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Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush

5 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 13, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This project goes beyond merely recreating Kate s
Bush music, taking it to further realms of sound
and interpretation. Joining Theo in this venture are
longtime collaborator percussionist John Hollenbeck,
bassist Skúli Sverrisson, and keyboardist Henry Hey. A jazz singer and composer of eclectic tastes and
prodigious gifts, Grammy nominee Theo Bleckmann
makes music that is accessibly sophisticated,
unsentimentally emotional, and seriously playful.

Review

From start to finish, Bleckmann s explorations of his
cult hero in the pop world provide the ideal vehicle for
him to rise above his own cult status in modern jazz. --DownBeat

A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous
musicality ... Kate Bush is a special fit for him. The arc
of her career, uneasily abutting art-rock and alternative
music, jibes with his own off-kilter profile. --Nate Chinen, New York Times

One of the most flexible and uncategorizable figures on
the New York scene; since the mid- 90s he s been doing
his thing in a niche of his own invention, somewhere
between jazz, cabaret, classical, experimental, and
improvised music. --Chicago Reader

A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous
musicality ... Kate Bush is a special fit for him. The arc
of her career, uneasily abutting art-rock and alternative
music, jibes with his own off-kilter profile. --Nate Chinen, New York Times

One of the most flexible and uncategorizable figures on
the New York scene; since the mid- 90s he s been doing
his thing in a niche of his own invention, somewhere
between jazz, cabaret, classical, experimental, and
improvised music. --Chicago Reader

A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous
musicality ... Kate Bush is a special fit for him. The arc
of her career, uneasily abutting art-rock and alternative
music, jibes with his own off-kilter profile. --Nate Chinen, New York Times

One of the most flexible and uncategorizable figures on
the New York scene; since the mid- 90s he s been doing
his thing in a niche of his own invention, somewhere
between jazz, cabaret, classical, experimental, and
improvised music. --Chicago Reader

A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous
musicality ... Kate Bush is a special fit for him. The arc
of her career, uneasily abutting art-rock and alternative
music, jibes with his own off-kilter profile. --Nate Chinen, New York Times

One of the most flexible and uncategorizable figures on
the New York scene; since the mid- 90s he s been doing
his thing in a niche of his own invention, somewhere
between jazz, cabaret, classical, experimental, and
improvised music. --Chicago Reader

A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous
musicality ... Kate Bush is a special fit for him. The arc
of her career, uneasily abutting art-rock and alternative
music, jibes with his own off-kilter profile. --Nate Chinen, New York Times

One of the most flexible and uncategorizable figures on
the New York scene; since the mid- 90s he s been doing
his thing in a niche of his own invention, somewhere
between jazz, cabaret, classical, experimental, and
improvised music. --Chicago Reader
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 13, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Winter & Winter
  • ASIN: B005DIVEOK
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,553 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Covering Kate Bush takes a vocalist not only as deft and talented as Theo Bleckmann. It also takes one who's able to separate the idiosyncratic songs from the idiosyncratic songwriter. And then, as if that formidable task wasn't enough, then make it his own. Point in case, Bleckmann daringly opens Hello Earth!: The Music of Kate Bush, with the yardstick surely the project will be judged, "Running Up That Hill". Despite it sounding suspiciously similar to Kiki & Herb's jazzy-piano take from 2004 "Will Die For You" (like that's a bad thing?), Bleckmann tempers his inner diva and instead of Kiki-esque drama, he unearths a deep melancholy previously obscured on Bush's original. With the exception of the punk-ish "Violin", the songs' original rock values are neutralized with quieter and muted jazz shadings.

Overall, his golden-toned, often lovely, and sometimes even heartrending singing alone manages to deconstruct the songs with imagination and playfulness. Bleckmann's versions rarely quote, and are seldom recognizable from the originals.
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This is a wonderful album that accomplishes what few 'tribute' projects come close to mustering; thoughtful, inspired interpretations of existing songs. Bleckmann doesn't reinvent Bush's songs. He has a wonderful sense of what makes the music tick, and with his musicians, finds a different coloring and shading to the music--something usually quieter, with a deeper burnish and space. It's Kate's music grown up. No more dancing on the piano in a leotard!

I remember seeing Kate Bush on SNL when I was in High School, and was easily entranced by her drama and fireworks. The question is how does the music hold up after 30 years? Does Kate or my teen-driven fantasy still hold some truth when middle age takes hold or do we have to suffice with the guilty pleasures of nostalgia? No worries now. Bleckmann's Saxophone Song -/Never see that you had all of me/ - and The Man with the Child in His Eyes (with that great 70's electric piano- Melissa Manchester eat your heart out!) are newly relevant. The more recent songs- especially the last three - Watching You Without Me, Love and Anger, This Woman's Work- are just brilliant.

Bleckmann has an outstanding group of musicians working with him as well--richly nuanced and shimmery--perfect match for Bleckmann's own accomplished voice.
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Format: Audio CD
Before writing this review, I borrowed my friends' Kate Bush albums (I was familiar only with "The Red Shoes," from which none of those songs appear here), and listened to them. That was a good move; without doing that, I could not fully appreciate what Theo Bleckmann and his band (Henry Hey, Caleb Burnhans, Skuli Sverrrisson, and John Hollenbeck) have accomplished here.

Kate Bush is a modern-day Maria Callas. You either want to kiss her or kill her, but you cannot deny the way she throws herself into her art. Everything with her is a shade of raw.

Theo Bleckmann is the opposite. Listen to his voice on "And Dream of Sheep," for example, or "The Saxophone Song." If Bush is Callas, Bleckmann is a Trappist Monk. His voice is pure and vibrato-less, and with his strong falsetto, his range is huge. Bush is uberdramatic; Bleckmann is without drama. How could Bleckmann pull off a Kate Bush "tribute"?

My friend, from whom I borrowed the Kate Bush c.d.'s, thinks he didn't. I disagree. I think he did, and the way he did was to create as impressively broad colorations with his band as could be done.

Consider "Running Up That Hill," which arcs from a dreamy reverie to a frantic march. Or how about "Army Dreamers," done like an Irish pub song. Or the almost heavy-metal treatment of "Violin." Or the alpha wave vibe of "The Man With the Child in His Eyes." Or the shifting atmospheres of ""Cloud Busting" and "Love and Anger."

Kate Bush carried off her extraordinary accomplishments with her voice and her force of personality. The techno-poppy backgrounds of many of her songs wouldn't have worked for most singers.
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I have never been a Kate Bush devotee, and I'd never really listened to Theo Bleckmann much before, so I didn't have any rooting interest in this project to succeed or fail. Well, naturally, I hoped it would succeed, especially after spending the money to buy it. Does it ever work! Man! Bleckmann does this amazing thing that I have been doing close to all my life: singing the songs of a female vocalist without changing any of the genders, so that they become an expression of his own emotions and identity. In this, I find it extremely moving and resonant, and he took me back to listening to Hounds of Love (the only Bush I ever voted for!) in high school and feeling this rapt enthrallment (that's slightly redundant, sorry) at her desperation and romantic pain. He nails the final cry in "Under Ice," the high-note "It's meeeeee!" in his immaculate falsetto. And that is the sense in which I have been somewhat of a Kate Bush devotee, since she sometimes makes you feel that those scary, exciting hounds really are coming for you through the trees; she knows what we're like when we're dreaming, and, as he also proves in his magnificently nocturnal collab with Ben Monder, At Night, so does Bleckmann. So, while I still prefer Bleckmann's Joe Jackson to his Joel Grey, I am rooting for him, and I love this album!
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Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush
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Price: $14.99
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