Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

Audio Fidelity’s recent release of Kate Bush’s biggest record is a definite audiophile triumph. These days, while everyone is listening to Eva Cassidy, Patricia Barber, and the like, it’s easy to forget about one of contemporary pop’s most innovative female vocalists. Originally released in 1985, Hounds of Love has sold three million copies worldwide, and its big hit, “Running Up That Hill,” was in constant MTV rotation.

Audio Fidelity principal Marshall Blonstein indicated that the label will release The Sensual World and received the green light to produce more of Bush’s catalog. “We’re in on Kate Bush,” Blonstein recently told me, also underscoring that this LP was produced from the original master tape provided courtesy of Abbey Road.

The pressing has plenty of the analog magic. While I only had a garden-variety U.S. pressing available for comparison, the AF release offered a tremendous step up in every aspect. Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman did a fantastic job at keeping the air on this recording intact. Bush’s breathy vocals are no longer buried in the mix as they are on domestic LP pressing and CD, and the overall sound field is quite larger. Best of all, this disc is exceptionally quiet, which ideally suits the music.

For those unfamiliar with the recording, the first side is labeled “Hounds of Love,” almost entirely comprised of hit singles, and distinctly flavored with pop arrangements. The flip side is labeled “The Ninth Wave” and is much more ethereal and experimental. These tracks feature more vocal processing and electronic effects, not unlike what you might expect from Peter Gabriel or Thomas Dolby.

To celebrate the trippiness of the record, AF pressed it on light violet vinyl and gave it a tie-dye coloring. So, whether you’re a long time fan or need to break out of the same-old female vocal doldrums, Audio Fidelity’s pressing of Hounds of Love is a great place to start.  -Jeff Dorgay

Audio Fidelity, 180g. LP