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Tori Amos

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Tori Amos Little Earthquakes album cover
3.70 | 105 ratings | 11 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Crucify (4:58)
2. Girl (4:06)
3. Silent All These Years (4:10)
4. Precious Things (4:26)
5. Winter (5:40)
6. Happy Phantom (3:12)
7. China (4:58)
8. Leather (3:12)
9. Mother (6:59)
10. Tear in Your Hand (4:38)
11. Me and a Gun (3:44)
12. Little Earthquakes (6:51)

Total Time 56:54

Bonus CD from 2015 expanded remaster:
1. Upside Down (4:22)
2. Thoughts (2:36)
3. Ode to the Banana King (Part One) (4:06)
4. Song for Eric (1:50)
5. The Pool (2:51)
6. Take to the Sky (4:20)
7. Sweet Dreams (3:27)
8. Mary (4:27)
9. Sugar (4:27)
10. Flying Dutchman (6:31)
11. Humpty Dumpty (2:52)
12. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover) (3:17)
13. Little Earthquakes (live from Cambridge Corn Exchange, 5th April 1992) (6:58)
14. Crucify (live from Cambridge Corn Exchange, 5th April 1992) (5:19)
15. Precious Things (live from Cambridge Corn Exchange, 5th April 1992) (5:03)
16. Mother (live from Cambridge Corn Exchange, 5th April 1992) (6:37)
17. Happy Phantom (live from Cambridge Corn Exchange, 5th April 1992) (3:33)
18. Here. In My Head (3:53)

Total Time 76:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Tori Amos / vocals, acoustic (all) & electric (4) pianos, sampled strings (2,8)

- Steve Caton / acoustic (4) & electric (2,4,10,12) guitars, bass (2), backing vocals (4,12)
- David Rhodes / guitar (7)
- John Chamberlin / mandolin (1)
- Eric Williams / ukulele (1), dulcimer (6)
- Eric Rosse / keyboard (2,4,12) & drum (2) programming, Irish war drum (5), backing vocals (4,12)
- John Philip Shenale / keyboard programming (6)
- Stuart Gordon / violin (7)
- William Gregory / oboe (7)
- Jef Scott / bass (1), guitar (8)
- Will McGregor / bass (4,10,12)
- Matthew Seligman / bass (7)
- Ed Greene / drums (1)
- Carlo Nuccio / drums (4,10)
- Chris Hughes / drums (7)
- Paulinho Da Costa / percussion (1,6)
- Philly / finger cymbals (3)
- Jake Freeze / Fx (4), saw (12)
- Nancy Shanks / backing vocals (1,12)
- Tina Gullickson / backing vocals (1)
- Nick DeCaro / orchestral arranger & conductor (3,5)
- David Lord / string arrangements (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Cindy Palmano (art direction & photo) with Will Wentworth (woodwork)

LP EastWest ‎- 7567-82358-1 (1992, Europe)

CD Atlantic ‎- 82358-2 (1992, US)
2xCD Atlantic ‎- R2 546934 (2015, US) Remastered by Jon Astley and bonus disc with 18 tracks

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TORI AMOS Little Earthquakes ratings distribution

(105 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TORI AMOS Little Earthquakes reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Queen of the Nerds

"boy you best pray that I bleed real soon, how's that thought for ya?"

Self-proclaimed "Queen of the Nerds" Myra Ellen Amos was born in 1963 in the great state of North Carolina, daughter of a Methodist minister. A big believer in reincarnation, Tori claims it was she who chose to be born to the Amos family. This little girl was an incredible talent from earliest childhood, beginning to play piano before she could string sentences together. By the age of 5 she had passed an audition and won full scholarship at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory where she would study for years. But it was not long before Tori's mischievous free spirit began to butt heads with the conservative instructors at the school, who were less than amused by her "interpretations" of classical legends. In the 5th grade she smoked her first joint, found Robert Plant, and Playgirl magazine. Soon after she experienced the traumatic loss of her maternal grandfather to whom she was incredibly close, her Mother claimed she would go to his grave three times a week to sing to him for years. She claims Tori "never got over his death....he was the only person she ever completely respected." When her older siblings moved out soon after, Tori felt even more alone and began to sink into depression.

