|Reviews From Toriphiles|
to venus and back
Updated July 5, 2000
The Venus Pages -
Below you will find various reviews of "to venus and back" from Toriphiles. If you have heard the album and would like to contribute your own review, please send it to me!
From Amy Lou
Added July 5, 2000 - I know, I know. I have REALLY let this album grow on me like a grapevine. One word--SEXY! I thought this album had the sensuality of an ancient greek orgy. From "Bliss" to "1,000 Oceans," this compilation of futuristic yet mythological sounds and imagery is an absolute masterpiece. Would I expect any less from my favorite fiery vixen? NEVER! Here is my breakdown of opinion:
Bliss: Dark, mysterious, fantastic. The sounds transport me into a dreamlike state.
Juarez: My favorite! Did I mention SEXY???? True, it does tackle a serious issue, but I still feel it is the one of the most sensual pieces on the album. I love to play this one in my car too!
Concertina: Although a bit top 40ish with its catchy chorus, this one has some circular sounds that are really quite unique.
Glory of the 80's: Okay, I found the one flaw in Tori's planetary puzzle. This one just seems to be the odd piece that does not fit anywhere. Plus, I am not a big fan of the 80's anyway. Too flourescent!
Lust: This one makes me think of a first kiss--innocently erotic. It sort of draws the listener in, pampering him/her with a soft melody filled with watery images.
Josephine: The drums in this one add an audio twist unmatched in any of the other songs. Reminds me a bit of Jackie's Strength. Kind of has a classic "piano girl" sound at times.
Riot Proof: Another sensual surprise wrapped up in Tori's package of galaxy goodies. A modern dance tribe might find this track quite appealing for performance material.
Datura: Ahem...kinda weird, BUT after a few playbacks, I began to rather like it. I guess the girl likes plants.
Spring Haze: I don't know why, but this one reminds me of "Ring Around the Rosy" with its somewhat "Mother Goose" rhyme scheme. I like the way Tori takes a risk by adding dash of elementary language to this one. i.e. "Uh oh, way to go..."
1,000 Oceans: Yes, it is simple. But, Tori should not always be expected to scribble up a plethora of literary complexities. I love this one, because it is what it is--a love song. It starts out raining, and ends with a colorful rainbow--a perfect finale.
As for the live half of the album, I think it was an absolute treat. I noticed a lot of people seem to be disappointed that she did not include certain songs, but we must understand that we all have our favorites, and Tori can not please everyone. Remember, she has given more to us than I think any other artist has given to his/her fans, so we had better just appreciate it.
To Venus and Back is a great collection of the old and the new. Although this one is far from my favorite album (which so happens to be Boys for Pele), I think it fits well into Tori's musical mosaic. What will she do next??
From Emir Khuzistani
March 24, 2000 - This new studio album from the double album box set is excellent. I was enjoying it the moment I started listening to it. As the title suggests, it has a feel of soaring through space and relaxing in the heavens for awhile.....before returning back to earth. Tori has a supreme ability of creating and making the absolute best alternative music I've ever heard. She never ceases to amaze me with each album she comes out with. THIS album is no exception.
All the songs on this album are amazing. She combines superb vocals with awesome futuristic sounds from piano, electric guitar, and other instruments to make for an outstanding album. A song that exemplifies this is the song "Datura"; what an awesome song. It came to me as a surprise; I never expected it and I didn't see it coming. Tori is so amazing and incredible to come up with this song. All the other songs are superb too, no questions asked, but "Datura" is exceptional and it can really put your mind, body, and soul into it. But this also holds true, although maybe to a lesser extent, with all the other songs on the album as well.
The live album in the box set is some of the best live material from ANY singer/songwriter out there. It goes to show, and prove, that Tori is excellent when it comes to performing live in front of an audience. On the album, she sounds excellent and plays just as well as she sounds. The superior quality is there, just as in her studio album, but with the difference that it is in front of a live audience.
March 21, 2000 - Well...it's been a little while since the album came out, but I thought I should give it some time to grow on me before I wrote a review. "To Venus and Back", Tori's latest album is pretty disappointing, but it's a good piece of work. Tori set out to make a b-sides album, and in my opinion, that's what we got. Though it can never be considered a great album like LE, UTP, BFP, or FTCH it is a nice album to have like YKTR for the obsessive tori fan. Let me take this track by track..
Bliss - the first single. The piano. The band. The vocals. Purely addicting from the first listen. A-
Juarez - I'm disappointed that most people didn't like this track. I think this is tori's best example of her use of electronica. But it does seem like a "Cruel" rip-off at times. B
Concertina - one of tori's poppiest songs ever. One thing about TVAB is that it is probably her most mainstream-ish album ever. The lyrics are somethings a borderline between perfect or filler. And the live version (band or no band) is beautiful and dark. A
Glory of the 80s - I like this track a lot. It's a great pop song as well, but more could have been done instrumentally. This is also a track I think many toriphiles just weren't open minded enough to like. B+
Lust - a nice ballad, but there's nothing that really screams out about it. The first time I heard it I thought it was boring. I have to be in the mood for it to put it on. But now, I realize the piano and the vocals are quite beautiful and it works quite well at times. B-
Josephine - I wanted to like her a lot. But I can only like her marginally. Maybe if it had been longer I would like it more. It doesn't really touch in anything inside of me. I prefer the live version. B-
Riot Poof - Probably one of tori's poppiest songs. But the lyrics, eh.. iffy. I mean there's the one great line, and the rest just seems like filler. But the rest, I like this track a lot. But the transition from Josephine to Riot Poof just seems "eh, what was she thinking?". Since i've listened to the album a million times, i've grown accustomed to it...but still. B+
Datura - This is a really different Tori song. And I was disappointed by the fact that a lot of people didn't like it. I would love to see what she could do with this live. A-
Spring Haze - the song, is good. But...compared to the live performance, it seems so supressed. In the live performances I've heard she just goes off. The studio is nothing compared to the live, and i wish she would have released more vocally for the studio. B
1000 Oceans - this is probably one of the most disappointing tori ballads ever. It doesn't evoke any emotion out of me what-so-ever. I mean "I'm aware what the rules are" part is good, but the piano? It's very mediocre. I would not expect Tori to sing something as blah as this after songs like "Winter", "Hey Jupiter", and "Baker Baker". I like it, but compared to other tori songs? It just can't compare. C+
The weakness of the studio is length and transition. The album was just too rushed in my opinion. The live, what can i say, that was the major disappointment. Tori needed a double album at best. Where's "iieee" or "Caught a Lite Sneeze". The Waitress performance, I've heard better. She performed it a thousand times, and picked that one of all of them? And Mr. Zebra? I don't know....it was good, like orbiting, but not great. It didn't really blow me away. But, Bells and Cooling did. Oh well. Here's hoping for the next album. Thanks.
From Brandon Sink
December 12, 1999 - i know it's the 11th of december and i'm just now getting around to write a review of 'to venus & back' but here goes:
since i went to the sept 10 show in pittsburgh, i heard juarez and suede, and the only two i had heard before that were bliss and 1000 oceans. when i bought the cd on sept 21 i was blown away!
bliss is the perfect opening song. it is a pure rock song and has so much energy. my mom, who dislikes tori, says she's happy tori "finally has a good song". i mean, c'mon, even my mom absolutely loves bliss! this song is just great.
juarez is good too. it was my immediate favorite, because i always prefer the heavier music tori has to offer. anyway, after listening to this cd over and over, other songs took the place of juarez as my favorite. but this song is great live!!
concertina is very pretty. other than bliss and 1000 oceans, i knew all the words to this one first because they just flow and are very easy to learn. absolutely beautiful! to me, concertina sounds like it would make the perfect single and video!
glory of the 80s is so not tori. i mean i like it, but, well, it's just so not tori! the lyrics make no sense at all, but the song still seems to grab my attention. i'm still judging this song.
brilliance. sheer brilliance. this is what lust is...sheer brilliance. it's flawless. it's sexy. it's beautiful. it's tori! need i say more?
suede became my favorite after juarez was. this song is just so cool. it doesn't seem like something tori would do either, but i love it. i reminds me of something and i'm not quite sure what.
josephine is pretty, but i think there seems to be a lot of hype about it, like "oh, it's so wonderful" and "it's her most beautiful ever". it is nice, but i think people took this one as just so great, when i find it kinda depressing.
riot poof is my current favorite. i love it! it's just so cute. i can just imagine seeing her perform it live! i would love to see that cuz this song rocks! i think it is her best off of venus.... definitely!
i hated datura at first because it was just so weird. but i'm getting used to it....i guess.
spring haze is good. it's a very simple sounding song to me. i love the chorus, and this song is more tori sounding than anything else on venus.
1000 oceans should have been one of the middle tracks, because i was expecting venus to go out with a bang, and this song is kinda weak, in my opinion. however, i love the video.
now on to disc two. i won't spend as much time here, because i'm not as happy with this cd.
precious things, cruel, cornflake girl, cooling, sugar, and the waitress are great.....but the rest, well....
i think these versions of cloud on my tongue, little earthquakes, and purple people are boring! girl isn't as good cuz you need the two layers of vocals. the rest are okay.
venus live still orbiting could've been A LOT better. i mean, where's spark?? where's raspberry swirl?? where's god?? where's she's your cocaine?? where's northern lad??
thanks for reading my review.
From Abigail Dice
December 12, 1999 - Ok, I've heard many of the recent reviews of To Venus And Back, and I have to say I agree with most of the opinions. The only songs I really connect with are Jaurez, Suede and Spring Haze. Besides that...it's pretty dissapointing. But, the live cd is just....help me. Incredible. Sure, I would've changed some songs around. (Like where's Professional Widow and Father Lucifer??) The Bells For Her band performance kicks my ass majorly, and the album as a whole serves as somewhat of a 'Greatest Hits' for Tori. Not completely, but mostly. I would have preferred just the one disc, and the three songs from Venus that I love would have fit really well on Choirgirl. Those three songs sounded like "Choirgirl II" and the rest of the album was too catchy for me. It didn't fit, and it has the least 'accessible' lyrics of any Tori album yet. My favorite album is still Boys For Pele, and I doubt that will EVER change. Bliss, Glory Of The 80's, and Riot Poof are just way too 'Mtv'ish for me. I see them on TRL or something. And Datura is just plain confusing. I used to like 1,000 Oceans but then it just lost its magic. The live cd is a pure gem. Powerful, loud, brilliant, emotional...everything that is Tori. Every song fits like a glove.
From Larry Hirsch
November 30, 1999 - Tori Amos is one of the most influential and unpredictable musicians around. This is only a small part of her appeal. Every album is different than the one before it, unlike other people (Mariah Carey, I hope you're reading this, you generic twat).
"Little Earthquakes" was a coven of witches masquerading as a big Catholic boarding school. But thankfully, it wasn't Wiccan.
"Under the Pink" was a desert. The biggest image that comes to my mind when I hear that album is clay. I don't know why. But all I can picture is clay. Go figure.
"Boys for Pele" was a thick, black forest waiting for some sort of vicious slaughter to take place. To me, it was the most "faerie-oriented" album Tori has made. It's also my favorite.
"from the choirgirl hotel" was water. That's all I can think about when I hear this album. The sounds are so watery, so pallid, so liquid. Tori has said this was her intention, and she definitely achieved it (especially with songs like the tribal "iieee," the watery "Liquid Diamonds," and the wet sounding "Pandora's Aquarium").
But I digress. Now we have "to venus and back."
This one is ... well, different. She certainly does achieve the outer space feel she was going for. Every song sounds like something that could've been a mainstream radio hit in an alternate dimension. (Douglas Adams, eat your heart out, baby.) I absolutely adore this album. It's my 2nd favorite.
Let's take it step by step.
