In 30 years, Bush have sold more than 20 million albums. The first of those, Sixteen Stone, went platinum six times in The US. The follow-up debuted at #1 and featured Swallowed, a hit than even bigger than Machinehead and Everything Zen, just two of the chart-busters from the debut.
In more recent times their songs have generated over a billion streams, and this year's The Art of Survival album shows that the ideas are still percolating and the tank isn't in any danger of running low on gas.
Here, then, are 10 of the best songs from the band who plucked the grunge template from deep in the Seattle murk and gave it a bright London polish.
The opener of Bush’s multimillionselling debut Sixteen Stone couldn’t have been a better intro to the quartet, with its mix of disaffected vocals, urgent rhythms and clanging guitars. Minus points for use of ‘asshole’, though – come on, Gav, you’re from West London!
This single from Sixteen Stone was a similarly thrilling introduction in the mid-90s, the hard rock grooves, ascending riffs and anthemic chorus giving the sense of a band in the midst of a meteoric rise. Which they soon would be.
Rossdale recalls feeling a sense of liberation when he and original guitarist Nigel Pulsford came up with the demo for the third single from their debut. There’s a Led Zeppelin epicness to Comedown that gives off a sense that the band’s horizons were less being expanded than they were hunted down.
The stripped-down calling card of Bush’s wiry, grimy second album Razorblade Suitcase, where minor-chord mopiness is given a slap by a clattering chorus and Steve Albini’s into-the-red production. Did Rossdale mention he loved Pixies’ album Surfer Rosa? He didn’t need to after you heard the screeching guitars on this.
The Chemicals Between Us
Restless Rossdale in action, as the best track and lead single off the band’s third album The Science Of Things took things down a notch, marrying twisted rock with airy melodies, taut loops and a keyboard part that sounds like a flute.
Bush had lost their initial spark by the time they arrived at 2001’s Golden State, but their fourth album still has some great moments. This mid-paced rocker showed how they’d introduced a little dynamism to their grunge blasts, with the muscular freak-outs punctuated by intricate interplay.
After a decade-long hiatus, the band returned with the widescreen Afterlife, a crunching number that regains their early swagger with a yearning chorus and indelible melodies that hark back to their early days.
Rossdale was aghast when his record label chose to release a ballad as the lead single from his ill-fated solo album, but he’d obviously made his peace with the format on the standout moment from 2017’s Black And White Rainbows, Bush’s most heartfelt singalong.
Although, saying that, the next thing Rossdale did was completely retool their sound with low bass and industrialstrength riffs. Bullet Holes was in the Keanu Reeves film John Wick 3, in which he kills people he missed in the first two films. (He must have missed some, though, because there’s a fourth instalment on the way.)
More Than Machines
The searing, barbed-wire highlight from Bush’s 2022 record The Art Of Survival continues the sonic themes laid out on The Kingdom: all snarling vocals, epic soundscapes and densely layered distortion.
The Art Of Survival is out now via BMG.