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Kate Bush: Director's Cut (Fish People/EMI) 

For her first release in six years, the reclusive English art-rock genius has re-recorded 11 songs drawn from her albums The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993). Does this Director's Cut add anything substantial to the Kate Bush oeuvre? The answer is a guarded "yes."

The latest recordings do sound markedly different from the originals, and they're uniformly excellent. Bush has added new lead vocals and drums throughout, with some tracks also getting freshened instrumental parts. Contributors include bassist Danny Thompson, drummer Steve Gadd and backup singer Mica Paris.

Three cuts have been completely re-recorded, including "This Woman's Work," which is gorgeous no matter the version. "The Sensual World" has been renamed "Flower of the Mountain" now that Bush has permission to incorporate into it some recited text from James Joyce's Ulysses, as she originally intended. Although it's an eccentric change, I dig how she's transformed "Rubberband Girl" into a Stones-y garage-rocker.

Bush has mixed her new vocals drastically forward, but the move seems neither gratuitous nor indulgent. She sounds immediate, inviting, disarming and as sexy as ever. When she sings softly, her voice is a warm whisper beating against your cheek; when she gets fierce, you can hear a gritty edge that she hasn't expressed since, maybe, 1982's The Dreaming.

Do you need to buy this when you already own Bush's wonderful original versions? Let's put it this way: Movie buffs may argue whether Ridley Scott's revision of Blade Runner actually improves on the first release, but it's still Blade Runner, right?

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