"Bliss" --- I detested this song for a long time. It's just so poppish, so Britney Spears-like in its chorus, although the beginning piano and windy whooosh sound reminded me of something darker than Britney's bubble-gum crap. And for that reason, the two sounds did not merge. But upon further listen, I quickly grew to love this song. And as my father lays dying, hooked to an oxygen machine, this song, with its father/daughter lyrics, has a very special meaning to me (even though I'm a guy). Grade: A-
"Juaraz" --- Loved it from the first time I heard it. Brooding, dark, very NIN, but also strangely peaceful and hauntingly melodic at the same time. What a strange combination of atmosphere and mood. It's also an interesting take on the entire Juaraz situation. Grade: A
"Concertina" --- Terribly infectious and horribly poppy. That's why I love it. It reminds me of ballerinas on crack. For that reason alone, it is outstanding. Grade: A
"Glory of the 80's" --- Oh, Tori. Tori, Tori, why hast thou forsaken me? This song is just blah. It has no hook, and the beat is stale. It reminds me of Talula, and ironically, I could see Alanis doing this one. I love the intentionally cheesy and nostalgic lyrics, but the song is sooooo blah. Grade: D
"Lust" --- Wow. This song reminds me of a love-gone-wrong ghost story in a big gothic castle. You know, the kind with white curtains blowing in the wind and canopy beds with secret eyes watching behind the walls. Absolutely stunning. It has such a sad, mournful sound to it! It makes me want to cry. Grade: A
"Suede" --- Talk about a desert! This song is just one big cold desert at night. It makes me remember traveling from Texas to California on a Greyhound, looking out the dirty bus windows and getting lost in the night-time desert. (Sorry for the sap there). The guitar riff in this one adds the perfect touch. Grade: A
"Josephine" --- What a nice little song. The drum beats make the song. Although I feel her intentional use of French words almost seems pretentious, the song is absolutely beautiful nonetheless. Makes me want to know more about the story of Napolean and Josephone. Grade: A-
"Riot Poof" --- Oh my god. This is the theme song for the ultimate white trash slut. It is such a white trash version of Patsy from "AbFab." (Tori even says "white trash" in the lyrics.) It's funny as hell, and ironically, it sounds more 80's than "Glory of the 80's." The "man is moistening" part is awesome. Reminds me of a bunch of drag queens invading the tralier of this crappy, trashy couple and giving the homophobic, beer-guzzling fat-ass man of the house a drag queen makeover. Also made me think of "She's Your Cocaine," which is the theme song for every Mexican bordello in existence. Grade: A
"Datura" --- I loved this one at first, but now I skip it every time. Reminded me of "Hotel," which I loved (and still do), but the first half is just annoying. The whole, "hey, hey, get outta my garden" thing is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The second half is really cool to go to sleep to (the "dividing caanan" part), but it goes on way, way too long. And the whole "I'm pissed at God" thing is getting really old. I'm a die-hard atheist, and I still feel that way.
(Kind of odd, isn't it?) If Tori or Tool or Marilyn Manson say one more pissy, whiny "God, you suck!" comment, I'm going to explode. Anyhoo, this song is an uneven mishmash of techno nightmares strewn together to form an overwhelmingly ugly quilt. Grade: C-
"Spring Haze" --- My favorite song on the album. The way she says "single engine cessna" brings me to tears every time. And the "it bleeds into where you resist" sounds like bad high school angst poetry, but I just love it! It's weird, though, because the "uh-oh, let's go" part reminds me of a Teletubbie, and it is for that very reason that I absolutely hate "Jackie's Strength" --- she sounds like a Teletubbie. But she sounds like one here, too, and for some weird reason, I don't mind it. This song --- don't asky why --- makes me think of the famous friendship between Lewis Carroll and the real Alice (Alice Liddell) that inspired "Alice in Wonderland," and the boat ride they took that launched the writing of the book. BEAUTIFUL. Grade: A
"1000 Oceans" --- Yes, it sounds like a standard pop love song, but what's so wrong with that? Tori can't always be full of metaphors, people. God, how draining is that? This is my 2nd favorite on the album. It's just breathtaking. The story it tells is so straightforward, but still so mythological in context ("and I would cry 1000 more (tears) if that's what it takes to sail you home"). And "Spring Haze" leads into this perfectly. INCREDIBLE. Grade: A
"venus" is certainly Tori's most eclectic album. It's a big sonic jigsaw puzzle. While the lyrics are lacking (and border on "I'm trying to be deep!") in most of the songs, the sound more than makes up for it. Wow. What an incredible effort. I can't wait to see what else is up her sleeve. Can this woman do no wrong? She has yet to put out a bad album. And to think --- this was just an afterthought to a tour!
"venus. live" is excellent, too. At last, a legal bootleg! For me, the highlights are: "Precious Things," "Cruel," "Bells for Her," "Sugar" (this is AWESOME!!), "Space Dog" (the piano in this version sounds like lounge music from another galaxy), and "Waitress." Basically, the entire album. I love "Cooling," but I'm sick of it. "Girl" rocks with a band, but it's not one of my top 5 faves.
My personal set list for the live disc? Oh. So glad you asked. Well, let's see.
I would've had "Precious Things," "Cruel," "Father Lucifer," "Caught a Lite Sneeze," "Professional Widow" (unbelievable with a band), "Horses" (with a band), "God," "Not the Red Baron," "Merman," "Graveyard," "Mother," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Yes, Anastasia," "Hotel," "Northern Lad," "Sugar," "In the Springtime of his Voodoo," "Twinkle" --- and maybe "She's Your Cocaine."
Well, this has been my opinion. Thanks for tuning in. Happy hunting!
November 25, 1999 - I got the the new tori cd TO VENUS AND BACK! the day after my 21st birthday and of course i like the record. and still listening and i think i have a diffrent kind of thing for each record. to be honest i like all the songs.
bliss- I like this 1 it's really catchy like it since i heard it
the whole live album is really good! i think she could have put a better verison of cornflake girl she could have left purple people out. like the song but not the live version all that much. and i would have loved to seen iieee on there it seems like a sin not to be on there caught a lite s i really liked it plugged and liquid diamonds since it was my fave on chior girl and since she said she almost put it on there and ofcourse i wanted to see PANDORA on there but of course tori has done it again and soo glad it came soo close to my birthday and the tampa show was awesome
can't wait to see what she does next in her wonderful career
From Karwan Al-Dabbagh
November 11, 1999 - This may sound as a surprise to all you Toriphiles, but I only got the chance to receive my copy of To Venus and Back two weeks ago, since it hasn't been released here officially (Jordan), and so I received it on import.
* DISC 1: I have to admit that at first, I just couldn't get it. There were songs that hit a cord straightaway and became favorites (Bliss, 1000 Oceans, Concertina) but the others would just perplex me. Not anymore, though. It's not as instant as "Choirgirl", I think, it's more like "Pele": It takes one a long time to adjust and 'get into' it, but when you do, it's a wonderful experience. "Juarez" is exceptional, and "Concertina" is melodic and just simply a perfect pop song. I also think "Lust", "Spring Haze" and "Glory of the '80s" are brilliant. I'm still not so sure about "Suede", "Datura" and "Riot Poof"
* DISC 2: Now since I've never had the chance to go to a Tori concert (the closest I've ever been is my copy of her "Live in NY" video...), this CD was a real treat. "Purple People", "Cooling" and "Sugar" are fantastic, but my favorite is her reworking of "Bells for Her", which sounds - dare I say it - even better than the equally great album version. But I was really surprised at "Cruel" - I'm not a big fan of the studio version, but the live one is even worse. And I wish she had sung "Cornflake Girl" like she does on the album.
All in all, I think Venus fits well in the Tori albums and it was the 'only way' to go, I suppose. She's done the piano-solo, the piano w/ strings, the harpsichord, the full-band arrangement, and now it's time for a more affirmed 'electronic'-tinged album. Her next direction is anyone's guess, and this, I believe, is one of the many things that make Tori Amos such a special artist...
From Alison Zemell
November 4, 1999 - I bought the CD at midnight the day it was released, so I have had plenty of time to listen to it. At first I didn't love it. Upon repeated listenings, I now really like it. I won't comment on the live CD because it's Tori live, of course I love it. (Although I was surprised at some choices like Bells for Her, but love cooling). Also, while songs like Cornflake Girl and waitress have really progressed since their album, it is odd that they sound just like the concert footage I have from this year of those songs.
Anyways, these are some of my thoughts.
Bliss- We already know that this song is great.
Juarez- I could probably do without this one.
Concertina, Spring Haze- I love these tracks. Beautiful
Glory of the 80s- At first I didn't really like this one, but now I think it is one of the strongest tracks. So catchy
Suede- Someone wrote that they don't like this one, but I think it is mazingly surprising.
Lust, 1,000 Oceans, Josephine- I liked them at first, but now not as dynamic as others.
Riot Proof, Datura- At first I couldn't believe that she had these on the album, now they are growing on me.
From Luciano Ferreira (South Africa)
October 25, 1999 - The reason why I have kept my opinion of the album to myself for quite some time, is because of two reasons:
1) Who would care about what I think?
2) I wanted to gather an overall IMPRESSION of the album, and that means that I had to listen to the album many times, (too many - ask my girlfriend) and another way of forming an accurate picture is by listening to the songs on their own without their "sisters to help them out".
My overall impression of "venus. orbiting" is that not all of the songs fit together. (There's no central theme in venus, and that is why I say the songs don't melt/fade into each other like the rest of her debut albums). All of the tracks are VERY good, and some are OUTSTANDING. Lust, Suede, Riot Poof, Spring Haze and 1000 Oceans are my favourites. But I love the others too.
Bliss is a great intro song, not one of the other songs could have opened venus any better.
Juarez, well ... it's great to see that Tori has another point of view about what/how-it happened, it shows how wise and open-minded she is.
Concertina, terribly poppy, but I love it, and it's infectious. Good single material. But no "Cornflake Girl" here, so don't get your hopes up.
Glory of the 80's has a great chorus line, but the song's references aren't as nostalgic as the references made in "Jackie's Strength". It is decent single material, and will do OK in the charts just because it is a very accessible song.
Lust is my fave on the album, beautiful balladry here.
Suede, hmmm. I think it IS one of the cornerstone tracks of this album, dangerously unique, and I think that there could have been more songs that sounded like Suede, (industrial sound).
Josephine, very beautiful, my friends are freaking out about it, and I love the way she makes references to all of those European landmarks. She truly has captured the "CURRENT" of Europe, it's wars, it's victories and it's losses.
Riot Poof, this is more like some of Tori's other songs (She's Your Cocaine comes to mind), but it is unique in it's own right. The last part of " the sun is ... " just rocks this house.
Datura, I find it to be quite heavy listening, especially the second part, it's very good, and it does keep the listener interested throughout the song with the progression of beat and instrument arrangements, but eight minutes IS eight minutes.
Spring Haze is soooo wonderfully crafted. I love how the song comes ALIVE with the chorus. wow. This song, (as well as Lust and 1,000 Oceans) need the band to make it as effective as they are on the album.
1,000 Oceans, the best and most beautiful way to end this album, it's a very simple ballad, but that is its strong point. The lyrics are very moving, and the way the strings come in at the chorus is breath taking.
I think that venus should have been longer, like I said, the songs don't work together, the album could have been mastered BETTER.
According to Tori she has become more of the "Observer" and not the "Experiencer" - which in a way is a refreshing outlook on things. But I think that there is something missing because she was not experiencing some of things in her songs. Please, I am not saying I wanted Tori to be one of the survivors of Juarez, and she sings "no angels came". - Well.This is what I have to say: Yeah, so what! We know that! NO ANGELS CAME. You told us that on Crucify. Damn, get over it Tori!".
