I loved this book.
Graeme Thomson deserves a huge amount of credit for not only conducting some (useful and insightful) research and interviews with key people, but for sculpting his work into a biography that is immensely readable, well-crafted, and genuinely engrossing. It’s a biography that goes pleasingly in depth about Kate Bush’s life and career without mining for needless gossip or tabloid tittle-tattle; instead, it’s a respectful yet objective look at one of our most fascinating, original, and talented creative artists – a fine line difficult to navigate, but one Thomson pulls off remarkably well.
Anyone with a genuine knowledge of Kate Bush will already know that the tabloid reports of a strange, reclusive, “witchy” character are laughably inaccurate and that the truth is more that she acts just as any normal person would – she does her job, and then she lives her life in private. It just happens to be that her ‘job’ is making music, which of course leads to publicity, naturally. After reading the book, you really get a sense of Kate Bush the person – warm, genuine, determined, normal, but not without the odd endearing eccentricity – alongside Kate Bush the artist – hard-working, experimental, committed. Thomson’s insights are well-judged and more than once I felt he was articulating exactly how I felt about her and her music but hadn’t been able to properly express. His writing style is accessible but sophisticated, lending the book the air of a proper critical analysis as opposed to some previous biographies, which felt like extended magazine articles.
The book is excellent throughout but a few episodes are memorable, such as the new interviews with old schoolfriends of Bush from the 1970s shedding some light on her childhood. The information about the album sessions and recording processes is fascinating, and even the most ardent Kate Bush fan would acknowledge that the book reveals some interesting insights that perhaps they did not know before. The list of interviewees is impressive – producers, record company men, musicians, dancers, friends – and it seems the only people who did not grant new interviews were Kate’s family and her longest collaborator, Del Palmer, perhaps understandably. Even so, without the input of the closest in her circle, the book feels deep, rich, and well-rounded. This is the biography that someone of Kate Bush’s stature deserved, and it more than delivers. There will not be a better one. Quite possibly the best rock biography I have read to date – a triumph.
Filed under: Books, Culture, Music, Pop, Biography, Graeme Thomson, Kate Bush, Under the Ivy