Update: Kate Bush is back! She's announced a bunch of London dates, which you can read about here.

The lyrical has already been waxed quite substantially about Kate Bush both here at The 405 and elsewhere, but with an artist of this calibre, talent and inventiveness, you can never wax enough, really, can you.

Considering the fact that Kate's first record, The Kick Inside, came out over 35 years ago, her output since then has hardly been what one could describe as prolific, but as clichéd as it sounds, the scarcity of quantity has more than been made up for by quality.

With albums low on fillers and high on imagination, Kate has taken perfectionism to a new plain and embraced both eclectic story-telling and concept projects (most recent album, 50 Words For Snow, being an instance in point with regard to the latter).

We have picked a dozen tracks that, to us, deserve a place on the Essential Kate Bush Playlist, but - truth be told - the process of long-listing and then short-listing these songs has been excruciating, as so many representatives of Kate's back-catalogue stand as glowing highlights.

Anyway, here's what we've ended up with:

'The Sensual World'

James Joyce's Molly Bloom soliloquy from Ulysses just happened to fit a piece of music Kate had wanted to use on her 7th long-player. Joyce's estate refused to license the copyright to the work so Kate just wrote her own version of a two-dimensional character coming out of the book it had been written into, touching and feeling everything in 3D for the very first time. Stunning.

'Hounds of Love'

An ode to being afraid of falling in love put to thundering drums and a fervent string section. The Futureheads' 2004 cover wasn't half bad but the original refuses to age.

'Running Up That Hill'

Our second selection from Kate's 1985 album, Hounds of Love, needs no introduction. Kate's highest charting UK single apart from 'Wuthering Heights', it remains one of the best known tracks in her discography. With a magnificently choreographed video, this cut really deserves plaudits as a classic.

'Them Heavy People'

If you've read our feature on what a 2014 Kate Bush show might be like earlier this week, you'll recall that Kate has only toured once, back in 1979. A live EP, On Stage, came out later that year and featured four recordings from the tour with 'Them Heavy People' as the leading track. The studio version of the song originally featured on The Kick Inside, with the live interpretation giving it extra pizzazz.


A tale of a fairly jealous spouse trying to entrap her husband by sending him letters in the guise of another woman. He falls for it. The fool.

'There Goes A Tenner'

Kate's only single to miss the Top 75 (until 2012's re-recorded 'Deeper Understanding'), this bonkers story of a troupe of bank robbers is nevertheless brilliant. Taken from Kate's fourth and, for many, best album, The Dreaming.

'Suspended In Gaffa'

Another favourite from The Dreaming. "Suddenly my feet are feet of mud, it all goes slow-mo, I don't know why I'm crying, am I suspended in gaffa?" she sings and then repeats the line with ear-piercing shrieks. Amazing.

'Experiment IV'

A song recorded especially for Kate's only best-of collection, The Whole Story. It's all about the Ministry of Defence creating a "sound that could kill someone from a distance". The video shows how, with the help of Dawn French and Hugh Laurie. Nigel Kennedy featured on violin. Really good stuff.

'The Red Shoes'

To accompany the release of her 1993 album, The Red Shoes, Kate directed a medium-length film, The Line , The Cross and the Curve, featuring some of the songs from the album. The film was a bit hit and miss, if we're being brutally frank, but this, the visual accompaniment for the album's title-track and third single, stands out as a fun short with a 'careful what you wish for' moral. Starring a monobrow-clad Miranda Richardson as well as Kate's dance teacher, Lindsay Kemp, it's certainly worth a watch.

'King of the Mountain'

Twelve years after The Red Shoes, Kate finally emerged from her home studio with Aerial - a true return to form. This song preceded its release, reaching number 4 in the UK Charts. It explores the possibility of Elvis Presley still being alive. Opening with hooky electronic pulses, the song builds and builds and subtly lodges itself in your mind. "Elvis, are you out there somewhere, looking like a happy man? In the snow with Rosebud and king of the mountain", Kate sings. At the time of the album's release, an EMI executive chatting to Music Week suggested that a second single from the album, 'How To Be Invisible', was to follow 'King of the Mountain' in 2006. This release ended up being cancelled and 'King of the Mountain' remains Kate's only single release from Aerial.

'Wild Man'

Showcasing the best use of the word Rhododendron in a pop song, this was the track chosen to herald Kate's 2011 album, 50 Words For Snow. If anyone can lure the Yeti from hiding, Kate's our woman. She sings: "They want to hunt you down. You're not an animal. The Lamas say you're not an animal." Beautiful.

[Bonus] 'Watching You Without Me (Remix)'

One of the best songs on Hounds of Love, from its "concept" B-side , 'The Ninth Wave'. Kate takes on the role of a ghost visiting her lover to observe how he is coping in her absence. It's chilling stuff. This is a fairly great fan-made remix of the original but do check the album version as well.