The second disc, TOO SHORT. Last year she'd sing 16 songs per concert, so what happened here? I wanted 16 tracks. DAMMIT. I would understand if she did not have enough material to put on the CD, but she left out A LOT OF GOOD PLUGGED SONGS. What happened to Father Lucifer (that rocked so hard!!), Horses (the way it changed was amazing) and i i e e e with it's amazing improv in the middle. See! Three tracks and I haven't even thought about this long enough. But yeah you get the point. But I should not focus on the negative points, the live disc had some beautiful moments, I have never heard a better version of "Cloud. ...". The disc is brilliantly mixed, and could not have been done any better.
Overall, Venus is a good album, but ultimately it disappoints. I'm really sorry to say that, as I am one of Tori's most loyalist devotees. But all I do know is that I feel sorry for Tori, because the next album is gonna be tricky - There has been Tori and her band (which has reached saturation point) and she's already done the "piano and girl" thing, SOOOOO what next, I am hoping Tori and the orchestra, she hasn't done that one to death yet, that could prove to be pretty interesting.
So, I am gonna end it here, I am in no way trying to inflict my opinion of the album on you. I am sure that you have already formed your opinions of the album, which is cool. So don't get mad at me cause I am a little disappointed, I just really wanted to write this review.
From Jeff Gershoff
October 20, 1999 - Have been reading the reviews and comments of Tori's latest work. Change is never easy to accept, especially when it is one of our favorite artists who is changing/growing. I remember when Bob Dylan stopped playing accoustic folk and went electric in '65. For those of you who weren't around then it divided a lot of people and actually ended friendships and relationships, the feelings were so strong. Now for my money I don't know if Tori Amos can ever make an album as great as Little Earthquakes again. The fact is that she made it once, and that should suffice. Since then all of her major work Under The Pink, Boys For Pele, Choirgirl Hotel, and now, To Venus And Back, are exceptional works of an intense, driven, possibly at times posessed, major artist. To yearn for 25 Little Earthquakes is to do a disservice to oneself as a consumer, and more importantly, to Tori as an artist worthy of respect and admiration. Some songs on this CD, Suede, Bliss, Spring Haze, are as hypnotic and affective as anything she's ever done. Because of the way she speaks to me personally it is songs like Mother, Winter, and the like which are far and away the most emotive. To this day I believe that Mother is one of the most emotionally jarring songs ever written. I am a middle aged man with a grown son and I was, and am, that affected by it. But does that mean that I expect to hear it again in every new album? No. I realize, just like I had to realize all these years with Dylan, that the Muse who chooses to speak to us do so on their terms and not ours. Our job is to take their offering with the understanding that it is a shared vision. When we like where it takes us we follow, if we no longer do then we change our listening habits. I think that the whole CD is very good, and although some of my favorite songs are on disc 2, it is disc 1 that I'm listening to over and over. One last thought. I hear Kate Bush mentioned a lot in regards to Tori and her music. I never hear Laura Nyro mentioned. That is a shame, because without Laura Nyro, and albums like Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat, there could never have been a Tori Amos, just like without Woody Guthrie there would never have been a Bob Dylan.
From jamye beth
October 7, 1999 - when Venus arrived in my letterbox from amazon.com a day earlier than i expected, i was brimming with excitement. i knew that regardless of how different the new CD sounded, there would always be something on there that would speak to me. i listened first to venus orbiting, because i was curious about the new sounds. it was easy for me to identify the ones that would fall into the three categories i am used to when i hear new tori stuff: the inaccessible, the ones that grow on me, and the ones i crave from the first note.
"bliss" feels close to choirgirl, has a traditional set-up (verse chorus verse chorus) and is catchy. i love the piano. concertina is another that i found catchy, easy to remember and easy to love. "suede" and "datura" are both very tori in that that they are not traditional at all. wonderful stuff here.
"juarez," "glory of the 80s," and "riot proof" will be the ones i won't ever really connect with. i have always loved "the girl and her piano" part that tori played and even though i appreciate the changes, these ones are so far from what im used to getting from tori that they don't really move me like the others.
that said, "lust," "josephine," "spring haze" and "1000 oceans" are everything i ever need from tori. they are beautiful, the bosendorfer is so nicely accompanied by the band, but not overwhelmed. perfect in so many ways. the hollow drumming at the start of "lust" calls you in, then that simple twinkling on the bosendorfer makes you want to move. "spring haze" again has a great accompaniment, the band on the chorus only is so strong.
overall, im once again awed by this genius. tori manages to keep her listeners moving with her, as she changes instrumentation from album to album, as she experiments, she does it all with a genius that keeps close to her even those fans (including myself )who are loyal to the simple piano ballads.
venus still orbiting is a great collection of live material. most of it comes form under the pink, and so few are from choirgirl. "girl" "mr. zebra" and "bells for her" were all pleasantly surprising additions. because i loved "precious things" best when it was just tori and the bosendorfer, this one with the band doesn't quite work for me, neither does "cruel". i feel like we're missing the emotion in her voice in these songs. for me, the live album is perfect from "bells for her" on. i love "cooling" and the "sugar" version is wonderful. its good to here "space dog," too, one that never seemed to get much attention before. overall, this album is wonderful, something long overdue. like others have said before, the mixing of this is incredible, it moves so fluidly from one song to the next that you never lose the magic.
From Esther C. Seltzer
October 7, 1999 - Her sound is more innovative than ever; her lyrics deeper than deep; and the sexuality she exudes in her songs on this album just seems to emanate out from all angles. Tori is so unfathomably complex that I can sense her actually becoming lost within each song. (My favorite song is Lust.) I can definitely see Tori's sultry songwriting and her avant-garde manner becoming an even bigger sensation in the near-approaching 2000's. I highly recommend "To Venus and Back," especially if you are a Tori fan. (AND, TORI, I HOPE YOU ARE READING THIS, CAUSE I THINK YOU'RE FABULOUS.)
From Mary Leah
October 7, 1999 - I love the new album, I now have sixteen Tori CD's. She certainly is having fun experimenting with new types of music, more drum machine and trippy sounds. I like it, Of course I love hearing the piano way more.
My favorite songs--all, they all have their own character. Datura and Suede is unlike any other Tori Amos songs I have ever heard, very different. I can tell which ones will be the radio hits: Concertina and Glory of the 80's.
The live CD is amazing. I have never been to any of her concerts as I live in the middle of the great Pacific but this live album gave me chills throughout the whole. I had never heard Cooling before and I must say it is one of my favorites now. I love that the songs are long and with a band and Tori just goes off!!! She AWESOME.
From John "Kilauea Caldera" Blanco
October 7, 1999 - "To Venus and Back" has been out for 3 days now and I musta listened to the thing 15 or so times already, if that few. Overall, I rate this album extremely highly and put it second behind "Little Earthquakes" only because I refuse to put any album above it, no matter how good. :) Song by song:
[Bliss] What more is there to say? GREAT song with some of the best lyrics on the album. From start to the end of the first verse is probably the best of any song ever written - real creepy, real angry, real nice! Great first track because of the lead-in.
[Juarez] I loved this sing right off the bat. I think Tori could have used these lyrics to make a more classic "1,000 Oceans" type song, but I'll take what she has given us.
[Concertina] A fabulous song, I'm hoping to hear this live in a few weeks when she comes to Denver. I'm not too sure what it means yet, but it's not necessary.
[Glory of the 80s] Ahh, the Venus tie in. Definitely like this song a lot. This CD reminds me of choirgirl in that the first 5 tracks were so unbelivable and seemed to get better and better.
[Lust] Oh, baby, Lust. This immediately becomes my favorite Tori song of all time surpassing the live version of Precious Things. WOW! The lyrics are biting, the mood of the music is like Bliss meets 1,000 Oceans. Been waiting for a song like this... LOVE IT! #1!
[suede] First minor trip up on the album, but I still like this song. I just have something against the song title being the first lyris of the song. (See also: Pandora's Aquarium) A fine song, but it's hard to keep up with the rest of the CD when it's so good.
[Josephine] Not a shigh on this one as everyone else seems to be, but it's beautiful. I'd like to hear the story of Josephine a little more to help it relate.
[riot proof] Funny how thins song has an 80's type sound when "Glory of the 80s" is another track on the CD. Really groovy, I'm luvin this song! I like the main line.
[Datura] Great ambient music, but not much of a song on it's own. Will leave your friends going, "Huh???" Well, me too, but like club music it's the sound that gets ya, not the words or the "point."
[spring haze] Yes yes yes! Classic Tori! This feels a lot like "Playboy Mommy" from choirgirl in that it connected with the old Tori. I love the melody to this song with the "Uh oh. Lets go..." Great rhythm! One of my faves!
[1000 Oceans] Wow. Not many more words. I think this will be Tori's most commercially known track, probably bigger than God and Cornflake Girl and Silent. I can see this being on many a soundtrack too. The line "I can't believe that I keep you from flying..." gets me every time.
This is quite a work for any artist. I don't know where it will stand commercially, but it has a real chance of pulling Tori into the spotlight. She better be ready. It also ties for my favorite all time album along with PJ Harvey's "To Bring You My Love." (If you've never heard it, get it! Not a bad track on it!)
October 7, 1999 - There are hundreds of thousands of aspiring professional basketball players in the U.S., and only a hundred or so in the NBA, and of them, only dozens are ever really remembered. Thousands of students entering medical school believe that they have a unique gift for healing, and still only half of those students ever receive degrees. There too many aspiring musicians in America and the world over to even imagine, and out of all them whom I have ever heard ( ridiculously limited as that may be when put into context ), only five or so really seem to carry that title "artist" which is now so freely tossed around.
One of them, from the instant I heard the first note of Beauty Queen, was Tori Amos. She had a unique sense of rhythm that carried with it the sense of a thousand influences, and still its own originality. She had an ability to blend this sense of rhythm with an equally rare talent to combine up to four or five melodic voices at once, not unlike Rachmaninoff, such that in the end she created a "polyphonic harmony" with her vocal line. That, it first seemed to me, was actually impossible for a pop artist to do today and be heard. And then, there's Amos' character, which shines through still brilliantly on Little Earthquakes, in sublime and subtle tones on Under the Pink, and through her unmistakable reverance for dedicated songwriting on Boys for Pele.
With choirgirl hotel, though, things seemed to change a little. The five voices and harmony suddenly melted down into the same recognizable strings of eighth-note arpeggios flipped around by grace notes that she once reserved only for the basis of her improvisations. On her fourth solo album those quick jots became the centerpoint for even those songs most integral to the success of the work as a whole. The weaving of harmony through those lines was left to Matt Chamberlain, who did so skillfully considering he doesn't play a melodic instrument, and with undue burden as it wasn't his name on the music. Pandora's Aquarium and Hotel seemed to be significant reminders to the listener of what Amos is capable of, though, so I was still able to enjoy the album despite the fact that the piano was put on the backburner. She could still write a damn good song, especially considering the offering of everyone else out there.
So along came September 21st, the drum programmer not even in her band, the arpeggios, the overused song forms and bridges, and high notes not even seriously attempted. I think Tori Amos is beautiful, her mind is beautiful, her hands and what they can do with the piano are beautiful, and her music will always be, without a doubt, beautiful. But this album is not her music. It's not what her music first was born from, a genuine sense of emotion through melody, and it's not what she can do as an artist. I will file Blood Roses and that whirling greatness with the best of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Little Earthquakes and Precious Things belong in the palms of Kate Bush's hands, where she can hold them and know that something good is still being done in the world, and a copy of Bells for Her and Mohammed my Friend should be placed at the heads of Edvard Grieg's and Bela Bartok's graves. But Bliss ( "Father, I killed my monkey" ), 1,000 Oceans, Concertina, and Lust ( though one of my favorites on the album ) do not remind me of the possibilities of art, and do not meet the standard that Tori Amos set for the rest of the world. Datura and Riot Proof come pretty close, but she doesn't even seem to take her own work, passions, ideas, fans, or talents seriously anymore.
