it - The Music Collectors Magazine
Tori was featured in the Sept/Oct 1999 issue (#33) of it - The Music Collectors Magazine in Australia (With the always cool Shirley Manson on the cover). They included an article about her releases in Australia over the years, a less than glowing review of the opening concert of the 1999 5 1/2 Weeks Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, and an Australian Tori Discography. I would not expect this discography to be perfect, especially since they say on the cover of the magazine, "Tori Amos: Music Of A Cornflake Girl." But it is an interesting resource nonetheless. You can read the articles and see the discography below, along with some of the photos published. Many thanks to Remo Luca, who sent it all to me and made the scans! There were several more black and white photos that were included in this issue, but they were very common older photos and are not included here.
First you will find the major article, followed by scans of the Australian discography, and then the concert review.
In a turbulent decade of music few people have remained from the start of the 1990's to its eventual end. Established acts have fallen by the wayside, others have sprung up, made an impression and just as rapidly vanished and others still are doing it the hard way, slogging it out and building up a following over a period of years. It's hard for any women to break into a male dominated music scene, but every so often there comes along a talent so unique it's impossible to ignore or dismiss. Going all the way back to artists such as Lena Horne, Billie Holiday or Judy Garland and continuing through to the present via artists of the ilk of Madonna, Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry, Kim Wilde, Petula Clark and Cillia Black, the role of the female in rock has been one of either disco diva (certainly from the 70's onwards), torch songstress or ballsy blues singer. Still there's always an exception to every so-called rule and one of the main exceptions for the 1990's has been Tori Amos.
Born Myra Ellen Amos, Tori adopted her name soon after she started performing in nightclubs singing her own original material. Growing up on a staple diet of 70's FM radio (for the USA read - for the most part Led Zeppelin) Tori found herself being accepted into the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore at the age of six. As the youngest person ever admitted to the Conservatory Tori learnt the theory of music well enough but son found herself at odds with the teachers over what she wanted out of music and what was expected of her being a prodigy. This resulted in her eventual expulsion from the Conservatory at the still young age of eleven, after that she spent time writing and honing her skills and then Tori landed her first regular club gig at the age of thirteen. Still writing and performing she recorded her first single at the age of sixteen, a seven inch only affair it was intended to promote the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and was a local release only and although now bootlegged, the singles fetch high prices from Tori collectors when they do surface.
Making her way through the industry by steadily gigging and being seen in the right places, Tori was soon signed to the Atlantic label who saw Tori less as a solo artist and more as a product who just happened to write. Linking her up with session musicians (including Matt Sorum - ex Cult and who would end up in Guns N Roses), Tori found herself recording an album of pseudo metal under the moniker of Y Kant Tori Read? The resulting album was a mix and match affair, sounding very much like a generic late 1980's girl group album, it's one which Amos doesn't look back on with fondness and as with her debut single product released under the name of Y Kant Tori Read? is much sought after and fetches healthy prices in the open market. Also, as with the debut single, the album has been heavily bootlegged and pirated thus making it, musically at least, accessible to anyone who might want a copy. That the album was even made was a tribute to Tori's strength of will, having been raped a year before the album was recorded. Certainly there are glimpses of what the future would hold for Tori, mostly these can be found in songs such as Cool On Your Island and the Etienne Trilogy, but as a commercial prospect the album vanished without making any impact at all. The band had been together for two years in whole and, amazingly enough, managed to play only one gig in all their time together.
It took Amos five more years to secure a solo deal and to write, record and release her first album. Leaving Atlantic, she signed with Warners and with the opening of doors to anything different musically at the time Tori was then given a degree of freedom to make the album she desired. The resulting album, Little Earthquakes, was issued to not much fanfare and even less promotion. Dripping with lush arrangements, haunting piano and some in places savage, but overall, stunning lyrics, the album has remained a benchmark for Tori. Writing about her childhood traumas and her rape (to great effect in Me And A Gun and Silent All These Years) the album was confrontational and although other artists were adopting the same approach for the most part they were mostly male dominated acts with very few female artists being as 'in your face' as Tori. With a vocal approach which owed a lot to Kate Bush the album was almost a complete contrast to the commercial pop that was Y Kant Tori Read? The album saw three singles released and all are heavily in demand in collecting circles. The debut Australian single came in the form of Silent All These Years which was backed with Me And A Gun making it as strong a debut single that could be hoped for. Following the single up was the haunting Winter. Winter was backed with what would from now on become a staple for Tori singles, that being non-album tracks recorded especially for the singles and not just being left over tracks from the albums. Winter came with two cover versions in the shape of stunning renditions of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Angie. Teen Spirit has gone on to achieve legendary stakes in Tori's circle and the rumours are that before he eventually killed himself Cobain used to wake up in the morning and listen to the song as it calmed him. Certainly, stripped down to piano and vocal only, both songs sound totally different and as compelling, if not more so, than their originals. Warners eventually issued a third single Crucify, backed with the non-album tracks Mary and Here In My Head the single suffered the same fate as it's predecessors and disappeared without a trace.
