Bush – Live / Sea Of Memories Deluxe

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Review by Brian McGowan

Ear Music

Released in 1994, ‘Sixteen Stone’ sold six million. Four albums and a zillion headlines later comes ‘Sea Of Memories’, presented as a Deluxe version, providing more to chew on and an opportunity for reappraisal. For all the vitriol directed at them over the years, Bush always seem to have the last laugh, and if you could craft songs this good, you’d be laughing too. They use the first three tracks to work off the grunge-lite pretensions that they beat us about the head with via that beautifully timed debut. Then track four, ‘The Afterlife’ begins a run of nine tracks that show off what the band do best – write and perform anthemic contemporary rock. Nothing more, nothing less.

They brought in Bob Rock (The Cult, Our Lady Peace, Aerosmith, etc.) to handle production and he’s played to their strengths, keeping it low key and risk free, painting monochrome songs with Rossdale’s sensual, pained vocals. Some colour bleeds off the palette into a couple of songs – ‘Baby Come Home’ and ‘All Night Doctors’ aim for a spiralling epic grandeur, and just about pull it off.

It’s an album that gets better as it goes along, like they arranged the running order to reveal their creative confidence gradually returning. The riffy, spacey songs, gilded with stadium sized choruses like ‘I Believe In You’, ‘Red Light’ and ’Be Still My Love’ will remind you more of Snow Patrol and Coldplay (sorry Harry) than Nirvana or any other of the flawed titans of Grunge’s early years. The alt rock noir of ‘Stand Up’ and the muscular, guitar driven ’Heart Of The Matter’ show you how far they’ve come, and that they’ve never stop listening to the zeitgeist.

The “Deluxe” bit is a second CD, with eight tracks of “previously unreleased” material, and there’s gold here. In among the three new tracks (pretty good) and three remixes (okay), we find a splendid cover of Fleetwood Mac’s much covered ’Landslide’, and an awesome acoustic version of the band’s ‘Float’. It seems, on this evidence, that when Rossdale isn’t tied down by the studio/producer straitjacket (to deliver a new album), he assumes a much more natural vocalist persona. His vocal performance on both is outstanding. Particularly the latter – led by the band’s simpler, rawer rock sound, he turns that old closing track from the band’s “upbeat” album, ’Golden State’ (2001) into a wracked, haunting love song for our times. And if any song was a suitably apposite closer, that was it.

Contrary to received wisdom, this deluxe version of ‘Sea Of Memories’ might just convert a few non-believers.

8 out of 10

Tracklist:

Bush - Live Sea Of Memories DeluxeDisc One:

  1. Mirror Of The Signs
  2. Sound Of Winter
  3. All My Life
  4. The Afterlife
  5. All Night Doctors
  6. Baby Come Home
  7. Red Light
  8. She’s A Stallion
  9. I Believe In You
  10. Stand Up
  11. The Heart Of The Matter
  12. Be Still My Love

Disc Two:

  1. The Year Of Danger
  2. Ghost
  3. Lay Down Your Guns
  4. Sound Of Winter (Junior Sanchez remix)
  5. Afterlife (feat Cecile) {remix by Washroom and Bass Over Babylon}
  6. All Night Doctors (remix by Renholder)
  7. Landslide
  8. Float (acoustic)