To Venus and Back is pretty, don't get me wrong, it's excellent by today's standards. But art is beautiful, not pretty, and Tori Amos was, and still could and should be, an artist. Everyone is welcome to scream at me for being wrong, I hope to God I am, I hope to God art is still alive and well and growing and real, but I think it's time that all the world came to expect real beauty of its chosen few. This album, including to a certain degree the live work, just did not meet that expectation.
Thanks very much for reading my opinion just now instead of the other six billion people who have something more pressing to say.
From Omri Walzer
October 7, 1999 - Well, I've had it for almost 5 hours, and I'm just now ready to start forming an opinion; start, mind you. I know from experience that Tori's albums are like a hall of mirrors that show you something else every time you step inside. I still remember how, when I first listened to Choirgirl, I thought "Liquid Diamonds" was good but boring, and now it's one of my favorite songs. Still, I figured those unlucky ones who have to wait until tomorrow (or tonight at midnight) to get it might like another view.
First of all, one important note is that the European (or at least the German) release is in a _jewel case_, not a DigiPak. The reason for this is most likely a typical record company scam to make us order two copies of the album; the guy at the record store told me the DigiPak version will be avaliable at some point in the future, as they have it on the computer, but he didn't know when. The package is therefore your basic 2-album set, with the liner notes all in one booklet, which has the cover photo on the front and the picture of Tori with her arms out as the back cover. There's a fold-out tray with a purple abstract photograph beneath it. Nice packaging, with two gripes: 1). a little more innovation could have gone into the album art. If you look at the previous album, in each case the art is integral to the album, but here it seems a little underdone. It's mostly live/backstage photos of Tori and the band from Plugged. 2). I think there should have been seperate parts of the booklet for the live and for the studio albums. Also, it would have been great to have dates for the live tracks.
I would at this point like to Plug a local record store: Stockhausen in Bad Godesberg has the album priced at DM 36, which is INCREDIBLY CHEAP. Most single albums cost that much; and this is a brand-new release, too.
Anyway: on the music.
Simply put, the studio album is superb. While Pele is and always probably will be my favorite album (Tori or otherwise), this one is very very good. I would almost say my second favorite, but of course that could by just spur-of-the-moment excitement. Listening to Choirgirl was a bit jarring at first, because I was unused to all the electronics coming from Tori. This time, it's a smoother journey the first time. This album seems to be the least concept-based of all Tori's works, which makes the songs tie together less strongly, but which also makes it easier to digest.
Thinking about the songs, I find myself constantly referencing back to Choirgirl, finding similiarities between the albums. That's because Venus has many of the same musical and textural ideas as Choirgirl, except this time Tori takes those ideas and RUNS with them. The electronics seem even more integral to the album this time.
Bliss: This song is beautiful. Tori I think realizes that her stuff takes a little digesting, so for the last couple of albums she's been putting the easy listening stuff first. Like Spark was back in May 1998, Bliss was my favorite song the first time I listened to the album, but already that's starting to change. Bliss modeled completely after Spark, with basically the same dynamics, including the obscure lyrical trip in the bridge.
Juarez: The stand-out track for me at the moment. At first I thought it sounded like Cruel, and it has the same piano-less, trip-hop feel, but where Cruel's production makes it chilly, even cold, and a little aloof, this song is like being inside a beating, pulsing heart, the vocals swallowed by the booming bass. It's amazing. This song is really one of the best on the album.
Concertina: Probably one of my least favorites on the album. Fairly standard, as far as Tori-ballads go; I really don't like the synth, which starts the song and runs underneath the whole thing. I think this song would be much improved by Tori playing it solo at the piano.
Glory of the '80's: This one makes me think of Sweet Dreams a little, with the varied and overdubbed rhythm track. This song was born to be a single. The vocal delivery on the verses actually reminds me of an Alanis Morisette (sp?) song, though I can't remember what it's called, not being a big Alanis fan myself. This is a very fun song
Lust: "tense" seems the best way to describe this song. A basic, sparse precussion loop runs under a beautiful, rich piano and vocal suspended in layers of echo. This one might be described as a ballad, but it's in no way boring or unoriginal. For some reason, this song makes me think of dewy grass, with the sun just coming over the horizon.
suede: this girl is very interesting. What I hear here is the anti-Waitress. The rhythmic idea seems similar; the track begins with some drones under Tori's vocal, with some classic Caton guitar coming in a bit late. But where cold tension of the Waitress is broken by the chorus, this song maintains an even flow throughout. It really feels like floating...maybe cyrogenic freezing. This song has one of the most beautiful, effortless melodies Tori's ever come up with. One of the sadder tracks on the album, especially the ending, which is the only part with piano.
Josephine: one of the saddest songs on the album. Ballad-like, backed with an almost military drum roll. This girl is obviously a distant relative of Yes, Anastasia...this song is almost like a letter, and the pain of both the writer and the person left behind is heartachingly clear.
riot poof: OK...take the funky groove and rough, almost dirty production of "She's Your Cocaine", and combine with the choruses and sonic effects of "iieee", and you've got this song, which rocks as hard as either of those two songs. I can't wait for a chance to see this one live! The bass really jumps out of the speakers on this song!
Datura: One of the most interesting things on the album. Almost 9 minutes long, this sounds to me like a live take. There are two lyrics, the first seems to be live, and limited mostly to "hey", and the other muted, whispered names of garden plants. This song proves, if any more proof is needed, of how great Tori and the band work together sometimes. The last four minutes are like the second movement of the song, with completely different dynamics, and a slow, "Liquid Diamonds" flow. This one must be amazing live!
spring haze: Another definite highlight. It starts off with only piano-vocal, and then the rest of the band comes in. The beginning works really well; I would like to hear this whole song solo. The melody is amazing.
1000 Oceans: The first run through the album, this song had me literally crying. There's a sort of strange string section under the intro which doesn't really seem to fit, but the rest of this song is just amazing. So incredibly sad...one of the best Tori ballads ever.
The live CD:
I won't dwell too long on this one. I've taken up more than enough space on "venus...orbiting". The sound on these songs is really clean. Highlights include precious things, cooling, and Mr. Zebra. Space Dog is awesome, quite different from the album version. Waitress is beyond words. The end of the album works really well, with the Waitress exploding, and then the peaceful Purple People. The only gripe about that is that Purple People sounds a little TOO clean; almost like an alternate studio take. The only disappointments for me personally are "Cloud on my Tongue" and "Girl", both of which are great on their respective albums, but which don't really vary too much live; I am sorely disappointed by the fact that neither the radically altered "Horses" nor the amazing "iieee" are on here.
Overall, the two discs compliment each other nicely, and make for great listening even one after the other. "Orbiting" really flows well and holds together nicely, even without an overall concept per se.
From Robert A. Peate (Posted to the T3 Mailing List)
October 7, 1999 - i am impressed.
from hearing all of you speak, i expected the worst. i wasn't even a tori amos admirer before last year, and i can tell you this is great stuff! i am absolutely amazed by the live disc, but i think i'd better reserve words such as "absolutely" and "amazed" for my song-by-song evaluation below. proof it's good: she makes me like songs to which i'd never warmed before.
"precious things": mysterious, intense, magical, reserved, aloof, deep without the pain and angst of the original. more mature but still intense! infinitely my favourite, infinitely superiour in *my* taste.
"cruel": rocking, funky, "on", also intense (let's just consider the word "intense" a given from here, okay? :P ). tori is really letting it all hang out on this track, and it is good. though this be madness, yet there is method in it; the music screams, bellows, lurches, churns, and careens, but never wildly, and never far from the hurricane's center: tori.
and *then*, just when i thought i had this track pegged, she changed the mood totally by altering it into a horror-movie tango! i am in delight over that denouement. (look it up--again. :)
"cornflake girl": tori introduces her fellow musicians, then the song in a husky, jazzy, three-in-the-morning smoky nightclub way which i've never heard from her before, increasing my respect for her immensely by adding a new genre to her versatility--i knew she had it in her, but i've never seen her live, so for all i know she's been this way for years. all i know is it's special to me. i love the fact that she introduced it with "you bet your life it is"--it just seems fitting somehow that she should enter the "house" from the side, rather than the front door.
i like the fact that she credited her fellows so early on the disc. the whole opening section is jazzy--i love it, then of course also the full rock of the band's warm wall of sound. great sound, as beth said, and as robin said, this version is special. it's actually giving me chills at this moment! another version i prefer to the original. thank you, shivergirl, one of this list's original members, for not only prompting me to create this list, but for prompting my greater interest in ms. amos than i might otherwise have had in general, an even greater service.
i feel that this album validates the faith in tori those of you who've been with her for years have had in her (though of course you'll say she already validated it with various works and duties), and the credit i've extended to her in the past year and a half of my musical acquaintance with her while not liking everything she's done.
this is it, folks. forget *little earthquakes* and *boys for pele*, or at least put them on the shelf for a while. *venus* is in town, to stay and return at will. B)
i almost can't believe this--i am delighted! and what a version of "cornflake girl"! i love her lip-trill! it reminds me of roy orbison's growl in "pretty woman"! and the ending is equally sharp, precise, and--i must--intense.
"bells for her": the piano strikes me immediately, and reminds me of beethoven. the ringing guitar echoes are gorgeous. the percussive effects in the background, the singing, the eerie piano tinkles--gorgeous! (did i already use the word "gorgeous" on this song alone? :P )
oh, my god! "i can't stop what's coming"! the full band, that chord, these chills, this gooseflesh! this *is* a masterwork, beth! i am astounded. i can't review anymore; i am overcome.
[i will conclude my review of the live material in another message.]
as those of you who've been with the list for a long time will recall, i created this list in part to *learn about her*, because i didn't claim to know very much at all (i'm still getting north carolina and maryland straight in my mind). when i finally owned her four studio albums as of this past january, i got to hear *under the pink* and *boys for pele*, which were christmas presents given to me. but she was never my "main thing"--my main thing has long been "classical" music, with other "popular" artists (such as bjork, who i know is also a favourite of tori fans) thrown in.
why do i bring up this ancient histori? to say one thing, which may surprise some of you:
this is the first tori release of album length that i have truly *loved*.
*from the choirgirl hotel* disappointed me; i felt its first side was strong but that its second side was weak, with songs i considered expendable, such as "she's your cocaine", "pandora's aquarium", "liquid diamonds", and even "playboy mommy". i felt the song list for that album should've been like this:
but that's just me, and i can always listen to the songs in that order myself. :P
as critical as i think you all know i *can* be (i swear not always :), when i say i *love* this album it means something, friends. i love this album--this album has captured my heart the way none of her previous records has done. i felt *little earthquakes* was too cold, *under the pink* too distant; but this one warms and soothes me. i feel that tori is finally starting to put *warm* emotion underneath the words and music, and it lifts me.
"bliss": the percussion makes sense! it is the thunder to go along with the opening wind of memory. she's finally harnessing all of her creative powers to support her work, in this case a percussion technique similar to that we heard in "crucify". (technique is meant to serve emotion and style--it's only when emotion or style aren't present that technique is obnoxious. :P )
please note that i haven't even begun to read the lyrics--i am just letting the sounds wash over me now, at this point. :P
i love the piano riff. it's majestic, melodic, . . . intense! ahh! :D i have to get a new word!
i did find the bridge ("steady as it comes . . . ") disappointing at first, but that was before i felt i "got" it--she wants that light feeling. why begrudge it, friends?
i like that punchy, poppy feeling to the percussion in these sections. i think it's meant to be playful, tongue in cheek. but i realise the volume is a little too high to be seen that way immediately. she's rocking in her own little world, and she don't care--but you're welcome to join her. come to think of it, we've felt that from her before. :)
don't take this the wrong way, but i like that this song is short. i feel it's meant to be an introduction to the album.
i feel this song is "little earthquakes ii" as a *song*, only condensed into reader's digest size. :) i like it, actually. although it's also akin to "she's your cocaine", without being strung out. :P
but again, it's the brooding (i want you to know i just erased the word "intense"), dark, moody ending that i like the most. i wouldn't have minded either an exploration of that for another minute or two, or another song entirely based on it. one longs for her discarded tape loops . . .
i really like the declension in the last minute, as she sings (looking at the lyrics now) "a bliss of another kind".
and then the wind, and her reveries of the past, fade out.
