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  • Rank the Albums of Tori Amos - Updated!

    4 Nov 2011, 19:39 by irisvanhoorn

    Since the release of Night of Hunters about a month ago, also my ranking list of Tori Amos albums needed an update. And I discovered that it was more than just adding a new album to the list. Some albums grew on me while others became less important to me, or maybe I over-listened them a bit. So this is my new ranking list, starting with the best one on top:

    1. Little Earthquakes (1992)

    Her very strong debut album and my number 2 for a long time. I just realized that it became my most favourite album, because it contains some of the best songs she has ever made. It is a very personal and emotional album, dealing with heavy subjects like rape and guilt. I think this album has the best composition and really forms a whole.
    Best tracks: Crucify, Silent All These Years, Precious Things, Winter, Happy Phantom, Leather, Me and a Gun

    2. From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998)

    My favourite album for a long time, and although I am still a bit in doubt, I think it is finally beaten by Little Earthquakes. It is a very personal and dark album, dealing with subjects like her miscarriage(s), her marriage and some stuff coming from her nightmares. A lot of very beautiful, touching songs and very good use of electronics.
    Best tracks: Spark, Cruel, Black-Dove (January), Raspberry Swirl, Jackie's Strength, i i e e e, Northern Lad, Playboy Mommy, Pandora's Aquarium

    3. Night of Hunters (2011)

    Her most recent and first classical album. Maybe it ended up a little bit too high in the list, just because it is new and because I'm still so overwhelmed by it (and by the live concert). She describes it herself as a "21st century song cycle". All of the songs are variations on classical pieces of famous composers like Chopin, Bach and Schubert and performed with an octet of classical instruments. The songs tell a story about a woman who is left by her husband.
    Best tracks: Shattering Sea, Star Whisperer, Your Ghost, Night of Hunters

    4. Under the Pink (1994)

    Her second album which is more piano-based than the previous one and has a lot of dynamics. It contains some very beautiful songs about different subjects like religion and the difficulties in relationships between women. This album dropped one place on the list because of Night of Hunters.
    Best tracks: God, Bells for Her, Past the Mission, Baker Baker, Cornflake Girl, Cloud On My Tongue, Yes, Anastasia

    5. Scarlet's Walk (2002)

    This might be the highest climber on the list, from the 8th to the 5th place. It just took me some time but now I realize what a great album this is with its light and warm atmosphere. It contains some of her most beautiful and touching songs, but also a few that are just fillers in my opinion.
    Best tracks: A Sorta Fairytale, Wednesday, Crazy, I Can't See New York, Gold Dust

    6. Abnormally Attracted To Sin (2009)

    An album which was badly received among the fans I understood, but I like it a lot, although not all of the songs. I really like the lyrics about religion and the kind of facade it can be when it is only superficial. This album dropped one place on the list.
    Best tracks: Give, Welcome to England, Flavor, Maybe California, Ophelia

    7. The Beekeeper (2005)

    Although a lot of people see this as one of her worst albums, I totally disagree. I really like it. Because of her 4 year old daughter she didn't want it to be scary, because "there are already to many scary rock moms". It has a more soft and warm atmosphere and it deals with subjects like spirituality, life & death, sexuality and religion in a very beautiful way. It dropped from the 4th to the 7th place because I realized it also contains some stinkers, it could have been shorter.
    Best Tracks: Parasol, Sweet the Sting, Original Sinsuality, The Beekeeper, Hoochie Woman, Marys of the Sea

    8. To Venus and Back (1999)

    This is her most electronic album. It contains a few songs I really like, but also some that just don't mean anything to me. Except for some songs about her "garden-obsession", most of the songs are about experiences and feelings in certain situations. This album dropped two places, mostly because of Night of Hunters and Scarlet's Walk.
    Best tracks: Bliss, Concertina, 1000 Oceans

    9. American Doll Posse (2007)

    This is more a rock album than her other albums. It describes five different parts of Tori's artistic personality. It is also her most political oriented album up to now and her least personal I think. I don't think it is a bad album, actually I listened to it a lot. But none of the songs really grab me like some of the songs on her other albums. It remains at the same place on the list.
    Best tracks: Big Wheel, Bouncing off Clouds, Programmable Soda, Beauty of Speed

    10. Boys for Pele (1996)

    Her most artistic album, on which she shows a lot of anger and rage after splitting up with her boyfriend. I like it that she uses the Harpsichord. However, a lot of songs are just too cryptic and too experimental for me. Although I appreciate the originality, sometimes I cannot even listen to it. This album dropped 3 places from the 7th to the 10th place.
    Best tracks: Blood Roses, Father Lucifer, Caught a Lite Sneeze, Muhammad My Friend, Hey Jupiter

    11. Strange Little Girls (2001)

    This is her worst album in my opinion. It consists of songs of male artists, covered from a woman point of view. I like the concept and the way she had herself photographed. However the songs are not that good in my opinion. I miss some power, some dynamics. None of the songs really touch me. It remains at the bottom of the list.
    Best track: Real Men

    (I don't have the album Midwinter Graces, because I don't like seasonal albums in general.)
  • Tori Amos Night of Hunters tour Amsterdam Carré (17 October 2011)

    3 Nov 2011, 20:34 by irisvanhoorn

    Although it's already more than 2 weeks ago I would still like to tell you something about my experience during the latest Tori Amos concert in Amsterdam Carré on 17 October 2011. It was amazing, breathtaking and beautiful. I have laughed and cried, although I had this kind of stupid smile on my face the whole time! Come on... who needs drugs when we have Tori Amos?! Together with four amazing string-players who were playing like their lives were depending on it. Yes it was amazing, such a lot of songs. I've never experienced anything that can compare to this, so I hope she will visit The Netherlands again some day soon.