Tori's second album was preceded by a five track sampler cassette in Australia, containing the albums strongest cuts in the form of Pretty Good Year, God, Bells For Her, Cornflake Girl, and Past The Mission it was a good overview and with it's unique sleeve intact it became another in the long line of prime rarities which would be issued for Tori in Australia. The end result was a stronger album than the debut and it attracted more attention than her initial effort. Moving away from the traumas of her childhood and leaning more towards her conflicts with the church, Tori made a more diverse album than its predecessors. Certainly the album was far more accessible and still it harkened back to the days of Kate Bush, although Tori herself claims not to have been influenced by Bush, her approach to her vocal works bears more than a passing resemblance. Leading off the album was the first in a line of four singles, the highly commercial Cornflake Girl. Backed with three non album tracks in the form of Sister Janet, All The Girls Hate Her, and Over It, the single attracted a degree of attention over it's title with the makers of cornflakes being not overly happy with the use of a trademarked name in a song title.
Following on from the first single was the powerful God. Again backed with non-album tracks (in the form of Home On The Range (Cherokee Edition) and once more using the duo of All The Girls Hate Her and Over It) and sporting the same sleeve as Cornflake Girl the single again raised the public's awareness of Tori - again for the title. The song was one of the strongest album, and remains one of the best songs which Tori has written. Following the single came a song which Tori had written about a man who lived in the UK and who had sent her a letter detailing his troubles with life in general, mostly with females. . Pretty Good Year came backed with two non-album tracks, Honey and Black Swan and remains - as do all of Tori's early singles - a very in-demand release. The next single was a duet between Tori and Nine Inch Nails from man Trent Reznor Past The Mission came backed with three live tracks, Winter, The Waitress, and the previously non album track Here In My Head.
To promote the upcoming tour (to date Tori's first and only time she has toured Australia) Warners re-issued the Under The Pink album with an extra, bonus CD. Title More Pink. The disc gathered up a number of her non-album b-sides and some exclusive live tracks and at the time it made an attractive way to obtain tracks which had only previously seen release on the otherwise impossible to find CD singles. The problem was the album soon sold out and now fetches quite decent sums when it does turn up, most copies should have a tour sticker intact on the front cover attached to the jewel case.
Also issued to promote the tour was a promo only one-track CD single with a live version of Little Drummer Boy, no doubt cashing in on the fact that Tori was touring the country in December.
The More Pink set is one of the most sought after Tori collectables worldwide and with copies all but non-existent in the market it's not unheard of copies fetching upwards and over the $100 mark. Also issued at the same time as the tour was yet another promotional only cassette. Title Australian Tour Souvenir, the cassette sported the same catalouge number as the previous Under The Pink sampler. The cassette had the following live versions of Little Earthquakes, Crucify and Mother and the studio versions of Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Angie. Again, as with all of Tori's Australian promo releases this cassette remains exclusive and unique to this country and is very much in demand in the overseas market.
After the tour was finished and done Tori took time off to breathe after the virtual rollercoaster ride which had been a feature of her previous few years. Choosing to take the time off also saw her work with outside projects, performing a duet inspirations in the form of Robert Plant and Michael Stipe, the former recording a version of Led Zepplin's Down By The Seaside, for the Zeppelin tribute album and the latter for a series of, as yet, unreleased songs. Tori then took her love for Stipes work further by recording a version of REM's Losing My Religion for the soundtrack for the movie Higher Learning. This flurry of activity also saw her record with Stan Ridgeway (ex Wall Of Voodoo), Brian Transeau (using his no-de-plume of BT) and Al Stewart, as well as contributing to Robin William's movie Toys. It appeared that Tori was everywhere and there was promise for her next album proper.
