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Tori Amos

Crossover Prog

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Tori Amos Boys For Pele album cover
3.43 | 65 ratings | 5 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Horses (6:07)
2. Blood Roses (3:56)
3. Father Lucifer (3:43)
4. Professional Widow (4:31)
5. Mr. Zebra (1:07)
6. Marianne (4:07)
7. Caught A Lite Sneeze (4:24)
8. Muhammad My Friend (3:48)
9. Hey Jupiter (5:10)
10. Way Down (1:13)
11. Little Amsterdam (4:29)
12. Talula [The Tornado Mix] (4:08)
13. Not The Red Baron (3:49)
14. Agent Orange (1:26)
15. Doughnut Song (4:19)
16. In The Springtime Of His Voodoo (5:32)
17. Putting The Damage On (5:08)
18. Twinkle (3:12)

Total time 70:09

Bonus CD from 2016 expanded remaster:
1. Hey Jupiter (The Dakota Version) (6:05)
2. To The Fair Motormaids Of Japan (4:18)
3. That's What I Like Mick (The Sandwich Song) (3:00)
4. The Fire-Eater's Wife/Beauty Queen (Demo Version) (3:15)
5. Professional Widow (Armand's Star Trunk Funkin' Mix - Radio Edit) (3:49)
6. Sugar (Live) (5:32)
7. Alamo (5:12)
8. Talula (M&M Mix) (4:07)
9. Professional Widow (Merry Widow Version) [Live] (4:38)
10. Frog On My Toe (3:45)
11. Hungarian Wedding Song (1:02)
12. Walk To Dublin (Sucker Reprise) (5:27)
13. Toodles Mr. Jim (3:09)
14. Sister Named Desire (5:32)
15. Amazing Grace/'Til The Chicken (6:49)
16. This Old Man (1:45)
17. Sucker (2:52)
18. Honey (Live) (3:46)
19. Graveyard (0:54)
20. London Girls (3:21)
21. In The Springtime Of His Voodoo (Rookery Ending) (0:56)

Total time 79:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Tori Amos / vocals, harpsichord, grand piano, clavichord (11), harmonium (2,8,9), producer

- Steve Caton / guitar, mandolin (9,12), 12-string acoustic guitar (15), organ (7)
- George Porter, Jr. / bass
- Manu Katché / drums (4,11,12,16)
- Mino Cinelu / percussion (12,16)
- Alan Friedman / drum programming (4,7,12), Fx (11), organ programming (16)
- The Black Dyke Mills Band / brass (5,17)
- James Watson / trumpet & conductor (5,17)
- The Sinfonia of London / strings (6)
- John Philip Shenale / arrangements (6)
- Peter Willison / musical director (6)
- Scott Smalley / conductor & orchestrations (6)
- Mark Mullins / trombone & horn arrangements (12)
- Clarence Johnson III / soprano sax (8), tenor sax (12)
- Craig Klein / Sousaphone (12)
- Brian Graber / flugelhorn (12)
- Tracy Griffin / flugelhorn (12)
- Bernard Quinn / bagpipes (16)
- Michael Deegan / bagpipes (16)
- Nancy Shanks / vocals (16)
- Sammy Berfect / Gospel chorus (10)
- James Crawford Jr. / Gospel chorus (10)
- Darryl Lewis / Gospel chorus (10)
- Gus McField Jr. / Gospel chorus (10)
- Mark Sterling / Gospel chorus (10)
- Jack Trimble / Gospel chorus (10)
- Marvin Sterling / Gospel chorus (10)
- Marcel Van Limbeek / Delgany Church bells (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Cindy Palmano (art direction & photo)

2xLP Atlantic ‎- 82862-1 (1996, US)

CD Atlantic ‎- 82862-2 (1996, US)
2xCD Atlantic ‎- R2-553145 (2016, US) Remastered by Bob Ludwig and Jon Astley (bonus tracks), expanded with bonus CD including rarities, remixes & demos

Thanks to ? for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TORI AMOS Boys For Pele ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

TORI AMOS Boys For Pele reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Boys For Pele while receiving wide acclaim has many Amos followers divided especially as it was a major shift from her second album " Under The Pink". It is though a bold work with some excellent songs although the albums major drawback is that it is too long. This was endemic of many albums around that era when it was the norm for some artists to have circa 80 minutes of studio material for each release. A lot can be said in this reviewers opinion, for albums being at a more accessible length of around 45-55 minutes. So as the album disappates somewhat from an attentative point of view there are some remarkebale songs worth mentioning. The opener " Horses" is exquisite, Amos's lyrics sharing abandon and a sense of freedom. " Blood Roses" is an intensley personal song takinga stab at the opposite sex. " Father Lucifer" perhaps showing Amos at her most angry about parts of her upbringing. All the while great keyboards and vocals highlighted by intricate and perplexing time signatures. " Caught A Lite Sneeze" has Tori Amos at her finest, emotionally and musically. Another great song is " Hey Jupiter".

Overall a thoroughly good album. A great CD package and booklet with some unusually controversial photo's of Tori too. Other than it being too long, Boys For Pele comes highly recommended. Four stars.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars When I found that TORI AMOS had been added to a full Prog genre was of incredulity and lets be honest, a bit of disappointment. Even when I expected she could be added to Prog Related, never thought she could be in the database of Crossover, but well, she is here to stay and nothing can be done except review her albums, and what better place to start than "Boys of Pele", proclaimed as her most Progressive album.