(also: the first moments allow for the possibility of "outer space"--venus--as well as wind; i believe that's why there is more in the beginning, during the album's first few moments, than at the end. i consider this brilliant, mind you, even if i'm reading too much into it. :D )
"juarez": sharpness stings, cuts! solidly, harshly, in a stable way! yes, lady delirium had a point in mentioning previous electronic acts, but that's also a bit similar to making the same criticism of madonna's brilliant *ray of light*--the idea is to do it *one's own way*, a *new* way. and tori does those both. this song is rocking, funky, and beautiful. i don't remember if anyone specifically singled out the vocals in this song for criticism, but all i can say to that is listen to the rolling stones' *exile on main street* sometime--"buried" vocals used to be prized possessions, and still are sometimes to the discerning, to those who actually care about *music* for a change, for the *voice as just another of the beautiful instruments used*.
i am in love with this song immediately.
her voice floats, mixes, melds with the living, breathing pulse of this music. i am not "amazed" so much as "absorbed" and "surrounded" by this--bliss.
and it ends on a sharp note as well, with the one tori trademark i think i'll never like: that breathy last syllable or note, but i realise it's one of her trademarks, and so i'll not begrudge it of her.
the coldness suggests another world as well . . . this is "i i e e e" in space, only happy. listen for that aspect, friends! we are seeing new sides of tori--this is not a rehash, not a mistaken album! i am more convinced than ever that she knows *exactly* what she is doing, and believe me, with her relations with security guards in a less than cordial state :D, i had cause to doubt her there for a moment.
wow! i am still impressed! i am going to love blasting this album repeatedly! :D
this album is moody and atmospheric so far--how could not anyone like it? :P
i love the fact that *all* of the songs are compact in length--she shows slices, not excessive doses.
"concertina": the old tori resurfaces, with a beautiful synthesiser line to remind us of the nineteenth century, even as the rest brings us forward into an alternate future that will never exist, somewhere between *2001: a space odyssey* and *a clockwork orange*. oh, my god, i love this song! she is sweet, she is soothing! this is the tori for which i've longed and craved! more chills and gooseflesh which i will henceforth keep to myself.
i'm in love with her music for the first time. if it was like this for the rest of you on your first occasion of *loving* her music, i now understand how you felt. i just hope you'll stay for the rest of her musical journey. but if you don't, i wish you well.
this is gorgeously crafted pop, although no one wants to hear the word "pop" associated with tori amos. the break, the bridge reaffirm tori's genius.
but it's that haunting, john lennonish background progression that makes me want to cry. "this i swear . . . ," and for the first time i believe tori, because i can see her giving, opening her *heart*, for the first time. (i hope i'm making some converts here.)
oh! it's over!
"glory of the eighties": great! tori exorcises her *own* demons for a change--and why not, you people who claim to know and care for her? you hypocrites, who don't approve of her past (*y kant tori read*) or history, who would have her deny it! those of you who would insist she be little miss earthquakes until your world only was broken up at the fault line!
listen to the true tori underneath! here she is, saying to you: "i am the child within. yes, i grew up and became more, but this is still me underneath."
accept her, o ye who rave on about "girls".
that bass line is sweet, full, reassuring, happy--words i'd never associated with tori before! god bless you, tori amos! i swear to god i knew you had it in you, i just thought you'd never show it!
(hey, this list is for deep discussion of tori--if you disagree, post it. i'll approve it. :)
i am amazed by the unity, the fluidity, the *solidity* of each song on this album--it exudes a new confidence, a new self-assurance on tori's part that is delicious!
"lust": starts off as a child's nursery song in its piano-notes. again the percussion is unearthly.
a subtle track for tori, the first of the album.
i disagree with robin: this album could not have been better, should not have been better. it is full, amazing: listen to those swirls of string- or string-synthesiser sounds in the background. they sound like wind.
this song has majesty and power, however, without needing the sound effects of "juarez". it is strong and proud, simple, and i haven't even read the words yet.
i love the sound of her voice. it is obvious to me she has a new assurance in her voice as well as her writing--she's the new and improved tori, only it's genuine!
"suede": this reminds me of two other songs right off the bat, "this is the picture (excellent birds)" by peter gabriel and "mama", by genesis.
it reminds me of alanis morissette's fourth album to a degree in its free-verse lyrics, and i can see why they (tori and alanis) were drawn together now, something i couldn't understand before. perhaps alanis influenced this one? i'm sure of one (that tori was drawn to alanis because she just happened to be going in that direction already) or the other (that alanis influenced this song and tori in general).
very slow and relaxed, more springy and liquidy than suedish. it actually makes me think of a swamp--but not a swamp on earth. dagobah, anyone? :)
i love the groove, the underlying beat, and the fact that her musicians really did grow as a result of working with her on the road in 1998.
when the guitar came in during the last twenty seconds of the track just now, i was convinced this is her best album (not that i had any doubt! :).
"josephine": the military drumming.
the mournful lament of the piano.
i love the fact that this album is more unified in its sound than any of her others. we've had disjointed (*boys for pele*). this is exactly what i wanted last year when i expressed criticism of *boys for pele*, which i called tori's psychic vomit--unedited, undiluted, unprepared regurgitation. the equivalent of saying "here is what i am--take it or leave it!"
now she is saying, "i can do better than that, for you who deserve much better than that." or, "all right--the kidding around's pretty much over." :)
how wonderful it is to hear her musicians in harmony!
"riot poof": "i met him in a hotel . . . "
great swing! great synthesiser/keyboard playing!
funky. i love the heavy drone of the bassline.
(the synthesiser reminds of "domo arigato, mr. roboto . . . "--styx. some of you might not remember that. :P )
all i can say is that this is another great song, another gem. my praise is becoming superfluous at this point, and meaningless.
"datura": all i can do is wonder why many find this to be their favourite of her new songs. if anything, the opening montage of voices seems to be a commentary on the evils and tragedies associated with drug abuse, as if she were reciting a litany of names of the dead.
those percussive "bloops" (interstellar gunshots?) add to the force, power, and danger of the song as well.
this song is a warning against such poisons, i believe.
again, percussion seems to be used to emotional effect on this album much more than on any previous--only "raspberry swirl" comes to mind as the prototype.
i love the fact that she is making full use of various instruments--she truly *is* proving herself to be a classical composer, as she said. yay! i love this album!
something about the second half of it (from 3:39 on) immediately reminds me of bjork's "unravel" and "hunter". go play all three one after the other ("unravel" first), if you can. :P
this second half is almost another song unto itself, but not; an extension, an explication of the theme: it is my belief that this half is meant to portray the devastation of a lost soul.
message: do not lose yourself. do not let this happen to you.
and i never thought i'd even *think* i got tori.
the ending: "game over."
"spring haze": "mr. zebra goes grey". (meaning, "life is no longer striped in black and white, no longer that simple, but now possess grey areas, ambiguities.")
i don't claim to know the origins of this song's lyrics. i agree that it sounds as if it could be about the kennedy and bessette losses. could it be her "candle in the wind 1997"? i'm open to a yes or a no interpretation.
it seems to be a fantasy, at least in part, hence the term "spring". mr. kennedy and the mistresses bessette died on july 16, 1999.
"why does it always end up like this?" certainly seems to be a meditation on tragedies and horrors.
i do notice the humming engine sound behind her in the last twenty or thirty seconds, as if she is on the plane itself, also.
what do we know for sure? i know someone said it would've been too late to get the song on the album, but i don't know--artists have been known to change albums at last minutes.
"1,000 oceans": i think it's significant yet again that she ended this new collection on a song of love.
peaceful, positive--again. tori has lightened up--most importantly on *herself*.
i hope we can all do the same for ourselves.
it is my position that those who have expressed great (as opposed to slight) disappointment in this new release of tori's do not understand the point of this album, and it will be my duty to explain it to you as i see it. she has crossed a threshold from one artistic side of a border to another--she has crossed from her former place to a place closer to me, to *my* side of the border.
finally, i say to myself, "now this is a tori album to which i can relate!"
the point of tori's new album is this: to be ghostly and ethereal, to be like bjork in her *method*, which means to hint, rather than to give all away, to become *one* with the music--she sparkles, she shines, and she dances *within* the music on this album, rather than standing in front of it as she had before.
the first signs of this came on her last album, when she took one step back, and everyone dubbed her album "electronica". but the instruments used aren't the issue: the issue is the ambience, the embrace of the indirect.
look at the inside of the cover. we see her blending with the planet venus as if to say, "venus is to my left and to my right--i have found something larger than myself, and it surrounds me. let this message surround you too, *beyond* hearing my music." do you get that? this may not be her masterwork, but it is at least her first step in the right direction.
with this album, tori sheds the past; she illustrates that the previous albums were merely child's play by comparison.
she is at one with her music, and, fittingly with tori, her muse. finally this has been *conveyed* in a release.
i am very proud of her.
i feel that she is saying more by saying less--the question is, "can you hear it?"
in short: it is over the heads of most. i was worried to hear you all speak, but i am not worried anymore. i find it ironic, since i am the relative newcomer to her music, but i am in *love* with this album. i have found my favourite tori release. and i never dreamed i'd relate to her work so well.
i mean this most sincerely--you know me well enough to know i'd write it if i thought it were bad. it's beyond good.
p. s. i notice there is no bitterness on this album, either, only enlightened, sad commentary on what she perceives to be the evil of this world. but yet she is detached, above it, calm.
this is the divine inner peace she has sought, friends. i can rest for her now--she seemed tormented before, tortured (i said i thought as much last year), and i was very sad about this.
but it is obvious that these past two years have brought her farther than many ever go.
p. s. i am now on my second listen, but i will not add a word. i promise you everything written in this message was upon my first hearing.
From Kevin N. Laforest
October 7, 1999 - Whoa. The Second Coming of Tori. I did enjoy grandly From the Choirgirl hotel and listened to it hundreds of times, but you got to admit that it wasn't quite as magical as Boys for Pele or Under the Pink. But this new CD sure is !
Love the artwork, love the live album (but that's a given, Tori is amazing in concert ) but the real treat is Venus-Orbiting, a whole CD of new songs !
Bliss I knew and loved, and I have strong feelings for "familiar" melodies like Josephine and Lust. And then there's the more challenging but eventually rewarding -trippy- Dahrua, Suede and Concertina (which is really great). Not sure about Juarez (too much FX) and Glory of the 80s (not quite my bag) though. There's tracks 9 and 10 I don't remember the name right now, but they're good, "9" is intriguing and "10" is sweet too. And then there's 1000 Oceans, which is no less than one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Doesn't get any better than this gem.
So To Venus and Back is a greatish album, no doubt. Sorry if my review is skimp, I just had time to listen to the album three times, as I'm even more strongly obssessing on NIN's The Fragile, quite possibly the best album of the late 90s, a work of art in the lines of such classics as Pet Sounds, The Wall and Sgt Pepper's. How glorious is it that old pals Tori adn Trent release amazing albums ion the same day ?
From alex leger
October 7, 1999 - September 22, 1999...
Well I've been listening to "venus" for about 2 hours now...and it's a hard trip. Literally. I don't really know about it yet. I think that it's either the best stuff she's ever written or coming darn close. The album is mixed with everything and Tori is at her finest.
