The career of Tori Amos is an interesting one. I got acquainted with her music about six years ago. She even got me back to tickling the ivories myself. Her music in the beginning of her solo career is whimsical, spontaneous and melodic. Her current work is a bit more smooth and mainstream. Her music videos are not commonly known and are not shown very regularly on MTV. In 1998 a VHS tape appeared with all of her music videos. Now this video has been re-released as Fade to Red, with new videos added. It is an amazing collection and Amos’ music videos are quite extraordinary. However, this new collection is incomplete, which is hard to accept for fans.
To start with what’s lacking: four videos to be precise. Unlike the Björk Volumen/Greatest Hits video collection, the compilers of Fade to Red have not included every video there is to be found. I can understand that they refrained from including the 2004 re-recorded b-side Mary, that was released as a promotional single for Amos’ greatest hits record Tales of a Librarian. Basically, the video for Mary, a mediocre catchy tune, consists of a compilation of all of her earlier videos. However, Fade to Red also includes the video of Arman Van Helden’s remix of Professional Widow. This video also consists of a collage of Tori’s earlier videos. It’s strange they decided to include the compilation video of Professional Widow (as a bonus feature), but the compilation video of Mary is absent.
What is much harder to understand is the fact two other ‘new’ videos are not included. The 2001 single Strange Little Girl (a cover version of the song by the Stranglers) is not included. This wonderful dark take on the Alice in Wonderland theme with amazing visuals should really have been included. Maybe copyright issues have urged the producers to leave this video out of the Fade to Red collection. Another video that is missing is the single of the 1999 album To Venus and Back, Glory of the 80s. There is no reason why this gothic looking video of Tori hanging in a cubic shaped web and changing into a fox and raven is not featured. Maybe Amos didn’t like the video herself. Finally, it would have been nice if the only video prior to Tori’s solo career, The BIg Picture would have been included. Tori doesn’t want to be confronted with this song and the accompanying album, Y Kant Tori Read, but hey: she has to get over it some day.
This all said, what is left is still a wonderful set of intriguing videos. The videos are not featured in chronological order. The videos of the 1992 debut album Little Earthquakes (Winter, Silent All These Years, China and Crucify) are all pretty basic, but still kinda cute. Most of them were directed by Tori’s photographer Cindy Palmano. More adventurous are the ones for the 1994 album Under the Pink. There are two versions of the Cornflake Girl video included, of which the UK version is most interesting (also included as a bonus feature). Past the Mission, shot in Spain, is very much intriguing. It combines some of the most essential themes of Amos’s work, including womanhood and religion.
The videos for the 1996 record Boys for Pele are wonderfully whimsical and strange. Caught a Lite Sneeze is visually stunning and Hey Jupiter takes place in a burning house. The career of Tori Amos changed with the 1998 album From the Choirgirl Hotel, that is dominated by her miscarriage. This resulted into some amazing videos. Spark, which is basically about loss, is my personal favourite video. It was inspired by Twin Peaks, as Amos explains on the audio commentary. It shows Amos escaping from a kidnapping, with hands tied, running through a forest. It has some amazing camerawork. Another favorite is Jackie’s Strength. It is a black and white video directed by James Brown (not the singer) and shows Tori in a wedding dress sitting in the back of a cab. She is lost on her own wedding day. Interesting detail is Tori married her sound engineer Mark Hawley at about the same time the video was shot. The song itself is a comparison between Jackie Kennedy’s wedding and her own.
The Choirgirl era is closed by the strange video of Raspberry Swirl. This danceable song is accompanied by a wonderfully weird video. At the end people are turned into pigs that start to eat from the dinner table. From that moment on, Fade to Red includes new videos. Bliss is basically a live video. 1,000 Oceans, however, I horribly misjudged. I thought it to be very boring, when it is, in fact, fascinating. It shows Tori in a glass box (boxes are a recurring element in her music videos). Outside there is a lot going on, from street artists doing tricks to riots (a car even gets thrown over). Wonderfully shot, this gripping video is a real asset to the collection.
Amos’ weirdest video, by far, is the 2002 video for A Sorta Fairytale, featuring Oscar winner Adrien Brody. Brody plays an arm, Amos plays a leg. The two fall in love and eventually become one. This wicked idea is wonderfully executed and the video truly is wonderfully weird. The collection is concluded by two videos of the latest record, The Beekeeper. Sleeps With Butterflies, is a graphically rich piece of work, based on the art of Aya Kato and entirely shot on green screen. Last (but kinda least), the video of Sweet the Sting is enclosed. It is a live video of Tori rehearsing with a bunch of gospel singers prior to a London show.
All videos are in 5.1 sound. Most of the songs that were also included on the Tales of A Librarian best-of cd are featured here in that very same new mix (you can debate whether these songs are actually better in this new version). All videos have audio commentary by Tori Amos herself. You may wonder where some of the commentary is good for. Basically Amos rattles on around vague theories, in her slow melodic voice. For instance, she speaks about herself in the third person. This set aside, at times her commentary is quite interesting.
If you are a fan this is a must have. If you like good music videos, you also should definitely get this Fade to Red collection. It is such a pity is incomplete though. Another weird thing is the fact it was released in Europe as an NTSC disc. This means that some older TV’s (like mine) cannot play the DVD in color, since most of European TV’s use the PAL system.
Videos included: 1. Past The Mission 2. Crucify 3. Jackie’s Strength 4. A Sorta Fairytale 5. Winter 6. Spark 7. Sleeps With Butterflies 8. Cornflake Girl (U.S.Version) 9. Hey Jupiter 10. Silent All These Years 11. Caught A Little Sneeze 12. 1,000 Oceans 13. God 14. Bliss 15. China 16. Raspberry Swirl 17. Talula 18. Sweet The Sting 19. Pretty Good Year 20. Professional Widow (Remix) (Bonus Video) 21. Cornflake Girl (U.K.Version) (Bonus Video)
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