    Opener was Shattering Sea from her new album Night of Hunters which was her opening track for all of her concerts during this tour. I really liked the wildness and the kind of anger in her performance. Also the string arrangements were somewhat different from the album version and very great.



    Next song was Way Down, one of the shorter tracks from Boys for Pele and never one of my favourites, followed by Suede from To Venus and Back. Also this was a song I never really got into. But the way she played it live was very wild and sexy and it really showed what she stated in the last song of the evening. The string arrangements were very strange and experimental, because this song is originally an electronic song. She continued with Graveyard, one of her b-sides which was once released on the maxi-single of Caught a Light Sneeze during the Boys for Pele era. This was actually the first time I heard this beautiful cute little song. It was followed by one of my favourites Snow Cherries From France which is also a kind of b-side that was released on the compilation album Tales of a Librarian. I had already seen this song once performed live during her concert with the Metropole Orchestra and it is a song that is really very well suited for string arrangements. The melody is very nice and so is the kind of dialog between piano and strings. I am really glad that she choose this song.



    The following song was Fearlessness from her latest album Night of Hunters. I had the feeling this live performance was a bit faster than the album version. The string parts were very great, very melancholic with a lot of high tones.



    The next three songs were performed solo (without the string quartet) starting with Pandora's Aquarium from From the Choirgirl Hotel, a kind of weird, mysterious but also very sad song with very cryptic lyrics. She continued with a very surprising choice in my opinion: That Guy from the album Abnormally Attracted To Sin, a song I never payed much attention to, but actually a very beautiful song which she played very passionately and sad at the same time. It was followed by one of her most funny little songs: Mr. Zebra from the album Boys for Pele.



    Then she continued together with the string quartet again, performing one of my most favourite songs: Cloud On My Tongue from Under the Pink. It was so beautiful that I had to cry and I was so happy she did this song. The melody, the lyrics, the strings, the emotions, just great. For me this was one of the best songs of the whole evening.



    The following song was Girl Disappearing from the American Doll Posse album. Another song she had also played during her live performance together with the Metropole Orchestra.



    Next song was another amazing, breathtaking song from her latest album Night of Hunters, called Star Whisperer. Especially the instrumental part is very great. I missed the sound of the Oboe from the album a little bit. But this was compensated with the amazing string arrangements and the dialogs between the two violins which were absolutely fantastic. Also this song gave me tears in my eyes!



    Like she does during every concert, also this time she did a few covers. The first one Boys in the Trees was originally by Carly Simon and I never heard it before. It is a very beautiful touching song, which she played solo (without the string quartet).



    She continued with Roosterspur Bridge from the album American Doll Posse, again a solo performance. This never was one of my favourite songs, but her performance is very beautiful.



    It was followed by the second cover of the evening: Scarborough Fair, a really great song and I'm very glad she picked this one for this evening. She continued with a totally different song: Cruel from the album From the Choirgirl Hotel. This song is wild and vigorous and although the original version is electronic, arrangements were made for the string quartet which were very weird and experimental and fitted well with the atmosphere of the song. The lyrics are really great, I especially like the part when she sings "as you sh-sh-shock me sane", just brilliant! Also one of my favourite songs of the evening in all its weirdness.



    Twinkle was the next song she performed, from the album Boys for Pele. A surprising choice, not really special to me though. It was followed by another beautiful song from Night of Hunters called Nautical Twilight. The string parts were really beautiful during the live performance, especially the high tones of the first violin. A very beautiful and powerful song.



    The next song was Siren a song she wrote for the soundtrack of the movie Great Expectations. I never heard it before, but it is a really great song. I hope she will release it on an album again one day, a b-sides and covers album would be nice.



    She continued with one of her most beautiful songs ever: Winter from her first album Little Earthquakes. I already saw this song live with the Metropole Orchestra. But also this time was really beautiful. It is a song that fits so well with the strings, creating an atmosphere that is just breathtaking.



    The first encore started with an instrumental piece by The Apollon Musagete Quartet, called A Multitude Of Shades which was followed by Your Ghost, another very beautiful song from the new album Night of Hunters.



    For the second encore she continued with Cooling, again one of her b-sides. A song from the Boys for Pele era which was finally released as a b-side on the single Spark. It is a very special song and it was clear how much she likes to play it. Personally I have a little bit of a difficult relationship with this song: on some days I really love it and on some other days I have trouble getting really into it and it doesn't touch me at all. Luckily on this day it did.



    She continued with another b-side, also released on the Spark single, called Purple People. I didn't listen to this song very much before and I was never really touched by it, but this live performance was very very beautiful and touching as well. It is a sad song with really beautiful lyrics.