Let's start with ORBITING. "bliss", I'm sure you've all heard it. It's a perfect way to start an album. Especially a Tori album. The first word is "father" I mean, come on, if that's not Tori what is? The effects on this song are good, not overbearing or under stated. And the lyrics are great. The message is uniquely hidden in Tori's way, but not to hard to reach.
On to "juarez". It's very Choirgirl meets a NIN album. She's singing in this throaty, seductive voice and the words are semi lost in an effect, or layers of effects. The stanzas all end with "no angel came", and she cresendos to the angel from the throaty to the piercing. This song takes time, and seems like it's not gonna be a favorite, but ya know things change. I think the band does a lot for the song though...and the drums are incredibly wonderful.
"clouds decending....." and you're into "concertina". It hooks you at the start with that line and a mystical faerie bellish music. I can't tell if it's synth or piano. This song is kinda "happy phantom"-ish. the chorus is the hitter..."concertina concertina yes i swear you're the fiercest calm i've ever been". that line somes it up for me. it's like...that hidden ferciocity behind the sweetest cheerleader. This song gets 5 stars on my Tori scale, for content, music, and Tori's voice is actually hearable on this song. Not too many effects. "clouds descending..."
my first impression of "glory of the 80's" was an alanis morisette song, Jagged Little Pill of course. but then i got into it. it's a cool, funkified tori. something that i think she's into more now, and started exploring on Choirgirl. i think there are cool references in it...raquel welsh, bette davis eyes, very nicely done. but i don't think it's single worthy. might be a cool remix, but not strong enough to carry a single ( i know i'll buy it anyways)....."then you just go and..disapear"
"lust". it's a pounding beat a first, like a lustfull heart. and then the most pure piano so far on the album, and some of the most beautiful. it kinda reminds me of "here in my head" but grown up and more organized. the chorus is heavenly...and in so few words she says so mch and wiht such beauty and piano sweetness..."rolling and unrolling, coiling emerging running free". this is another hard hitter with content..sugar coated nectar ginger. it's etherial. beautiful. and embracing.
shoes plus tori are a given. so of course "suede" shows up. and it's got hints of magic.."you can conjure anything by the dark of the moon". i don't really know what to sxay about this. it's got swirling effects in it. and suede is a beautiful work emerging from her lips. there are interesting riffs and melodies in it. she does cool vocal things too...."you always felt like suede."
military? "little drummer boy" is the first thing to come to my mind, when i put that word with tori. but tori switches it up on us again, with "josephine" she tells us a story of a woman and a journey. could be napolean maybe not. but the imagery is there...and the marching back beat is cool with a whining effect and a melodious piano riff. this is the song that you may get lost in, sink into "the seine so beautiful."
"i'm on the threshold of greatness girl". that's what this song is...the threshold of greatness. It's very creative. it's a cool song, with a great lyrics and effects. the meaning is so many things, like so many tori songs, that i can't help but listen to it again and again. the little things she does with her voice and the music really do..."break the terror of the urban spell."
someone else wrote that "datura" was "god" two, or the son of "god". i can help but agree. it's gonna be a favorite just because of it's randomness. it's incredibly "under the pink". the piano is a mix of "god" and "the piano suite" from the god single. and under this are all this beautiful flower names...ming fern, awabuki viburnum, and downy jasmine. datura is also said on occasion, so i think it's a plant. my mom and i were talking about it, and her idea was by putting "god"-like music over these plants, it may have been tori's way of saying "the earth is god". i'll leave that up to you and the guitar solo into..."dividing canaan".
the first thing i thought when i heard the first notes of "spring haze" was, is this something from "boys for pele" that didn't make it on. the way she sings the first stanza is soo "way down". it could be one of those little intermissions but ti's blossoms into it's fullness, with a drum beat so celtic it's gotta be for the faeries. this is another favorite of mine...great lyrics such as..."waiting for sunday to drown" and "billowing out to somewhere, billowing out to luna riveria". it's such a great addition and it's feels like CLASSIC tori. ya know?
this song invokes the lyrics. i really do want to cry.."1000 oceans" when she sings. it's "winter"'s little sister and "hey jupiter: the dakota mix"'s older cousin. it's so elegantly put and beautiful. the album could end no other way.this song...sails the album home.
the live disc is precious. it's divine. it's everything you'd expect and more from her in concert. "bells for her", "girl" and "space dog" stand out to me. "bells" is done on a real piano, and is amazing. get this album. it's so wonderful. it'll last you so many nites, days, and afternoons. it'll bring you out of winter and into a "spring haze". it is gorgeous.
From lauren e.
October 7, 1999 - okay, so i got the album at midnight last night and got a lithograph (even though i was told there would be no promo item w/tori!). i'm just going to go through this song by song but i promise to keep it mercifully brief since i know that tons of these will show up.
BLISS- of course, we already knew this song but i still love it. not much else can be said about it since it's already been reviewed as a single.
JUAREZ- i'm not sure how i feel about this one. i like it but i'm going to have to grow into it. i really like the bit about "the indian is told/ the cowboy is his friend" and that whole breakdown but the industrial-ness of it will take me some time to adjust to.
CONCERTINA- this one is an early favorite of mine. i like the melody alot and i am also very fond of the lyrics, in particular "just another trick/ can i weather this" and "i know the truth is between the 1st and the 40th drink" along with the chorus.
GLORY OF THE 80's- i like it cause it's kinda fun. i also think it would be interesting to hear it sung kinda slow and sad because the lyrics can go in that direction also.
LUST- i like it but i don't love it yet. i like the melody but i'm still processing the lyrics. this is one of the one's i'm going to have to get used to.
SUEDE- this is another one of my early favorites. it's another kind of industrial sounding one, but i think that makes it more interesting.
JOSEPHINE- i like the melody and it's interesting but it doesn't hit any chords with me as yet. another i'll have to grow into.
RIOT POOF- early fave! i thought this was called "riot proof" but unless there was a deliberate typo throughout the song book, i was wrong. it's nice to know what "on the bomb" means now :) and it's kinda the slow rocking, groove-able song of the album for me
DATURA- i don't know why, but i really dig this song. it's so odd with the naming flowers while she sings "get out of my garden" but i like it alot. early fave again.
SPRING HAZE- love this one! melody, lyrics, everything! it reminds me of spark in some ways which is not a bad thing at all.
1000 OCEANS- heartbreakingly beautiful but i knew that already. on a personal note, i like it better following spring haze and it also hits a deeper place in me now that i know that it was kind of for mark after his dad died.
live- still orbiting.
PRECIOUS THINGS- we all remember this, it's awesome. i'm glad that i finally have a long drawn out "giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl" on cd to jam to. >:)
CRUEL- i love when she improves all the high notes in the middle of the song.
CORNFLAKE GIRL- fabulous as always.
BELLS FOR HER- i never heard this with the band and i'm surprised that i like it as much as i do.
GIRL- love it live. i especially like that she sings the bottom part of the bridge.
COOLING- i cannot express how exited i got when we got to this song. it was taken from the last show of the plugged tour which i was at! i loved the story she told before it so i was just elated to hear it on the cd.
MR. ZEBRA- i love this little song. i like it even more live.
CLOUD ON MY TONGUE- it's flawless. i'm glad that "secretime" was 3 songs long on this cd. sugar- oh boy, i love it. it's even got the "you just watch- watch what they do" bit in it that i love and "you're just a pussy/ my sweet boy/ my sugar". in a word- yum.
LITTLE EARTHQUAKES- i have just recently gotten the full effect of this song. it's wonderful wonderful FABOO!
SPACE DOG- i never heard this one live so it was quite a treat for me to hear it on here.
WAITRESS- i don't care if some people got tired of this song live, i never did. i LOVE the hang ten honey break down. i think it brings the song to a new level of power.
PURPLE PEOPLE- now that i listen to it, i realize how incredibly sad this song is. i love that it's from a sound check too. having people cheering at the end would have totally broken the spell.
well that's all from me. i tried to be as short as possible. i'm really loving this album though. some songs will take some getting used to but over all, i'm very satisfied.
From Stuart Lauder
October 7, 1999 - Well, I got it this morning 1/2 an hour before the record shop opened (I had been waiting for 20 minutes in the rain and the staff thought I looked cold and let me in) and all I can say is WOW!
I've spent all day listening to it over and over again. To me the standout tracks on Venus:orbiting are Glory of the 80's, Juarez, Datura and 1000 oceans (in my opinion the best little girl on the whole thing). Glory of the 80s should chart well here, but I reckon tori could get another number 1 here in the UK with (and it pains me to say this, 'cos I hated Professional Widow Star Truck Funkin' mix) a hypothetical dance remix of Juarez. Veus:live, still orbiting will do crazy, whacked out things to your emotions if you have ever seen tori live, keep a box of tissues handy. This first time I heard it, I was so sad. It's been so long since Plugged 98, and tori isn't touring here anytime soon (you lucky, lucky americans), and it's the best way to hear the music. I almost couldn't listen to it a second time. But I did, and I was so happy. It brought back all the good memories of seeing tori in person, it was like having a little concert right there in you pocket. I have to agree with the earlier comment about this being tori's seminal piece. In a nutshell, Venus:orbiting is what you would get it you took 'quakes, Pink, Pele and Choirgirl, squashed them up into a little ball, put them in a blender, whipped then into a creamy froth, emptied it into a swimming pool and swam in it. It's a masterpiece.
As an aside, I couldn't find the folding cardboard sleve box anywhere in Glasgow. Everywhere has Venus in a standard clear 2CD gem case. Oh well, guess I'll have to get it on import as well
Can't ait for Glory of the 80's in October.
From Dawn Goodman
October 7, 1999 - Hello! I picked up To Venus and Back this morning on my way to work and have been listening through my computer's cd rom ever since, particularly to the live cd. I really liked Venus Orbiting, but since I'm at work, it's kinda hard to get into the new stuff when you only hear bits and pieces. I'll get back w/ you on Venus Orbiting.
As for Venus Live. Still Orbiting, WOW!!!!! This is definitely a long-awaited event in my eyes. I full length live album of Tori - my dreams have come true! I get goosebumps every time I hear Cornflake Girl, especially the little growl Tori gives toward the end of the song. LOVE Cloud on My Tongue and Sugar. Cruel sounded sooooo good - just like it did at the Atlanta '99 show. It's hard to comment on the one's I liked the best - I loved all of them! It's confirmed once again - Tori is THE goddess!!!
From abby (pelegrrl) ›
October 7, 1999 - so i'm sick today. and i'm home. and i got lucky and got tvab just a little early. this is making my week. and i totally didn't expect to have it until tomorrow. › i like it. i like it a lot. i'm just into the second disk now. this review is going to take me a while to write. but we'll start where we are. i'll probably repeat some of the things said before...but that's ok. › venus live-still orbiting › *note the impressions at the end of each song. › precious things...though i love this live and with a band, i do prefer it to be part of secret time...probably because of the first miami show at jackie gleason for the bfp tour. wow. but i like this as the first song because it sets a tone. your best friend's leather jacket that you don't want to give back. purple. › cruel-i love the end. the vocal masturbation. i love it. it's like she's a snake charmer. it's like she has my heart on a string. and caton is in rare form. heels. daggers. red vinyl pants. › cornflake girl-i love the slow beginning...i love the new lyrics, 'you swear to christ you won't' etc...(sorry if i fuck that up, i'm reeling right now) goosebumps. that was amazing. i know i› need to go outside to do my laundry but i don't want to leave my stereo. pause time. oh my god. › bells for her...couldn't be better. unless she sang it for me in my livingroom. piano embellishments make this song what it never was before. i never really liked it all that much on utp. when i heard the orlando version on harpsichord i changed my mind. now it's been proven. this song rocks. shows off piano skills bigtime. there's something about it that reminds me of sugar. dunno why. 12 course meal with nobody but yourself for company. › girl - first time i've heard it with the band. breathes new life into this song. steve on guitar doing his orchestra thing is unbelievable. sneakers and lace. › cooling-not that this song could be improved on, but it was. i liked the bit about "she was supposed to be on pele but she told me to fuck off." i've never heard this one live either. very full sound. incredible vocally. white. crystal. › mr. zebra - rabbit's clinky clinky clink. that says it all. i just want to hug her. flannel. plaid. › cloud on my tongue-i guess i'm just a sucker. this is a shitty review because it's really not a review. it's me ranting about how much i love it for lines and lines of bandwith. i love the vocal thingie she does at the beginning. yellow. cotton. bunny slippers. › sugar-this was my fave live in atlanta. it's just so big and full. so deep. so like sandpaper. black coffee. old shoes. 'you're just a pussy, my sweet boy, my sugar'. when you feel more powerful than the man your with. when you know the secrets that no one knows. 'oh my god, my sweet boy' and vocal flying. wow. definitely a favorite. there are parts of this new album that remind me of the cocteau twins. and that's a good thing. › litle earthquakes-still has the feel of a funeral. endings and realizations. not too much variation but still a good one to hear. love the drums and loud guitar at the end. anger. big soft sheets on an empty bed. his tee shirt that still smells like him. › space dog-funk. clubbing. a brand new dress that you got on sale 75% off. comfortable heels, if that's possible. sparkly things and a great purse from good will. so sure we we were on something...kinda like steve mcqueen jubilee from father lucifer. › waitress-love it live. love it. velvet. chenille. dark brown like coffee. sandy feet. tab top curtains and sea shells. midnight swim. sharks. › purple people. smoke. black dress. red nails. feather boa. vodka martini. still is the lounge singer at heart sometimes. mr zebra's cousin. pink lipstick. frosty. › and back to orbiting. › bliss-heartbeat drums. ice storm outside. confessional. wool coat. a winter song. alone. › juarez-not enough water. steel. clubs will love this one if they're smart. great club song. slow beat. sad song. betrayal. "the indian is told the cowboy is his friend".› didn't like as much the first time as the second. › concertina-one of the best lines ever. 'i know the truth is in between the first and 40th drink'› ballet slippers. dead red roses. ice sculpture. › ***glory of the 80's-this is my absolute favorite. i love it. it just shines. › lust-seagulls. blue crepe. tulle. orange. creepy and beautiful, like the film 'heavenly creatures'. › suede-this one is growing on me. they all do that, but this one really is. i loved it live, but i heard it and went, 'eh, not so much' but it gets better each time...and the end is the kicker. sobbing. bleeding. grey. dove gray. one of my favorite moments on the album. › josephine-napoleon. very interesting song. second favorite. longing. i think it's josephine wanting napoleon who's more interested in war than her. my only interpretation so far. i love it. beautiful. › riot poof-wow. need to read the lyrics to this one when you listen to it. wow. 'big message song...it will all find its way in time'.› this is a city song. from above. buildings. city of angels. another club song. heat mirages and black boots. › datura-her experimental song. love the time signature for those musicians out there 1&2&3& 1&2&3& 1&2&3&4&5&6&› perhaps a reference to stealing fire again. but this time it's him. datura is a street in west palm beach florida. adam and eve. lilith? or eve...the second part, dividing canaan is almost like a second song. it's like a meditation. › spring haze-reminds me of a doodle. of twinkle. i think this is her air album.› very driving drums and still a very light song musically. sun dress. flowers. › 1000 oceans-a true ballad and love song. it totally works with the album. i had 1000 oceaned myself to death with the single, but i still love it. blue. cliche' i know. but blue. and pearls. and green hills. and fish. dunno why fish. › it is a masterpiece. it is amazing. i think there is nothing better. and that's only on the 2nd listen. better than choir girl. her marriage album. happy. things outside herself to write about now. i love it.
From April Fifield
October 7, 1999 - Being a longtime fan of Tori, I've purchased every one of her albums and have seen her multiple times on TV and in concert. I stood in line last night at midnight to buy her latest double CD and rushed home to listen to it. The live concert recordings are absolutely awesome on the 2nd disc. Proves the range of intensity and emotion she's able to portray at each and every one of her shows. The disc of new recordings was sort of an anticipated disappointment, tho. I really do miss Tori and her Bossendorffer (typo?). The secret, more intimate songs she's known for... I know that change is inevitable but I hope she never strays too far from what she's perfected....Yet, I'm still a huge fan and looking forward to seeing her @ the 106.7 KROQ Breakfast with Tori and Alanis. Just been inspired to email you my two cents, that's all...
October 7, 1999 - I believe that Tori is having the time of her life and I think she should be; Venus is definitly Tori's evolving after smelling some sweet new air...The new songs bloom, yes, but I seem to have more of an attachment to the live album; With this album I think that Tori has accomplished something GREAT, she's taken each of her little songs and brought them to a completely different level, not only instrumentally but emotionally.... The improvising that she does in each song, has made them new and wonderful.... It's kind of like when you smile and cry at the same time... It doesn't happen often, but when it does you know its got to be a pretty special thing....
From Charles R. Morgan-Vanderau
October 7, 1999 - Perhaps I made a mistake... I bought THE FRAGILE and TO VENUS AND BACK on the same day.
track 1- bliss- it is an okay song. i think that she is hanging onto a thin songwriting thread though. I miss the days when she could put a meaningful song like "horses" or "winter" out.
track 2- totally nondescript. you can barely make out the vocals due to all the effects. she has gone to annoying instead of interesting and quirky.
track 3- concertina- is she talking about concertina wire or what? This is probably the best song on the album but I can't help but feel that I wouldn't listen to it any more than a few times. It just frustrates me that she would put this album out.
track 4- glory of the 80s. ok. i own Y KANT TORI READ. this song is horrible. case in point, after a few listens it is not impossible to get into COOL ON YOUR ISLAND and even FAYTH or PIRATES or THE BIG PICTURE. It seems to me that the same person who went to LA the first time and got rejected wrote a pretty good album with LITTLE EARTHQUAKES and then followed it up with a reasonably good UNDER THE PINK only to follow it with a flat BOYS FOR PELE and then a take it or leave it CHOIRGIRL HOTEL. This is not the type of TORI music that initially earned her such a devoted following.
track 5- is it the drugs? the cymbals sound like they belong in a WESSLEY WILLIS FIASCO song but it is a good thing to hear piano even if you have to ignore that goddamn beeping.
track 6- suede. CHRIST. even BJORK is more melodic now.
I'd comment more but I don't think that there is anything else on the album that I want to hear- I'm just going to listen to La Mer and wish that Tori still had something to offer... Lollipop gestapo... ha.
EVEN the live stuff sounds off. The last time I saw her live was during the DEW DROP INN tour and one of the shows was pretty good- she played COOL ON YOUR ISLAND and my friend and I gave her a standing ovation- unfortunately no one else in the theatre recognized the song. The other concert I saw at Washington D.C. she pretty much stuck to the normal stuff- no b-sides and no rarities. The second concert was pretty bad.
I don't know what to say, she just doesn't have IT anymore... whatever it was.
October 7, 1999 - This is more first impressions of 'Venus' than a review. I know I'll have different opinions the more I listen to it because that's what happened with all the other albums, so here's what I think after a› just couple of times around. › 'Bliss' I love the swirling drums and the echo on the voice during the verses. It may seem a stilted beginning, but I see the song as the start of a journey, the 'Father I killed my monkey' is a way of saying goodbye to old landmarks. I really love the power of the chorus, the 'steady as it comes' just seethes with confidence. The exasperation in 'I said it all' results in the simple statement 'Maybe we're a Bliss of another kind.' That in itself is enough reason to leave. › Juarez Feels like a whole other place, Tori's definitely taken us somewhere else. A very dark song. I don't understand the imagery yet, some kind of conflict is hinted at, one she wasn't ready for. Just like the Indian and the Cowboy. The line 'no angel came' is heartbreaking and really stands out, especially the last time she says it. › Concertina. This was the first song on the disk to really stand out for me. A beautiful melody that really lifts you. I love the line 'I know the truth is in between the 1st and 40th drink.' Every time she sings the word 'concertina' I just start to smile and sing along. › Glory of the 80's Really just a slice of life. It's a story you get completely drawn in to. There are lots of great characters from the 'silicone party Barbie's to the 'drag king Venus.' A great rhythm from the band really carries the song along. The 'just then you go and disappear' is fabulous. › Lust The vocals on 'Lust' are haunting, the whole song has an undercurrent that's hard to pin down. There's a story here I haven't got yet. The last line 'he waits and he waits' make you realise there's more happening than is being said. You'll want to dive straight back into this just to figure it out. › Suede Hard to describe. It makes me feel the same way 'liquid diamonds' did when I first heard that. I really like the repeated 'suede.' Lots of lines leap out as you listen, but they don't quite fit right. It's a very meandering song, but loops back to certain points 'call me evil, call me tide is on your side.'›Despite this it finishes firmly, which I liked. Nice break with the 'oh little sister' part. › Josephine Not much to say about this one - classic Tori. You can really feel the piano on this, even with all the drum beat. The first and last lines are my favourite. › Riot proof. A song that gets itself noticed right away. Tori sounds like she did in the 'just say yes' portion of iiieee. Cool rhythm, especially in 'know what you know.' Not an immediate favourite, but a song with enough interesting layers to make me want come back to. › Datura My least favourite at the moment, I haven't got to grips with all the overlaps, it just feels messy. Tori's voice when reciting the list of items is like velvet, that's the only thing that'll keep me listening to this one for the time being. The chorus does nothing for me, all I can hear is the interference. › Spring Haze. This is a complete contrast to Datura. There's some lovely intonation›in the verses, particularly 'don't much like the look of it' and 'never make it there.' The swirling melody of the chorus makes you feel like you're in a spring haze yourself. But like Tori, you don't much like the look of it because there's a bitter edge to it all. The talk of drowning Sundays and the refrain of 'why does it always end up like this' makes you stop a little and listen harder.›One of my favourites. › 1000 Oceans. This is the one that will run through your veins...not only is it a beautiful soaring song but it makes›a good bookend to 'Bliss,' in the fact that it's about returning rather than leaving, and wanting someone to return even though they want to go. I think she recognises herself in this person, hence the 'I can't believe I would keep you from flying.' There's a past here that has to be honoured, something Tori fought against in 'Bliss.' She's had her trip to Venus, now it's time to come home. › I think 'To Venus and back' is going to be one of my favourites. I can sense a structure in the order of the songs, like various stages in the journey. I know the more of it I figure out the more I will love the album. As for the live disc, I love it already. Mostly›wonderful cuts of old favourites, I especially like the slow intro to 'Cornflake Girl, something I hadn't heard before.It brings back memories of seeing her live. Fantastic.
From Beth Coulter
September 19, 1999 - I picked up "To Venus and Back" 36 hours ago. I've listened to it 3 times through and have a couple of tracks that compelled me to hit repeat time after time. It comes in a purplish/sepia trifold cardboard case that features a nice shot of Tori. Inside on either side of the middle is a picture of Venus and that's where the cd pockets are. The middle shot is a full length shot of Tori with her head back and arms outstretched on a street. Behind this is the lyric book which features small b&w shots of Tori and the band.
The live album (Venus-Still Orbiting) is so good, mixed so well that it sounds as if it's from one concert. Suger and Purple People are from soundchecks, so the fade out from the audience is a bit of a shock and reality check that it isn't one concert. She says before Cooling that it is her way of saying goodbye, so I'll assume it's from the last concert in E. Lansing. *corrections welcome* The sound is terrific and each cut is indeed the best of her performances. Unfortunately there are no dates given for each cut.
