New York Nightlife magazine
March/April 2000

Added August 28, 2000

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An article on Tori (mainly a review of "to venus and back") appeared in the March/April 2000 issue of New York Nightlife magazine. In August 27, 2000, this article was posted to the Audio Ether Networks web site, which is a really cool site that you need to check out if you have not already done so.

You can read the article at the Audio Ether Networks web site or below. Thanks to Meredith for telling me about this. There appears to be an indirect reference to the Dent in the article!

This article was written for New York Nightlife magazine's March/April 2000 issue, which was released when Tori was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Therefore the references to February events are naturally outdated.

Tori Amos Goes for Two Grammys

by Tori Mazur

I was in college when my Theatre Arts Professor told our acting class that it takes roughly ten years to make it big. Since that time, I've counted the years it has taken for a "star" such as Tom Hanks to make the journey from "Bosom Buddies" to his Oscar-winning performance in "Philadelphia". When someone is recognized in the entertainment industry as having "arrived", I count backward and more often than not, ten years have passed. Tori Amos is a different story. Nominated for two Grammy Awards this year for her work on the double album To Venus and Back, it has been quite a progression for Amos, but spans more than a mere decade.

A minister's daughter, Myra Ellen Amos has been performing music since a five-year-old prodigy at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music. From the start, Amos had her own ideas about music composition, not being content playing music by men who had been dead for hundreds of years.

In 1980, using the name Ellen Amos, she cut her first single, entitled "Baltimore" and subsequently was awarded a citation from the city's mayor. Seventeen years old, Amos was on her way to a professional music career. After years of playing bars (while still under age and under the watchful eye of her father) she headed to Los Angeles. Her first rock band, Y Kan't Tori Read, put out an album of the same name in 1988. It failed to make a dent in the music universe. An antsy record company gave her a deadline and Amos called upon her muses to inspire her.

Little Earthquakes emerged and was released in 1992. There has been speculation that Amos' first three solo albums are a trilogy exploring relationships. Little Earthquakes focusing on the self, while 1994's Under the Pink probes female interaction, concluding with 1996's Boys for Pele. While a plausible theory, where would 1998's Choirgirl Hotel fit in with the body of work that inevitably leads us To Venus and Back? Spinning tales of marriage and miscarriage, it seemed the issues confronted on Choirgirl were those of a woman entering new territory. Washing away the hurts of 7th grade ("Precious Things"), giving when he won't take ("Doughnut Song"), "Cruel" is the only song from Choirgirl to make it to the live portion of Venus.

The first part of the dual-disc album is all new material. Originally intended as a compilation of b-sides, Amos again found her muses demanding to be heard. The songs came forth. "Concertina" is currently enjoying airplay on Modern Rock stations around the country. "Datura" offers a tour of Amos' garden, while "Glory of the 80s" revisits her Y Kan't Tori Read days citing bugle boy models and The Story of O. "Bliss", the first single from Venus is nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. On February 23rd, To Venus and Back will compete for a Grammy in the Best Alternative Music Performance category. Amos takes on Beck, Fatboy Slim, Moby and Nine Inch Nails.

The girl and her piano have come a long way. In fact, she's not alone with her piano any longer, having added a full live band to record and tour with in support of her album. Bassist Jon Evans and drummer/percussionist Matt Chamberlain join her long-time guitarists Steve Caton. These new players add a broader dimension to Amos' music. Songs that previously were accompanied only by a string arrangement take on new life with distorted guitars and driving drumbeats. It's as though Amos' recent marriage has enabled her to accept the contributions of other instruments to her compositions. No longer relying solely on programmed drum loops (though still used in moderation) Amos has made room on stage for her companions. The piano however is still the unmistakable leader. Some music critics have said that one must be a Tori fan to embrace her new album. On the contrary, those unacquainted with Amos would find Venus a good starting point. The new material offers an introduction to the diversity of her piano-infused rock music, her complex song architecture rivaling that of vintage Elton John or symphonic Billy Joel.

The live album showcases her talent for singing in broken verse while playing the keys, leading her band, and mesmerizing her audience all at the same time. The listener has no choice but to dangle from every stretched out syllable. See for yourself on February 19th when a Pay-Per-View special airs, taken from the
5 1/2 Weeks Tour with Alanis Morissette. Using Venus as a springboard, the Amos novice may also find it intriguing to go back to the beginning and chronicle the actual musical journey from Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele, from the Choirgirl Hotel to Venus and where ever the next ten years take us with Rock's Coolest Redhead.

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