    Baker Baker was the next song from the album Under the Pink. Another song I already saw with the Metropole Orchestra and which is one of my all time favourites. I really love the lyrics of this song and also the string arrangements were fitting very well.



    The final song was Big Wheel from the album American Doll Posse. A song I started to appreciate more because of the concert. A lot of people were standing and clapping their hands with the rhythm, which created a great atmosphere among the audience. I didn't expect her to perform it together with the string quartet because I didn't think it would fit, but it was actually very good. The lyrics of this song are so feministic and powerful, but kind of naughty at the same time. A great finale of a really great evening!




    Setlist:
    1. Shattering Sea
    2. Way Down
    3. Suede
    4. Graveyard
    5. Snow Cherries From France
    6. Fearlessness
    7. Pandora's Aquarium
    8. That Guy
    9. Mr. Zebra
    10. Cloud On My Tongue
    11. Girl Disappearing
    12. Star Whisperer
    13. Boys in the Trees
    14. Roosterspur Bridge
    15. Scarborough Fair
    16. Cruel
    17. Twinkle
    18. Nautical Twilight
    19. Siren
    20. Winter

    ENCORE #1

    21. A Multitude Of Shades
    22. Your Ghost

    ENCORE #2

    23. Cooling
    24. Purple People
    25. Baker Baker
    26. Big Wheel

    And at last: thanks to all the people who shared their videos on YouTube!
  • The Best of Tori Amos (Top-40) - Updated!

    2 Nov 2011, 20:35 by irisvanhoorn

    Both the release of Night of Hunters and seeing her perform live during the Night of Hunters tour, resulted in another Tori Amos listening obsession. So I felt the need to update my "Best of Tori Amos list" and change it from a top 35 to a top 40. I actually listened to 188 different songs and it was very hard to pick the 40 that I like the most, but here they are. The old list can be found here.

    40. (new) Welcome to England (Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 2009)
    39. (new) Father Lucifer (Boys for Pele, 1996)
    38. (-12) God (Under the Pink, 1994)
    37. (-9) Marys of the Sea (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    36. (-12) Hey Jupiter (Boys for Pele, 1996)

    35. (-6) 1000 Oceans (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    34. (new) Beauty of Speed (American Doll Posse, 2007)
    33. (==) Jackie's Strength (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    32. (new) Black-Dove (January) (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    31. (-1) Cooling (b-side)

    30. (-3) Sugar (b-side)
    29. (-13) Flavor (Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 2009)
    28. (+4) The Beekeeper (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    27. (new) I Can't See New York (Scarlet's Walk, 2002)
    26. (-14) Playboy Mommy (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)

    25. (==) Silent All These Years (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    24. (-7) Past the Mission (Under the Pink, 1994)
    23. (-5) Give (Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 2009)
    22. (new) Big Wheel (American Doll Posse, 2007)
    21. (+1) Cruel (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)

    20. (-6) Baker Baker (Under the Pink, 1994)
    19. (-8) Bells for Her (Under the Pink, 1994)
    18. (-13) Parasol (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    17. (-2) Gold Dust (Scarlet's Walk, 2002)
    16. (new) Night of Hunters (Night of Hunters, 2011)

    15. (+6) i i e e e (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    14. (-4) Muhammad My Friend (Boys for Pele, 1996)
    13. (==) Snow Cherries From France (Tales of a Librarian, 2003)
    12. (new) Star Whisperer (Night of Hunters, 2011)
    11. (-4) Original Sinsuality (The Beekeeper, 2005)

    10. (+13) Flying Dutchman (b-side)
    09. (==) Concertina (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    08. (+12) Precious Things (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    07. (-1) Spark (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    06. (-2) Bliss (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)

    05. (+14) Take to the Sky (b-side)
    04. (+4) Cloud On My Tongue (Under the Pink, 1994)
    03. (-1) Winter (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    02. (-1) A Sorta Fairytale (Scarlet's Walk, 2002)
    01. (+3) Crucify (Little Earthquakes, 1992)

    Albums:
    1. Welcome to Sunny Florida - 281 pts
    2. Tales of a Librarian - 271 pts
    3. To Venus and Back (disc 2: Live, Still Orbiting) - 133 pts
    4. Little Earthquakes - 127 pts
    5. From the Choirgirl Hotel - 112 pts
    6. Under the Pink - 100 pts
    7. Scarlet's Walk - 77 pts
    8. To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting) - 73 pts
    9. The Beekeeper - 70 pts
    10. Night of Hunters - 54 pts
    11. Boys for Pele - 34 pts
    12. Abnormally Attracted To Sin - 31 pts
    13. American Doll Posse - 26 pts

    14. Scarlet's Hidden Treasures - 0 pts
    15. Strange Little Girls - 0 pts
  • Album Review: Tori Amos - Night of Hunters (2011)

