Kate Bush Remastered Box Sets reviewed by Phil Aston from Now Spinning.
This review looks at the presentation and packaging of the boxsets. It also goes through the box sets and looks and the albums and track listings.
Video Transcription Below
This time we’re going to look at these Kate Bush remastered box sets volume one and volume two that are currently on an absolutely stupendous price on Amazon. Volume One is about £25 and Volume Two is down to £39 at the time this video was filmed.
They were literally £50-£80 when they were first released in 2018, I think the reason for the price drop is because they haven’t sold as well as they would have thought and they have miss-read what Kate Bush fans really wanted. I am not going to review the music because we all know these Kate Bush albums instead I’m going to review the packaging and the presentation of these boxes, so let’s have a look inside.
So this is the Volume One. It’s a nice glossy box. If I was going to say anything about it at this stage, it is that they’ve made it so it opens from the bottom, which means that as you pick it up it automatically opens. I’m sure this would have been much better if it did come out from the side. The other quick observation is as this is the first part of Kate’s creative output is that the kind of semi-naked man with a fish head on off his chair. I’m not quite sure if that’s the kind of art that you’d expect for the first batch of albums.
Personally, I would’ve thought it would’ve been something based on the artwork of the first few albums, but nevertheless here it is. This contains The Kick Inside, Lionheart, Never Forever, The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, Sensual World, and The Red Shoes.
Now, the first thing that you notice when you open them up is that they’re not square. They’re kind of like the old deluxe additions that you used to get with the plastic added covers. They all open up the same way in digipaks.
The Kick Inside. The other thing I’d like to say is that they all come with very, very minimal booklets with the lyrics, but no background information at all. From a historical background there are no notes from Kate Bush on what was going on at the time or what her thoughts were. I do think that’s a bit disappointing because in the live album that she did more recently, she talks and waxes lyrical about the process and how she came to do the shows, etc. You would’ve thought you would’ve had at least a page of insight from Kate. I’m not going to compare them to the originals, but there isn’t really a great deal of difference in what you got all those years ago for those of you who bought the original CDs.
What you’re getting here is the remastering, and the remastering is very, very impressive. It has brought them up to date, although you have to remember that with any Kate Bush album the production was always very, very good anyway. The photography has been tweaked and it looks better than it did on the original albums.
The next one is Lionheart, and this is a good example of how crisp the photography is on these. There is a quote from one of the songs on the third panel. The booklets again are in landscape, which means that some of the actual artwork has been cropped a little bit. Basically, again, you just get the lyrics with no background information on chart positions or what she was going through at the time.
Next is Never Forever. This one, the artwork spreads over into the third panel, which I think is a nice touch. In fact, imagine if this had been on the cover of the box, the outer box, the kind of hybrid of the first three designs or four designs. I think it would have been so much better. Again, they’re all minimal booklets. The only thing you’ve got is that James Guthrie has done the remastering. Otherwise, I think it’s exactly the same on all of these. The Dreaming is probably the one that is affected the most by the cropping of the having landscape because you cannot see the lock on the front cover. In a sense, she’s got the key in her mouth and there’s a lock down here. But the way it’s cropped, you can’t quite make out that there is a lock there at all.
The Dreaming is the most mad of all Kate’s albums. If you’re new to Kate Bush, this may not be the best place to start. It really is wacky and completely insane album compare with the others. But, she is very much an eccentric artist and one of a kind. But, the quality of the sound on all these is very, very good.
Now this brings me to probably the first one where I do have an issue with, ‘Hounds of Love’. It’s a brilliant album. This is probably for many people thier favorite Kate Bush album.
Unlike the other remaster of this album, again it’s just minimal stuff, but there is something on this that’s peculiar in some ways, which has upset some people. On the back cover, The Big Sky is the seven inch mix. Now why she’s done that, I don’t know. On the previous remaster, you even get an essay on how the album was doing and what people thought of it. You’ve got some historical background, so why we couldn’t have had that I do not know. We also got more photographs in the previous remaster and we don’t have the seven inch version of The Big Sky.
She doesn’t stop there because this is even more peculiar when we go to the next one, which is The Sensual World. I bought this when it came out on CD because CDs were really in then, so it’s on a digipak. That’s fine. Just like the other CD, it’s just got the lyrics, etc. But where this really is odd, as you notice it finishes on This Woman’s Work, whereas the original finishes is Walk Straight Down the Middle. Now apparently she’s taken that off because it was an extra track and she didn’t want it to distract from the whole album. But, the fact is in 1998 when this came out, that track was just one of the tracks on the CD. It doesn’t say anywhere that it was an extra track. It just was part of The Sensual World.
It’s very, very strange that she’s taken that track off and actually then popped it onto the rarity box on volume two, so that’s just odd to me that she did that. Then, we have the last, which is The Red Shoes. I mean, some of the imagery or photographs is different than the previous editions, but overall you don’t get anything different.
The main thing I’m going to say is this box is £25 pounds and at this price is well worth it.
So lets have a look at Volume 2
Again, a different design. The box isn’t as big, but it cost even more. This was nearly £80 when it came out originally. Now, this is where I really think there’s an issue with this. With Arial the packaging is exactly the same as the previous release of Arial. The booklet itself is also exactly the same. The only difference is where it says it’s remastered by James Guthrie in 2018. Of course, the other big difference here is that Rolf Harris has been removed from that track and her son Bertie has replaced his voice. You wouldn’t notice a difference to be honest. It doesn’t change anything and that’s obviously something Kate wanted to do. But, the packaging is exactly the same. That to me is a little bit lazy because it could have been put into a hardback, little hardback book, which I’ll show you with the others would have made more sense.
For example, this kind of booklet that 50 Words for Snow had, and again this is exactly the same. If you’ve already got this, there is no difference at all from a word saying James Guthrie somewhere. It’s been remastered. How much you’ll tell the difference although some people have said that the difference is dramatic.
Next up is Kate Bush, The Director’s Cut. This again is exactly if you’ve bought this before, there is an absolute no difference, apart from the fact it has been remastered. Then, we have the live one. If you’ve recently bought this, this is exactly the same. This hasn’t been remastered because there’s absolutely no reason to as it’s only just come out. This has a more substantial booklet. She talks about the album, the production process. She goes into a lot of detail and it would have been very nice if she could have given that kind of insight or even had a separate booklet that was an overview of her previous albums.
That leaves us with The Other Side, which is all the rarities. Now, the thing I have with this is that we have four CDs of which the music would fit onto two discs. Maybe, she just wanted to separate them. But, the other thing, of course, is that the lack of creative stuff for the actual photographs here. I mean, we’ve got the same image used for each one. Surely, the Kate Bush archive has got tons of photographs she could have used really, so no booklet at all. We’ve got the 12 inch mixes and then we’ve got the other side, which are again rare tracks. Then, we’ve got again some more B sides etc., but there’s not that much I don’t think that’s never been available before and then we’ve got the cover versions on the last CD.
This is overall great stuff, but I think it’s been kind of missed opportunity. Now, the prices of these at the moment make it so it’s well worth the money. If you love Kate Bush and you haven’t got all of her albums, then these are well worth it. The other thing I would say is that it would have been great to have had a DVD with all the promotional videos perhaps included.
If you can get them at the price that I’ve mentioned at the time of doing this video, then I would certainly say go get them. They’re well worth it.
Thank you very much for watching and I’ll see you on the next one. Thank you.