The British chanteuse first came into the spotlight when she was only 16, after a friend of her father's took some of her recordings to Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour. He was so captivated by her otherworldly visions that he financed a series of demo recordings that led to a rather atypical record deal with EMI. In an unusual move, the U.K. entertainment monolith decided not to record the eccentric singer immediately; instead, they financed a series of lessons to improve her already-inventive writing style, as well as her singing and dancing. It was clear the lessons paid off: Bush's very first single, "Wuthering Heights," a three-minute recap of Emily Bronte's disquieting Gothic classic, topped the U.K. charts in 1978, making her an overnight sensation and sending her subsequent album, The Kick Inside, to the No. 3 position, selling over a million copies in the U.K. alone. Her next album, Lionheart, reached No. 6 on the charts, and while it wasn't quite the sensation that its predecessor was, the record established her as one of the more inventive and risk-taking artists extant. Her spectral beauty, excessive stage shows -- which often contained nearly 20 costume changes -- extravagant mime work and over-the-top set designs spawned her long run (which continues to this day) as an object of cult devotion.
In 1980, Bush returned to the upper reaches of the charts with a more experimental offering, Never For Ever, which found the singer not only arranging her own material, but also co-producing the album. It yielded three hits ("Breathing," "Army Dreamers" and the ethereal "Babooshka"), and it displayed a compositional density and complexity not found in her earlier work. The Dreaming (1982) took her into a new realm altogether, moving the singer out of mainstream pop and into darker terrain. The self-produced offering was far less melodic, with jagged rhythms and atonal chants. It was clear from this point on that Bush would never again be pigeonholed as merely a charming, ethereal singer. Hounds of Love (1985) reinforced that: it finds the singer at the peak of her powers, showcasing her burgeoning talents as a writer, producer and singer, as she weaves Arthurian legend with Jungian psychology, creating what would be her masterwork. After such a prodigious effort, Bush took an extended hiatus and didn't return until 1989, with The Sensual World, a wonder-filled yet shambolic affair, what with Celtic harps, whips, uilleann pipes and a soliloquy from James Joyce's Ulysses woven into the title song. The album showed Bush to be a brave, provocative and atavistic artist.
Unfortunately, Bush's output has since dwindled. Her next release was 1993's The Red Shoes: ostensibly christened after the movie of the same name, the album was dedicated to her mother, who had just died. While emotions run high on the collection, it is nowhere near as strong as some of her earlier stuff. In fact, it seems as if she is no longer in the service of her strange, otherworldly muse; instead she seems to embrace a more prosaic, lustier approach to life -- her panes to food, eroticism and romance might have everything to do with her long-time relationship with guitarist Danny McIntosh. To that end, she'd scarcely be heard from again until 2005's Aerial, an elegant parental-funk ode to domestic bliss; in 2011, she returned with Director's Cut, featuring recut tracks from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes with new vocals and rhythm tracks.