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Hounds of Love, released in 1985, is the fifth studio album by British art pop musician Kate Bush. Following the release of the highly experimental The Dreaming, EMI urged Bush to go for a more commercial sound with her next release as well as taking less time to make it. Ignoring both of these commands, Bush built a studio in the backyard of her house and recorded demos there throughout 1983 up to the start of 1984, spending the next year and a half fleshing them out with session musicians and the Fairlight that played a major role in the making of her previous record. The result was a middle ground between The Dreaming's percussive avant-pop and the Baroque Pop of her earlier work.

The record is unique in the way it is presented. Side one (tracks one through five on CD) is labeled "Hounds of Love" and acts as an anthology of unrelated vignettes, ranging from stories of personal introspection to childhood memories to biographical tales. Side two (tracks six through twelve), labeled "The Ninth Wave," is a hazy, nightmarish tale of a woman lost at sea after a shipwreck. Over the course of the story, set across a single night, she is visited by the ghosts of her past, present, and future selves while nearly freezing to death, ultimately regaining the will to live and being rescued as the sun rises. Bush would feature a similar model on Aerial a decade later, with that one being split across two discs rather than two sides.

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Hounds of Love was the album that broke Bush from underground cult favorite to commercial smash in the United States, giving her her only top 40 hit there ("Running Up That Hill", which peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100). It also brought her back into the mainstream in her native UK, all four singles reaching the top 40. The album itself was also a major success, topping the charts in the UK and the Netherlands and peaking at No. 30 on the Billboard 200, going on to become the 14th highest-selling album of 1985 in the UK. The album was later certified double-platinum in the UK, platinum in Canada and Germany, and gold in France and the Netherlands.

This would be her last regular studio album released in America under EMI America Records, after which Bush would depart for Columbia Records stateside. Her final release with the label was her Greatest Hits Album, The Whole Story, in 1986.

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Tracklist

Hounds of Love
  1. "Running Up That Hill ("A Deal with God)" (5:03)
  2. "Hounds of Love" (3:02)
  3. "The Big Sky" (4:41)note 
  4. "Mother Stands for Comfort" (3:07)
  5. "Cloudbusting" (5:10)

The Ninth Wave

  1. "And Dream of Sheep" (2:45)
  2. "Under Ice" (2:21)
  3. "Waking the Witch" (4:18)
  4. "Watching You Without Me" (4:06)
  5. "Jig of Life" (4:04)
  6. "Hello Earth" (6:13)
  7. "The Morning Fog" (2:34)

Bonus Tracks on 1997 EMI reissue

  1. "The Big Sky" (Meteorological Mix)" (7:44)
  2. "Running Up That Hill" (12" Mix)" (5:45)
  3. "Be Kind to My Mistakes" (3:00)
  4. "Under the Ivy" (2:08)
  5. "Burning Bridge" (4:38)
  6. "My Lagan Love" (2:30)


"'Cause every time it tropes, you're here in my head"