Her parents continued to encourage her music even though she had parted ways with the Peabody. In a brave but truly loving move her father took the unusual step of helping Tori become a piano bar performer, to give her an outlet for her passion, and perhaps a way forward in music. She was still underage, and her father would often come along and agree to chaperone so the bars would not be charged for employing someone underage. It was a move than changed her life, as she became an amazing pianist and a seasoned performer from this experience. In 1984 she took off for LA to follow her dream. The 80s were hard on Tori as she was raped early on, then spent years spinning her wheels in the infamous "Y Kant Tori Read" band. (Few realize this was a reference to her inability to read sheet music and not simply making light of inability to read). The band released an album which was supposedly not as bad as you'd expect, though cheesy, but it failed miserably. The end came when she walked into a restaurant and a record company executive laughed at her. She realized she was seen as a joke in this band and nearly gave up the dream. Her friend Cindy Marble convinced her otherwise, and Tori rented a piano and started over. The rest is history.

Tori believes none of us are truly honest, that we show different sides to different people, as convenient for us:

"You can compartmentalize different sides of yourself. You put them onto different shelves, and then you bring them out as you need them. Everybody has a barroom personality and a Sunday lunch personality; one personality for their husband and another for their tennis instructor."

And so this quote perfectly sums up the emerging Ms. Amos, who was beginning the process of dealing with the different boxes of her personality through song. Finding a bridge from the strict Christian upbringing she had to the essence of her own adult self. Atlantic Records gave her six months and one more chance, and thus she began the work that would become "Little Earthquakes." When some initial efforts failed to impress the Atlantic guys, Tori again grew depressed until Cindy once more pulled her through. She then created a "faerie ring" in her living room, a magic ring for writing inspiration. Before you laugh, Tori credits her "faerie sh*t" with opening her up to the creation of 11 tracks that changed her life. The execs still didn't know what to think of the new material so they shipped her off to London to deal with the team in place there. Tori took to London "like a duck to water." The album was released in early '92 and the comparisons to Kate Bush by the rock press were immediate. The actual comparisons to Kate are largely superficial and to their credit many of these journalists would later recant. Tori's ascent from this point was rapid, long fought for, and richly deserved. She and her "children" (as she calls her songs) would be among the most important of the crowded female songwriter field of the 1990s.

"Little Earthquakes" is a turbulent debut; spirited, sassy, occasionally disturbing, and often just flat out beautiful. My God, the strength in the middle of the album is formidable. A run of some of Amos' strongest tracks begins with "Girl" as Amos proclaims her(?) independence with "she's been everybody else's girl, maybe one day she'll be her own." "Silent All These Years" is where she forges her famous style with one number: heartfelt, passionate vocals and orgasmic piano melodies. "Precious Things" turns a bit darker and more dramatic as those Christian boys are cut down to size once and for all with a zinger of a line. "Winter" is perhaps the most beautiful lullaby-vibed melody Tori ever wrote; stark and searching are the notes of her piano. The song is one of my very favorites as she talks about love and change. "Happy Phantom" sees her move another direction, perhaps creating the most light-hearted and upbeat song you'll ever hear....about death! "Phantastic" piano and lyric! "China" is like getting an encore of "Winter," another sweet-sung and mellow piano ballad. "Leather" finds Tori getting saucy and playful with her flirtatious vocals and sensual rhythm. The last four tracks are not quite as perfect in my book, but decent. "Me and a Gun" is a painful account of the sexual assault Tori endured in LA, and is very difficult to listen to. But I can only assume it was therapeutic for her and that I do respect very much, as well as her creation of RAINN, a network for victims of sexual assault and incest.

