Mail On Sunday (U.K.)
September 16, 2001

Added Sept 20, 2001

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Tori's Strange Little Girls album was reviewed in the September 16, 2001 edition of the Mail On Sunday newspaper in the U.K.. Thanks to Mike Gray and James Chapman for telling me. They gave the album 4 out of 5 stars!

Tori Amos, like a few other Tories, is not as popular as she was a decade ago. But she isn't about to let that bother her. At 38, married to a Briton and the mother of a small daughter, she remains a major female role model, and for her seventh album she has come up with an idea to match: an album of other people's songs, all written by men, which she re-interprets from the woman's point of view.

Although all the writers are white as well as male, the material ranges far and wide, from old slow-dances (10cc's I'm Not In Love) to recent shockers (Eminem's 97 Bonnie & Clyde), from country-rock classics (Neil Young's Heart Of Gold) to heavy metal (Slayer's Raining Blood), from The Beatles ( Happiness Is A Warm Gun) to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions (Rattlesnakes).

The treatment varies wildly, too.

Songs from Amos's formative years, such as the Stranglers' Strange Little Girl and Joe Jackson's Real Men, are handled with something approaching fidelity, so your attention is on the spin that comes from hearing them in the mouth of a woman. Older numbers are twisted out of all recognition. Heart Of Gold is transformed from a warm breeze into a nightmare of angst and paranoia.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun is given a new melody, supplemented with a radio report of John Lennon's death, and stretched to occupy nearly ten minutes. It works better as a political statement than as a piece of music.

Killing and misogyny are the themes the record keeps returning to. The Eminem track is one of his goonish wife-killing numbers, and Amos's dry irony makes him look stupid. The Boomtown Rats' I Don't Like Mondays, about an early highschool murder, is a triumph and a timely taster for the forthcoming album from Bob Geldof. Tom Waits's Time and Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence are beautiful.

Amos's voice is a velvet glove, full of the intimacy that men fight shy of. She has made a disturbing album but a rewarding one.

4 out of 5 stars ****

Review by Tim de Lisle

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