Hot on the heels of my write-up of Kylie’s “Abbey Road Sessions”, I’ve got another anniversary-centric collection of revised picks from an extensive back catalogue. Tori Amos released her first solo album “Little Earthquakes” 20 years ago, and while the anniversary angle might have been a bit of an afterthought, it gives Tori a chance to consolidate her catalogue and – who knows – even pick up a few more.
However while Kylie’s album often totally transformed some of her older tracks, Tori’s selection were pretty much orchestra-ready in their original form. As a result we have a collection of perfectly lovely tracks spanning the breadth of her musical history (sort of), but the feeling that she’s had more face-lifts than the tracks have. Cheap shot, sorry.
Now anyone who’s read many of my reviews will know that I’m a sucker for a full orchestra. Even just slap a string section on something unexpectedly and I’ll lose my shit. So in that respect “Gold Dust” is a great idea for me. You just need to get away from the idea that anything was supposed to have changed with these songs, and treat the album a bit more like Tori’s equivalent to Madonna’s “Something to remember”. In other words, not a hit-heavy collection, but a coherent collection of great tracks.
That the tracks have barely changed is not a bad thing. The tracks she’s chosen – weighted towards the more acoustic and accessible early albums – fit together fine, and it’s such a diverse collection that you don’t distract yourself with thoughts of “why didn’t she pick so-and-so?”. Hell, even Boys for Pele’s sole track “Marianne” fits in here, who’d have thunk it?
It’s difficult to pick standouts other than the better-known tracks. “Silent all these years”, “Gold Dust” and “Yes, Anastasia” all sound lovely. Not entirely happy with what they’ve done with “Jackie’s Strength” though, just something with the vocals detracts from the original. The thing is that it’s so similar to the original anyway, you wonder what’s amiss. It’s like a changeling added to her back catalogue.
So I suppose all-in-all I feel that it was a good idea, and a nice celebration of all her tracks that sounded a bit orchestral. It’s certainly a nice listen, but I can’t help but wonder what some of the less-orchestral tracks from her canon could have sounded like with a total make-over. How about some braver choices from “From the choirgirl hotel”? I would have died to hear an orchestral version of “Black-dove (January)” or “Raspberry Swirl”. Oh wait, what was I saying about not thinking of song choices? I liked it, but felt like a bit of a safe re-tread of past glories.
Keepers for the iPod: Flavor, Yes Anastasia, Cloud on my tongue, Gold Dust, Flying Dutchman, Silent all these years.