Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO)
November 7, 2001

Added Nov 15, 2001

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Catie Russo alerted me to a review of the Strange Little Girls album that appeared in the November 7, 2001 issue of the Louisviile Eccentric Observer or LEO, a weekly paper in Louisville, KY.

Strange Little Girls
Tori Amos (Atlantic)

Cover albums can be fun - but more often than not they're simply vanity trips through a particular artist's record collection. On Strange Little Girls, Tori Amos has attempted something with a little more depth and thematic unity. Instead of a bunch of tunes by obvious Amos antecedents like Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell - the pianist is tackling 12 songs originally written and recorded by male performers, some of whom aren't exactly renowned for their sensitivity (Eminem, I'm looking in your direction!). Amos is no stranger to the genderfuck angle; on her Crucify EP, she performed Led Zep's "Thank You," the Stones's "Angie" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with uneven results. Similarly, Strange Little Girls is a mixed bag of tricks.

Amos renders most of her selections virtually unrecognizable - a bold decision, if not an altogether successful one. Her Harold Budd-esque take on Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" is enjoyably stark and minimal; her version of the Stranglers' "Strange Little Girl" turns the solid original into something slightly more serpentine and sexy; and metalheads the world over will be aghast if they happen to hear what Amos did to Slayer's "Raining Blood." But her idiosyncratic reworkings of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and especially her painfully dull 10-minute trawl through the Fab Four's "Happiness is a Warm Gun" are so self-consciously artsy-fartsy that one wonders why she even bothered to get the clearance rights in the first place.

And then there's "'97 Bonnie & Clyde," here sung from the POV of the victim in Eminem's twisted little murder fantasy. The song seems to have been undertaken more for shock value than for any genuine artistic pursuits.

Amos gets an A for originality, but a C+ for her overall execution. Though interesting, this doesn't really do much besides make you want to listen to the source material.

By Jay Ditzer

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