Hounds of Love

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Hounds of Love
Studio album by
Released16 September 1985[1]
RecordedJanuary 1984 – June 1985
StudioWickham Farm Home Studio (Welling, England), Windmill Lane Studios, and Abbey Road Studios (orchestral sections)
ProducerKate Bush
Kate Bush chronology
The Single File 1978~1983
Hounds of Love
The Whole Story
Kate Bush studio album chronology
The Dreaming
Hounds of Love
The Sensual World
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: 24 February 1986
  4. "The Big Sky"
    Released: 28 April 1986

Hounds of Love is the fifth studio album by British singer-songwriter and musician Kate Bush, released by EMI Records on 16 September 1985. It was a commercial success and marked a return to the public eye for Bush after the relatively poor 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. The album's first side produced three further successful 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 both on its release and in 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.[3] It was Bush's second album to top the UK Albums Chart and her best-selling studio album,[4] having been certified double platinum for 600,000 sales in the UK,[5] and by 1998 it had sold 1.1 million copies worldwide.[6] In the US, it reached the top 40 on the Billboard 200. 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").


Bush's fourth album, The Dreaming brought her first explorations of solo progressive rock, largely because she could emulate any instrument with the Fairlight CMI, and did not need a band.[7] The Dreaming performed less well in the market than the previous album Never for Ever, spending half as much time on the UK charts.[8] In the summer of 1983, Bush built her own 24-track studio in the barn behind her family home which she could use at any time she liked.[9]

Bush began recording demos for Hounds of Love in January 1984. Rather than re-record music, she took the demos and enhanced them during the recording sessions. After five months, she began overdubbing and mixing the album in a process that took a year. 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.[10] 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.[11]

The album was produced as two suites: side one being Hounds of Love and side two a seven-track concept piece, The Ninth Wave. Side one comprises five songs, four of which were chart hits.[7] 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.[7]

"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.[7] 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.[12]

Release and promotion[edit]

On 5 August 1985 Bush performed the new single "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" on Terry Wogan's BBC1 chat show Wogan. The single entered the UK singles chart at number 9 and ultimately peaked at number 3, becoming Bush's second-highest charting single (after her chart-topping debut single "Wuthering Heights").

The album launch party was held at the London Planetarium on 5 September 1985, which was the first occasion that Bush and Del Palmer officially appeared in public as a couple. The invited guests were treated to a playback of the entire album while watching a laser show inside the Planetarium.[13] Hounds of Love was released 16 September 1985 by EMI Records on vinyl, XDR cassette and compact disc formats. It entered the UK album chart at number one, knocking Madonna's Like a Virgin from the top position.[4] 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 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 four music videos, was released in 1986. The tracks are: "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)", "Hounds of Love", "The Big Sky", and "Cloudbusting".[14]

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.[15]

In 2010, Audio Fidelity reissued Hounds of Love on vinyl with new remastering by Steve Hoffman.[16]

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.[17]

In the 2014 Before the Dawn concerts, Bush performed almost all of the album's tracks 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 been already performed live in 1987 with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd at the Secret Policeman's Third Ball.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Los Angeles Times[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[23]
Smash Hits9/10[24]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[26]
The Village VoiceB[27]

In the UK, most reviews of the album at the time of its release were overwhelmingly positive. In a five-star review, Sounds called Hounds of Love "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".[25] 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 then 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 devices: "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."[28] 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". It was particularly disappointed by The Ninth Wave suite on the second side of the record, feeling that "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".[29]

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".[30] However, Rolling Stone, in their first ever 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."[31] 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."[32]

In retrospective reviews, The Independent called Hounds "a prog-pop masque of an album".[33] 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.[21] Spin called it an "art-pop classic".[34]


In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Hounds of Love as the 68th greatest album of all time.[35]

Pitchfork included the album at number four on their list of The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s.[36]

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.[37]

The album was placed at number 10 in the NME critics' list of the best albums of 1985.[38]

In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Hounds of Love the 48th-greatest album of all time,[6] 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.[39] In 2006, Q placed the album at number 4 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[40] 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.[3] 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.[41] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at No. 10 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[42] NME placed Hounds of Love 48th on its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[43]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Kate Bush, except the Georgian traditional choral in "Hello Earth".

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 EMI edition 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"Traditional; new lyrics by John Carder Bush2:30

Note: 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", as opposed to the original album version.


In order of appearance:




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[63] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[65] Gold 134,300[64]
Germany (BVMI)[66] Platinum 500,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 24,800[50]
Netherlands (NVPI)[67] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[69] 2× Platinum 1,000,000[68]
United States 206,000[70]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 16 September 1985 EMI LP KAB1
cassette TCKAB1
CD CDP7461642
Mainland Europe LP 24 0384 1
cassette 24 0384 4
CD CDP7461642
Australia and New Zealand LP EMC 240384
Canada 8 October 1985 EMI America LP ST-17171
cassette 4XT-17171
CD E2 46164
United States EMI-Manhattan LP ST-17171
cassette 4XT-17171
CD CDP 546164
Various 16 June 1997 EMI digitally remastered CD with bonus tracks 7243 5 25239 2 4
"EMI First Centenary" limited edition
digitally remastered CD with bonus tracks
7243 8 57978 2 8
United Kingdom 2000 Simply Vinyl 180 gram remastered vinyl LP SVLP 290
United States August 2010 Audio Fidelity AFZLP 087
Europe 16 May 2011 Fish People CD FPCD003
Various 16 May 2011 Audio Fidelity RSD Vinyl EP
Various 16 November 2018 Fish People, EMI CD, LP, digital download, streaming

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ a b Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, England: Guinness World Records. pp. 400–401. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
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External links[edit]