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In Memory Of Violet's Husband, Kim Flint
1969 - 2010

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View full listings.
    Tour Status

    Tori will be touring in 2014 to support the release of Unrepentant Geraldines. The European legs runs from May through June and the North American legs spans July and August. We do not know if additional dates elsewhere will be added.

    Other News Sources
    Current Release

    Unrepentant Geraldines (album, 2014)
    Release Dates:
    May 9 - Germany/Netherlands
    May 12 - UK/France
    May 13 - North America
    May 16 - Australia
    Recent Releases

    Gold Dust (album, 2012)

    Night of Hunters (album, 2011)

    Midwinter Graces (album, 2009)
    Abnormally Attracted To Sin (album, 2009)

    Live at Montreux 1991/1992 (DVD, 2008)

    American Doll Posse (album, 2007)

    A Piano (boxed set, 2006)

    Pretty Good Years
    (bio, 2006)

    Fade To Red
    (DVD, 2006)
    Cherries On Top
    comic book tattoo Comic Book Tattoo (book, 2008)

    News: Wears The Trousers Reviews A Piano

    Posted by woj on Sunday, November 05, 2006 | Reviews

    Alex Ramon reviewed A Piano for Wears The Trousers, a new online magazine that focuses on women in music.


    Tori Amos
    A Piano: The Collection
    Rhino

    piano forte

    The release of this monumental compilation just three
    years after Tales Of A Librarian suggests that the
    latter ‘best of’ did not entirely satisfy Amos’s desire
    for a comprehensive retrospective of her career. It’s
    hardly surprising; having produced a series of stunning,
    epic records which have each rehabilitated and trans-
    formed the notion of the concept album, Amos must
    surely feel a certain amount of frustration that her
    extraordinary music is still frequently dismissed by
    much of the mainstream British music press as the
    work of a Kate Bush clone. By now, of course, such
    accusations just sound plain silly: could an artist really
    sustain nine albums and a succession of Odysseyan
    tours (not to mention survive a major record company
    scrap) by simply ‘copying’ another one? Hardly.

    Nonetheless, the persistence of these kinds of comments
    points to a worrying critical tendency to dismiss certain
    female artists on entirely superficial grounds of similarity.
    While identikit male guitar bands and warbling R&B wan-
    nabes merrily rip each other off without comment or
    censure, some critics’ indignant response to Amos’s
    work — “We’ve already got one like that!” — sadly
    reflects a refusal to engage with another complex,
    uncompromising (and resolutely female) artistic vision.
    Such a reaction seems both glaringly unfair as well as
    inaccurate. After all, surface similarities notwithstanding,
    Bush and Amos have never been all that alike in perform-
    ance style, lyrical content or career philosophy; it’s
    about as easy to envisage Bush embarking on a 200-
    date tour as it is to imagine Amos writing a rhapsodic
    ode to light and birdsong and getting Rolf Harris to sing
    on it. Fortunately, Amos’s heartening response to such
    blinkered critical diminishment has been to keep her focus
    firmly placed upon her music, as vividly demonstrated by
    A Piano, a beautifully packaged collection that fully
    confirms her singular status. This boxset — which, in
    a stroke of design genius, is shaped to resemble the
    keyboard of one of Amos’s treasured Bösendorfers —
    contains five discs and 86 tracks but still only manages
    to scratch the surface of her brilliant career.

    That said, even the most ardent of Toriphiles may
    approach this release with a mixture of delight and
    trepidation. Since Amos’s records are so intricately
    worked out, so thematically cohesive, do we really
    want another collection that inevitably distorts their
    immaculate sequencing and, by so doing, risks muddying
    our memories of the original albums? The fact is that a
    collection such as this one can never hope to please all
    of the people all of the time, and once you’ve recovered
    from the shock of some truly questionable omissions (no
    Northern Lad! no Talula! no Scarlet’s Walk, fer chrissake!)
    and the not overly generous supply of new and rare
    material (just seven previously-unreleased tracks in all,
    along with some alternate mixes, demos and a healthy
    assortment of B-sides), it’s time to relax and savour what
    is here, as well as the fact that Amos has been able to
    produce the collection and oversee the selection process
    herself. In her own words: “A lot of times you’re a grand-
    mother when you get that opportunity to do the boxset
    — or you’re dead. To be current and creating, alongside
    putting a retrospective together, is an opportunity that
    you don’t always have in life.” For Amos, this collection
    marks “the end of an era” and it testifies to both the
    stylistic diversity of her output and the consistency of
    its quality. If her music is intricately bound up in your
    existence and identity then the experience of listening
    to A Piano is rather like flicking through a book of your
    own life, and discovering that, while a few crucial
    chapters have gone missing, they’ve been replaced by
    others that you’d forgotten about and a few that you
    didn’t know were there.

