff Beck and Hammond organ from Gary Brooker.

But then again… “Eat The Music” is easily the most annoying song Kate has ever recorded. “Rubberband Girl” is okay at best; I expect better if Kate was going to be a pop star. The same goes for “Constellation Of The Heart,” where Prince pops in and then proves that maybe this pairing doesn’t work at all. (Glad we got that settled.) “Song of Solomon” meanders like a drunk toddler, and Kate’s musical retelling of the myth of “The Red Shoes” leaves me, at best, neutral.

Does The Red Shoes work? In the end, I’m going to say no. While there are high points worth listening to, mostly this was a series of failed attempts at reinventing herself. It would be 12 years before she returned to recording, and that break would prove fertile as hell. Leave The Red Shoes by the door.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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