    29 Oct 2011, 18:48 by irisvanhoorn

    Tori Amos - Night of Hunters



    After long and hopeful waiting I finally got my copy of Tori Amos' latest album Night of Hunters, on the 30th of September 2011 to be exact. Being a classical album it is quite different from her earlier work, but the same way I fell in love with her earlier albums, I fell in love with this one. It is a very special and original album. It is a concept album which she describes herself as a "21st century song cycle". It tells the story about a woman who is left by her husband after their journey to Ireland, a land with a lot of mythical background. After he has left she meets the shape-shifting creature Anabelle, first in the form of the Fox, later as the Goose. This creature leads her through a kind of self-investigation to get a better understanding of what happened in her relationship and what lies underneath. After she got a last advice from the Fire Muse, she finds peace with her situation. The album was released by the German classical record label Deutsche Grammophon and all of the 14 songs are variations on famous classical pieces of composers like Bach, Chopin, Schubert and Satie. The songs are acoustic and Tori's vocals are not only accompanied by her own Bösendorfer, but also by The Apollon Musagete Quartet (2 Violins, Viola and Cello), Oboe/English Horn, Clarinet played by the famous Andreas Ottensamer of the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra, (Contra)Bassoon and Flute. All musical instruments are arranged by John Philip Shenale who also made the arrangements on Tori's earlier albums. Besides that the album contains guest vocals of Tori's daughter Natashya Hawley (Tash) and her niece Kelsey Dobyns. The first song is Shattering Sea which is a variation on La Chanson de la folle au bord de la mer of the 19th century French composer Charles-Valentin Alkan. This song tells about the events that happened between man and woman, before the man decided to leave the house. I really like this song because of it's kind of wild strangeness and craziness that is so typical for Tori. It is a song with a lot of power and energy and a great opener for the album. The second song is SnowBlind, which is a duet of Tori and Tash and inspired by the Spanish Folksong Añoranza of the Spanish composer Enrique Granados. In this song the woman meets Anabelle (played by Tash) in the form of the Fox who is going to bring her clarity in the basis of her relationship. This is the first time that we hear Tash sing on the album and although I think she has a great and very beautiful voice for an eleven year old girl, I don't really like her contribution to the album. When I buy an album of Tori Amos, I would like to hear Tori Amos sing and not 4 songs on which it is mostly the daughter. Besides that I don't think the voices of mother and daughter go so well together. So in general the songs with Tash are the songs I like the least on the album. The next song is Battle of Trees, a variation on the famous Gnossienne No. 1 by French composer Erik Satie. In this song she is referring to the ancient Celtic tree alphabet which was used to write the old Irish language during the middle ages. This song is not really special to me, it is a bit too long and it is not very personal or emotional. It is followed by Fearlessness, based on another piece by Enrique Granados, a Spanish dance called: Orientale. This song tells how the couple made the crossing from the American continent to Ireland in a sailboat. It describes how they began to grow apart when they started blaming each other. It is a very interesting, beautiful and powerful song. Next song is again a duet of Tori and Tash called Cactus Practice, inspired by Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne No.1, Op. 9 in B-flat. In this song Anabelle (sung by Tash) offers the woman the drink of the "Cactus Practice" which will give her more insight in what lies beneath concerning her relationship and split-up. Sometimes this song becomes a little bit annoying because the 'cactus practice' part is repeated a lot. The song is followed by my most favourite song of the album: Star Whisperer. This beautiful song is a variation on the romantic Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959: II. Andantino by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. It is a melancholic song about someone or something she is missing, called the 'star whisperer' and she is wondering where he went. It has a long instrumental part which is very beautiful with the melancholic sounds of violin and oboe. So beautiful that it almost made me cry! It is followed by a song which is mostly sung by Tash called Job's Coffin. The song is about a part of the star constellation Delphinus (Dolphin) that is called 'Job's Coffin', probably because it has kind of a box-shape. According to the song these stars are looking down on earth to see what mankind is going to do. It makes the woman realize that she has been giving herself away and let her power down to please her husband. This song is a variation on the next song: Nautical Twilight which is on its turn a variation on the Song without Words, Op. 30, No. 6, Venetian Boat Song II of Felix Mendelssohn a German composer of the 19th century. In this song the woman realizes that she gave away her own strength and her own world for his and that by doing this she also had her part in the things that went wrong between them. It is a song with beautiful strings and a Clarinet solo by Andreas Ottensamer. It is followed by Your Ghost, a variation on Geistervariationen Uber Den Letzen Gedanken by 19th century German composer Robert Schumann. It is a beautiful melancholic and kind of sad song. The woman reconciles with the man by asking him to leave her 'his ghost' and promising she will take good care of him. She admits that they have both made mistakes, but she also believes there is hope for them to heal. The song cycle continues with Edge of the Moon, a variation on a piece of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach called Sonata for flute & keyboard in E flat major, BWV 1031: Siciliano. The first part of the song is slow and following the original classical music, while the second part is more up-tempo. In this song the woman looks back and remembers some of the good parts of their relationship. The next song is another duet of Tori and Tash, called The Chase, based on Pictures at an Exhibition: The Old Castle of 19th century composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. It is a dialog between the woman and Anabelle in the form of the Goose. In this song the theme of the hunter and the hunted is explained. It leads directly to the next song Night of Hunters in which the woman meets the Fire Muse. Her part is sung by Kelsey Dobyns, Tori's niece. It is based on Sonata in F minor K.466 by Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti and by Salve Regina, which is a Gregorian Chant. In this anthem the Fire Muse offers the woman advice in how to change her ways. I really love the medieval influences in this song and the way Tori and Kelsey are singing together. Kelsey has a very beautiful voice which fits very well with Tori's. This is one of my most favourite tracks on the album. Seven Sisters is the only instrumental track on the album. It is a short piece on which the Piano and the Clarinet have a kind of dialog. It is based on another piece of Johann Sebastian Bach called Prelude in C minor. This little track is beautiful but not really special to me. It leads us to the final track of the album: Carry, inspired by Claude Debussy's Preludes I - 8. Le fille aux cheveux de lin (Debussy). In this ballad she embraces her memories. I am not sure if it is only about the memories of her husband or also about those of Anabelle and the Fire Muse. But in the end she has found piece with the situation and with herself and she can move on.