"Little Earthquakes" is a very solid debut album from a woman who should make Americans proud, a truly unique and inspirational artist from North Carolina. She put together an impressive body of work and boasts one of the most devoted fanbases you will ever see in music. In that sense, she is just like Kate Bush. 3 stars.

Review by jampa17
3 stars Intense, intimate and strong debut. Worth the listen.

Tori Amos is a talented piano player and songwriter, with enough oddities in her style to be accepted in PA. With her first album, she brought all what is need to make an impressive breakthrough and became mainstream appealing to what I understand to be the GOOD reasons to be famous: creative, original, different and pure talent. So, this is what I found in this Little Earthquakes.

First, the compositions are quite tricky, with many oddities surrounding a somewhat "regular" formula that can appeal both pop and experimental fans. Another thing that jumps out of this album is the great concepts of composition and arrangements. Sometimes is enough to have a single piano and her vocals, while sometimes we hear a big orchestra, drums, guitars and a choir backing up her music. The right amount of arrangements helps the ear to go in the right way: the wonderful and original vocals of Amos. For pop fans, here's a jewel of interpretation and wonderful melodic lines, but also for prog fans, the vocals have enough twists and turns to keep it interesting in every song and never fall plain or boring.

Second, she is a talented piano player and is shown quite well in this album. The versatility to have intense and somewhat sad pianos in songs like CRUCIFY or GIRL, to more strong and aggressive harmonies in songs like PRECIOUS THINGS or LITTLE EARTHQUAKES (This two maybe the more interesting songs for prog fans in general) and the get more fun in the song HAPPY PHANTOM.

The album is intense (maybe the most intense I have heard of her) and there's truly her soul and heart in this album. Intimate, intense and strong it is. Original and powerful. I understand that is not for everyone, but as prog fans I think we should take all a try in this particular album, and I'm sure many will find some hidden jewels here and there because the album really is complete in composition and versatility. I think it deserves a 3 or 3.5 stars because is really a good addition to any prog collection.

Tori Amos is a great songwriter and the intensity in this album make sometimes hard to "enjoy" it enough. You have to have the mood, but that's not a bad thing. Sure I've enjoy it many times. Especially in this cold windy days. It's a total win.

Review by J-Man
5 stars After spending years as a bar-room piano player and a largely unsuccessful pop star in the group Y Kant Tori Read, Tori Amos exploded onto the music scene with her breathtaking solo debut, Little Earthquakes. A gut-wrenchingly beautiful observation from beginning to end, Tori clearly dumped her entire heart and soul into the recording of this masterful work of art. Little Earthquakes consists of twelve extremely personal, often narrative, songs that are shining examples of quirky and intelligent lyricism put to melancholic and seemingly simplistic compositions. Although this is clearly a singer-songwriter pop album, Tori Amos has much more to offer than your average musician in this crowded style - the songs are deceivingly complex, the structure of the compositions is slightly experimental, and of course the lyrics are absolutely top of the line. Little Earthquakes is a quirky, intelligent, and simply beautiful pop album from the early nineties' - an essential landmark in the history of rock and pop music without a doubt.

Little Earthquakes is a pretty eclectic album, but many of the songs are based on Tori's gentle vocals over soulful piano playing. In softer songs like "Winter", "Mother", and "Silent All These Years", the entire track consists only of piano, vocals, and sometimes strings - the fact that these songs are dynamic masterpieces simply shows that Tori Amos is a genius songwriter, in addition to being a fantastic singer and pianist. Songs like "Crucify", the bleak "Precious Things", the heavily experimental "Little Earthquakes", and the lovely "China" prove that she is one of the most gifted composers in pop music. The lyrics are exceptionally well-written and personal - just one listen to the a cappela 'Me and a Gun' proves that the lyrics here are every bit as serious as they are quirky. This song deals with her near-deadly rape occurrence by knife-point when she was 21. As one may imagine, this can be a difficult song to listen to; and I think that's exactly what Tori aimed at creating. While the rest of the album may not be quite as 'heavy' in terms of lyrical content, it's every bit as personal and captivating. I'm not the sort of person who typically pays much attention to lyrics, but Little Earthquakes is the sort of album where they're so perfect that it's hard to ignore.

