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Hounds of Love

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Hounds of Love
Cover art for Hounds of Love: a half-body photo of Kate Bush in a purple dress, flanked by two dogs
Studio album by
Released16 September 1985 (1985-09-16)
RecordedSummer 1983 – June 1985
ProducerKate Bush
Kate Bush chronology
Kate Bush
Hounds of Love
The Whole Story
Singles from Hounds of Love
  1. "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)"
    Released: 5 August 1985
  2. "Cloudbusting"
    Released: 14 October 1985
  3. "Hounds of Love"
    Released: 17 February 1986
  4. "The Big Sky"
    Released: 21 April 1986[3]

Hounds of Love is the fifth studio album by English musician Kate Bush, released on 16 September 1985 by EMI Records.[4] It was a commercial success and marked a return to the public eye for Bush after the relatively low sales of her previous album, 1982's The Dreaming. The album's lead single, "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)", became one of Bush's biggest hits, giving Bush her second UK number-one single in June 2022. The album's first side produced three further singles, "Cloudbusting", "Hounds of Love", and "The Big Sky". The second side, subtitled The Ninth Wave, forms a conceptual suite about a woman drifting alone in the sea at night.

Hounds of Love received critical acclaim in both contemporary and retrospective reviews. It is considered by many fans and music critics to be Bush's best album, and has been regularly voted one of the greatest albums of all time.[5] It was Bush's second album to top the UK Albums Chart, and in the US it reached the top 40 on the Billboard 200. Hounds of Love is Bush's best-selling studio album,[6] having been certified double platinum for 600,000 sales in the UK,[7] and by 1998 it had sold 1.1 million copies worldwide.[8] The album was nominated at the 1986 Brit Awards for Best British Album, at which Bush was also nominated for Best British Female and Best British Single for "Running Up That Hill". In 2022, the album re-entered various charts, including reaching number one on the Billboard Top Alternative Albums, due to the appearance of "Running Up That Hill" in the Netflix series Stranger Things.[9]

Background and recording[edit]

In the summer of 1983, Bush began laying the groundwork for Hounds of Love at her home recording onto 8-track equipment, using a LinnDrum, Fairlight and piano. Wanting to retain the feel and atmosphere of these early recordings, she had them transferred to 24-track to build the final versions around once recording sessions officially began in November 1983.[10][11] Following these sessions, as well as several recording sessions in Ireland during the spring of 1984, Bush began overdubbing and mixing the album in a process that took a year and the album was finished in June 1985. The recording sessions included use of the Fairlight CMI synthesiser, piano, traditional Irish instruments, and layered vocals. The chorale in "Hello Earth" is a segment from the traditional Georgian song "Tsintskaro", performed by the Richard Hickox Singers.[12] The lines "It's in the trees! It's coming!" from the beginning of the title track are sampled from a seance scene from the 1957 British horror film Night of the Demon, spoken by actor Maurice Denham.[13]

The album was produced as two suites, with side one being subtitled Hounds of Love and side two a seven-track concept piece subtitled The Ninth Wave. The album has been described as post-progressive because Bush voices themes of love and womanly passion rather than the usual male viewpoints associated with progressive rock.[14]

The Ninth Wave uses a great many textures to express the story: in the style of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Arthurian poems, Bush pursues a vision quest, taking the listener through a death and rebirth. The warmth of familiar sleep is cut by dangerous speed, ice and frigid water, an otherworldly trial and judgement, an out-of-body limbo, and finally a vigorous emergence and grounding in life energy.[14] The disparate musical elements of "The Ninth Wave" were described by Ron Moy as "classically prog" because of their evident experimentation, and because Bush wholly embraces European music traditions without a trace of American influence.[15]

Release and promotion[edit]

The London Planetarium in London, England.
The album's launch party was held at the London Planetarium (pictured in 2006).

On 5 August 1985, Bush performed the new single "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" on Terry Wogan's BBC1 television chat show Wogan. The single entered the UK Singles Chart at number nine and ultimately peaked at number three, becoming Bush's second-highest-charting single after her chart-topping debut single "Wuthering Heights". The song is Bush's only US top 40 hit, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1985.

A remix of "Running Up That Hill" with re-recorded vocals was broadcast during the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, with the song reaching number six on the UK Singles Chart.

