ROCK POP TORI AMOS Strange Little Girls (WEA) O...

Now this kind of thing can get out of hand. What starts out a cheeky cover of a kitsch favourite to add a bit of spice to an encore can quickly escalate to a full bloody album’s worth.

These covers albums can always be hit and miss affairs, Nick Cave being one of the few to have succeeded with his album Kicking Against The Pricks. His interpretations of Cash, Hendrix, Webb and Reed among others, were expressive and thoughtful. Time to add this collection by Tori Amos to the list of success stories.

There is a twist. All the songs here are written by men and feature women as the central characters, Amos’ ‘Strange Little Girls’. Some girls are empowered, some are the object of fascination, in one case, one is watching her father throw her dead mother in the river. All are at least compelling, and at most, terrifying.

The ever confident Amos is keen to mess with arrangements and does so skillfully. The Boomtown Rats’ ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ becomes a woozy organ lullaby and Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’ when stripped down, becomes a frail lover’s hymn instead of the original’s plaintive electronica. Even the 705 etherealness of 100C’s ‘l’m Not In Love’ gets a funereal coating of soot and is all the better for it.

On the negative, ‘Heart Of Gold’ by Neil Young and ‘Rattlesnakes’ by Lloyd Cole are uninspiring if not uninspired and the two most talked about tracks on the record her creepily cutesy reading of Eminem’s ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ and death metallers Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ are the most atmosphericly powerful, but musically weakest here.

She sensibly goes straight for Tom Wait’s ‘Time’ replacing his bourbon soaked growl with her own warm whine making it among the finest tracks here.

So much of this material is already held in such untouchable regard that purists will leap to savage her interpretations, but this is not for them. Fuck them. Amos reaffirms the open- endedness of contemporary music and in doing so creates a spookily good record.

(Mark Robertson)



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