    It will come as no surprise that no inclusions from Amos’s
    ill-starred Y Kant Tori Read days are made; instead,
    the first four discs trace a broadly chronological path
    through her post-1990 career, taking in everything from
    the bare-bones intimacy of Little Earthquakes (1992),
    the dynamic rock of from the choirgirl hotel (1998),
    the swirling electronica of To Venus & Back (1999)
    and the widescreen panoramas of the mighty Scarlet’s
    Walk (2002). Disc A is something of a settling of scores,
    presenting an extended and rearranged version of Little
    Earthquakes that more accurately reflects Amos’s
    original vision of the album. It’s a bold (and possibly
    foolhardy) move to re-order a record that, for most of
    us, was perfect in its original incarnation, and no doubt
    many admirers of the album will feel a certain amount of
    ambivalence about Amos’s decision to do this. Happily,
    the re-sequencing does not interfere with the impact
    of the album, which still sounds incredibly powerful,
    retaining its ability to chill, inspire, shock and console
    in equal measure. And it’s unquestionably a bonus to
    have the likes of Upside Down, Flying Dutchman, Take
    To The Sky and Sweet Dreams collected together in
    one place on this disc.

    Discs B-D mix tracks from Under The Pink (1994), Boys
    For Pele (1996), choirgirl, Venus, Scarlet and The
    Beekeeper (2005) with pit stops for the rare and
    unreleased material, while Disc E collates a selection
    of her B-sides and demos. (A typically well-produced
    booklet offers photos, background detail and commen-
    taries on many of the inclusions.) As on Tales Of A
    Librarian, some of the album tracks have been subtly
    (and in some cases, very subtly) remixed from the
    original versions; in Amos’s terms, these are acts of
    “refurbishment” designed to prevent her earlier work
    from sounding dated. The most noticeable tweaking
    occurs on the dense choirgirl tracks: violent guitar
    stabs and all manner of unidentifiable sinister noises
    add new layers of atmosphere to Cruel and iieee, while
    the Kurzweil and sighing pedal steel on Playboy Mommy
    are given extra space. All the remixes are effective,
    however, contributing a crisper and cleaner sound to
    the songs.

    If last year’s Official Bootleg series demonstrated Amos’s
    ability to command an audience with ‘just’ her voice and
    exquisite keyboard skills, these discs remind of her equally
    dextrous control of studio toys and band dynamics, not
    to mention the evolution of her singing and the complex
    beauty of her songwriting. As her frames of reference
    have broadened, taking her music ever deeper into
    history (or herstory), politics, myth and legend, Amos
    has learned how to utilise a select group of musicians
    — principally, drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Jon
    Evans — who share her sense of studio meticulousness.
    The opportunity that this boxset offers to trace her
    creative arc is genuinely thrilling, and it may surprise
    some listeners that the noisiest, rockiest songs here
    are among the most piercingly effective. But the
    constant component of her work is, of course, the
    piano, and these discs attest to her consistent and
    creative reinvention of that instrument as a vital and
    versatile part of the pop-rock idiom.

    There’s always something new to uncover in Amos’s
    songs and each listener will of course have their own
    favourite (re-)discoveries as they dive into this collection.
    But it’s the new material that most fans will make a bee-
    line for first, and the previously unreleased tracks are as
    brilliant as anything she’s ever done. The tense Take Me
    With You (which Amos began in 1990 and finally comple-
    ted this year) is an immediate highlight, a seamless
    merging of her earliest and most recent sensibilities.
    Walk To Dublin (Sucker Reprise) is a captivating slice
    of harpsichord-driven Pele-era madness, while the
    Beekeeper reject Not David Bowie rocks and rumbles
    with a blistering mix of Hammond organ and clavinet
    that has to be heard to be believed. Meanwhile, Marys
    Of The Sea gets supplemented by a cheeky Intro Jam
    which finds Amos scatting and improvising over funky
    piano, bass and drums. “I’ve got to face some kind of
    evil tomorrow,” she sings, rather cheerfully. Elsewhere,
    Ode To My Clothes manages to be both playful and
    desolate and Dolphin Song is simply mesmerising.