    Overall this is, as I already mentioned, a very interesting, special and original album, more mature than her earlier work but therefore perfectly fitting with her current age and level of experience. I bought the deluxe version which also includes a bonus DVD with an interview and the videos of Carry and Nautical Twilight. The package is very nice. It consists of a cardboard digipak which is shaped like a kind of book and looks very luxurious. The pictures of Ireland are very beautiful, creating an atmosphere that fits with the story of the songs. Tori herself looks kind of flat and emotionless, like she also did on the previous albums Midwinter Graces and Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Apparently she had some plastic surgery done, which is a waste in my opinion. It's also something I would not have expected from her, given the message in her songs that are focusing on the inside instead of the outside. I think a woman of her age (48) can be beautiful in her own way without having such drastic things like surgery. But anyway... the booklet also contains some beautiful pictures of Tori and of her daughter dressed like the Fox and the Goose. Only strange is that in some pictures her head is cut off at the top of the paper. I can not imagine why this was done on purpose and a mistake is mostly not made multiple times. For the rest the package is just as great as the album and I am glad I've seen some of the songs performed live. I hope she will continue making songs and albums like this one.

    Best Tracks: Shattering Sea, Fearlessness, Star Whisperer, Nautical Twilight, Your Ghost, Edge of the Moon, Night of Hunters

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  • The Best of Tori Amos (Top-35)

    5 Jul 2011, 18:24 by irisvanhoorn

    I stole this concept from MustBeDreaming1 and I hope he don't mind. :-) I just thought it was very nice and also very difficult to make a list of the best songs of one of my favourite artists. So out of 174 different Tori Amos songs I picked the best (at least at this moment) and made my Top 35.

    35. Cornflake Girl (Under the Pink, 1994)
    34. Glory of the 80's (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    33. Jackie's Strength (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    32. The Beekeeper (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    31. Me and a Gun (Little Earthquakes, 1992)

    30. Cooling (b-side)
    29. 1000 Oceans (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    28. Marys of the Sea (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    27. Sugar (b-side)
    26. God (Under the Pink, 1994)

    25. Silent All These Years (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    24. Hey Jupiter (Boys for Pele, 1996)
    23. Flying Dutchman (b-side)
    22. Cruel (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    21. i i e e e (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)

    20. Precious Things (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    19. Take to the Sky (b-side)
    18. Give (Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 2009)
    17. Past the Mission (Under the Pink, 1994)
    16. Flavor (Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 2009)

    15. Gold Dust (Scarlet's Walk, 2002)
    14. Baker Baker (Under the Pink, 1994)
    13. Snow Cherries From France (Tales of a Librarian, 2003)
    12. Playboy Mommy (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)
    11. Bells for Her (Under the Pink, 1994)

    10. Muhammad My Friend (Boys for Pele, 1996)
    09. Concertina (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    08. Cloud On My Tongue (Under the Pink, 1994)
    07. Original Sinsuality (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    06. Spark (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998)

    05. Parasol (The Beekeeper, 2005)
    04. Bliss (To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting), 1999)
    03. Crucify (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    02. Winter (Little Earthquakes, 1992)
    01. A Sorta Fairytale (Scarlet's Walk, 2002)


    Albums:
    1. Tales of a Librarian - 244 pts
    2. Welcome to Sunny Florida - 209 pts
    3. Under the Pink - 105 pts
    4. Little Earthquakes - 99 pts
    5. To Venus and Back (disc 2: Live, Still Orbiting) - 99 pts
    6. From the Choirgirl Hotel - 86 pts
    7. The Beekeeper - 72 pts
    8. To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting) - 68 pts
    9. Scarlet's Walk - 56 pts
    10. Boys for Pele - 38 pts
    11. Abnormally Attracted To Sin - 38 pts

    12. American Doll Posse - 0 pts
    13. Strange Little Girls - 0 pts
    14. Scarlet's Hidden Treasures - 0 pts
  • Rank the Albums of Tori Amos

    24 May 2011, 20:21 by irisvanhoorn

    I saw some other people here do it, so I would also like to make a ranking list of all studio albums of Tori Amos.