While Tori's voice is often frail and gentle, it's shown multiple times throughout Little Earthquakes that she's a powerful and truly gifted vocalist. Her rather unique singing style could be described as an acquired taste, but I think the dynamics and raw beauty of her voice suits the music perfectly. It's tough to imagine a song like "Winter" or "Silent All These Years" sounding even nearly as good with any other singer. The production is actually surprisingly raw for a pop/rock album, but I think the earthy production does the piano playing and lush arrangements plenty of justice. Tori's vocals are perfectly placed in the mix, and I think the organic production gives the music an authentic and 'real' feeling.

Little Earthquakes contains a few weaker cuts like "Happy Phantom" and "Leather", but that's hardly enough to affect my enthusiasm for this fantastic album. Tori Amos established on her debut that she's a gifted and unique talent, and there are enough excellent tunes here for me to label it an essential masterpiece. It's definitely rare to come across a pop album this well-composed, intelligent, and experimental - Little Earthquakes is the sort of release that has the timeless and genre-transcending power to satisfy nearly everyone who enjoys 'good music'. While the two weaker tracks do stop me from awarding a completely perfect score, Little Earthquakes is still deserving of a 4.5 - 5 star rating. An absolutely essential example of sophisticated and beautiful pop/rock music.

Review by Warthur
3 stars I've got to say, though her career would later take a different tangent, Tori Amos' debut solo album Little Earthquakes shows a great deal of influence from Kate Bush, from the instrumental backing to Tori's vocal delivery. That isn't necessarily such a bad thing - Bush fans will find this very listen able - but aside from Me and a Gun, which is far more sparse and stripped-down a song than any Kate had attempted up to this point, there isn't much to distinguish Tori from Kate aside from a difference in presentation; Kate is classic rock with a touch of prog, concept albums and cultural references, Tori is indie rock, coffee shops and agonising rape survivor stories. In other words, Little Earthquakes takes the Kate Bush approach and recontextualises it, which I guess is innovative enough not to be a rip-off.
Review by rogerthat
3 stars Tori Amos may not be readily accepted as a prog artist (at least partly because of her popularity as a pop artist!) by many including this reviewer but that is not a consideration for me when it comes to reviewing the album. I am more interested in the merits of what is essentially a "piano-cum-singer-songwriter" album with some art rock ambitions.

Yes, there is some art rock in this 12-track album but you have to dig it out from amongst mostly American pop music. Tori Amos is often compared to Kate Bush with some insisting she is just a 90s clone of Kate, but it is difficult to understand this comparison. There are some melodies of Tori that might bring to mind Kate Bush but other than that, the only similarities to me are that they are female and they play piano (duh!).

Kate's work is far more colourful and edgier than at least whatever's on offer on Little Earthquakes. Whether in the Andrew Powell days or the albums she produced herself, she used a wider array of sounds and appeared to absorb more diverse influences. She also relied much more on discord. It is well advised not to make this comparison because Tori's music sounds pretty safe and staid by comparison.

Which, mind you, is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Because she is also very earnest, almost too much so at times, and this quality elevates tracks like Girl. I can safely say that had said track not resonated with me, I might never have got this album. The arrangements are restrained, subtle and sensitive on this album and work beautifully in combination with her soft mezzo voice more reminiscent of Madonna than Kate Bush.

But not all of her piano ballads are nearly as captivating and some tracks can evoke a generic late 80s/early 90s pop sound. Not so much in terms of the arrangements or the piano work, both of which are tasteful, but the melodies. I am afraid melodies like China don't hold my attention much and as I progress further through this album, it gets more and more difficult to stay the course.

