When Tori Amos appeared inthe early 1990s with Crucify and the subsequent albumLittle Earthquakes, she reawakened an interest in theart of the female singer / songwriter. Indeed it’sdoubtful the likes of Alanis Morissette wouldhave enjoyed quite so much exposure without thepioneering efforts of the Newtonian ice-maiden.
That’s not to say that everythingtouched by Tori has turned to gold – some of herlyrics still raise many a quizzical eyebrow, and theinfamous suckling pig shot that adorns Boys For Pelewasn’t exactly a great piece of animal rightspublicity. The overall impact though is one of thelast decade’s most important solo artists, which is caught in thishandsome collection of 20 songs, four of themnew.
Little Earthquakes is the albummost plundered, and rightly so – for emotion there’slittle to beat the rape song Me And A Gun, which is stillshocking in its intensity. Crucify and Silent AllThese Years are still sounding as vital as ever, with Amosright up close to the mic and bursting into thelistener’s world.
Cornflake Girl is still the mostimmediately commercial of her untampered singlereleases, even if “hanging with the raisin girls” and”peel out the watchword” weren’t the most catchy ofrefrains. Part of the appeal I guess!
After the gospelchoir brings 1995′s Way Down to a reverential close itcomes as a shock when Professional Widow shatters thecalm, one of Armand Van Helden‘s finest mixingmoments culminating in a devilish bassline and giving us one of themost distinctive dance records of the 1990s. On thiscollection it sticks out like a sore thumb due toTori’s other dance collaborations with the likes ofBT not being included, but that only serves todouble the impact. Dr Zebra pales by comparison but isstill a rollicking good track with support from TheBlack Dyke Mills Band.
There are four new songs whichdemonstrate the same lyrical kookiness and musicalattention to detail as her earlier work, althoughAngels shows signs that married life is beginning tomellow her anger and intensity.
If you plump for theaccompanying DVD release of Librarian, you get theexcellent Pretty Good Year, a strange omission fromthe CD, plus Honey and Northern Land – proof that whenit comes to making a Tori Amos collection there’s anabundance of good songs to choose from.