    I thought it was pretty difficult to rank her albums, because I like them all (except for Strange Little Girls). Some of her songs (and albums) I loved right from the start, while others first had to grow on me. And for some songs I lost a bit of interest along the way, maybe I listened to them a little bit too much. Anyway, here is my current list (I start with the best one on top, because I like that better):

    1. From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998)

    This is definitely her best album ever! It is a very personal and dark album, dealing with subjects like her miscarriage(s), her marriage and some stuff coming from her nightmares. A lot of very beautiful, touching songs and very good use of electronics.
    Best tracks: Spark, Cruel, Black-Dove (January), Raspberry Swirl, Jackie's Strength, i i e e e, Playboy Mommy

    2. Little Earthquakes (1992)

    Her very strong debut album, and very close to the number one. Also a very personal and emotional album, dealing with heavy subjects like rape and guilt. This album has the best composition and really forms a whole, without any fillers in my opinion.
    Best tracks: Crucify, Silent All These Years, Precious Things, Winter, Happy Phantom, China, Leather, Me and a Gun

    3. Under the Pink (1994)

    Her second album which is more piano-based than the previous one and has a lot of dynamics. It contains some very beautiful songs about different subjects like religion and the difficulties in relationships between women.
    Best tracks: Pretty Good Year, God, Bells for Her, Past the Mission, Baker Baker, Cornflake Girl, Cloud On My Tongue, Yes, Anastasia

    4. The Beekeeper (2005)

    Although a lot of people consider this one of her worst albums, I totally disagree. I really like it. Because of her 4 year old daughter she didn't want it to be scary, because "there are already to many scary rock moms". It has a more soft and warm atmosphere and it deals with subjects like spirituality, life & death, sexuality and religion in a very beautiful way.
    Best Tracks: Parasol, Sleeps With Butterflies, Original Sinsuality, The Beekeeper, Hoochie Woman, Marys of the Sea

    5. Abnormally Attracted To Sin (2009)

    Another album which was badly received among the fans I understood. I also like this album a lot, although I don't like all of the songs. I really like the lyrics about religion and the kind of facade it can be when it is only something superficial.
    Best tracks: Give, Welcome to England, Flavor, Maybe California, Ophelia

    6. To Venus and Back (1999)

    This is her most electronic album. It took me a while before I began to like it, but now I really do. Except for some songs about her "garden-obsession", most songs are about experiences and feelings in certain situations.
    Best tracks: Bliss, Concertina, Glory of the 80's, 1000 Oceans

    7. Boys for Pele (1996)

    Her most artistic album, on which she shows a lot of anger and rage after splitting up with her boyfriend. I like it that she uses the Harpsichord. However, a lot of songs are just too cryptic and abstract for me. I really appreciate the originality, but it doesn't touch me in the way some of her other albums do.
    Best tracks: Blood Roses, Father Lucifer, Caught a Lite Sneeze, Muhammad My Friend, Hey Jupiter

    8. Scarlet's Walk (2002)

    An unpopular opinion, as I saw a lot of people with this album higher up in the list. It is an album with a light and warm atmosphere, but it is also pretty nationalistic. I really love a few of the songs, but overall a lot of the songs sound somewhat the same in my opinion.
    Best tracks: A Sorta Fairytale, Crazy, I Can't See New York, Gold Dust

    9. American Doll Posse (2007)

    This is more a rock album than her other albums. It describes five different parts of Tori's artistic personality. It is also her most political oriented album up to now and her least personal I think. I don't think it is a bad album, actually I listened to it a lot. But none of the songs really grab me like some of the songs on her other albums.
    Best tracks: Big Wheel, Bouncing off Clouds, Programmable Soda, Beauty of Speed

    10. Strange Little Girls (2001)

    As already mentioned this is her worst album in my opinion. It consists of songs of male artists, covered from a woman point of view. I like the concept and the way she had herself photographed. However the songs are not that good in my opinion. I miss some power, some dynamics. None of the songs really touch me.
    Best track: Real Men

    I don't have the album Midwinter Graces, because I don't like seasonal albums in general. So I leave it with this list of ten albums.
  • DVD/Album Review: Tori Amos - Welcome to Sunny Florida (2004) & Scarlet's Hidden…

    15 May 2011, 08:02 by irisvanhoorn

    Tori Amos - Welcome to Sunny Florida & Scarlet's Hidden Treasures



    This is the last "album"of Tori Amos I bought, in January of this year (2011). It consists of a DVD with a live concert and a bonus disc with b-sides. At first I had my doubts: I usually don't buy music DVD's, because I think in the end I would only watch them one or two times. Luckily I found a way to listen to the DVD tracks more often. And I am really glad I bought it! It is very beautiful. She is even better live than on her studio albums, in my opinion.

