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Positive review of TOAL posted at
December 12, 2003

Updated Wed, Dec 31, 2003 - 10:23am ET

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A postive review of Tales Of A Librarian by Richard Pilcher was posted to on December 12, 2003.

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Tori's Stories Now Card Catalogued
Richard Pilcher

For almost 15 years Tori Amos has been composing some of the most emotionally charged and provocative songs heard. She has garnered a legion of rabid fans who'd buy a one track CD of her belching if she produced it. Also, she's been acclaimed as one of the most successful live acts in the world. However, no longer Alternative-Rock's piano bench humping poster girl, her split with Atlantic Records, and the start of a new musical direction gave her a great opportunity. Tori Amos finally had a chance to open up her song books, gather some of her favorite soul baring tracks, add a couple of new ones, and even remake a couple rare classics. The finished product became, "Tales of a Librarian - A Tori Amos Collection".

Don't call it a Greatest Hits, because rather than collecting all of her singles and sloppily throwing them onto compact disc, Tori, herself, handpicked the 20 tracks that make up "Tales of a Librarian." Sure, included are easily recognizable Tori 'hits' like; "Silent All These Years", "God", "Spark", and everybody's favorite, "Cornflake Girl". But, there are also some definitive Tori classics such as; "Winter", "Tear in Your Hand", "Me and a Gun", and "Baker, Baker".

Just picking the tracks to put on the album wasn't enough for Tori either. Because she's been producing her own material since 1997's "Boys For Pele" each of the 16 previously released tracks have been "reconditioned" and re-produced by Tori. It's the "reconditioning" that makes the album so special, giving each of the songs the sound Tori originally intended for them. And, we're not talking simply cleaning up the sound of the songs. For instance, have you ever listened to "God" and wondered what in His name she was mumbling towards the end of the song? Well, wonder no more! And, if you still don't understand her she has included the revamped lyrics in the CD sleeve as well.

The reason hardcore Tori fans must buy this CD? There are two new tracks on the disc; "Angels", and the long awaited "Snow Cherries from France". In "Angels" she sings, "from Modern Magdalenes to my DJ friends/they all have said 'he's got to watch his back'". It would seem that Tori's angry about the religious and political state of her former home land. The discs last track, "Snow Cherries from France", is a whimsical tale of a love lost told in the sweet and sour way that only Tori Amos can tell it. As well as the two new tracks, included on "Tales..." are remakes of two B-sides from the "Little Earthquakes" era, "Mary" and "Sweet Dreams". These songs, originally recorded in the early '90s, are still very pertinent to the state of America today. "Land of Liberty/We are run by a constipated man," Tori sings on "Sweet Dreams", a track that was originally written to express her dissatisfaction with President George Bush Sr. Rerecorded with the inclusion of Tori purring, "who's your daddy" randomly, the song is now poised at attacking our new leader, George Jr. "Mary" is a hippie-dippy musical homage to the Mary Magdalene in all of us, "Las Vegas got a pinup girl/they got her armed as they buy and sell her". Religion and politics have always been two of Tori's favorite topics.

"Tales of a Librarian" isn't just for longtime fans, however. Tori fanatics could speculate endlessly about what tracks should and should not have made the cut. Tracks such as; "Spring Haze", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", or "Raspberry Swirl" would've fit very nicely. So, the reason anyone should buy this CD? "Tales of a Librarian" is a great collection of musically beautiful and lyrically provocative songs from one of the most talented singer/songwriters to come out of the early '90's Alternative movement. It is beautifully packaged in the typical Tori Amos fashion. There is a bonus DVD with live performances included, as well. And, because even hardcore Toriphiles can get lost in the perplexity of her lyrics, she has included where each song would be filed according to the Dewey Decimal System. However, even that doesn't give a concrete answer about the meaning of Tori's could be Courtney Love bash, "Professional Widow". And, speaking of that song, in her worst musical decision since permanently replacing the track "Talula" on "Boys For Pele" with the remixed single version, Tori chose the ruined, remixed single version of "Professional Widow" to include on "Tales..." as well. A decision probably made to keep the disc vulgarity free, however a poor one nonetheless.

With the exception of the very out of place, "Professional Widow", "Tales of a Librarian" is still an amazing collection of music that should definitely not be passed up.

In this holiday shopping season there are a lot of "Greatest Hits" collections to choose from, and I was tempted by all of them. However, there is something magical about a Tori Amos album that I just can't resist.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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