The Red Shoes is the seventh album by Kate Bush, released by EMI Records on 2 November 1993. The album was written, composed and produced by Kate.

The album was inspired by the 1948 film of the same name by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film in turn was inspired by the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. It concerns a dancer, possessed by her art, who cannot take off the eponymous shoes and find peace. Bush had suggested she would tour for the album and deliberately aimed for a “live band” feel, with less of the studio trickery that had typified her last three albums (which would be difficult to recreate on stage). However, the tour never happened in the end. A few months after the release of the album, Bush did release The Line, The Cross and the Curve, a movie incorporating six tracks from the album.

Most notably, The Red Shoes featured many more high-profile cameo appearances than her previous efforts. Comedian Lenny Henry provided guest vocals on Why Should I Love You, a track that also featured significant contributions from Prince. And So Is Love features guitar work by Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Gary Brooker (from the band Procol Harum) appears on two tracks as well.

During the making of The Red Shoes there was a complete changeover in the set-up of Kate’s personal recording studio. She started work using 48-track analogue techniques, but changed midway to digital recoring. And so , the album ended up being recorded digitally. Bush has since expressed regrets about the results of this, which is why she revisited seven of the songs using analogue tape for her 2011 album Director’s Cut.

Track listing

The album consists of the following tracks:-

  1. Rubberband Girl
  2. And So Is Love
  3. Eat The Music
  4. Moments Of Pleasure
  5. The Song Of Solomon
  6. Lily
  7. The Red Shoes
  8. Top Of The City
  9. Constellation Of The Heart
  10. Big Stripey Lie
  11. Why Should I Love You?
  12. You’re The One


The album was released on LP, CD, tape and MiniDisc.
In 2005, a so-called ‘mini LP replica’ version was released on CD in Japan.
In 2023, a Dracula colour vinyl 2LP was released.

Critical reception

How many of us could stand the self-imposed exile that has been the adult life of Kate Bush. She’s elevated privacy to an art-form… it’s her most personal album to date, yet it is her most accessible, in which the listener can identify directly with the pain she’s trying to pull herself through… A truly exceptional album.

Terry Staunton, NME, 6 November 1993

As a whole, The Red Shoes is more musically varied than thematically, as Bush’s constant returning to the links between love, spirituality and creativity becomes wearing. In compensation, there’s a rich pan-global tapestry woven here in which the textures and designs from distant cultures are being used not for effect, but for the way they express an emotional truth beyond mere words.

Andy Gill, Q, November 1993

There is nothing here that quite compares with her most splendid songs – 1980’s Breating and 1986’s The Big Sky… but The Red Shoes is a triumph nonetheless…

Tom Hibbert, The Independent on Sunday, 14 November 1993

Bush’s most pensive album yet… its mood of wistful mystery maintained by elaborate arrangements… the occasional number is overwrought, but the best confirm Bush as an artist of substance.

Neil Spencer, The Observer, 7 November 1993

This plunge into Bush’s sensual world sometimes leaves the listener gasping in awe at the lush musical landscapes spawned by her unfettered romanticism, but also sometimes gasping for breath in the rarefied despair of a troubled heart… Bush keeps her balance by composing music that’s never complacent, always exmploring fresh dimensions of her wideranging vision and musical interests.

Rick Mason, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 31 October 1993

On The Red Shoes, Bush is as easily folkloric as it is danceable and sometimes also heartbreakingly candid (in ‘Lily’). But it seems as if she could no longer make a choice from the abundance of options.

NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands), 1993

Kate about ‘The Red Shoes’

I’ve been very affected by these last two years. They’ve been incredibly intense years for me. Maybe not on a work level, but a lot has happened to me. I feel I’ve learnt a lot – and, yes, I think [my next album] is going to be quite different… I hope the people that are waiting for it feel it’s worth the wait.

BBC Radio 1 interview, 14 December 1991

Highest chart positions

Australia: 17
Austria: 34
Canada: 13
France: 14
Germany: 18
Japan: 24
Netherlands: 23
New Zealand: 30
Sweden: 16
Switzerland: 26
UK: 2
USA: 28


  • The Red Shoes (album). Wikipedia, retrieved 24 December 2014.
  • Krystyna Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.), Peter Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.) & Dave Cross (ed.), Homeground: The Kate Bush Magazine Anthology One, 2014. ISBN 978-1861714794