Backed by robust self-belief – and a tight-knit cabal of family, accountants and lawyers – she was highly adept at getting her own way. “People shouldn’t be fooled by the mystical hippy stuff, this girl is very, very tough.” As far back as 1977, EMI had wanted “James And The Cold Gun” rather than “Wuthering Heights” to be her first single.
“She didn’t agree and nailed me to the floor,” recalls former EMI MD Bob Mercer, the man who signed Bush to the label.
“There is a clause in all contracts that gives the record company the right to refuse, return, or object.
From talks I had, that was the closest EMI got to returning an LP in my time.
By the time of The Dreaming she was ready to produce herself, using a series of engineers on hand to help shape her ideas. While dropping into sessions for Peter Gabriel’s third album to sing on “Games Without Frontiers”, Bush had been inspired by the record’s gated drum sound pioneered at Townhouse Studios; at the same time she’d become infatuated with the Fairlight CMI, a synthesiser that enabled musicians to sample sounds and play them back, either direct from the keyboard or by programming a sequence of notes.
The title track – the second single released from the album – featured Rolf Harris on didjeridu and animal impersonator Percy Edwards pretending to be a sheep, while the album ended with Bush simulating a braying donkey.
“It got to the point of the nearest album we ever returned to the artist,” says Brian Southall, the former head of artist development at the label.
Stretching into 1982, the last two months of the sessions coincided with the Falklands War, and she emerged at ungodly hours to be greeted with increasingly grim news.
Del Palmer, her long-term boyfriend, bass player and budding engineer, likened coming up from the windowless basement studio to surfacing from a submarine.