You’ll get no argument from me when I say that fans of Tori Amos’ work are nothing short of dedicated. Borderline obsessive? Maybe. Regardless, I know that there are a lot of happy fans right now who are in possession of the new Tori Amos box set, A Piano: A Collection. While not Amos’ first box set (she’s previously released a collection of live CDs), this is her first collection that really spans the full length of her rich career.
A Piano features five discs spanning from Amos’ 1991 release Little Earthquakes, up to The Beekeeper, which was Amos’ second recording for Epic Records (she previously called Atlantic her home). As an added bonus that has had many fans sitting on their hands in eager anticipation for what seems like ages now, there is a complete disc full of b-sides, and rare demos and alternate takes of favorites. Although the alternate demos are sprinkled throughout the collection, the final disc of A Piano really makes for something special, containing some of the most sought after songs that Amos has ever recorded.
Tori Amos has a tendency to relate her work to various other structural mediums, comparing Little Earthquakes to a diary and Under the Pink to an impressionist painting. One of her more recent works, Scarlet’s Walk featured a map of the United States. On the map, each song is represented by a different color path criss-crossing the country. So taking a hint Scarlet’s Walk, I found myself with the opportunity to really give A Piano a listen. I was taking a road trip to visit family several states away, and for my nearly six hour drive, crossing state and international borders (in and out of Canada), I decided to go disc by disc.
Starting off with the disc that covers her albums on Epic Records, the disc starts off with A Sorta Fairytale and includes songs from A Beekeeper as well as a few tracks from one of Amos’ releases from Atlantic, From the Choirgirl Hotel. This particular disc features a breathtaking epic new track in “Zero Point,” which surpasses the seven minute mark, echoes back to a haunting song like “Hotel” from Choirgirl Hotel. It contains dramatic musical elements and some downright eerie vocals, it’s classic Tori, which will impress many fans.
By sundown, making my way through very rural southern Ontario, I made my way through the “Under the Pink” disc. The dusty purples and light pinks of the evening sky really made for a great backdrop for a song like “Honey,” originally a b-side for the successful single “Cornflake Girl” from 1994, the sweetly melodramatic song features moving vocals against a solitary piano and subtle guitar work, it’s one of Tori’s little gems, and thankfully its getting props on this box set. A fan favorite to many, this little tune may have slipped through the cracks when it comes to compiling a track list for Under the Pink but thankfully it has found a home on this set.
A set of piano ivories tops the box which, if it’s already sitting neatfully in your record collection, already makes for a nice show… but this is not, by any means, a collection that is all filler no killer. Chock full of surprises, new remixes to older songs, new tunes and some old favorites; this box set is really a great collection from start to finish. Newer fans will salivate at this anthology, spanning several years, consider it a quick, yet comprehensive to the Tori Amos discography, finally getting clued in to the secret b-sides that more seasoned fans have either had on their limited edition singles or downloaded copies from the internet for years now. For them, the playing field has been leveled, now everyone has a chance to brag about their Tori back catalog IQ.