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Tori Amos—to venus and back


Release info:

1999—Atlantic Records—83230-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Tori Amos—bosendorfer, synths, vocals

Guest artists:

Matt Chamberlain—drums/percussion
Jon Evans—bass
Steve Caton—guitars
Andy Gray—programming with additional drum programming on "Suede", "Riot Proof", and "Datura"

Produced by:

Tori Amos

Comments:

This is a double album, consisting of orbiting, new songs, and live, still orbiting, a collection of live performances of songs from her first four albums.

just listened to the new disc and so far i like it a lot. i think it'll split tori fans like boys for pele did. it's extremely well-produced, very ambient and atmospheric. standouts so far are "juarez", "suede", "spring haze", "concertina", "glory of the 80's" (easily her funniest lyrics ever) and "Datura". segues between songs are great. anyone who likes ambient music should get this. i like tori's new direction, she can't do the girl and a piano thing forever. first she added the band now she adds more production and mood. i think it's great, but i'm sure many miss the old sound. still, "1000 Oceans" is her most straightforward ballad since "silent all these years" and should be a big hit on the radio and at weddings. anyone who's ever liked tori should get this.
     lyrically, it's as dense as ever and i'm just starting to figure some of the songs out. "juarez" deals with an article tori read about a massacre in mexico. others deal with her new-found love and happiness in her marriage.
     the live disc is worth the price alone. (NNadelS@aol.com)

The live disc ROCKS. I can't believe the track listing...though I'd happily have replaced "Cornflake Girl" with "Honey", but that's a minor quibble.
     I'm on listen #1 of the new disc, and it's going to have to take hold. from the choirgirl hotel was the same way, though, and now I absolutely love it, so I'm going to give it some good car time and see how it goes. (But I'll have to pry the live disc out of the player first...yow.)
     Yeah yeah, we all would've preferred a double live album so we could finally have legal recordings of the live versions of "Mohammed My Friend" and "Father Lucifer" and "Honey" etc. But the one live disc we did get is a great collection, with some pleasant surprises ("Girl"?! "Space Dog"?!?). And, perhaps the biggest surprise of all, the disc of new material is even better than from the choirgirl hotel. With the exception of "1000 Oceans", which is mercifully the final track (what was she THINKING?!?), there is nary a weak song on the disc. It's great driving music, and it's been living in my car since we got it, which is always a good sign. (meth@smoe.org)

I like this better than I thought I would (I had bought the two singles released before the album and wasn't as drawn to them as I have been with her previous work). Tori has wondrous moments like no other. "Datura" and "Spring Haze" particular catch me and "Glory of the 80's" is quite charming and I keep finding the chorus of "Concertina" in my head at odd moments, but I haven't been caught by this disc with the fishhook that lurked in her first three discs. It seems that while her songs individually catch me, somehow these last two albums as a whole haven't. Weird. I am quite enjoying the live, still orbiting disc. The versions are great, and "Cooling" here sounds like the gem the shone in the middle of the concert I heard her do just a few weeks ago. (Neile)

I listened to the new Tori Amos CD, yesterday. First of all: the live CD is absolutely brilliant. Second: the studio album is very good. Not as good as the first three, in my opinion, but much better than from the choirgirl hotel. "Bliss", "Concertina" and the last four songs are fabulous, esp. the hypnotic "Datura". (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

Still undecided on this one—a very solid album, with some great songs, but I kind of miss Tori's flashy piano playing. Of course it's featured in plenty on the live album, which really captures the energy of her live performances, though it still takes me a while to get used to the drums. And, part of me, still would prefer to hear her just play the piano. Which brings me to a question? Why haven't other artists invited Tori to play piano on their albums? I think what this album really brought home is that I really like Tori's piano playing ability, but her vocals and songwriting are really beginning to lose me.
     A couple of the live pieces are transcendant, but the new material, while interesting, just doesn't wow me—which for Tori, comes as a letdown. (jjhanson@att.net)

Finally got a chance to listen to Venus today, and I love it. The only song I didn't like was "Cruel", and I don't like that song on from the choirgirl hotel either. I absolutely loved the version of "Sugar" and I preferred this upbeat "Cornflake Girl" to the atmospheric/ambient version I heard in concert. And it's great to have a live version of "Cooling" and "Precious Things" which also opened the Plugged concert I saw, as I think it did many.
     Very cool.
     Best motivating songs on this album are "Bliss," "Juarez," and "Riot Poof." (JoAnn Whetsell)

