Alternative Rock, 2003
I must confess that I am no longer the rabid Toriphile that I used to be. I have mellowed since Little Earthquakes and while that CD still gets played once in a while, Tori Amos’s increasingly vague lyrics and erratic music styles have worn thin. I purchase this, Tales of a Librarian out of habit rather than curiosity. If anything, this compilation of Ms Amos’ songs, reworked and remastered, will be a convenient thing to have. All her better known songs on one CD – it’s sure easier than getting out her CDs and skipping tracks only to get the ones I want to hear, definitely.
I must also confess here that this review won’t be as detailed as those found on the Dent. I don’t have the inclination to play this CD and the original songs back to back to detail the changes in the musical arrangement. I am also not going to rant about how sacrilegious it is that they remastered or rearranged the vocals and instruments, because frankly, I can’t be bothered to care.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm on the whole, this CD is still listenable. I can’t detect any differences in Me and a Gun, although it’s still a haunting track about what goes on through Ms Amos’s head while she was raped. The anger just burns through the track. String arrangements are changed in Precious Things and Silent All These Years, the latter being one of the tracks that are better off when Ms Amos performed it live (it’s more raw and effective then). There are some new vocals added in God, Tear in Your Hand, and Cornflake Girl, while the overall productions of Bliss, Spark, and Playboy Mommy are cleaned up. Playboy Mommy is still one of Ms Amos’s most underrated track – the haunting lyrics to this apologia to the child that she miscarried is far more focused and the imagery is devastating. Background vocals are added to Jackie’s Strength and Way Down, giving the latter a stronger choral effect.
The new tracks are Mary, Snow Cherries From France, Angels, and Sweet Dreams. Actually, Mary isn’t new as it was a B-side to one of those Little Earthquake singles. Here, it is polished up to give a stronger Nashville sound. It’s quite cute. The other three tracks are nondescript fillers that are probably rejects from Scarlet’s Walk.
The only anomaly here is the addition of the dance remix of Professional Widow. Since the dance remix is Ms Amos’s most successful single to date, it’s not only is a lazy filler, it’s also not a remastered or reworked track, technically. Also, most die-hard Toriphiles hate this track with vehemence. But its inclusion in a CD that will appeal to part-time Ms Amos fans doesn’t seem too odd.
Tales of a Librarian is not a greatest hits compilations (what hits?) or even Ms Amos’s brightest moments: think of it as a Tori Amos-lite experience. I’ll just put this aside and wait until there’s a CD with entirely new material from her.