Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
If ever there was a precocious, otherworldly talent that took the music world by surprise and shook it to its creative core, it’s the inimitable Kate Bush. Released when she was just 19 years old, her beguiling 1978 debut album The Kick Inside features songs she had written throughout her teenage years, which collectively exhibit a maturity and self-assuredness in her writing and piano-playing suggestive of someone with far more life experience under her belt.
Inspired by Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel and examining the tragic conflicts of passion between its central characters Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, the haunting debut single “Wuthering Heights” encapsulates Bush’s unconventional yet versatile vocal style, intelligent lyricism and theatrical flair infused throughout the album’s expanse. Wide-ranging, both thematically and sonically, The Kick Inside is downright impossible to pigeonhole, which may be why it was largely met with indifference stateside, despite the more pronounced accolades it received in Bush’s native UK.
Highlights include the soaring, whale song imbued ode to her mentor and mime instructor (Lindsay Kemp) in the form of “Moving,” the rapturous nod to falling in love “Oh To Be In Love,” the explorations of early sexual experience on “Feel It” and “L'Amour Looks Something Like You,” and the intriguing, Ivor Novello award-winning “The Man with the Child in His Eyes,” which Bush wrote at age 13, from the perspective of a young girl observing an older man.
Provocative on multiple levels, The Kick Inside, er, kickstarted the Kate Bush mystique that endures to this day. It stands as an excellent and essential glimpse into the young romantic, literary mind whose creativity—musically and aesthetically—would soar to greater heights in the years and albums that followed. No one sounds like Kate Bush. Not then, not now, not ever.