  • Adaptational Heroism: Wilhelm Reich is depicted in a much more overtly positive light in "Cloudbusting" and the video for it than what was actually the case in real life. General understanding of the real-life Reich is that his ideas were pure pseudoscience, based in delusions possibly rooted in schizophrenia. In the video, however, not only are his projects fully functional, but he's also depicted both there and in the base song as an underdog wrongly pursued by The Men in Black. Given that the song is sung from the point of view of Reich's young son, who's implied to be narrating the song not too long after his father's arrest, this may be a Justified Trope.
  • Album Closure: Ends with a song called "The Morning Fog" that wraps up the lost-at-sea subplot of the album's second half and discusses themes of redemption and new beginnings.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Does the heroine at the end of The Ninth Wave survive her ordeal and get rescued? Kate has gone on record as strongly hinting that she does, but whether she's been rescued or is still awaiting rescue is unclear.
  • Artistic License – History: The video for "Cloudbusting", which dramatizes the arrest of psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich by the feds for practicing quackery (the title refers to the cloudbuster, a machine Reich invented to harness an invisible energy he called orgone and control the weather, which was just one of his many kooky ideas). In the video, as the government agents drive off with Reich in the back of their car, his son activates the cloudbuster and causes a rainstorm, and Reich is overjoyed to see the machine works. In real life, of course, the thing never worked, and Reich was just delusional (ironically, considering his profession, he may have had schizophrenia). He was arrested for violating an FDA injunction that prohibited him from shipping his creations across state lines after they were deemed fraudulent.
  • Call-Back: Several over the course of the "Ninth Wave"; for example, the quiet "little light" in the beginning "Waking the Witch" is a call back to "And Dream of Sheep". It goes both ways though.
  • The Coconut Effect: The train whistle at the end of "Cloudbusting", according to Kate herself, had to be created on a synthesizer because all the samples of real trains she found sounded wrong.
    We got so many tapes of steam trains, and they don't sound anything like what you'd expect steam trains to sound like. They sounded so pathetic. So we had to build up all this steam sound and big wheels and brakes, you know, coming to a halt and everything. We had to totally exaggerate what the real thing sounded like, so that people would realize what we meant.
  • Concept Album: The second side of the album, The Ninth Wave is a concept piece about a woman spending a night in cold water.
  • Concept Video:
    • "Running Up That Hill" is largely an elaborate dance piece done as a Take That! at those critics who slammed the "Wuthering Heights" video.
    • "Hounds of Love" is a pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers.
    • "Cloudbusting" - this one is based on the life of Wilhelm Reich. The reclusive scientist pursued by naughty government types is played by Donald Sutherland, Kate Bush plays his eight-year old son (in a hilariously unconvincing child costume) and the design of the very cool rain machine (Cloudbuster) was inspired by H. R. Giger.
  • Dance Party Ending: The music video for "The Big Sky".
  • Distinct Double Album: A single-disc variant. The first side, Hounds of Love, is a compilation of several unrelated songs. The second side, The Ninth Wave, is a mini-Concept Album about a woman caught in a shipwreck.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The heroine of The Ninth Wave is alone in the sea and is tempted to let herself go under, but her past, present and future come together to urge her not to give in.
  • Epic Rocking: "Hello Earth" is the only song on the album that exceeds six minutes.
  • Ethereal Choir: The male choir from "Hello Earth". It's the chorus from the traditional Georgian (as in the country, not the state) folk song "Tsintskaro".
  • Foreshadowing: Like mentioned above, this is very present in the "Ninth Wave", one example being the short appearance of the distorted spoken word voice at the beginning of "Waking the Witch" before it's getting more prominently featured on "Watching You Without Me". Another example is the quiet "over here", also in the beginning of "Waking the Witch", which re-appears later in "Jig of Life" and leads into a particularly striking part of that song. The submarine sonar blips in "Under Ice" also reappear in the outro of "Hello Earth", with the implication of its presence changing from the former's fearfulness to the latter's beacon of hope.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Occurs between Bush and her dancing partner in the music video for "Running Up That Hill", tying in with Word of God stating that the song is about the wish of women and men to gain a better understanding of each other's mindsets.
  • Iconic Outfit: The grey hakamas from the "Running Up That Hill" video (they look purple because of the lighting).
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Tying in with the record's nature as a distinct single album, side one is titled Hounds of Love, while side two is titled The Ninth Wave.
