Read a review of Fade To Red at outintoronto.com. It was posted there on February 23, 2006.
You can read this review online at outintoronto.com or below. Thanks to Armen for telling me about it.
Tori! Tori! Tori!
I still remember the first time that I saw Tori Amos' first video, "Silent All These Years." I was talking on the phone to my then girlfriend Nikki while flipping back and forth between the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards and MTV. There she was: all fire-engine red hair and tattered clothes. I told Nikki to turn to MTV to see this crazy girl rolling around in a box. It was the stark imagery mixed with the vulnerability of her voice that made the video such a remarkable vision.
That was 15 years ago. Since then, Tori has released eight albums and 21 videos. Fade To Red features 19 of those videos remastered in 5.1 audio as well as insightful commentaries by Tori on each video, which are more than mere videos. Hers are beautiful miniature films that succeed in providing a deeper understanding of her often too surreal music.
The videos spanning 1991's Little Earthquakes, directed by photographer Cindy Palmano, use minimal sets, mostly white backdrops and simple shots to, apparently, keep Tori the focus of the video (or was it just because of a lack of funding?). Toriphiles will also note that these songs all use audio mixes featured on her Tales of a Librarian greatest hits collection, so they sound great. However, the video transfers are grainy and dated.
From her Under the Pink videos onward, the cinematography becomes more elaborate and complex. "God," directed by Melody McDaniel, combines all types of ritualistic behavior, religious and otherwise. Tori dances with snakes, writes with rats and even shaves her legs. "Raspberry Swirl" is her ode to drug-induced club culture. Running around with her boy doppelganger, Tori dances with freaks and has a food fight with little red-wigged girls who transform into pigs. The beautiful video for the heartbreaking "Hey Jupiter" is loaded with Tori's thematic favorites: arson, angelic children and amazing shoes. Tori, the arsonist, sits pretty wearing smudged eye makeup while her world crumbles around her. Enter the angel, a little blonde girl, to either save the day or lead Tori into darker depths of despair.
The Twin Peaks-Children of the Corn-inspired "Spark" -- perhaps the most beautiful and effective video of Amos' career -- follows a bound and blindfolded Tori on her escape from a man with a missing finger. Through a baptism ceremony and more arson, her tale of losing a baby through miscarriage is made as universal as a story of being lost and tapping into some self-sufficiency.
The bonus features, which redundantly appears on both discs, include two extra videos, the alternate U.K. version of "Cornflake Girl" and the Armand Van Helden mix of "Professional Widow" (some of you may remember that hit); a 15-minute making-of clip for the bizarre "A Sorta Fairytale" video co-starring Adrien Brody (The Pianist, King Kong, The Village); interviews; behind-the-scenes shots; and extensive insight from Tori and director Sanje. But, the best feature on the discs is the insightful audio commentary for each of the videos contributed by Tori herself, which makes them all the more interesting. A sort of hidden bonus is the retake of "The Doughnut Song," originally intended for inclusion on Tales of a Librarian, is played during the credits on both discs.
Whether you're a tormented Toriphile or just looking to dig up some '90s nostalgia, this set is well worth the $20 you'll drop on it. While it may not be complete -- there could have been a few more extras, such as "Glory of the 80's" and The Strangler's cover "Strange Little Girl" -- it's a much needed upgrade from the almost extinct VHS precursor put out by Atlantic Records in 2000, Tori Amos -- Complete Videos 1991-1998.