Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: 'Kate: Inside the Rainbow' by John Carder Bush


Unlike a lot of solo artists, Kate Bush never really had to go it alone because she always had a very strong and involved support system in her family. Her brother, John Carder Bush, was a particularly powerful presence, both writing and reciting the rap in her awesome “Jig of Life” and shooting the photos that appear on her album covers, promote her work, and most fascinating of all, catch her at her most disarming moments. Much of the latter surely appeared in Cathy, an anthology of images of Kate Bush before her unusually early fame. Her brother is now following up on that volume with Kate: Inside the Rainbow, which captures the artist in her star years (though a few choice shots of his subject as a girl are thrown in to stoke the interest of anyone who hasn’t looked at volume one). Some of pop’s most iconic photo sessions are present between this book’s pages, but it’s the ones that reveal the woman within the star that are the most captivating. Seeing Kate Bush without makeup or big hair, grinning naturally, rubbing her eyes, and cuddling with two huge dogs makes me wish that such a disarming shot appeared on the cover of Hounds of Love. While Bush has a penchant for mugging like a mime on stage and in videos, we see her dropping her jaw for a very candid, utterly natural, and completely disarming "Ha!" on page 40. Bush’s more glamorous and staged shots are in here too, and let’s not dance around the plain truth that she is a gorgeous woman and looks great in these pictures as well. But it’s the ones that didn’t appear on LP sleeves or press releases that make this book really worth owning.

John Carder Bush’s text is pretty great too, as he reveals his poetic gifts without coming off as a pretentious jackass. His biography of his sister is not as extensive as others, but it does come with an insider’s invaluable insight, and his description of his work methods will interest fellow photographers. Amazingly, Carder Bush doesn’t consider himself a professional photographer, even though his work has been used in ways that would make most pros immolate with envy.

My only knock against Inside the Rainbow is that it’s a lovely, big book with big pages, and too often the images are shrunk down in the middle of huge frames of useless whiteness. I realize that this is a pretty standard design decision, but what’s the point of having this book’s impressive size and Carder Bush’s impressive images if you aren’t going to take full advantage of both? Photo books as nice as this one deserve a new standard.

Get Kate: Inside the Rainbow on Amazon.co.uk here:
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