Nov 032023

Run up that hill back to the beginning.

30. Ellevator — Running Up That Hill

Canadian trio Ellevator’s 2018 live take of “Running Up That Hill” is as much a tribute to the sound of Fleetwood Mac as it is to Kate B herself. It sounds exquisite as part of a Bush cover compilation to be sure, but would glow equally as hard if sandwiched between the Mac’s “Dreams” and deep cut “Straight Back” on a nerdy playlist (there’s a sonic smidge of Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge Of Seventeen” in there as well!). Singer Nabi Sue Bersche and guitarist Tyler Bersche imbue “RUTH” with dark, romantic, “Mac-ian” beauty and the result is simply freakin’ swoon-worthy. – Hope Silverman

29. Syd Straw — The Man With the Child in His Eyes

Bush wrote “Man With the Child in His Eyes” when she was 13, about a relationship between a young girl and an older man. Is it autobiographical? Probably, but Bush has never identified the man. Instead, she’s described it as being about the inherent childishness of men. Bush recorded it three years later, with David Gilmour helping out, and it was released a few years later, on her debut album The Kick Inside, and as a single. Bush recorded it with a full orchestra (which she found terrifying), with a piano as the lead instrument. Syd Straw, probably best known for her work with Golden Palominos, contributed her cover to a 1998 collection by Chicago area musicians called I Wanna Be Kate: The Songs of Kate Bush, and her version is more folky, with Straw’s distinctive voice backed only by a guitar. – Jordan Becker

28. Unwoman — Deeper Understanding

This song was eerily prescient, describing someone turning to a computer for connection, like the movie Her, just 20-ish years earlier. Bush revisited the song in 2011 after its initial release in 1989 and even made a short film to accompany it featuring Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from the Harry Potter films). Unwoman brings electronic sounds, almost video-game-like, to the song to play up the technological themes. The accompaniment is dissonant and almost overwhelms the vocals, the computer overcoming the human while promising deeper understanding. Listening to this song now, and with this overtly techno point of view, you can’t help but feeling a bit reflective about what a sense of connection really means. – Sara Stoudt

27. Nada Surf — Love and Anger

“Love and Anger” was the third single off Bush’s 1989 album The Sensual World. Despite being a pretty big hit—her only US chart-topper before the recent “Running Up That Hill” resurgence—it hasn’t been covered much. But indie-rock veterans Nada Surf tackled it on their 2010 covers album If I Had a Hi-Fi. Singer Matthew Caws told Magnet that when he bought The Sensual World, his first Bush album, “I quickly became obsessed with that song [‘Rocket’s Tail’] (if you’re a David Gilmour fan, you’ll want to check out the outro) and also with ‘Love And Anger,’ which I sang to myself so regularly from then on that we ended up covering it 20 years later. I’ve ventured out to other periods in Bush’s career, but I’ve always returned to The Sensual World.” – Ray Padgett

26. The Decemberists ft. Petra Haden — Wuthering Heights

“Wuthering Heights” was Bush’s debut single, and it peaked at No. 1 on the UK charts—a first for a female artist with a self-written song. It’s based on the Emily Brontë novel of the same name (and Bush and Brontë share the same birthday). Bush write the song when she was only 18, and actually before she had read the entire book. It’s intense, operatic, and melodramatic, and highlights her incredible voice. For exactly those reasons, it is a perfect song for the hyper-literate Decemberists to cover, and they did it live in 2005 when the remarkable and versatile Petra Haden toured with them. Back in 2011, we did an “Under the Radar” feature on Haden, and even though I didn’t write it, I recommend it, if you are interested in this overlooked musician. Haden took the lead, and does a creditable job mimicking Bush’s vocals, while the band backs her pretty faithfully, considering it was done live. And Haden adds some tasty violin at the end. – Jordan Becker

25. Giovonni Riggens — Under Ice

It’s a brave soul who chooses to cover a Kate Bush song, especially when that song is the harrowing two-minute segment of the magnificent Ninth Wave suite on the second side of 1985’s Hounds of Love. But composer Giovonni Riggens, from Grand Prairie, Texas, appears remarkably undaunted in his 2016 attempt to rework such a singularly operatic deep cut, which Kate built from a Fairlight CMI sampler on the idea of a lost-at-sea protagonist having a nightmare about skating on a frozen river and, gulp, falling through the ice. Not only that, but the protagonist suddenly realizing in the nightmare that the body they can see struggling beneath the ice is actually their own.

