Lost in the ’80s: Kate Bush, “Experiment IV”

lit80s

“And they told us what they wanted was a sound that could kill someone from a distance …”

In 1986, after years of trying to break Kate Bush in the States with only the minor Top 40 hit “Running Up That Hill” to show for it, EMI decided to capitalize on Kate’s recent success with Hounds of Love in the UK by releasing a best-of, which could also serve as a catch-up primer for the US.  The Whole Story collected various tracks from Bush’s first five albums, along with a newly recorded version of her first single, “Wuthering Heights,” and one new track which was issued as a single to promote the disc.

“Experiment IV” (download) was a creepy tune that told the story of a top secret military operation where scientists were attempting to create a weapon using only sound. Unfortunately for them, they succeed. The single was accompanied by an equally spooky video that was banned from Top of the Pops, but got plenty of MTV play Stateside.  It also featured Dawn French of French & Saunders and a relative unknown by the name of Hugh Laurie:

While “Experiment IV” did not repeat Bush’s Top 40 success in the States, it did chart nicely in the UK and The Whole Story went on to become her biggest selling album. But can you believe The Whole Story is currently out of print?  Neither can I, but that’s what Amazon tells us, although there are plenty of used copies to go around.  Highly recommended, even if it’s in serious need of a remastering.

“Experiment IV” did not chart.

Get Kate Bush music at Amazon or on Kate Bush




  • jamesballenger

    I have been going through a Kate Bush rediscovery as of late. Her voice is so unique, but more than that she is one of those Love her or Hate her types. She's like the “Rush” of singers.

  • chadwicktron

    I love Kate Bush extremely, but sorry, this is the song I always skip on “The Whole Story.”

  • http://www.ooblick.com/weblog/ arensb

    Yeah, while watching the video I couldn't help thinking “they wanted a sound that would kill someone at a distance, so they came up with Kate Bush's voice.”

    Bad arensb! No biscuit!

  • JohnHughes

    Hysterical!

  • kels

    I love Kate and have every single release she has ever fluttered her voice to (including those Go West and Big Country tracks and two Prince collaborations). Experiment IV, for years, held the title as her most awkward single, only to be toppled by that truly awful song from The Golden Compass or perhaps her cover of Sexual Healing. You would think, having a dozen years to come up with her last album, she would have had more to sing about than “washing machine… wash-ing, mah-sheen.” The girl needs to leave the house once her kid hits university. Just think, perhaps only 19 more years until the next album…

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    While this isn't my favorite Kate Bush song, I did buy The Whole Story — even though I had all of Kate's albums when this greatest hits album came out. I found the re-recording of “Wuthering Heights” kind of “meh” because it wasn't that different from the original.

  • seamus

    My exposure to Kate is limited to the backing vocals on Big Country's “The Seer”.

    I love the “Rush” of singers comment.

  • albertross

    Kate Bush! Me Gusta!

  • kingofgrief

    “…it’s in serious need of a remastering.”

    Agreed. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but TWS was mixed very…er, quietly. My CD requires a cranking of volume, as did my old (Columbia House) LP.

    “Experiment IV” is one of my favorite Kate singles; I'm surprised at the lack of mutual feeling here. In response to Ted, I prefer the re-recorded “Wuthering Heights” (which also served as the flipside to “E4″) as her voice is stronger and less “like the consequences of mating Patti Smith with a Hoover vacuum cleaner” (to quote Dave Marsh, something I normally try to avoid).

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  • http://www.drcastrato.blogspot.com drcastrato

    “…the story of a top secret military operation where scientists were attempting to create a weapon using only sound.”

    Is that like the Brown Note?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    I felt that “Wuthering Heights” wasn't anything special because, to me, she didn't do anything all that different with the song. I know when many artists re-record their songs, they often sound pretty much the same — except the audio quality is usually better. But Kate's voice had really matured beyond her 19 year old self from The Kick Inside and I just expected her to sing the song in a lower key.

    But you're right about the mastering. Experiment IV was pretty muddy, and the overall dynamic of the LP (which I didn't buy from Columbia House), was pretty narrow.

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    I felt that “Wuthering Heights” wasn't anything special because, to me, she didn't do anything all that different with the song. I know when many artists re-record their songs, they often sound pretty much the same — except the audio quality is usually better. But Kate's voice had really matured beyond her 19 year old self from The Kick Inside and I just expected her to sing the song in a lower key.

    But you're right about the mastering. Experiment IV was pretty muddy, and the overall dynamic of the LP (which I didn't buy from Columbia House), was pretty narrow.

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    I felt that “Wuthering Heights” wasn't anything special because, to me, she didn't do anything all that different with the song. I know when many artists re-record their songs, they often sound pretty much the same — except the audio quality is usually better. But Kate's voice had really matured beyond her 19 year old self from The Kick Inside and I just expected her to sing the song in a lower key.

    But you're right about the mastering. Experiment IV was pretty muddy, and the overall dynamic of the LP (which I didn't buy from Columbia House), was pretty narrow.

  • F Doran

    tell kate bush,she can make a deal with GOD.In fact GOD made a deal with us.