    Welcome to Sunny Florida
    The live concert on the DVD was recorded on the 4th of September during the last concert of her Scarlet's Walk tour / Lottapianos tour in Florida. The original concert took over 2,5 hours (including encore), which is pretty long for a live show. However, a few songs were cut off for the DVD. For most of the 18 songs she is playing on the Bösendorfer, but she also uses the Wurlitzer and Rhodes. Sometimes even both Bösendorfer and Rhodes at the same time, sitting in the middle of them, which is very cool! She has brought Jon Evans on Bass and Matt Chamberlain on drums, who is doing a wonderful job I think. Both of them of course, but the drums are very important in this live show and they make the songs very compelling. She is wearing some kind of weird blue dotted dress with yellow and red veils attached to both of her shoulders. And high heels of course. She is performing a lot of her well-known songs, starting with A Sorta Fairytale right after she has done the Wampum Prayer. I really love this version of the song and the way she performs it here, with the drums, it is so beautiful! The second song she plays is Sugar, a b-side from the Little Earthquakes era. I am not so fond of this live version of Crucify, although it is one of my favorite songs. I think the album version is much stronger. She continues with Cornflake Girl, Bells for Her and Concertina, all gorgeous. Then she does Take to the Sky, which is an outtake of Little Earthquakes. I did not hear it before, but it is a very beautiful and strong song. She uses a few lines of Muhammad My Friend as a bridge, which is not mentioned in the track listing. Before she continues with Leather she does a kind of personal improvisation in which it becomes very clear how she loves touring and how she is going to miss it after this last show. This is really touching and funny at the same time. Cloud On My Tongue and Cooling are also two of my favorites, both beautifully performed. The following three songs are the lesser part of the concert I think. Professional Widow is compelling, but a little bit too long. She ends with a very strong version of Precious Things before she leaves the stage. Of course she comes back to play another 3 songs for the encore. It is a very beautiful live show and it makes me hoping that she will visit the Netherlands a lot of times more in the future. Besides the live concert the DVD also features an interview with Tori Amos and with her mother Mary. It is very nice to hear them talk about their lives and ideas. Tori is very crazy, as always (and I mean that in a good way of course!). It becomes very clear how important the music is for her and how she has dedicated her life to it. The title "Welcome to Sunny Florida" is meant a bit sarcastic, because one of the heaviest rain storms was going over Florida on the day of the concert.

    Scarlet's Hidden Treasures
    This little bonus CD contains 6 B-sides to Scarlet's Walk. The songs are beautiful and it is nice to have. However, none of the songs are really special to me. Maybe I did not listen to it enough. The best song is Seaside in my opinion.

    This is my last Tori Amos album review, until her new album will be released, in September (I can't wait!).

    Best tracks Welcome to Sunny Florida: A Sorta Fairytale, Sugar, Crucify, Cornflake Girl, Bells for Her, Concertina, Take to the Sky, Leather, Cloud On My Tongue, Cooling, Professional Widow, Precious Things (yes I realize this is almost the complete live show)

    Best tracks Scarlet's Hidden Treasures: Seaside

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  • Album Review: Tori Amos - To Venus and Back (1999)

    14 May 2011, 11:49 by irisvanhoorn

    Tori Amos - To Venus and Back



    This is one of the last Tori Amos albums I bought, in November of last year (2010). I did not listen to it very much up to now. It consists of two discs: one with new material and one with live performed songs. Actually I think I listened more to the live CD than to the original one. The title of the album fits very well in my opinion. Both discs have kind of a spacey atmosphere because of the electronic sounds, something I like about this album. She is also singing about Venus in the song Glory of the 80's as kind of a place (or time) where she went in 1985. Maybe the "orbiting" part in the title has something to do with the fact that she is still missing the 80's and sometimes maybe wants to be back there in that time or place. The booklet is not that special, but the colors and the images fit with the sound.

    To Venus and Back (disc 1: Orbiting)
    This is her most electronic album, which is especially nice when you realize it will probably be the complete opposite of her upcoming album Night of Hunters that will be released in September 2011 and will be a classical album. Sometimes I think the electronic effects are a little bit too overwhelming. Together wit the lyrics it creates a kind of distance and makes the album less personal. This as a counterpart of From the Choirgirl Hotel, which is also using electronics, but in a less experimental way, and is a much more personal album. As I already said, I didn't listen enough to this album. There are a few songs on it I really like. Bliss is one of my most favorite songs. I really like the lyrics and the atmosphere of it. Another song I like very much is Concertina although I don't have a clue what the lyrics are about. I really like the melody, it is very compelling. Glory of the 80's describes her experiences in the 80's. I have no similar feelings about this time period because I was born in '83, but I like the way she describes it and the atmosphere of the song. The last song I want to mention is Josephine, a beautiful little song.

    To Venus and Back (disc 2: Live, Still Orbiting)
    I probably listened more to this second disc than to the first one. It does not contain an entire concert, but several live recordings from different concerts and sound checks. Most of the songs are from Under the Pink (5) and Little Earthquakes (3). I really like the B-sides Sugar and Cooling. And I like the way she is introducing the last one: "So this little song, she probably is one of my best friend of all of the songs. She just didn't want to be on any of the records. She was supposed to be on Pele, but she told me to fuck off! And she was supposed to be on Choirgirl, sort of, kind of, but she said: you know.... no. And then she decided she liked being played live, so I play her a lot." It is just so funny! The way she talks about this song, it is so very crazy and so very Tori! And it is indeed a beautiful song. Other songs of this live album I really like are Cloud On My Tongue and Bells for Her.

