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SPIRIT OF SYLVIA (UPDATE)
Saluting a legend (10/14a)
STREAMING SONGS CHART: CLIMBERS
Shock of the new (10/11a)
SONG REVENUE CHART: CAPTAIN KIRK
Da teen vs. DaBaby (10/11a)
A LATE-BREAKING
CHART BATTLE?
Unexpected drama (10/11a)
GRAMMY CHEW:
BEST NEW ARTIST
An uber-competitive category (10/14a)
RIHANNA PREPARES TO RULE THE ROOST
What shoes go with dancehall?
WHAT'S NEXT FOR R&B?
How certain projects connect at streaming.
THE K-POP LANDSCAPE
농담은 한국어에서 더 잘 작동합니다.
THE NEW GRAMMY POWER
Change is nigh.
Critics' Choice
EARLY CHAPTERS OF THE TORI
5/15/15

Rhino has unveiled handsome, deluxe, remastered reissues of Tori Amos’ first two solo albums—the seminal Little Earthquakes (1992) and the daring Under the Pink (1994)—and I feel vindicated.

Amos, a refugee from half-baked pop-metal project Y Kant Tori Read (referenced, alas, in dozens of HITS photo captions), took a lot of shit from Alternative types in the '90s, partly because she was a successful female artist and partly due to her bench-humping, piano-enchantress performance style, but also because her weirdly wonderful music was so difficult to pigeonhole.

I always loved the material and performances on these two essential sets, and it all holds up beautifully. Amos is a madly inscrutable but truly inventive writer, and her melodies carom into all sorts of unexpected corners. Earthquakes’ intensely intimate “Silent All These Years,” the soaring pop of “Crucify,” the chilling a cappella tale of assault “Me and a Gun,” the wrenching “Winter” and the sprightly “Happy Phantom” announced the arrival of a powerfully original voice. Amos’ Chopin-meets-art-rock keyboard parts wind their way around expressive strings and coiled band arrangements, and man, as a player? She’s a motherfucker.

Thematically, despite her obscurantist tendencies, Amos could be an incisive lyricist—as in “Silent” when she talks about girls who “think really deep thoughts” then comes back with “Boy, you’d better pray I bleed real soon/How’s that thought for ya?”

And then there’s Pink: dazzlingly, defiantly odd singles “God” and “Cornflake Girl” are standouts, as are the gorgeous “Past the Mission” (featuring beguiling backups by Trent Reznor), the fuming “The Waitress,” the breathtaking suite “Cloud on My Tongue” and “Yes Anatasia.”

The extras on these superb-sounding sets include Amos’ famous, quiet cover of Nirvana’s “Smell Like Teen Spirit” (a perennial at her shows), B-sides, remixes and some killer live cuts. The liner notes include her retrospective ruminations on the songs, and she’s no less elliptical after moe than two decades, so make of them what you will. 

But you've gotta give it for these albums, which helped change the shape of what was possible in the Alternative world.