S05E21 – The Seer (with Big Country)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S05E21 - The Seer (with Big Country)

1986 was a busy year for Kate Bush! Not only was she singing with Rowan Atkinson, putting out singles from Hounds of Love and also a video and non-album track for The Whole Story, but she also got to sing with two other major artists: Big Country and Peter Gabriel! This week, we’re talking about the title track from the Scottish band Big Country’s album The Seer, on which our lovely Kate lent her vocals!

Cecilee’s on her own this week and what a gushing, happy episode this is! Cecilee gets to talk about her love for this song and why it’s one of her favorite Kate Bush collaborations. You’ll also get to hear Cecilee nerd about Kate’s vocal stylings on The Seer and this era in general (specifically, what are you doing with your voice when you yodel and sing the way Kate does in this era and on this song with her background “yeah yeah yeah ooooohs”). Cecilee will also talk about the history of The Seer, who the band is, and how Big Country got Kate to sing on the song!

Included are interview clips from a Big Country focused podcast, The Great Divide.

Song clips played:

Big Country – The Seer (featuring Kate Bush)

Big Country – In a Big Country

Big Country – Fields of Fire

Big Country – Look Away

Interview clips played:

The Great Divide Episode 14 (The Seer Part 1)

The Great Divide Episode 15 (The Seer Part 2)

S05E20 – Do Bears (with Rowan Atkinson)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S05E20 - Do Bears (with Rowan Atkinson)

And now for an interesting little footnote in Kate Bush’s discography, her duet with comedian Rowan Atkinson, Do Bears.

On April 4, 5, and 6, 1986, Kate Bush took part in the first live show for a then-new British charity event that would soon become a yearly institution: Comic Relief. She sang two songs, a solo piano version of Breathing (which was discussed in this episode) and a humorous duet with Rowan Atkinson, Do Bears…? Kate’s performances of both songs were filmed for a special edition of the BBC program Omnibus, which was broadcast on April 25, 1986. Meanwhile, the audio for her performances was released on an LP called Utterly Utterly Live at the Shaftesbury Theatre: Comic Relief.

In this episode, Cecilee gets to talk with Jack Wranovics, a Kate fan from California, who was last on the show to discuss Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake. Jack and Cecilee talk about this song and also the atmosphere of the late 80s and the obsession with what Jack calls “charity chic”: charity events, such as Live Aid, Band Aid, and Comic Relief, involving celebrities raising money for a good cause. We also talk about Kate’s place in British pop culture at the time and our own thoughts on this song!

Song clip played and video mentioned:

Do Bears (live at Comic Relief, 1986)

S03E21 – You (The Game Part II) (Roy Harper song)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S03E21 - You (The Game Part II) (Roy Harper song)


Ready to travel to new dimensions? Maybe even be a daring time traveler? Then you can be with a discussion of this week’s song, an album track from The Unknown Soldier, by British folk artist Roy Harper, called You (The Game Part II)! Kate and an old family friend, a certain David Gilmour, pop up on this song, her on vocals, and David on guitar. A champion of his music, Kate Bush lent her vocals to this album track after Roy sang on her song Breathing. Later she would contribute vocals to another album track, Once, from Roy’s album of the same name from 1989.

Never released as a single, You features Kate prominently on the first verse, background vocals on the choruses, and in the background on the fourth verse and singing the second to last line of that same verse. If you ever wanted to hear what Pink Floyd might’ve sounded like with Kate as the lead singer, then you’ll definitely want to listen to this song!

Song clips used:

You (The Game Part II)

S03E20 – Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel Song)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S03E20 - Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel Song)


On to the last Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush song….. for now! Like the previous two Peter Gabriel songs we’ve talked about on the show, Games Without Frontiers is an album track. But unlike the previous ones, this was a successful single. In fact, it was Peter’s first top 10 hit in the UK and the biggest hit, to that point, that featured Kate and Peter singing together (until Don’t Give Up in 1986)! How cool is that?

To discuss this song, we have our resident PG fan, also known as Cecilee’s husband Andrew Linke. We get to talk about the lyrics, the interesting references in the song, and of course, our lovely Kate’s ghostly background vocals singing the title line in French (as if her voice could get any more beautiful!). We also get to talk about how this collaboration came to be and a funny story from Graeme Thomson’s book Under the Ivy about a record executive’s reaction to this song. We also talk about the title’s reference to a rather silly game show called Jeux sans frontières (French for “games without frontiers”) and the British equivalent, called It’s a Knockout.

Clips used:

It’s a Knockout Theme

Jeux Sans Frontières Full Show

Games Without Frontiers (official video from Melt)

S03E19 – No Self Control (Peter Gabriel Song)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S03E19 - No Self Control (Peter Gabriel Song)


Now on to Peter Collaboration #2, the UK top 40 hit No Self Control, track number 2 on his 1980 album Melt. Peter Gabriel may have written this song, but in the production and song theme, No Self Control shares some parallels with Kate’s music as we would come to know it on her upcoming album The Dreaming.

World instruments in a non-world context (marimbas are featured in this song).

Distorting the human voice even further with technology (Kate’s vocals on the bridge and title line).

The song’s overall theme (human psychology and someone losing their mind).

In short, some of the seeds of The Dreaming can be heard on this collaboration, and what an exciting thing to hear!

Cecilee’s husband Andrew Linke returns to discuss No Self Control. They discuss the inspiration of this song (a Steve Reich composition called Music for 18 Musicians), the lyrics, why Kate and Peter may not have actually written songs together beyond these few collaborations, Kate’s contributions to the song, and how it fits into the music that Kate would come to produce on The Dreaming.

Song clips used:

No Self Control (album version)

Music for 18 Musicians (performed February 5, 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)

Further viewing:

No Self Control (promo video fan edit)

S03E18 – I Don’t Remember (Peter Gabriel Song)

Strange Phenomena: The Music of Kate Bush
S03E18 - I Don't Remember (Peter Gabriel Song)


And so now begins the collaborations portion of this third season of the show! There will be a total of five collaboration episodes this season, three of them with the same artist: Peter Gabriel.

I Don’t Remember was first sung by Peter and Kate together on stage for the Bill Duffield benefit concert in May 1979. Until then, I Don’t Remember was a Peter Gabriel only track, but during that show, Kate sang harmonies with Peter on this song and was even featured on the album version of said track (albeit in a very distorted manner such that her voice is unrecognizable unless you listen carefully!).

During Kate’s sessions for Never For Ever, Kate popped by Peter’s studio to sing background vocals with Peter on three of his songs: I Don’t Remember, No Self-Control (a UK top 40 hit that peaked at #33 in May 1980), and the top 20 hit Games Without Frontiers. All three of those songs ended up on Peter’s third album known as Peter Gabriel, a.k.a. Peter Gabriel 3 or Melt, due to the distinctive cover image. For this episode, and the two following Peter Gabriel collaboration episodes this season (and for Don’t Give Up next year in the Hounds of Love season), Cecilee gets to talk with her husband Andrew Linke, the resident Peter Gabriel fan (though Cecilee is becoming a fan too!). Cecilee and Andrew talk about the lyrics, Kate’s performance on this song, and the ways that she’s already starting to use her voice in a more experimental and very distorted way.

Song clips used: