Tori Amos has recently announced a new album coming out this fall, Native Invader. I’ve taken this as an opportunity to listen through her discography again and see if anything new jumps out at me that I may not have really cared for before. I’ve been a fan of Tori’s music for about 20 years now, but I’ve never kept it a secret that I haven’t cared for her newer albums nearly as much as her older stuff. I thought this might be a good time to rate and list them all. I’ve kept this to studio releases only, not including compilations and remasters like Gold Dust.
14. Strange Little Girls (2002)
This concept album is a collection of covers of songs written by men, supposedly from a woman’s point of view. Tori has done some amazing song covers over the years, and none of them are on this album. My understanding is that this album was released to get Tori out of her contract obligations with Atlantic Records, which is the only thing I feel this album accomplishes. The title track is okay at best, and in my opinion, this album has no other redeeming qualities.
13. Night of Hunters (2011)
I can’t get into this album. It’s not a contemporary album like all of her others, and it’s heavily inspired by classical music. I’ve tried time and time again to give this album a go, and I just can’t even stay awake through it. Musically it’s a nice album, but it’s just not my cup of tea.
12. Midwinter Graces (2009)
I almost didn’t include this album because it has a very specific theme. This is the obligatory “Christmas Album” but with one of Tori’s conceptual twists. None of the tracks are traditional Christmas songs, although some of them are sampled to good effect. Similar to Night of Hunters however, there’s only a couple tracks that I truly enjoy. I still throw it on during the holiday season, but aside from that, I really don’t think about this album.
11. Unrepentant Geraldines (2014)
Tori’s most recent album at the time of this writing, Unrepentant Geraldines is a welcome return from that strange classical phase Tori had. Unfortunately, I find it to be the least enjoyable of her contemporary albums. It has some gems like Trouble’s Lament, Promise, and the super quirky Giant’s Rolling Pin, but overall it’s not an album I really enjoy. I think part of it is that her voice seems to have entirely too much reverb and processing on it, which I just don’t like.
10. Abnormally Attracted To Sin (2009)
There are several tracks on this album that I really enjoy, including Flavor, Not Dying Today, and Fast Horse. These great songs are balanced by a few of my least favorite Tori songs ever, Strong Black Vine, Police Me, and That Guy. Mary Jane is another strange track, a goofy song about marijuana that just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the album. It’s almost as if she included it on a dare.
9. American Doll Posse (2007)
This album was announced to be a return to the “raw and primal” Tori that was so popular in the 90s. I was pretty excited about that, but found myself underwhelmed by the album when it released. It’s a solid and mostly enjoyable album, with a few tracks that I’d gladly call favorites. However a few songs like Fat Slut and Mr. Bad Man just don’t do it for me. This album does get a fair amount of play though.
8. Scarlet’s Walk (2002)
If I had to pick a point where Tori started to lose me, ignoring the disaster of Strange Little Girls, it would probably be with Scarlet’s Walk. Nearly every song on the album seems to end the same exact way, and there isn’t much that really jumps out and catches my attention about it. It’s not a bad album by any means, but it marks a change in Tori’s style that I admittedly don’t like as much.
7. Y Kant Tori Read (1988)
Tori’s very first album, one that used to be nearly unknown to all but the most dedicated fans. Y Kant Tori Read is the self-titled album from Tori’s 1980s pop band, which was a pretty immediate failure. I find the album to be quite enjoyable, myself. While it has its share of strangeness, there are some really decent tracks on the album, a couple of which she does actually acknowledge and play live from time to time, especially Cool On Your Island and Etienne.
6. To Venus and Back (1999)
Venus is a double-album, which one disc being a live album from her Plugged tour which is awesome. The studio album itself is a solid album with a more electronic vibe than her previous. I really like this album, even the song Datura which is nothing more than her rattling off a list of plants in her garden. Between the studio side and the live side, this is definitely a good one to pick up.
5. The Beekeeper (2005)
A lot of fans will disagree with me on this one, but this album is one of my favorites, and had me optimistic that Scarlet’s Walk would just be a fluke. I love nearly every track on this album, and can’t really find much fault with it. It’s certainly happier than her older stuff, but musically it’s great and quirky at times without being too goofy.
4. Boys For Pele (1996)
This album has a few of my very favorite tracks such as Caught a Lite Sneeze and Talula, but was otherwise very difficult for me to get into due to its quieter nature on many of the songs. A lot of fans claim this is her greatest album and there’s a great case for that. Boys for Pele is by far Tori’s angriest album, and her more furious songs like Professional Widow contrast very nicely with the more relaxed mournful songs such as Hey Jupiter. I wouldn’t say Boys for Pele would be a great album to start somebody out on but it’s a definite requirement for a fan.
3. Under The Pink (1994)
In all honesty, this album is a tie with Boys For Pele. It’s a bit more accessible and piano driven, but contains many of her most recognizable songs, including the one she’s arguably most known for, Cornflake Girl. There isn’t a really a lot to stay about this particular album, just that it’s one of her best and a strong album from start to finish.
2. Little Earthquakes (1992)
Tori’s first solo album, the first Tori album I ever heard, and absolute perfection. It’s very difficult to not put this album right at #1. Everyone should have a copy of this album, even if they’re not a hardcore Tori fan. I’ve convinced a number of people to buy this album and not one has disliked it. I can’t say enough good things about this album.
1. From The Choirgirl Hotel (1998)
This album will always hold a special place in my heart as the first brand-new Tori album I bought on the day it was released. A couple tracks took a few listens to get into, but every song on the album is absolutely great. This album kicked off the Plugged ’98 tour which was the first time I got to see Tori live, and was the first album where she was really accompanied by a full band. Anytime I’m asked what my favorite Tori Amos album is, I can answer From The Choirgirl Hotel without a moment’s hesitation.
So that’s it. I remain cautiously optimistic about Native Invader, and look forward to its release. I wonder where it’ll fall on this list. Think I was wrong about an album? Tell my why in the comments!