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Boys for Pele
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Atlantic Records promo bio
"Musically," says Tori Amos, "I always allow myself to jump off of cliffs. At least that's what it feels like to me. Whether that's what it actually sounds like might depend on what the listener brings to the songs. But, to me, this album sounds like the biggest cliff yet."
From the first moment that Tori Amos emerged into the public glare in 1992, it was evident to all that she was engaged in creating a musical form that is utterly and often shockingly unique. With her two previous albums, "LITTLE EARTHQUAKES" and "UNDER THE PINK," she created some of the most emotionally challenging music in recent memory -- her songs exhibiting an affinity for truthfulness, however painful, that is all too rare in the "pop" hemispehere. Now, with the release of her latest Atlantic album, "BOYS FOR PELE," her inimitable voice finds its most triumphant expression yet. Containing eighteen self-penned songs and entirely self-produced, it opens a fresh phase in her extraordinary career. "It feels like a new chapter," she says. "And part of the reason is that, for the first time in my life, there has been nobody over my shoulder saying, 'Why don't you do it this way?' This gave me complete license to take the songs wherever I instinctively felt they should go. I knew that were were places where I'd never let myself go musically and lyrically in the past. This time around, I could push myself to explore beyond those boundaries. With this album, I finally discovered what complete creative freedom feels like."
In many ways, "BOYS FOR PELE" is the culmination of a quest for creative freedom that began as fas back as Tori's childhood. Born in North Carolina, the daughter of a Methodist preacher, she grew up with the music of Fats Waller, Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon. A gifted child prodigy, she could play the piano by the age of two-and-a-half and was composing musical scores by the age of four. "I was a freak child who had really good rhythm," she remembers. "I'd be invited to parties simply because I played the piano. I quickly realized that I had some kind of calling. But, just as quickly, I realized that what was most important to me was following my own path -- and not the one that was laid down by others."
At the age of five, she was packed off to the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Balrimore. It was here that she first realized that she had no desire to conform. "The whole idea was for me to be a concert pianist," she recalls. "But I found that I was more interested in free expression. I couldn't live with the piano in a regimented way. I just didn't want to do what was expected of me." Expelled at the age of eleven, she spent the next several years playing Gershwin standards in the gay bars of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Then, following the ill-fated "Y KANT TORI READ?" rock project in the mid-Eighties, she returned to the piano and began composing the songs that would become the "LITTLE EARTHQUAKES" album.
Serving up equal measures of feminine venom, skewed humor, and stark eroticism, "LITTLE EARTHQUAKES" was justly hailed as a classic upon its release in 1992. Including such outstanding songs as "Silent All These Years," "Crucify," and "Winter," it would go on to sell more than two million copies worldwide and, together with a video anthology of the same name, helped establish her as one of the boldest talents to emerge in the Nineties.
That success continues to gain hurtling momentum through 1994, which brought the release of "UNDER THE PINK," an album which took the stripped, candid emotional elements of her previous work and applied them to a broader canvas, with breathtaking results. Debuting at Number One on the UK charts, it would also sell more than two million copies and yield such notable tracks as "God" and "Cornflake Girl." A lengthy world tour followed and saw her hailed across three continents as one of the most compelling live performers around.
Recorded in rural Ireland and Louisiana, her latest album is her most intoxicating work to date. From the bedlamesque "Professional Widow," through the torched balladry of "hey Jupiter" and "Doughnut Song," to the heady harpsichord pop of "Talula," and the heaving subterranean blues of "In the Springtime of His Voodoo," this is a work of musical extremes. It is also a work which showcases Tori's distinctive voice at its most volatile and versatile -- veering unpredictably from tender breathiness on "Muhammad My Friend" and quiet intensity on "Way Down," to the pained intensity of "Putting the Damage On" and "Blood Roses." These extremes find perhaps their fullest expression on the first single, "Caught a Lite Sneeze," which marries a virile corkscrew melody to a vocal that sounds thrillingly scorched to the very root.
As with its two predecessors, the eighteen songs that make up this latest album are disturbing and comforting by turns -- reveling in the richness and strangeness of language, delighting in the infinite possibilities of melody, exploring subject matter with fierce and fearful honesty, achieving the clarity of waking dreams and nightmares.
"My songs have always been reflective of what is going on in my life at a particular time," she says. "And, if anything, this album has been inspired by my relationships with men. A lot of changes have taken place in this period of time -- with lovers, collaborators, and close friends. Some of those relationships reached a crossroads, a point beyond honor where I realized that I was stealing fire from men. That's what I needed to write about. But I had to be on my knees before I could be absolutely honest, before I could find my own fire.
"These songs are not about make-ups or break-ups. And they're not concerned about who is sleeping with whom. They're about the realization that you and the person you're with are talking different languages. They're about recognizing that an extreme kind of viciousness is being played out even as you exchange honeysuckle. They're about the things that go on in a woman's heart -- the things that are expressed and the things that have to remain hidden. They're about the breaking down of the patriarchy within relationships and the idea of women claiming their own power."
With "BOYS FOR PELE," Tori's songwriting cuts deeper and wider than ever before. At once her most demanding and rewarding work, it is certain to be among the most talked-about records of the year.
original scans of promo bio
t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive