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In the lap of the kids: The Time Kate Bush Did Razzmatazz

When I’m sixty-four…

Seeing as Kate Bush has seemingly, inexplicably, become the Bright Young Thing of the summer, to celebrate her 64th birthday let‘s get clickable with a bonkers British telly appearance from four decades ago…

On 14 July 1981, the month I stopped being a middle school pupil, Kate Bush appeared on Razzmatazz to promote her latest single. The pioneering popster was in the North East of England, giving an atypical interview at ITV’s Tyne Tees franchise for the children’s music show Razzmatazz.

Today we take you back to that notable day forty-odd years ago as she went on the promotional trail for her wonderfully wayward 45, Sat In Your Lap. A dense avant-pop stampede of burbling Afro-beats and an astonishingly precise vocal imitation of Lodger-era Bowie histrionics, the track heralded an altogether more bonkers Bush. And after the witchy Wuthering Heights that’s really saying something.

Sat In Your Lap was a trailer for 1982’s “difficult fourth album”, The Dreaming, which saw the maverick singer-songwriter exerting an even greater control over her output. The LP would be her first self-produced opus, though it was subsequently revealed that the original plan was actually to use Lodger’s producer, Tony Visconti. 

Gone was the damsel in distress with the floral headdresses and adagio dance moves, The Dreaming instead delivered us a new Kate – an almighty, animalistic, Amazonian force of a woman singing abstractly about Australian Aboriginals, bank robbers and Houdini. In the quirky promo for the album’s title track (the pull of the) Bush even does her best Bowie impersonation, which is a lot easier when you’ve purloined his spaceman costume from the Ashes To Ashes video.

Take a gander.

For the Sat In Your Lap promo spot, Kate was interviewed by Razzmatazz’s Lyn Spencer, and took questions from the young school age audience, even letting the miscreants try on props for the single’s video – and gave an early insight into her artistic prowess. Spencer recalls how “the male members of the crew were particularly excited at the prospect of Kate Bush appearing on the show – they had seen her racy stage costumes!”

“When I met Kate she was absolutely adorable, and quite shy. I decided to mic her up myself rather than have the sound department boys drooling over her, so I wasn’t Ms Popularity on that day as they were probably fighting for pole position. I remember the interview well, as we played in snippets of her very popular promotional videos, and she talked about the making of these, showed props from them and took questions from the young audience.

“Smile, Kate, you’re on rancid camera.”

“It was such a great feature that the producers decided to extend the piece, which was originally scheduled to be edited to three minutes. The final piece ran for seven minutes, which is a large chunk of time for a show that fills a half-hour slot. However, Kate was very hot at the time and the feature was very well received. My lasting impression of her was that she was very sweet, charming, softly spoken, but obviously hugely talented as well as being a beautiful young lady.”

Kate told Razzmatazz: “The song really dictates what you have to do with it. Some songs are very simple and other songs become almost little epics where you have to section lots of little things together. It really is a lot of fun. For me it is like making a film. I think of it as something very special.” Bush then showed a storyboard for her Army Dreamers single from the previous year, and went on to say:

“That’s the wonderful thing about art, like music and dancing, everything you do can then become your work. If you’re cleaning up one night you might suddenly realise what a great routine it would make. It’s keeping your mind open to all these things. It’s really fun, life becomes work. Music and dance are meant to go together, they are very close arts. I went to see an incredible performance by someone called Lindsay Kemp, and I suddenly realised that this was what I was looking for, this movement combined with music.”

Audiences at Before The Dawn, her breathtaking residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in 2014 found it was something she’s kept with her. Following a triumphant start to the live shows, Kate set a new official chart record by becoming the first female in history to score eight albums on the UK’s Official Albums Chart simultaneously, including two in the Top 10.

Bush currently sits behind only those January 8th icons Elvis Presley and David Bowie, who each managed 12 entries in the Top 40 following their deaths in 1977 and 2016, and The Beatles, who notched up 11 simultaneous positions with their 2009 album reissues.

Razzmatazz was a national pop show for kids that was produced at Tyne Tees, with Andrea Wonfor as executive producer and Gavin Taylor as director and Malcolm Gerrie as producer. Alistair Pirrie co-produced and he and Lyn co-hosted it. “As it was a national show, it did attract big stars of the day,” recalled Lyn. “I remember interviewing David Essex, Chas and Dave, Haircut 100, Madness, Kim Wilde, Bucks Fizz – the list was endless.” Wow. As Kate might, say, unbelievable.

Were you in the Razzmatazz audience the day Kate Bush appeared in 1981?

If you were please don’t get in touch.

Steve Pafford

Kate Bush at 60 is here

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