February 1978: Kate Bush Kicks Onto the Scene with Her Debut Album

Kate Bush in 1978
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Angelo Deligio/Mondadori via Getty Images

On Feb. 17, 1978, Kate Bush released her debut album, which - thanks to a little help from a big name and a whole lot of existing talent - kicked her career into high gear, resulting in a Top 5 album and a chart-topping single.

Recorded at London’s AIR Studios under the eyes and ears of producer Andrew Powell and released when Ms. Bush was all of 19 years old, The Kick Inside turned Ms. Bush into one of the biggest stars in the U.K. virtually overnight…or to be more specific, the album's first single did.

True story: “Wuthering Heights” was inspired by a TV adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic novel.

That’s right, Bush hadn't actually read the book when inspiration first struck, although she eventually did so “to get the research right.” In the long run, though, it doesn’t really matter when she read it. All that matters is that the song went to No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart, making Bush the first female singer-songwriter to ever hit the top with a song she'd written herself.

Not half-bad, eh?

The Kick Inside may have been released when Bush was 19, but some of its songs were actually written as far back as when she was 13. The contents of the LP are definitely not designed for those who prefer easy pop hooks and enjoy lyrics featuring simplistic “moon”/“June”/“spoon” rhyme.

They are, however, designed for those who appreciate tremendous musicianship: the credits reveal that the LP features a wide array of talented musicians spread amongst the 13 tracks, including some executive production work on “The Saxophone Song” and “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” by the man whose help in securing her first record deal was immeasurable, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Other folks in the mix: Ian Bairnson (The Alan Parsons Project), Duncan Mackay and Stuart Elliott (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel), and David Paton (Pilot).

Five songs were released from The Kick Inside in various countries around the world, but the ones that mattered most in the U.K. were “Wuthering Heights” and “The Man with the Child in His Eyes,” which gave Bush a U.K. No. 6 single as well. “Them Heavy People” was only released as a single in Japan, but it nonetheless earned recognition in the U.S. as a result of Bush performing it on Saturday Night Live.

It didn't chart in America, but “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” did, hitting No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Hey, it's something, at least.) “Moving” was also released as a single in Japan, where it topped the charts, while “Strange Phenomena” was issued as a single in Brazil, where it apparently did not chart at all. D'oh…

Surprisingly unreleased as a single, however, was “James and the Cold Gun,” which EMI had preferred to “Wuthering Heights” as the best way to introduce the world to Bush. Bush disagreed, however, and she won the battle.

No matter how it may have charted in your particular vicinity, The Kick Inside has still come to be viewed as one of the great debut albums of all time. In 2008, the BBC's Chris Jones summed up the album perfectly with a mere seven words, “To this day, nothing sounds like it.”

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