Parting company with her long time companion, co-producer Eric Rosse and taking stock of her life, Tori came to the conclusion that her interests would be best served by taking a more active hand in the production of the next album. Her confusion was coupled with the fact she was hitting a particularly low ebb in her life and the end result was a confused album that bore almost no recognition to it's predecessors. Titled Boys For Pele (named after the legendary volcano goddess and no the Brazilian soccer player) the album showed a different side of Tori but one that had been hinted at previously. Removing herself from the glamour shots that had punctuated her previous efforts, the album came with a series of photos that for the main part showed Tori unkempt and bedraggled and in the case of the cover, showing her sitting on a rocking chair cradling a shot-gun with muddied feet and a torn dress, although the emphasis for the media came with the focus being placed upon one shot of her suckling a piglet. The more accurate shot which seemed to sum Tori up was the albums back cover, showing Tori sitting with a disinterested look on her face, holding the piglet and looking at the other way while three children press their faces up against the dirty windows in an attempt to break free. Outside of the visual shock tactics there lay a series of audio tracks that would only enhance her image of being the Trauma Chick of the 1990's. The album itself was again preceded by a sampler, this one came on CD, without a picture sleeve and was title From The Forthcoming Album Boys For Pele and featured the following tracks: Caught A Lite Sneeze (which was sub-titled First Single), Talula, Muhammad My Friend. This single is one of the hardest or Tori's Australian promos to find and is rarely seen on the open market.
Technically the album was more orientated towards being cleaner, less emotional album musically and this was evident on the first single, Caught A Lite Sneeze. Backed with the bizarre first three tracks in a series titled Silly Songs This Old Man, Hungarian Wedding Song and Toodles Mr. Jim (with it's hilarious spoken word ending), the single showed the direction that Tori was intending to go. This direction was more evident on the second single, Hey Jupiter. Sporting a remix titled 'The Dakota Version' , the single was a sparse affair with Tori's Kate Bush inspired vocals over a simple back beat of samples. The track always seemed to want to build up and unleash into something more, but remained subdued. More inflammatory was the second track on the virtual double A side single, Professional Widow. Again using a remix, this one titled Armand's Star Trunk Funkin' Mix Radio Edit, the single was a techno remix of one of the more violent attacks that Tori had committed to a record, this time the attack was one Courtney Love, although in more recent times the claim from Tori has been to the contrary, but at the time Love, Bjork, PJ Harvey and Tori herself were all named as the songs inspiration. Lyrically the song seems to be a fairly straight forward attack upon Love and the effect that Kurt Cobain's suicide and Loves behaviour after the even. Rounding out the single were live versions of the old standbys in the form of Sugar and Honey. Finishing the albums releases was the more traditionally Tori sounding track Talula. Sporting two mixes, the Tornado Mix and BT's Synthensia Mix (remixed by Transeau for whom Tori repaid the favour by signing on his next album and single) and backed by a medley of the traditional Amazing Grace and Tori's own Till The Chicken , the single had no great impact upon the buying public and the album soon vanished.
Towards the end of Boys For Pele tour Tori became pregnant and once the tour was finished she settled back into the pregnancy and by all accounts was preparing and looking forward to the impending motherhood. It wasn't to be, three months into the pregnancy Tori miscarried. Taking the tragedy into context and then placing it onto the back burner so to speak, Tori found the best way to deal with it was to throw herself into the writing and recording of a new album. Again removing herself as far as possible from her previous albums this release would see her relying more and more upon the machines than the 'natural' sound that she had made her mark with on the first two albums. The album was more 'beat' oriented, built around rhythm more than around melody and as a result it sounded unlike anything she had produced thus far. Titled From The Choirgirl Hotel, the album received little real promotion and soon after it's release it was reduced in price to join Warners Mid Price range, something that her three previous albums hadn't done. Unlike the mass releases that had punctuated her three other efforts, Choirgirl Hotel saw only the two singles released domestically. Leading off with the most direct song about the miscarriage, Spark, the single again failed to light any charts on fire. Backed with the non-album tracks Do It Again and Cooling, the single is well worth seeking out. Realising that the albums best chance now lay in the release of the most commercially dance orientated tracks, Warners then rushed out the thumping Raspberry Swirl as a remix single with three mixes, the Lip Gloss Version the Sticky Extended Vocal Mix and the Scarlet Spectrum Feels. Sadly it wasn't to be and the single again filed to make any real impact, resulting in the most accessible track from the album, the haunting Jackie's Strength being available only on import in the form of an enhanced single with video clips for both Strength and Swirl.
