Viewing posts tagged misc

I Never Was On the Fence (When I Was Dreaming)

When I Was Dreaming (c. 1988 demo)

Dreaming (Al Stewart, 1988)

Ten Cents (Al Stewart, 1988)

Year of the Cat (Al Stewart, 1991, live)

Charlotte Corday (Al Stewart, 1993)

Amos’s primary benefactor in the immediate aftermath of  Y Kant Tori Read was her producer, Joe Chiccarelli. Much as he’d brought Kim Bullard on board for Y Kant Tori Read after working with him on previous projects, he spent a few years hiring Amos for a variety of session gigs while she regrouped from the album. Most of these were relentlessly unglamorous affairs. She did backup vocals on the album Modern Madness by Robert Tepper (a minor rock star who’d scored a hit when his 1985 song “No Easy Way Out” got used in Rocky IV), sang on Sandra Bernhard’s cover of “Little Red Corvette” (“they’re great ‘oohs,’” Bernhard noted six years later), did three tracks on former Wall of Voodoo singer Stan Ridgway’s album Mosquitos, and sang on pioneering Canadian folk musician Ferron’s 1990 album Phantom Center (this last album having been, cheekily, rereleased in 1995 with Amos’s vocals higher in the mix).

The most enduring creative relationship of this period, however, was with Al Stewart. Stewart was ...

I Could Easily Have Died (Distant Storm)

Distant Storm (1988)

In 1988, Hong Kong movie studio Golden Harvest was in the early stages of attempting an expansion into the US market (a process that would eventually lead to them producing three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies). To this end, they decided to create an English-language vehicle for Cynthia Rothrock, an American star who had broken out in Hong Kong. The result was China O’Brien, which ended up failing to accomplish this task, instead getting dumped to home video in 1990.

The soundtrack for the film was assembled by David Wheatley and Paul Antonelli, who, when looking to record the song penned for an early sequence, “Distant Storm,” ended up tapping a young L.A. based vocalist whose first attempt at an album had just bombed spectacularly: Tori Amos.

Amos had ben understandably shell-shocked the immediate aftermath of Y Kant Tori Read’s failure. She’s talked about how she “sat on the kitchen floor counting the specks in the linoleum, crawling to the bathroom and back again. For like a month.” She’d regroup soon enough, not least because she had six more albums on her contract with Atlantic and they wanted her to try again, but ...

The Brotherhood of Baltimore (Baltimore)

Baltimore (unreleased 1978 recording).

Baltimore (1980 single).

Like most pop artists, Tori Amos’s career has a vaguely embarrassing starting point. Fame comes slowly, and rarely on the first try, and most artists have some embarrassing recordings from their early efforts at success that are just waiting to be slapped up on YouTube or, in the case of “Baltimore,” tossed into VH1’s Before They Were Stars, a series dedicated to exactly this. The five minute segment in which this was publicly unearthed sticks mostly to a simplistic biography in which Amos’s piano bench gyrations in the “Crucify” video are juxtaposed with her upbringing as the daughter of a minister. The complexity of the story is acknowledged, but the underlying point is unequivocally rooted in teasing Amos for the naive innocence of her upbringing. “Baltimore” is introduced in a veering segue as the segment goes from the infamous image of Amos breastfeeding a pig in the Boys for Pele liner notes to her parents talking with rueful amusement about her love of shocking them, at which point the voiceover interrupts them to say “if you think that’s shocking…” as a leadup to Amos performing “Baltimore” on local television.

It’s cynical, more ...

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