Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Tori Amos - Boys For Pele CD (album) cover


Tori Amos


Crossover Prog

3.43 | 65 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you think any female-created prog is bound to be dull or a collection of screechy Yoko Onoisms then you need to check out Tori Amos' stuff pronto. Is she loud and boisterous? No, but she's intelligent, intuitive and definitely not run-of-the-mill pedestrian. In my chronologic investigation of her art over the last few years I found her debut LP to be interesting and her follow-up album even better but this, her third assembly of songs, is truly outstanding. I recently listened to it again on a wet and overcast day and that gloomy template was perfect for what she was expressing through her music. If you're an extrovert then that observation is not much of an enticement to sample her wares. I dig. However, if one of your definitions of prog is "unfettered freedom of expression" then you'll find what she does to be at least borderline fascinating. One thing about her I've come to admire is her consistent eclecticism and her stubborn refusal to fit into any particular category. "Boys for Pele" displays those qualities exquisitely.

She opens impressively with "Horses." The track begins in a very unassuming manner with a simple melody being sung over a single piano note but then Tori turns it into a bigger, fuller piece thanks to her more expansive piano work. It's all remarkably moving. On "Blood Roses" a harpsichord adds an edgy rasp to the background music and, as always, Amos' voice is extremely emotional. "Father Lucifer" presents more of a jaunty bounce and features delicate orchestration mixed with imaginative vocals intertwining. "Professional Widow" is next and Manu Katche's deliberately-loose drumming adds a cool touch of funk to the proceedings. I'm pleasantly shocked by how unorthodox and original she stays. As evidenced on this cut, Tori is absolutely fearless. This record contains three quite brief vignettes and the first to arrive is "Mr. Zebra," a nostalgia- drenched throwback. "Marianne" follows and it's a highlight. A flowing, melancholy aura envelopes her passionate voice throughout and the string arrangement is gorgeous. "Caught in a Lite Sneeze" benefits from Manu's expert drumming and his contribution broadens the palate for this relatively up-tempo song. "Muhammad my Friend" has a sublime solo piano introduction and the main body of the number is noticeably Joni Mitchell-ish due to the abundance of falsetto and a tasteful dollop of soprano saxophone. "Hey Jupiter" is a gem, as well. It's a sad, somber song enhanced by Amos' soft-as-satin vocal approach that can soothe any savage beast. "Way Down" is the second short-lived aural aside, distinguished by a gospel choir.

"Little Amsterdam" might be the disc's best track. It has a slight jazz inflection that sets it apart, making it impossible to ignore. I may be way off base here but something about it reminds me of Nine Inch Nails minus the white noise and that's not intended to be a disparaging observation. Its groove is highly infectious. "Talula" is next and it's one of those compositions that steadily evolves courtesy of its raga-styled percussion but it also veers off into some non-rhythmic detours as she is wont to wander along from time to time. "Not the Red Baron" follows and its dense piano chording paints a gray scenario that encapsulates her incredibly subtle vocal, erecting a notably hypnotic mood. I adore it. "Agent Orange" is the third of her quick flashes and it zips by without fanfare. "Doughnut Song" displays Tori at her finest. I find her understated progginess extraordinary. She manages to slip in her complexities without coming off as pretentious or calculating, a deft trait hard to come by in our beloved genre. On "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" Mr. Katche lays down a sneaky shuffle beat that's unexpected yet welcome. The track's bluesy vibe is engaging but she doesn't get lazy with it as she steers the song into a few odd streams. Tori adroitly and thoughtfully ends with "Twinkle," an atmospheric song that uses Brian Eno-like minimalism to form a captivating piece that's as soothing as a lullaby.

"Boys for Pele" (named for a Hawaiian volcano goddess) burst out of the gate in January of 1996 and took over the #2 position on both the US and UK album charts, proving that the grunge-weary public had a yearning for something a little more profound than disco Madonna and her tired imitators in the mid-nineties. It was also Ms. Amos' first self-produced record and its acceptance no doubt gave her confidence that she'd waded into a stream of consciousness that other female artists were either overlooking or incapable of tapping into. If you've been hankering to add a feminine touch to your prog library then I recommend you give the voluptuous Tori a try. 4.1 stars.

Chicapah | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this TORI AMOS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.