The new studio album, well, I love it. I think it's her masterpiece, much like Pet Sounds did it for the Beach Boys, and Sgt. Pepper marked the Beatles. Bliss is what I've begun to think of as *typical Tori*, good, but nothing about it really stands out for me. But it's a nice intro into this wonderful world she has created in her journey to Venus.
Juarez is haunting, her voice muted behind the techno beat and wounded piano. The sadness of the desert has grabbed her by the throat and she can barely transmit it's pain. The tag line is "No Angels Came", which is definately *not* what's heard when she sings it. But reading the lyrics and listening to it made everything come together and the sand blew in my eyes and made me tear.
Concertina was my early favorite, a bouncy, catchy melody and the best tag line "You're the fiercest calm I've ever been in". It's a sweet bon bon with a vineger base, but addictive all the same.
Glory of the 80's is "fab". There is no other suitable word, unless we go really retro and try "Narly". It's a story like a day in the life, how she took a taxi from LA to Venus, and all the things that she saw and did and heard. There is no real tag line, because it truly is a short story.
Lust surprised me, grabbing me by the ears and forcing me to listen. This was the first one to make me hit repeat. She reminds me slightly of the Russian Model/Singer Milla, both the voice and the melody. Which is funny, because years ago I thought Milla was the Russian Tori. When she sings "Rolling, Unrolling, Coiling, Emerging", her voice takes on these actions. It's impossible to discribe.
Suede hasn't quite grown on me yet, but it intrigues me all the same. The music has the feeling of suede rubbing my ears, nice and soft. "there are days I feel your twin. peekaboo. hiding underneath your skin" just sends my mind whirling, understanding the feeling. Perhaps because it touches me this way is why it's slow to grow on me.
Josephine quickly outranked every other chick as my favorite. It has an almost military drum beat, and simply beautiful lyrics. "Not tonight Josephine". *sigh* It breaks my heart. I'm going to assume it refers to Josephine and Napoleon because of the references like "Moscow burning".
Riot Poof is an electro/techno audiotori mess in a good way. Her ghostly, disembodied voice opens up with "break the terror of the urban spell", and she takes you by the hand to lead you down the terror path. Urban spell is as good a term for it as any. ;)
Datura is an acid trip of vocalizations and softly spoken words mixed to a varigated rhythm. The lyrics has the words she speaks; a list of different plants and flowers, mixed with other thoughts, topped with the repeated "Dantura", before it dives into a 3 minute rhythm loop of Caton making love to his guitar while Tori sings, "Dividing Cannan, Piece by Piece". The whole thing starts off with an emphatic, "Hey Hey Get out of My Garden". As a song, It's mighty trippy.
Spring Haze is wonder of Celtic rhythms, the chorus "let go, way to go, waiting on Sunday to drown" hooks you right along this trail of tears. Simply sad with hopeless undertones.
The final track is the beautiful 1,000 Oceans. "I can't believe I would keep you from flying" makes her voice soar so that you truly understand what she kept that person from doing. The sadness in her vow to "cry a thousand more if that's what it takes to sail you home" makes you believe she is capable of crying that much.
Tori has called this album "Sonic Geometry" and that's what it is. An audiotori feast for the ears. It is so rich with texture and imagery that it will be in my player for quite a while while I sift through all the layers. Sit and give this album your full attention, perferably in candlelight with a nice glass of wine. It is a trip like you've never had.
By the way, she does thank the faeries. Under "credits" she has "spacecake-faerie". A few lines down she credits "Beene-Beene", so it's all done in Torispeak.
September 7, 1999 - For me, Concertina is the immediate stand-out track, and I can't understand why it's not been selected as the first single here in the UK -- glory of the 80s takes much longer to get into. Concertina would be huge -- it's an infectious melody that's by far the most commercial track tori's ever cut, with a glorious, soaring chorus and slick production. 1,000 Oceans, as you know, is very much in the winter/jupiter vein with a hauntingly fragile lyric that is extremely powerful and moving. and the silbury hill reference will go down well over here -- it's a mystical site very similar to glastonbury -- and is also interestingly the UK's premier crop circle site which tori might be referring to when she says 'solar field' (? i can't quite make it out and the promo album does not have lyrics)-- you can check out some of the latest crop circle formations at the 'crop circle connector' site run in the uk, I'll try to find the exact website address for you) I'm sure you have heard of crop circles -- mysterious swirled shapes that appear overnight in fields of wheat, barley and oilseed rape here in the UK, incorporating religious/mystical/mathematical symbols, often. There are various theories as to how they are formed -- human hoaxers being one, which even if true does not invalidate them as great works of art, but more relevantly for tori, some people believe they are the work of the faeries!!
Back to the album -- I think some die-hard toriphiles will be initially a little disconcerted by some of the vocal effects tori employs on datura and juarez -- that portishead-style effect that makes it sound as though she's singing through a loo-roll tube! but it really grows on you. but interestingly, the tracks that have both piano and band (and there are several that don't use piano at all) use it much more effectively than anything on choirgirl, i think -- the production is much sharper and the piano comes through loud and clear.
As for the live disk -- it's a real treat, and brave I think of tori to not go for the obvious tracks (no crucify, winter, jupiter and so on). for me the standout track is cooling -- just a fantastic delivery, much better than the studio cut. fabulous, classic tori vox on this one.
Mr zebra is delivered in true kate bush style! the waitress track includes tori's improvised 'hang ten, hang ten honey, i'm gonna go where she goes' section which works very well and the track builds up to a swirling, guitar-crazed crescendo with tori panting like her life depended on it. cornflake too opens with an improvised section not on the studio cut. personally, i think the band working with tori sometimes works and sometimes doesn't -- i think it's a shame that the CD opens with precious things, which, apart from its opening section of drum/bass, doesn't work as well for me as when tori performed it alone. it's one of those songs that she often used to improvise with, changing lyrics, extending sections and so on when and where she wanted to and the band hampers that here.
on the positive side, the version of bells for her is just fantastic with the band -- another standout track. the subtlest of drums kick in for the chorus, which is completely altered from the studio version, and tori uses the bosendorfer rather than the traditional deconstructed 'bells' piano. caton's understated guitar really lifts this one.
girl is also great. the whole album has been very cleverly put together -- i don't think all the tracks are from the same concert, but the crowd noise has been mixed to make it appear as though they are. tori only speaks once on the disc, to introduce the band.
the exception to this is purple people at the close, which seems to have been added on as something of an afterthought, sounding like a live studio cut with no crowd noise. a great afterthought, though -- again, this is far better than the studio version, tori's vocal just superb. the whole disc is as close as one can get to being at a tori gig and, as predicted, outclasses any of the bootleg stuff by miles.
From Mike Gray
August 27, 1999 - I was recently sent a copy of a 7 track tape, which I assume is taken from a promotional sampler item in the UK, although I haven't actually seen anything of the sort or heard of it yet. I'm surprised I haven't heard it mentioned.
Tracks are : Bliss, Juarez, Concertina, Glory Of The 80s, Suede, 1000 Oceans and Datura.
I'll give a brief overview and my personal, very much first-impression thoughts on each one.
Bliss - I'm sure you'll all have heard by now - I heard it described by a friend as "Little Earthquakes meets Spark" and although I'm not quite sure I agree with that, it's certainly a sound choice for a single. I like the chorus, although I think the lyrics are a little more obscured by the music than they ought to be, something which I would say (with few exceptions) about the tracks on this tape. It has a very strong feel about it, and would have fitted pretty well onto Choirgirl, I would say.
but enough of songs most people have heard...
Juarez - starting with just drum beats and synth sounds with tori "doo doo doo doo" over the top, it descends fairly quickly into industrial-style noises with distorted, static-like vocals which I can't make out properly for the life of me. Tori's voice stays very low for a large part of the song. The only lyric easily made out is "time to keep it" which she repeats during the second minute. It's pretty non-descript, honestly, although it may well grow on me eventually, I find it hard to relate to in any way - let's put it this way, the sheet music would have very few notes, just a bass-line and drum beats. It reminds me in a way of a faster version, extended, to the intro of PJ Harvey's My Beautiful Leah.
Concertina - now this I *love* far more traditional. Starts off with no beat, drums kick in "Just another dream" in the first verse. Slightly distorted vocal again.There's a great stereo effect on the "Too Far" "Too Far" lines. Quite a beautiful little thing, this - nice synth strings and pianos.
Concertina Lyrics : [Guesses]
The truth is inbetween
So quick ? a tear
She likes hanging Chinese paper cuts.
The [magic policy?] of trancing.
[The solace / soul without the blame, perhaps?]
I've got a fever above my waist.
Glory Of The 80s some of you will have heard at the first gig. It does sound like an 80s synth pop track at the beginning. The lyrics are occasionally obscured by the music again, though. I tried to guess these lyrics but they aren't quite clear enough, and although you can pick out 60%+ of the words, it wouldn't be much use to read through, so I deleted them again. Constant beat through the track.
The chorus is "The Glories Of The 80s. He said I'm not afraid to die. I said "I don't find that remotely funny."
It's basically a classic dance track, and it would be a huge seller if sufficiently well remixed. Definitely going to be a fan favourite for the album, and especially for anyone who enjoyed 80s music. Lots and lots of fun. If I could dance, I would to this one. If there's a single apart from the chosen ones on this tape, it's this.
Suede... Ooh, back into the industrial goth grinding noises, here. Ominous noises with Tori saying "Suede. Suede. Suede" "You always felt like Suede. There are days I feel your Twin Peakable underneath your skin." The lyrics aren't that hard to make out, although they're deliberately distorted. This one, if you don't listen to it closely seems to come across as something of a nothing. However on closer inspection, it's actually rather beautiful, lyrically and musically, it just takes some time to grow. No immediately obvious verse / chorus / verse structure if you aren't listening properly, you see. Virtually no piano in this at all.
1,000 Oceans. Is excellent, perfect, wonderful, joyous and sad. Never fails to make the hair on my arms stand on end. If you haven't heard it yet, just wait for the single. Beautiful.
Datura. Is son of God, if you'll excuse the pun. The beginning, the instrumentation - is just God part two, at least for a couple of minutes, it appears to end, then there's static and an industrial, heavy, thudding drum beat kicks in complete with snarling static. From that point on, the lyrics are just *not* audible, or what I can hear doesn't sound like any word I've heard before. Keeps saying the same thing, something like "Dividing Canaan Piece By Piece" and repeats this ad infinitum. Little swirly synth noises, then it just ends.
August 27, 1999 - for the past few days i have been listening to venus orbiting, and it stays on my mind whenever i don't have it on. i think that this cd is obviously closest related to choirgirl. bliss is very spark and juarez is very cruel. 1,000 oceans , to me, is equal parts sugar and putting the damage on. and there are some groove oriented tracks in the middle sort of making it play like choirgirl. but i must say that there have indeed been some changes. the production isn't as obvious and it sounds like tori really is masstering the production of her own music, today concertina never left my head. i would just say to someone for no reason---i know the truth is in between the first and the fortieth drink.". 1,000 oceans, i think, is one of the best songs tori has ever written. it sounds like a classic. something as timeless as what she used to play at the marriots...but it's her. so beautiful. lust is just as beautiful. the introduction to the piano riff at the beginning of the song is chilling, as is her vocal track. speaking of vocal tracks, the first 4 seconds of spring haze are PERFECT. so amazing!! cute, precious and biting. all in one phrase. bliss is a killer. all in all i am again making room in my brain for a very important chapter in the discography. things in venus are great for now. executed brilliantly, i can spend the next season here. strange to be sweating and fighting the heat waves while learning new tori songs and lyrics. that's okay, because even the ballads, like lust and 0ceans, are slow burners, but i think these songs will sound great in the cold winter months too. as someone hooked up to the experience since march of 92, this new phase at 26 and in nyc, is feeling like venus is the place to be. after this intake over and over, you will be left...still orbiting.
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