Tori Amos,
Complete Videos: 1991-1998
(Atlantic/Wea, 1998)

This 1998 release gives us 15 Tori Amos videos, spanning material from her first four albums. I don't watch a lot of videos these days, but Tori's almost demand to be watched, studied and enjoyed. I can't pretend to understand all of these videos, but I love to watch them. Forgive me if I go on and on about this, but Tori is just stunningly gorgeous, possessing a natural beauty that rivals the beauty of her music.

These videos are not in chronological order, and I don't know if there is a meaning behind the arrangement. We begin with "Silent All These Years," which is marked by stop-gap photography and highly contrasting white colors toward the end, all of which gives Tori an ethereal look. The European version of "Cornflake Girl" is next, and I find it much superior to the American version found later in this collection. It begins and ends with Tori lying among fallen leaves, looking stunning in a white dress; the heart of the video is in black and white, and it contains a hint of a Wizard of Oz motif among a number of visual images.

"Past the Mission" is one of those videos I don't understand very well: Tori leads two girls, a teenager and a younger girl, through a Spanish-type village; the women of the town follow her until they meet a priest, at which point all of the women lie prostrate on the ground for the priest to make his way past them; the village men follow the priest, and the women all walk outside of the town, seeming much happier after doing so. "China" is an interesting visual treat, with Tori wearing a dress made to look like the rocks of the beach she is on.

I absolutely love "Raspberry Swirl." It features a dark-haired Tori in a low-cut dark dress following a young lad through a dance club, ending with a meal wherein young Tori-like girls turn into pigs. I love the part where Tori starts jerking and flopping around inside an elevator. I think one secret behind Tori's beauty is the fact that she does not try to look beautiful. In the video for the hauntingly beautiful song "Hey Jupiter," she appears in a trancelike state, with black mascara smeared all around her eyes. "Caught a Lite Breeze" features a more sophisticated Tori look that somehow reminds me of the 1950s -- full of imagery, it is a drama played out by Tori's ghost. Tori makes a dazzlingly beautiful ghost, I must say. "Winter" is a rather simple video that matches perfectly with this incredible song from Little Earthquakes. "Talula" is another favorite of mine. If I am not mistaken, there is one quick shot of Tori doing something interesting with her hands, and there is a certain look she gives in the midpoint of the powerful bridge that drives me crazy -- that look lasts only a fraction of a second, but it says volumes. Tori is always able to convey great emotion through her expressions.

"God" and "Crucify" are fittingly ordered consecutively. I love the "God" video because that is where I discovered Tori Amos. It's a video hard not to notice, with all of its religious symbolism, snakes and rats. Something about the way Tori let all those rats crawl all over her convinced me that this was a female singer I had to hear more from. The green dress Tori wears while playing the piano in "Crucify" dazzles my eyes, and I can't say I mind seeing her wet, either. "Jackie's Strength" is a lovely song. The video features Tori in a wedding dress riding around town in a cab on her wedding day, and it opens with a number of shots of Jackie Kennedy. The U.S. version of "Cornflake Girl" is the only video I don't really care for, largely because it seems rather nonsensical to me. "Pretty Good Year" is a minimalistic video featuring Tori piled up in a big chair surrounded by an empty room; it's not bad but it's also not a spectacular way to end the tape.

I skipped "Spark" because this particular video deserves special mention. The song is Tori's best and most powerful one ever, in my opinion, and the video more than lives up to the challenge of representing that masterpiece. Some may find it disturbing, though. It opens with Tori lying on the ground in a forest, bound and blindfolded; she had obviously just been removed from a car trunk, and the man responsible for it lies prostrate beside the car. Tori runs away through the woods, soon followed by the man, submerges herself in a stream to remove her blindfold, and finally reaches the safety of a road, where two girls stop but drive off without helping her. This video is incredibly powerful, giving me goosebumps every time I watch it.

I have used a lot of words to describe the videos included here, but words are really inadequate when it comes to explaining Tori's musical vision. All I can say to Tori fans out there is that this video collection is a vital part of the complete Tori experience.

review by
Daniel Jolley

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