Power-Pop Hero Performs "Wuthering Heights"
By: Evan Toth and Press Release
Matthew Sweet has released his version of Kate Bush’s landmark 1978 single, “Wuthering Heights,” on all digital platforms. This is the first new recording from Sweet since his January 2021 album Catspaw, which was recorded pre-covid and features one of the most arresting images in paranormal photography: the famous photograph of the ghost known as "The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall." Sweet, known for his collaborations with guitarists over the years, plays the searing guitar solo on the track as well as all the additional instruments save for the drums, which were played by longtime Sweet sideman Ric Menck.
Matthew provides context to this release:
As the latest season of Stranger Things (Netflix) came and went this year, it was hard not to notice the resurgence of Kate Bush’s song "Running Up That Hill" in this Covid recovering world of 2022.
I do love that song, but this got me thinking about a piano and vocal demo I once made of "Wuthering Heights," the 1978 hit that first brought the 19 year-old Kate to the attention of the world of music. Like Kate herself, I have a strong amount of Irish blood in me, as my mother, like hers, was 100% Irish. In fact, I have dual citizenship between Ireland and America. Maybe this helps account for my always feeling a mystic kinship with Kate, despite our music being worlds apart in so many ways. Regardless, my wife recently urged me to dig up that demo of mine, and although I couldn’t find a multitrack of it, I did locate a rough of the song I had bounced down many years ago. And so it is I came to overdub some guitars and other instruments and produce this single track for release in tribute to Kate. In this streaming world we live in, there is nothing to stop me from doing so. My friend Ric Menck played drums on this originally, and as it’s turned out, I have played everything else. The track has no background vocals, in keeping with the original, to preserve the very personal nature of the lyrics and song. It is worth noting that despite the literary origins of the lyrics, Kate is, in fact, the Cathy of the song. She was born to the name, referred to by it throughout her early years, and didn’t ask to be called Kate until she was nearly 12 years old. Although Kate’s range for singing is quite high on her version, I had only to sing the song an octave lower in the original key and it worked well for me. Hopefully somebody out there might enjoy it, and be led back to Kate’s own very special music.
Matthew's recent biography is below:
Matthew Sweet’s journey began with a move to Athens, Ga. in the early 1980s at the urging of his pen pal, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. As a student at University of Georgia, he was immersed in the college town’s burgeoning alternative rock scene, playing in pioneering acts like Oh-OK and the Buzz of Delight. At 20, he left Georgia for New York City and a major deal with Columbia, where he released his debut solo album, Inside, in 1986. Earth, his 1989 follow-up on A&M, showcased a songwriter with extraordinary pop sensibility on the cusp of something greater. A year later, amid the smoldering ashes of heartbreak and divorce and an escape from New York to the outskirts of Princeton, New Jersey, Sweet composed the songs that became 1991’s Girlfriend. Singles “Girlfriend” and “I’ve Been Waiting,” paired with their Japanese anime-laced music videos (a novelty to the American market at the time), won Sweet a lifelong international following. Altered Beast (1993) continued the hot streak with singles “Ugly Truth” and “Time Capsule,” while 1995’s 100% Fun single “Sick of Myself” reached #2 on rock radio, breaking him even wider.
Sweet continued to evolve over a string of well-received albums in the early 2000s. In 2006, he joined forces with Bangles frontwoman Susanna Hoffs to record a series of covers from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, Under the Covers, Vol. 1–3. Sweet’s music has appeared in numerous films, television shows, and games, including Austin Powers, Guitar Hero II, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons, and Scooby-Doo, among many others. Sweet was a lead consultant on Tim Burton’s Margaret Keane biopic Big Eyes in 2014. His companion albums, Tomorrow Forever (2017) and Tomorrow's Daughter (2018) were followed by 2018's Wicked System of Things and 2021's Catspaw, his 15th studio effort.
If you've got a hankering to watch the original Kate Bush video, you can see it below.