Perhaps to break the monotony, she introduces some light piano rockers like Happy Phantom and Leather. But this brings in its wake two problems. One, a song with a seductive mood like Leather doesn't gel with the strident feminist pathos of the rest of the album. Two, Tori's singing is not bold enough on such songs. She tends to stick to a mumbling croon which works up to a point on the ballads but can't open up on the rockers. Her singing style is somewhat at odds with the emotions she is trying to express, as if trying to make it sound more acceptable from a mainstream perspective. Why Kant Tori make up her mind whether she wants to make pop or art rock.

Until the end, notwithstanding the impressive title track, this dilemma remains unresolved. This is the work of a talented and ambitious musician who is just a bit mindful of making her ambitions palatable for a large audience. In the process, she perhaps eschews the opportunity to say much more with the music than she actually does. 3 stars for a good album with some standout moments (also Crucify apart from the ones already mentioned) but which is not quite essential.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars Face it, the Progressive Rock genre is and always has been pretty much a boy's club. Not from any ingrained bias that I've ever detected but more due to peer pressure, I suppose. I shall explain. Male musicians don't really mind being labeled as being a rebellious type who isn't interested in playing by the set rules. So for a guy to be called 'progressive-minded' in the field of music is not necessarily a derogatory thing. But women, in every way that counts, are different. They grow up being taught that it's the effervescent cheerleaders and pretty drill team members who rise to the top while the nonconformists and geeks are quickly tagged as being unfriendly, introverted weirdos that will never succeed in life. That's my theory as to why there is such a dearth of females in Progland and I'm sticking with it until further notice. Girls with musical talent are expected to compete with the Katy Perry's and the Pink's of the industry, not try to carve out a unique niche all their own. Is it a double standard? Well, does the Pope wear funny hats? It's a shame, really, because I have no doubt that the prog arena would benefit greatly from more of the feminine aura being injected into it. Seems Ms. Amos has always been an outcast of sorts, starting when she was deemed a piano prodigy at the age of 5 and was already composing instrumental pieces of her own. The 'experts' tried to steer her into the classical realm but she was allergic to the regimen it involved, preferring to boldly cultivate her adventurous and eclectic nature instead. I, for one, have always admired and enjoyed strong female vocalists who sing with authority and confidence so when I discovered that Tori Amos had been inducted into our esteemed branch of the aural sciences it gave me a good reason to check out her art. I'm very glad I did. As is my habit, I start with the earliest album I can get my hands on and work forward so I can hear how the artist in question evolved over time. In her case, it's the ground-breaking 'Little Earthquakes.'

Tori opens with 'Crucify.' Before we go any further allow me to confess that I adore the sound of an acoustic piano and the fact that it's her main instrument gives her a definite advantage in my book. Even mediocre material is enhanced when a finely-tuned Steinway or Baldwin is involved. On this song she plays it aggressively and the strong drum track beneath allows her emotive voice to soar. It serves as a great introduction to her distinctive mannerisms. 'Girl' follows and I can't help but be impressed by her unconventional approach to writing and her willingness to take risks as exemplified here by her manipulation of sampled strings and her odd approach to erecting background vocals. 'Silent All These Years' is next and it's the apex of the record. Amos envelops the tune in a very intimate atmosphere that brings the vocal close to your ear as if she's letting you in on a secret. I find her mien to be reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's and that's a hefty compliment coming from me. I also cotton to her flair for the dramatic as demonstrated in 'Precious Things.' She makes the most of the number's inherent dynamics by exploiting the drums and guitar incidentals tactfully. She's also not afraid to employ her sexiness if it will heighten the tension a notch and it does so here. On 'Winter' her piano, her singing and an orchestral score are all that's needed for this elaborate ballad to achieve its potential. 'Happy Phantom' is an anomaly. She takes such a strikingly different tack on this track that it kinda comes at you from left field. Its sarcastically upbeat motif is quite daring.