Just as consistent as her albums have been Tori's b-side material that she has elected to release over the years. Starting with her initial singles Tori has for the most part chosen wisely with the songs that she has recorded and allowed to surface to the general public. Although not all of her B-Side material has been released in Australia there has certainly been more than enough to compile at least one album, if not two. Songs such as The Pool, Take To The Sky, Upside Down, Sweet Dreams, Here In My Head, Mary, Sister Janet, Daisy Dead Petals, Black Swan, Flying Dutchman, A Case Of You, Over It, Honey and
All The Girls Hate Her could be combined with the cover versions of Led Zepplin's Thank You, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and the Rolling Stones Angie to make for a third album that would fit in comfortably with both Under The Pink and Little Earthquakes. With the third and fourth album Tori turned mainly to remixes but still managed to issue a number of tracks, amongst them Never Seen Blue, Cooling, Beulah Land, Bachelorette, Samurai, Frog On My Toe, That's What I Like Mick, Graveyard, London Girls and the light hearted Toodles Mr. Jim, Til The Chicken (the latter being a play on the title of Past The Mission) and the Hungarian Wedding Song. If you were to also add her film work, the cover of REM's Losing My Religion and her original Butterfly from Higher Learning, The Happy Worker and Workers from Toys, plus her duets with Robert Plant (Down By The Seaside), BT (Blue Skies), Tom Jones (I Wanna Get Back With You), Al Stewart and Stan Ridgeway there again lies enough raw material for at least one, if not two, additional album(s) for consideration
Despite the relative failure of Choigirl Hotel it remains one of Tori's more solid efforts and has laid a solid bedrock from which she can now continue on into the next decade and beyond - creating albums or serious material with either ambient acoustic piano sounds or rhythm orientated beats. Electing to spend the bulk of 1998 touring behind the album, Tori gave her profile a boost by accepting the support slot recently vacated by Garbage on the USA leg of the Alanis Morrisette tour. To promote the tour Tori decided to compile yet another album before the end of the millennium. Choosing to gather up a series of tracks first intended to be b-side material and then padding the album out with live material from the Choirgirl tour, Tori found herself with enough to make the album a two CD affair. Tentatively titled To Venus And Back the album promises to be a varied affair, with at least two tracks being slated for single release. Knowing also the effect that her live performances have upon her fans, the impending release of such an album with live tracks on offer promises to make this album more successful than her previous efforts. With Tori gearing up for yet another tour and with plans calling for yet another album after the current one runs it's course, it'd be a safe bet to say that Tori and her legion of fans will be around for a long time to come. With another tour being mooted for Australia - her second - and the new album to be released the future appears to be as rosy as the one time Trauma Chick would even want..
(the next two pages are the discography)
Alanis - Tori Tour off to Bad Start
The MP3.com sponsored 5 week US tour by Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos which will be partly extended to Australia later this year has got off to a poor start in Fort Lauderdale USA. Both artists performed long and winding sets for only the most devoted fans. Support acts were drawn from a competition organised by the promoters and were lack-lustre. Morissette pranced aimlessly around to her less-tuneful songs. Baba, being one of several songs that sent fans racing to the snack bars. It wasn't until she started the first familiar notes of Hand In My Pocket that the show finally came alive. The plaintive You Learn also got big cheers.
Alanis was a Canadian pop starlet and a children's television personality, Now, five years into to her adult career, she's clearly at a crossroads: reconciling the conventional song-and-dance training of her youth with the liberating statements she prefers to make as a "serious" grownup artist. We wait to see the results of her Australian reception.
Tori Amos, on the other is a proud art-rocker whose sexy posturing and bass-heave piano hide the flaws in her complex repertoire. At her best on hits such as Cornflake Girl and the Stevie Nicksish Blood Roses, Amos is a hard-working performer who demands her fans think along with her. To her credit she makes sure loyalty is acknowledged. Hours before the first show she amicably held court on one of the arena's outdoor patios, signing autographs and chatting about issues with all who stopped by to visit - a rare move for a star at any level. Unfortunately much of what she had to say onstage was lost amid a muddy sound mix. The hall itself, a cavern of exposed concrete, was more than half empty with fewer than 8,000 fans there.
It is Tori Amos however who will be replaced by Garbage for the extension of the tour into Australia later this year. Bookings have already opened and there has been some criticism of Alanis's billing credits over Garbage.
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