With today being Record Store Day and all sorts of great albums and vinyls being thrown up on social media I ended up back at the earliest, timeless and literally brilliant music that once had a specific meaning, memory or moment only for the meanings and moments to change over time but still retain their brilliance.
I remember hearing a song frequently played late night on the radio back in the early 90’s and didn’t discover the name of the track or artist for a while but I instantly fell in love with this beautiful female singer / pianist I later learned was “Tori Amos”
“Silent all these years” was one of four tracks released in 1992 from the absolutely brilliant album “Little Earthquakes” and that single helped me to kick-start and rediscover my love for the piano in my early teens.
“Under the Pink” was released a couple of years later with “Cornflake Girl” the most commonly and probably only single that did anything in the charts.
I loved this album too largely for its slightly grungier, more distorted and grittier feel along with backing vocals from Trent Reznor and its tendency to throw a sudden spanner in the works and catch you off guard. The Wrong Band had the same feel as Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite, “God” “Waitress” and “Space Dog” had lots of distorted guitar and the brilliant “Bells for Her” was recorded on an old knackered 100yr old piano they found and put together to give the haunting feel with clacking of hammers and slightly out of tune keys.
I had left school, started work and started seeing my ex–boyfriend when she released “Boys for Pele” in 1996 which initially I didn’t rate at all. It seemed so at odds with what she’d previously recorded and whilst I loved the introduction of a harpsichord I didn’t like the shouting and yelling and what felt like a woman completely unhinged and scorned by her ex.
It took a while for me to make peace and grow to love the use of brass which until then I’d never been here nor there but Putting the Damage on was painfully and beautifully haunting.
It was shortly after the release of Pele in 96 I first saw Tori Amos play live and it was one of the many things that caused the jealous ex to have a bit of a sulk and strop. He didn’t want me to accept the offer of free tickets my brother’s friend had because.. well because he was a dick and my brother’s friend was offering me the tickets which of course meant rampant sex or some dumb-ass logic in his mind.
I went anyway and got to see this mesmerising, absolutely breathtaking performance which was just Tori at the piano wearing a pair of jeans, vest top and hair up in a scraggly pony tail like this brilliant cover of Famous Blue Raincoat
She played Glastonbury in 98 and featured in various “Unplugged” acoustic sets which were amazing.
Then after I’d left the ex and whilst pregnant with Hannah she released “From the Choirgirl Hotel” which had some good tracks but more screeching and screaming and corned ex-material I could have done without.
That’s kind of where we parted for a while at least until she came back with a brilliant album more in tune with her earlier brilliant albums.
“Scarlet’s Walk” was a stunning album the B-sides and “Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures” as good if not an album in their own right. That album takes me back to driving around almost endlessly during hazy summer in 2002/03 when the kids were only 4 and 2yrs respectively.
Mum would regularly have them over at hers for a weekend and Mark and I just pissed off and drove miles to the arse end of nowhere, found a pub or B&B and stayed over.
The last time I saw Tori perform live was in 2007 for the American Doll Posse tour which I decided would be the last gig too. She had by then lost her voice, had cosmetic surgery and ruined her naturally beautiful looks and whilst she played a full two hour set featuring the Bossendorfer, harpsichord and various keyboards / had her backing band she had lost her edge and it was genuinely sad to see the decline of this once hypnotising performer.
I’m not ripping or linking to anything about her looks and voice because it’s unfair to judge her and continually bring up the deterioration which has almost become the first and main topic of conversation when her name is mentioned.
Instead I’m linking to the first song I heard and a couple of others that still sound as good now as they did back in 1992.
“Little Earthquakes” is little short of a masterpiece and one album I related to as a young teenager and still relate only in a different way.
At the time the music scene was dominated by the new genre of grunge and albums from bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Guns n Roses and Metallica.
Then smack bang in the middle of all that popped up this tiny lady with flaming red hair and a voice like nectar 😀