A very light Latin rhythm drifts just below the surface created by the beautiful, lush piano and string section during 'China.' The song is truly hypnotic in places. 'Leather' follows, a cut where Tori's piano acumen really shines brightly. In ways the number is comparable in overall feel to several of Paul McCartney's nostalgic ditties and the jazzy ending is uber-cool. Piano and vocal are the only ingredients in 'Mother.' Once again I detect a palpable Joni Mitchell influence in that the tune is not only extremely personal but it seems to flow directly from her heart into my ears without a filter. It's a bit long but it avoids growing tiresome. She brings in a full band for 'Tear in Your Hand' and they drive the song's momentum well. This cut has more of a pop vibe to it than the others but she manages to steer clear of becoming predictable or formulaic. I really dig the accordion/organ effect that fills in the gaps splendidly and gives it a compelling rasp. 'Me and a Gun' is a solo vocal piece she penned about getting raped that comes off a little bit like a traditional Irish air. She was very courageous to be so transparent about the incident but it is, nonetheless, disturbing in its frankness. This fallen world can be such an ugly orb. Tori ends with the title song and it's the most challenging and proggy track on the CD. The melody streams atop rumbling drums and takes the listener through a series of mysterious movements while the tune subtly builds in intensity all the while. She brings it back down for the finale and relaxes the mood as it trails off.

Released on February 25, 1992 Tori Amos' debut came out when the 90s decade was still attempting to find its groove so its timing really couldn't have been better. Despite its decidedly uncommon attitude it came close to breaking into the top 50 of the Billboard chart and she was able to find an audience who understood where she was coming from. It did even better in the more amenable UK where it rose to #14. While she'd had to battle the conservative-minded suits at Atlantic tooth and nail in order to retain her unique slant, 'Little Earthquakes' proved to be just what a noticeable segment of the music audience had been waiting for. If you have yet to sample her wares I recommend that you give this record a spin. You'll find that the Prog universe profits immensely from a lady's touch. 3.9 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Back when I was still a record store rat I picked this up the day it came out. Then, miracle of miracles, Tori came to a venue 70 miles from my home offering a FREE CONCERT. I went, already loving her amazing voice, piano, and songwriting gifts, and ended up even falling more in love with her as she performed to our little venue of one to two thousand people on a stage with just her piano and voice. Brave, bold, brash, confident, and supremely talented, her debut album has, unfortunately, been the only one that resonated so deeply and profoundly with me--everything else has just felt like more of the same. (If anybody else has a particularly favorite album other than Little Earthquakes, please PM me--I'd love to be prog-educated!)

Favorite songs: "Crucify"; "Precious Things"; "China"; "Me and a Gun", and; the title song.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Just for something a little different, it's a Tori Amos review! I'm delving into this one as it's an album I love, even if the prog credentials are a little shaky. There is an exquisite atmosphere on this album, crafted by Tori's haunting lyrics and the accompanying melodies. I've never been ... (read more)

Report this review (#963506) | Posted by bonestorm | Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Little Earthquakes was such an excellent debut album for Tori Amos. It's quite an emotionally intense album. She delivers such distinctive, sensual, haunting, dark music and melodies. She can often be cheerful, humourous and uplifting too. As a whole this album is quite a ride. This artist rea ... (read more)

Report this review (#765763) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Wednesday, June 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An early album from 1982 by Tori AMos and a pretty good effort. Not my favorite of hers but still good. A little more mainstream than some she has done and a little more prog than her later work of the last 10 years or so. Contains "Me and a Gun", "Crucify", and "Silent all these Years", all well-k ... (read more)

Report this review (#733586) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5/5 - Basically perfect I can not think of a stronger, more emotionally draining, beautiful, well-written, "mission statement" debut album. In all of rock music. Chew on that opinion. I'm not one--anymore--to think that my opinion, especially when written in words on the internet, would really ... (read more)

Report this review (#393184) | Posted by stonebeard | Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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