    Each of these tracks demonstrates her amazing ability
    to take a song through diverse emotions, metres and
    moods. With her richly expressive vocals, Amos can turn
    a tender ballad of love betrayed savage with a simple
    shift in intonation or a casually dropped profanity —
    listen to the eruption of anger that spills into the bridge
    of Take Me With You or the sudden Southern twist she
    puts on the “daughter of a preacher man” lyric in Dolphin
    Song. Her vocalisations are peerless in their expressive-
    ness and unpredictability. Meanwhile, intricate temporal
    shifts in the music are matched and enhanced by startling
    lyrical juxtapositions: Sister Janet finds her “slipping the
    blade in the marmalade”; Beulah Land has her requesting
    “religion, and a lobotomy”; on Honey she’s trying to
    “bribe the undertaker” and confronting a man who only
    “liked [his] babies tight.” (Listening to these lyrics you
    may find yourself wondering whether it can be a mere
    coincidence that Amos was born in the year Sylvia
    Plath died.)

    From moment to moment, you never know in what
    direction her songs are going to take you: the nine-
    minute Zero Point spends a few seconds masquerading
    as a delicate piano ballad before mutating into an epic
    of programmed beats and distorted guitar. Elsewhere,
    vaudeville touches merge with classical flourishes,
    furious harpsichord joins with church bells. As she put
    it so memorably in her semi-autobiography Piece By
    Piece: “Some days life can feel pretty normal…then
    there are other days that make you think you’ve
    walked into something sinister, like a Hermann Hesse
    novel.” Her songs contain and convey that breadth of
    feeling and experience, allowing the sacred and profane,
    the oblique and the brutally direct, the mythic and the
    colloquial, to occupy the same breathing space. Few
    musicians have the capacity to channel such calm and
    frenzy, either live or on record. And even fewer can
    match her ability to combine intellectual rigorousness
    with visceral emotion. But, for all her intensity, A Piano
    exposes an incredible amount of humour in her work,
    black and otherwise.

    Still, it’s a genuine shame that none of her brilliant
    covers are featured, no Smells Like Teen Spirit or Angie,
    and nothing from her bracingly subversive (and criminally
    underrated) Strange Little Girls album — who wouldn’t
    kill to hear her rendition of Public Enemy’s Fear Of A
    Black Planet? Anything, in fact, would be preferable to
    the Armand van Helden dance remix of Professional
    Widow, which, as on Tales…, sounds like a garish
    intrusion here. However, its appearance is compensated
    for by the inclusion of a blood-curdlingly intense live
    version of the song elsewhere. Moreover, the B-side
    disc yields a spectacular sequence of songs, including
    an inspired deconstruction of Home On The Range
    (which clearly anticipates Scarlet’s Walk’s investigation
    of Native American history), the most poignant version
    of This Old Man you’re ever likely to hear and the rare
    Merman, one of her most haunting compositions. The
    demo medley is also a wonderful addition that bravely
    showcases works in progress; it’s fascinating to hear
    the complex narrative of A Sorta Fairytale being devel-
    oped, while on Playboy Mommy she truly sounds as
    if she’s in the process of channelling the song from
    another dimension.

    As with all of Amos’s work, thought, care and an almost
    visionary quality of attention to detail have gone into
    the compilation of A Piano. This remarkable collection
    confirms her genius, contextualising an extensive body
    of work that, spiritually speaking, owes as much to The
    Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Nirvana as Kate Bush and yet
    retains its utter uniqueness. Along with last year’s
    Official Bootleg series, the autobiography and this
    year’s Fade To Red video collection, A Piano offers
    another opportunity to explore the depths in Amos’s
    music as we await the next step on her journey (a
    new studio album is due next spring). It’s a pricey
    purchase, to be sure, but think of it as a spiritual
    investment…you’ll be listening to these songs forever.

    ~ Alex Ramon