San Francisco Chronicle
September 26, 1999

Added October 28, 1999

Read a review of "to venus and back" from the September 26, 1999 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle (by Beth Winegarner)

4 stars
To Venus and Back Atlantic, $25.98

Over the years, Tori Amos' fans have treasured her rich, quirky studio albums and her powerful live performances. On the double- disc set "To Venus and Back," in stores Tuesday, Amos delivers both.

The 11 new songs on "Venus" range from hypnotic and rhythm- heavy to airy and romantic. Some, such as the subtly spooky ""Suede" and the vengeful "Juarez," recall Massive Attack or Nine Inch Nails. But Amos' trademark piano ballads are also present, including "Josephine" and "Lust," whose melodies convey a timeless longing.

The second "Venus" disc includes live material culled from her 1998 tour, showcasing Amos' ability to write solid rock songs and adapt her solo material to a full-band format. "Sugar," once melancholy, becomes triumphant here; "Waitress" is transformed into an 11-minute jam that would make Led Zeppelin proud. Older tunes such as "Girl" and "Little Earthquakes" coexist comfortably with newer ones, including a gorgeous solo rendition of "Cooling."

Amos is a songwriter of incredible potential who hasn't yet recorded her masterwork. Still, "To Venus and Back" provides a testament to her power as a live performer, as well as her versatility as a composer.

-- Beth Winegarner

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