So took the album from the box of records I bought by mistake or because somebody recommended them and my opinion hasn't changed. She has an excellent voice that make me remember a bit of KATE BUSH with a hint of CHRISTINA MURPHY BOOTH from MAGENTA, but with less sonority and strength than both excellent singers.

So after the tedious experience of listening the whole album (That seems endless) I must confess that still I find it full of predictable ballads with little interest for me, maybe except "Professional Widow" where at least she shows some energy and originality.

But that's not enough, even when she's an excellent keyboardist, I find her compositions extremely simple and boring, and despite being a fan of Orchestral arrangements, I find the ones made for this album absolutely unimaginative and powerless.

I felt that after listening a couple of tracks I had listened all the album, to the point that by "Hey Jupiter" I was already yawning and feeling urge to go to sleep even when it was around 6 PM.

Maybe I'm used to more elaborate music or live in the past, but I have no option than to rate "Boys of Pele" with 2 stars, because in my opinion she shows nothing different to what I heard in the radio several hundred of times.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "we both know it was a girl, back in Bethlehem..."

Tori's third album was an amazing comeback from her sophomore slump and truly one of the most unique, sprawling titles of the 1990s rock scene. In terms of ambition, magnitude, and pretentiousness (in a good way), this was her "Lamb Lies Down." This was her Ummagumma, her Quadrophenia, her Exile on Main Street. No, it doesn't -sound- like those records, I'm talking about the scope and vision thing. Tori wrote the album as she was breaking up with Eric Rosse although it would be unfair to put the enormity of the male confrontation theme on his shoulders, there were many more demons being exorcised. This album was a journey trying to find her whole self. She claimed her old programming was breaking down, that she needed to find her passion instead of stealing it from her men, and that the way she looked at life changed with this record. When you hear it, you'll know she isn't just talking out of her ass. It's earth shaking.

Tori decided to travel again for the next project and in the summer of 1995, she chose a church in Delgany, Ireland. She went wild with sound on this one, adding to her piano harpsichord, harmonium, clavichord, as well as a wealth of guest musicians and location sound effects. From there they moved to another house in Ireland for a month and then headed to New Orleans to mix the results. Rolling Stone naturally couldn't figure this strange album out, but it was pretty well received by the Brits, and of course the tour was her most amazing yet. The lack of a full band is one of the aspects that made her early shows so cool. Tori's amazing keyboard playing and her very special vocals have the space they need to create the ambiance, and the crowds were not distracted by the usual "rock band" aesthetic. As the Guardian would note in their review, "who needs a rhythm section when you have a left hand like hers."

The album is sprawling, feeling like a double album, filled with her most diverse work to date. Some refer to it as baroque-pop and no doubt this comes from the harpsichord and the unique centuries-past feel to some tracks. But in reality the album is more of a modern surrealist painting, a blur of Tori's most experimental whims mixed with a turbulent, fiery time in her personal life. There is anger side by side with great beauty. There is the simple and most naked emotion side by side with the avant-garde. Not every track works perfectly and the album would lose its charms if they did. You can't listen to single tracks from Pele, nor is worth discussing single tracks. It has to be taken as a whole, a travelogue with both European vibes and Tori's southern heart lurking not far below the surface in the album's themes. Some tracks are just very short, minute long snippets, just quick musical "thoughts" which provide bridges between longer pieces and give the album that thick, storybook feel. With musical styles and influences as far apart as jazz and a bizarre Eagles flashback within the same song. Soothing lullabies, preemptive recriminations, restless sleep, and heat. And not a dry heat but a glistening humidity. Some songs are very minimalist; almost a cappella Tori in open-hearted emotion, other songs are just the opposite, with exotic accompaniments that go in any and every direction, masking the lyric in heady but fascinating flowery. I can see why some charge the album with being "jumbled" and yet it is that strident eclecticism that makes Pele one of Tori's most memorable recordings. Tori always was wary of taking on a full band in these days, comparing having a band with being "married" and saying she wasn't ready. On Pele you can hear the transition from "girl and piano" to the band sound that would explode on the live tour for her next work Choirgirl Hotel. Also in "Professional Widow" and the singles mix of "Talula" you can hear a Bjorkish electronica preluding the turn that Choirgirl would take. Thus Pele becomes so absolutely busy with every direction possible, it's like Tori's head and her musical heart are exploding on the canvas.

This is such an impressive piece of free art that would be eclipsed or not by her next work, depending on whether you prefer the chaotic or the organized. I've reached the conclusion that I can't peg Tori's "best" album, but I can say the Pele/Choirgirl era was a very special arc in her career---their ambition, success rate, and pure freedom being something to behold. Forget about whether or not Tori is "prog enough" and give the music a fair chance at expression. Albums like these need some time to marinade in your ears, it's not fast food or paint-by-numbers retro-prog.

Review by Chicapah
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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Not the best of the Tori Amos albums, in my mind, but certainly one of the weirdest and most progressive she has released. Contains great tracks like "Father Lucifer", "Caught a Light Sneeze", "Muhammed my Friend", and "Not the Red Baron". However, most of the rest of the album is not as good and so ... (read more)

Report this review (#733587) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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