In June 2022, "Running Up That Hill" reached the top of the UK charts giving Bush her second UK number one. The track also reached number one in eight other countries, and number three on the Billboard Hot 100.[16]

The album launch party was held at the London Planetarium on 5 September 1985. The invited guests were treated to a playback of the entire album while watching a laser show inside the Planetarium.[17] Hounds of Love was released on 16 September 1985 by EMI Records on vinyl, XDR cassette and compact disc formats. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number one, knocking Madonna's Like a Virgin (1984) from the top position.[6] The album marked Bush's breakthrough into the American charts with the Top 40 hit "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)". The album also yielded a set of music videos, one of which was "Cloudbusting", directed by Julian Doyle and co-starring Donald Sutherland. The video, like the song, was inspired by the life of psychologist Wilhelm Reich.

As a companion to the album, a 20-minute videotape and LaserDisc, The Hair of the Hound, containing music videos for the four singles, was released in 1986.[18]

On 16 June 1997, a remastered version of the album was issued on CD as part of EMI's "First Centenary" reissue series. The "EMI First Centenary" edition included six bonus tracks: 12″ mixes of "The Big Sky" and "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)", and the B-sides "Under the Ivy", "Burning Bridge", "My Lagan Love", and "Be Kind to My Mistakes", the last of which was written for Nicolas Roeg's 1986 film Castaway and plays during the opening scene.[19]

In 2010, Audio Fidelity reissued Hounds of Love on vinyl with new remastering by Steve Hoffman.[20]

A 10" pink vinyl record with four songs taken from the album ("The Big Sky", "Cloudbusting", "Watching You Without Me" and "Jig of Life") was released by Audio Fidelity (catalogue number AFZEP 001) on 16 April 2011 for Record Store Day 2011, limited to 1000 copies worldwide.[21]

During her 2014 Before the Dawn concerts, Bush performed almost the entire album live for the first time, with the exceptions of "The Big Sky" and "Mother Stands for Comfort". "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" had previously been performed live in 1987 with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd at the Secret Policeman's Third Ball.

In November 2018, Bush released box sets of remasters of her studio albums, including Hounds of Love.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Los Angeles Times[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[27]
Smash Hits9/10[28]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[30]
The Village VoiceB[31]

Most contemporary UK reviews were positive. In a five-star review, Sounds called the album "dramatic, moving and wildly, unashamedly, beautifully romantic", before going on to state, "If I were allowed to swear, I'd say that Hounds of Love is f***ing brilliant, but me mum won't let me".[29] Record Mirror also gave the album five stars, stating that it "recaptures the ground Kate lost with her last album" and concluding, "A howling success? I think so."[32] NME said, "Hounds of Love is definitely weird. It's not an album for the suicidal or mums and dads. The violence of The Dreaming has turned into despair, confusion and fear – primarily of love, a subject that remains central to Bush's songwriting." The review went on to scorn the idea that by signing to EMI Records as a teenager, Bush had allowed herself to be moulded in their corporate image, suggesting that on the contrary, it had enabled her to use the system for her own purposes: "Our Kate's a genius, the rarest solo artist this country's ever produced. She makes sceptics dance to her tune. The company's daughter has truly screwed the system and produced the best album of the year doing it."[33] Melody Maker was more reserved, saying, "Here she has learned you can have control without sacrificing passion and it's the heavyweight rhythm department aided and abetted by some overly fussy arrangements that get the better of her". OF The Ninth Wave suite on the second side of the record, NME felt "she makes huge demands on her listener and the theme is too confused and the execution too laborious and stilted to carry real weight as a complete entity".[34]

In the US, reaction to the record was mixed. Awarding the record the title of "platter du jour" (i.e. album of the day), Spin observed that "with traces of classical, operatic, tribal and twisted pop styles, Kate creates music that observes no boundaries of musical structure or inner expression". The review noted "while her eclecticism is welcomed and rewarded in her homeland her genius is still ignored here – a situation that is truly a shame for an artist so adventurous and naturally theatrical", and hoped that "this album might gain her some well-deserved recognition from the American mainstream".[35] Rolling Stone, in their first review of a Kate Bush record, was unimpressed: "The Mistress of Mysticism has woven another album that both dazzles and bores. Like the Beatles on their later albums, Bush is not concerned about having to perform the music live, and her orchestrations swell to the limits of technology. But unlike the Beatles, Bush often overdecorates her songs with exotica ... There's no arguing that Bush is extraordinarily talented, but as with Jonathan Richman, rock's other eternal kid, her vision will seem silly to those who believe children should be seen and not heard."[36] The New York Times characterised the album's music as "slightly precious, calculated female art rock" and called Bush "a real master of instrumental textures."[37]