    Best tracks disc 1: Bliss, Concertina, Glory of the 80's, Josephine

    Best tracks disc 2: Precious Things, Cornflake Girl, Bells for Her, Cooling, Mr. Zebra, Cloud On My Tongue, Sugar, Little Earthquakes

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  • Album Review: Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls (2001)

    17 Apr 2011, 19:05 by irisvanhoorn

    Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls



    In my opinion this is the least good album of all (studio) albums Tori Amos has made (up to now). I bought it in the summer of 2010. It consists of the following covers:

    - New Age, original: New Age - The Velvet Underground (1969)
    - '97 Bonnie & Clyde, original: '97 Bonnie & Clyde - Eminem (1999)
    - Strange Little Girl, original: Strange Little Girl - The Stranglers (1982)
    - Enjoy the Silence, original: Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode (1990)
    - I'm Not in Love, original: I'm Not in Love - 10cc (1975)
    - Rattlesnakes, original: Rattlesnakes - Lloyd Cole and The Commotions (1984)
    - Time, original: Time - Tom Waits (1985)
    - Heart of Gold, original: Heart of Gold - Neil Young (1972)
    - I Don't Like Mondays, original: I Don't Like Mondays - Boomtown Rats (1979)
    - Happiness Is a Warm Gun, original: Happiness Is a Warm Gun - The Beatles (1968)
    - Raining Blood, original: Raining Blood - Slayer (1986)
    - Real Men, original: Real Men - Joe Jackson (1982)

    The album is a concept album: She interprets all of these covers which are originally written and performed by men, from a female point of view. I think the idea is very good and original. The problem is that none of the songs really grab me, they all sound a bit the same. The whole album has a kind of soft, introvert, sad-ish, slow undertone. It is like all of the female characters she created for this concept are soft, self-reflecting, contemplating women. What I miss is a bit of power! Maybe it has something to do with the lack of dynamics throughout the album, but it is also the power in her voice that is missing. She does a lot of weird things with her voice, a lot of whispering, panting, gasping and moaning (as we are used of Tori, of course), but it never becomes really powerful. And then there is Happiness Is a Warm Gun, used as a contribution to the "right to bear arms" discussion. It is a bit too political with the spoken samples in my opinion. It might be a good idea to use a song to make a statement, but in this way it makes it less appealing to listen to (also because it is going on forever). Another thing I miss, which is logical with this concept, are her own lyrics. I really love her crazy, cryptic lyrics. The songs that I like most on this album are Strange Little Girl, Enjoy the Silence (maybe because I know and like the original) and Real Men. The last song is the best one on the album in my opinion. It is the song with the most power and the most feministic interpretation. I also like the piano in this song. The booklet is really nice with Tori dressed up and photographed as the different characters she created for the songs, accompanied with text lines written by Neil Gaiman. It all really fits together, makes it complete. Although I don't understand much of the characters and the texts with the picture, each song gets her own face in this way. And it makes you wondering what she wants to tell with the songs. It remains an interesting and original concept, but if you really want something good to listen to, I would pick one of her other albums.

    Best Tracks: Strange Little Girl, Enjoy the Silence, Real Men

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  • Album Review: Tori Amos - The Beekeeper (2005)

    11 Apr 2011, 22:25 by irisvanhoorn

    Tori Amos - The Beekeeper



    Also this album I bought during the summer of 2010. I think it is regarded as her worst studio album, which is not completely fair in my opinion. Okay, the album is quite different and maybe not as good as her earlier albums, but it contains a few really good songs. Three things that distinguish this album from her other albums are 1) the importance of the (African) drums, creating a rhythm and beat; 2) the use of the B3 Hammond Organ and 3) the background choirs. Personally I like the drums, I think they make the songs very compelling. A disadvantage is that it gives the music a more accessible, radio-friendly sound, which makes it less interesting. I like the use of the Hammond Organ, which I think is very original. I am not so fond of the choirs, it would have been nice to have them as background on one or two songs, but this is too much in my opinion. Combined with the drums it makes the album a bit bland and gives you the feeling every song sounds the same. Overall the album lacks a bit of dynamics. There is not that much difference between loud and soft parts (as e.g. on Under the Pink). The first song that draw my attention was the first track of the album: Parasol. I really like this song and I have listened to it over and over again. I am not completely sure what the lyrics are about, but part of it is about a painting (in a frame) of a "woman with a parasol". This is a subject often used in art, especially by impressionistic painters, like Monet and I really like this style of painting. Another song I love is Original Sinsuality. I like the way she provides a different way to look at the genesis story: "Maybe it was not a bad thing to eat that apple, maybe there is no 'sin', maybe it is in fact 'sinsuality'!" The truth in this song really touches me. Two other songs on this album, which are both very beautiful and also dealing with aspects of religion are Marys of the Sea and The Beekeeper. In a way this album forms the transition between Scarlet's Walk and the later albums American Doll Posse and Abnormally Attracted to Sin. The album has the warm atmosphere and the kind of 'peace with herself' as we already heard on Scarlet's Walk. Only this album is much sweeter, with the beautiful Sleeps With Butterflies as the sweetest song of all. On the other hand some of the songs have a similar theme or sound as the later albums, like Hoochie Woman (American Doll Posse) and Original Sinsuality (Abnormally Attracted to Sin, and not only because of the word sin!). About the booklet: I like the honeycomb shapes, they fit perfectly with the Beekeeper theme. Even the warm tones of the pictures fit the warmth in the music. This is something I think she does right with every album: the music, the booklet, the pictures, it all fits together very well. And every album has its own specific style. I realize I have reviewed almost all of her albums now. In fact this is the ninth and it seems they're getting longer every time! Well, this one is finished... still three to go!

    Best tracks: Parasol, Sleeps With Butterflies, Original Sinsuality, The Beekeeper, Marys of the Sea

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