  • Kangaroo Court: The voices in "Waking the Witch" who chant "Guilty!" in unison give this impression.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The Ninth Wave is named after a moment from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's blank verse poem "The Coming of Arthur", quoted on the back cover:
    "Wave after wave, each mightier than the last
    'Til last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
    And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
    Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame."
  • The Men in Black: "Cloudbusting" depicts the government agents that arrest William Reich as this, with his son describing "their big black car" and discussing the agents as sinister, shadowy figures seeking to nefariously cover up his work.
  • My Beloved Smother: "Mother Stands for Comfort" is sung from the perspective of a girl who's ambivalent towards her overprotective mother.
  • My Future Self and Me: "Jig of Life" has the protagonist encounter her future self, who begs her to "let [her] live" by not dying.
  • Near-Death Experience: "The Ninth Wave" is about a woman's frightening night alone while lost at sea. Unable to sleep ("And Dream of Sheep") because she's freezing to death ("Under Ice"), she briefly becomes psychotic and starts hallucinating about demonic voices ("Waking the Witch"). She thinks about her lover while possibly having an out-of-body experience ("Watching You Without Me"). She contemplates dying until a vision of her future self tells her to pull herself together and live through it for the sake of her (possibly unborn) children ("Jig of Life"). She calms down and decides she wants to live ("Hello Earth") and then the sun comes up and she gets rescued ("The Morning Fog").
  • The Not-Remix: The 2018 remastered version replaces the album mix of "The Big Sky" with the single version.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting" "Waking the Witch" has a chorus of female voices in the background praising God. And it is creepy, especially given that this occurs while the demon taunting the narrator is accusing her of witchcraft.
  • Rearrange the Song: The 12" mixes of the song's singles are heavily altered from the originals, allowing them to exist more independently of the album itself; for the Title Track, Bush even re-recorded her vocals, resulting in it being billed as an "alternative" version rather than a simple remix. This practice would carry over to "Experiment IV" (off of The Whole Story) as well.
  • Re-Cut: The 2011 reissue and 2018 remaster both swap out the original version of "The Big Sky" with the "Special Single Mix" originally used for the song's 7" release.
  • Scare Chord: Appears in "Waking the Witch".
  • Soprano and Gravel Used in "Waking The Witch". In this case Bush provided both voices: one track is her natural voice, the other is a drastically slowed down demonic growl.
  • Special Guest:
    • Killing Joke bassist Youth, credited under his birth name Martin Glover, plays bass on "The Big Sky", with Scottish composer Morris Pert providing percussion on the same track.
    • Greenslade keyboardist Dave Lawson provides string arrangements on "Cloudbusting".
    • Blues Incorporated and Pentangle double bassist Danny Thompson provides double bass parts on "Watching You Without Me".
    • "Hello Earth" features choir parts by the Richard Hickox singers, with renowned English composer Michael Berkeley providing vocal arrangements.
  • Spoken Word in Music:
    • "Hounds of Love" opens with a sound clip from the film Night of the Demon: "It's in the trees... It's coming!" Due to a longstanding fan/urban legend that she wrote an episode under a pseudonym, this is often mistakenly said to have come from an episode of Doctor Who.
    • The 12" version of "The Big Sky" has a section of various voices discussing the shapes of clouds.
    • "Jig of Life" features a brief section of Bush repeating the phrase "I put this moment... here," acting as a prelude to the A Wild Rapper Appears! outro.
  • Surreal Music Video:
    • "Running Up That Hill" is mostly a interpretive dance routine, but has an element of surrealism to it, like when Kate and her partner get separated from each other in a sea of people wearing masks of their faces.
    • The video for "The Big Sky" involves the following: Kate outside on top of a building looking through binoculars; falconry; Kate in a raincoat/dressed as a firefighter/as a pirate; Kate wearing a silver jumpsuit and goggles and dancing onstage while men in military uniforms play guitar; an astronaut; Superman; a bunch of people holding national flags, and a Dance Party Ending.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Courtesy of Kate's brother John at the end of "Jig of Life":
    "Can't you see where memories are kept bright?
    Tripping on the water like a laughing girl.
    Time in her eyes is spawning past life,
    One with the ocean and the woman unfurled,
    Holding all the love that waits for you here.
    Catch us now for I am your future.
    A kiss on the wind and we'll make the land.
    Come over here to where When lingers,
    Waiting in this empty world,
    Waiting for Then, when the lifespray cools.
    For Now does ride in on the curl of the wave,
    And you will dance with me in the sunlit pools.
    We are of the going water and the gone.
    We are of water in the holy land of water
    And all that's to come runs in
    With the thrust on the strand."

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