Tuesday 27th February
A – Tori Amos I have always loved girl singers, from Joni and Joan Baez onwards, and read the music papers looking for the next really fantastic female singer. I was NOT impressed by Madonna (never really got her at all), there have been a few decent and a handful of superb ones along the way. Tori Amos arrived in 1992 with her debut album “Little Earthquakes”. She caused quite a sensation, partly because of the confessional content of the songs and the image of her fellating a gun and the priapic mushrooms on the back cover. I bought the record anyway…hahaha. It was really quite good, though her voice and piano playing can be a bit wearing. The best songs are ‘Silent All These Years’ and ‘China’ and ‘Me and a Gun’. I was never quite sure of her, if she really was, as some of the music critics hailed her, the successor to Joni. I don’t think she is anywhere in Joni’s league. Her songs are just too obvious; where Joni obscures and blurs with startling poetry Tori is just that bit too honest. But on the whole not a bad debut at all.
She has been pretty prolific over the years, releasing about 15 records already. Maybe too many. I only have a few but will pick one up if I see it in second-hand shop. There is always something pulling me back to her, hoping maybe for that brilliance that is just over the horizon. Her third record ‘Boys for Pele’ I now find almost unlistenable. Dense lyrics and the piano playing seems discordant and un-melodic. ‘Strange Little Girls’ is much better; this is Tori’s ‘covers’ album. A personal selection where she highlights the differences between men and women – ‘Real Men’, ‘I’m Not In Love’ ‘I Don’t Like Monday’s and many more. Her interpretations are often stark and sad, but her voice has never been better. A real find this, in a charity shop a few months ago. I bought another of hers ‘The Beekeepr’ at the same time. Another excellent album; in fact my favourite of hers. This is also the most recent I have of her rather prolific output so I will keep an eye out for her. The songs are far more melodic, more rounded, more welcoming, more conventional. I especially like ‘the power of orange knickers’. I have no idea what the lyrics really mean, or how they all hang together (which they apparently do, according to the sleeve notes) but it doesn’t matter.
Anthony and the Johnsons I only have the debut, which came out in 1998. I think the music magazines were raving about it. Anthony Hegarty who later became the transgender Anohni is the singer. And what a remarkable voice. This record is really quite good, and I don’t know why I didn’t buy the far more successful follow up ‘I am a bird now’ – but there you go. Truth to tell, I have far too many CDs waiting to even be played, a whole rack of them. My buying choices these days are more whimsical, except for the very few artists I feel I must have every single release available of. This record is really quite pleasant, but maybe it isn’t quite my style of music. Despite my repeated forays into this Century’s music I am always drawn back to the music of my teens and twenties. There is a resonance there, and a relevance too. But my mantra has always been ‘There is no such thing as bad music, just some I am less familiar with.’ Mind you I don’t think I will ever become familiar with rap.