Riggens succeeds in creating the bleak and foreboding atmosphere necessary for “Under Ice,” with technology obviously far more advanced than a Fairlight. His stabbing cello sound is loud and piercing in true Bernard Herrmann style, his wind and swirling sea effects are epic, and his glitchy iciness is worthy of Nigel Godrich/Radiohead. But it’s not just that, because his double-tracked staccato vocal is horrifically brilliant, in unison with the strings, all building tremendously to that howling moment of horror: “It’s meeeeeeeee!” – Adam Mason

24. Martin Newnham — Cloudbusting

Martin Newnham strips away all of Bush’s elaborate production—the keyboards, strings, the mechanistic percussion—from the second Hounds of Love single, and replaces it with two acoustic guitars and a brushed crate as percussion. His accent takes it further away from the original. The feel is of a traditional folk song, even though Bush’s lyrics refer to something modern, inventing a machine to try to cause rain. Lead guitarist Matt White adds a guitar solo, and Newnham plays with the concluding singalong refrain at the end just long enough to remind you it’s there. The result is a fantastic reimagining of “Cloudbusting” as the folk classic you didn’t know it was. – Riley Haas

23. Ruth Bennett — The Morning Fog

Intended as a palate cleanser after the intense suite of songs on side two of Hounds of Love, “Morning Fog” is a positive, upbeat song about new beginnings. The original has strings as the basis of the arrangement, with superstar guitarist John Williams guesting. It is not often covered, as more showy tracks get the love. In the right setting, however, its beauty and poise shine through. English harpist Ruth Bennett had her own new beginning, with an extended stay in Mexico, before moving to the United States. For this duet she is joined by singer Charo Nieto. Their take is beguiling and uplifting. Bennett’s strings match the tone and complexity of the song, and Nieto is assured and controlled. The fog lifts and we can look heavenwards. – Mike Tobyn

22. Alex, Fair Warning — The Big Sky

Bush’s fourth single from Hounds of Love is a celebration of youthful awe at the world. This cover is a stylistic departure for country singer-songwriter al riggs, released under the moniker Alex, Fair Warning in order to signify the change. Utilizing autotune on their vocals, they are backed by a mix centred on a pulsing bass, percussion and a prominent piano part, that gradually gets denser and dense as more instruments are added. There’s a hint of baggy/madchester that gives it almost a club-ready feel, but with a more organic vibe given all the percussion. And the autotune makes it sound very 21st century. Like Bush herself, riggs combines contemporary production techniques with more traditional instrumentation; it’s a fitting modernization of one of her most joyous songs. – Riley Haas

21. The Puppini Sisters — Wuthering Heights

Transforming Bush into the bright and breezy tropes of the 1950’s Andrews Sisters must have been no small feat, and the care with which the de- and re-construction has taken place is nothing short of remarkable. But it transcends parody or pastiche and stands as a very credible, and likeable, version, in its own right. The brainchild of Marcella Puppini, an Italian born singer, the idea of for this sort of revision came from watching the Canadian animated comedy film The Triplets of Belleville, which led her to form a trio, albeit not with her actual sisters. This comes from their 2006 debut Betcha Bottom Dollar. – Seuras Og


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  One Response to “The 30 Best Kate Bush Covers Ever”

Comments (1)
  1. Martin Newnham: Really great cover! Tight, almost terse guitar work. Love it!

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