I love to venus and back too. I think Tori is really moving into a much different zone than she ever has with this album, and having the live album with it is EXTREMELY strange and poignant, it's like she's showing us the trail that she already has left behind...all of those old songs...it reminds me of the line from Joan Osborne's old song "Flyaway" from Early Recordings "number one for takeoff to that big drowning pool in the sky, number one for takeoff and her dress waving you goodbye", I think that's VERY much the tone I get from the whole album...after having this album that I almost feel is a kind of apology and at the same time a confrontation to herself even, she's like, "Compare and contrast...on the left we have who I think I am right now, on the right we have who I think I used to be and who I thought I am, let's see which one has more weight, shall we?" And of course, the right is 73 minutes and the left is only 47, but the left is still extremely new, and the right is all of those years lumped in together, the best or most curious of all of those years...but what she's saying is that we really need to take a look at her, I think a lot of her fans really always play the "What Tori wants is for us to look at ourselves, long and hard," but now, it's all about her, Tori's finally getting the balls to demand our attention to herself, not ourselves. And I love her for that. For all of her be-your-own-savior talk, she's saying that she may as well get saved somewhere in there too. No, I haven't listened to the new album more than once, I'm not even done listening to the live album yet, it's playing as I'm right here, so I can't give you all kinds of in-depth which-songs-I-loved-most really, nor do I think I'd be doing anybody else any kind of service by doing so...plenty of y'all are going to give us impressions and other stuff...but this album is changing all of my perspectives and perceptions of the entirety of this woman. Here, here, since I guess some of y'all are wondering where it is, I'll give up one thing I thought about something concrete from the new album: when you open the album up, there's Venus on the left and the mirror of Venus on the right (wow, symbolism), and Tori in the middle looking absolutely gorgeous, more gorgeous than I've ever seen her, with her hands extended down toward both, walking and conducting. And I'm done. (John.Drummond)

And d'ya know her song "Cooling" (which appears on the live disc)? Nothing could be more beautiful. Tender, musically lovely, simple and simply extraordinary. (loefflep@mis.finchcms.edu)

I started to despair after from the choirgirl hotel—I just couldn't get into it. I started to think this specialness of Tori was lost...but with Venus, I finally made the breakthrough. Yes, *for me* there will never be another Little Earthquakes—but once I accepted this fact, I started to enjoy Venus for what it is. And I agree "1000 Oceans" is the weakest song, maybe not ever, but on Venus. Weakest, because it appears to be looking back, and just when I got over that idea! (afries@zip.com.au)

On the list of recent disappointments, I'll have to mention the new Tori album. from the choirgirl hotel would have been a great album on almost anyone else's scale but Tori's, but with to venus and back, I'm starting to despair. "Datura" is cool, and I kinda like many of the other songs as well, but listening to this album just doesn't do much for me. And "1000 Oceans" has to be the worst Tori song ever for me...if there ever was a song by Tori that I could imagine Celine Dion singing, this would be it.
     And this is not for lack of trying...I've listened to the album a lot. But when I put this album in the player, I don't get all anticipatory like happens with, say, Boys for Pele, every time. I'm beginning to give up. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Tori, Tori, Tori, what are you doing. A worthless live disc, which is tainted by the presence of the American audience, and a studio disc with a few very sub-standard songs. To Venus and back was narrowly saved by the tracks "Datura" and "1000 oceans" as well as a few other jewels on disc 1, but if she were any other artist I don't know if I would've placed it in my top 10 of 1999 as I did. (marcel@kimwilde.com)

I thoroughly enjoy the live versions, sometimes even more than I did the show I saw on the tour. The new songs haven't struck me too much, though there are a few that are kind of fun. I'm hoping this is one that will be growing on me. (neal)

I love the live CD. I'm pretty underwhelmed by the studio CD. (mcurry@io.com)

Not as strong, but it's still Tori. (wpm@value.net)

the live part doesn't do much for me, but 'spring haze' is one of the best songs this year, in my opinion. (as is 'juarez'.) it was slightly disappointing, but still bad tori is extremely good music. (sketches@earthlink.net)

One of my top ten of 1999. I love it!! (onealien@mo.himolde.no)


Tori Amos' other recordings:

The main Tori Amos page


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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