In retrospective reviews, The Independent called Hounds "a prog-pop masque of an album".[38] Pitchfork gave the album a perfect score, noting that the album draws from synth-pop and progressive rock whilst remaining wholly distinct from either style.[25] Spin called it an "art-pop classic".[39]


In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Hounds of Love at number 68 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[2]

Pitchfork included the album at number four on their list of The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s.[40]

In a poll of the public conducted by NPR, Hounds of Love was voted in fourth place in its list of 150 greatest albums ever made by female artists.[41]

The album was placed at number 10 in the NME critics' list of the best albums of 1985.[42]

In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Hounds of Love the 48th-greatest album of all time,[8] while two years later the same magazine placed it at number 20 in its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever", and the third "Greatest Album of All-Time by a Female Artist" in 2002.[43] In 2006, Q placed the album at number four in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[44] In January 2006, NME named it the 41st-best British album of all time. The 19th edition of British Hit Singles & Albums, published by Guinness in May 2006, included a list of the Top 100 albums of all time, as voted by readers of the book and NME readers, which placed Hounds of Love at number 70.[5] In 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the album should be given consideration when listing albums released between 1978 and 1988 that have stood the test of time while remaining influential and enjoyable to this day.[45] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 10 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[46] NME placed Hounds of Love 48th on its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[47]In 2024, Apple Music placed the album at number 50 on its "Apple Music 100 Best Albums" list.

Comments from other musicians[edit]

Hounds of Love was described as "one of the big inspirations" for Alison Goldfrapp of Goldfrapp.[48] Suede lead singer Brett Anderson said of Hounds of Love: "I love the way it's a record of two halves, and the second half is a concept record about fear of drowning. It's an amazing record to listen to really late at night, unsettling and really jarring".[49] Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac named Hounds of Love as one of her favorite albums.[50] Kele Okereke of Bloc Party said of the title track: "The first time I heard it I was sitting in a reclining sofa. As the beat started I was transported somewhere else. Her voice, the imagery, the huge drum sound: it seemed to capture everything for me. As a songwriter you're constantly chasing that feeling".[51]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Kate Bush, except the Georgian traditional choral in "Hello Earth", and "My Lagan Love" (traditional, with new lyrics by John Carder Bush)

Side one: 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
4."Mother Stands for Comfort"3:07
Total length:21:03

Side two: The Ninth Wave
6."And Dream of Sheep"2:45
7."Under Ice"2:21
8."Waking the Witch"4:18
9."Watching You Without Me"4:06
10."Jig of Life"4:04
11."Hello Earth"6:13
12."The Morning Fog"2:34
Total length:26:21
1997 remaster bonus tracks
13."The Big Sky" (Meteorogical Mix)7:44
14."Running Up That Hill" (12" Mix)5:45
15."Be Kind to My Mistakes"3:00
16."Under the Ivy"2:08
17."Burning Bridge"4:38
18."My Lagan Love"2:30


  • The original 1985 cassette release included the 12″ single version of "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" at the end of side one.
  • The 2011 Fish People re-release and the 2018 remastered album substitute the "Special Single Mix" version of "The Big Sky", rather than the original album version.


Credits are adapted from the Hounds of Love liner notes.[52]


  • Kate Bush – producer
  • Brian Tench – engineer, mixing (1, 3, 5-12)
  • Del Palmer – engineer
  • Haydn Bendall – engineer
  • Paul Hardiman – engineer
  • Nigel Walker – engineer
  • James Guthrie – engineer
  • Bill Somerville-Large – engineer at Windmill Lane Studios
  • Pearce Dunne – assistant engineer
  • Julian Mendelsohn – mixing (2, 4)
  • Ian Cooper – cutting engineer
  • Chris Blair – digital remastering
  • Photography for the sleeve was by Kate's brother, John Carder Bush, and the sleeve design was by Bill Smith Studio and Kate Bush.


Certifications and sales[edit]

Certifications and sales for Hounds of Love
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[98] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[99] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[100] Platinum 500,000^
Japan 24,800[61]
Netherlands (NVPI)[101] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[103] 2× Platinum 1,000,000[102]
United States 206,000[104]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Orchestral sections


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See also[edit]

  • The Ninth Wave – 1850 painting by Ivan Aïvazovsky; inspiration for The Ninth Wave Suite

External links[edit]