David N. (ilikeallmusic) from GADSDEN, AL Reviewed on 1/17/2007...
Comes with all artwork and nice booklet!
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The best evidence for the argument of Tori Amos as Genius
Michael B. Collins | Placentia, NL Canada | 06/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever wondered what the "fuss" about Tori Amos was? Have you perhaps heard one of her more successful singles in recent years (say, A Sorta Fairytale or Sleeps With Butterflies) and perhaps, blasphemy of blasphemies, thought she was a bit lightweight, a bit trite, a bit, dare we say it, uninteresting?
Well, if you did think those things, you would be wrong, and From the Choirgirl Hotel is the album to prove that to you. Choirgirl is a lot of things, but lightweight is not one of those. It is a dark, dense, intense, harrowing, experimental and adventerous trip, where your guide is 1/2 Sylvia Plath and 1/2 Chopin, with dashes of Massive Attack and Jimmi-Hendrix-if-he-had-taken-up-piano (for flavour).
I am an unabashed Tori Amos fan. I will admit that I'm biased in her favour. I would rate all of her 8 major studio albums from "good" to "amazing," having come to her music as a hard-core piano student during the mid-90's, when songs like "Blood Roses" and "Father Lucifer" seemed more like Bach and Debussy than like anything else on the airwaves at the time.
But why chose this album, then, as it marks the now 8-year trend of Tori moving away from the baroque, challenging, symphonic compositions that characterized her first three albums? Choirgirl was the start of her break for the mainstream, a move that culminated in 2005's disappointing MOR-mush of "The Beekeeper." It seems rather odd that I would venerate it above all others.
I do so because, while 'Choirgirl' is one of Tori's most accessible albums (especially for fans of dark alternative rock), it also shows her at the top of her game as a songwriter and instrumentalist.
Even though, for the first time, the piano took a backseat in some songs and was entirely absent from one (the slinky, sexy "cruel"), this album also contains some of her most breath-taking passages at the keyboard. Listen to the bridges of "Spark" and "Black Dove," the improvisational sections of "Liquid Diamonds," the piano breakdown in the 4th section of the multi-movemental "Hotel," the lithe, graceful playing of "Jackie's Strength," and the accomplished jazz stylings of "Pandora's Aquarium." All of these moments stand as testament to the fact that Tori started her life in the world of music at age 3, as a child prodigy, and that, if she had applied herself in a different direction, she could legitimately make it as a concert pianist with a classical repetoire.
This album is hard-hitting. Each track is a gem; the weakest of the set would be a standout on any album by a lesser talent. What's more, she doesn't bog the album down with filler (as in "The Beekeeper") or sometimes lose herself in self-indulgent ramblings (as can be argued for "Boys for Pele"). Sure, the lyrical ambiguity is here as per usual, but the ratio of comprehensible metaphors to head-scratchers is balanced in the former's favour.
"From the Choirgirl Hotel" is tight. Over the 50-odd minutes it takes to play the album from start to finish, its 12 tracks are 12 musical punches to the gut, and if you give it your time and your attention, I'm sure you will finally understand what the fuss about Tori Amos is."
One of tori's best
Irene F. | floating somewhere in the ether... | 12/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply stated, this album is sublime. Perhaps I am biased. This album served as my introduction to Tori, and I had no expectations when I listened. But as a newcomer, 'Choirgirl' simply blew me away, and now -- almost two years and several Tori CDs later -- it doesn't wear old. Only 'Little Earthquakes' has lived up to it in terms of favorites.Placed in context of Tori's career, this album focuses on the piano with a band as an accompaniment, along with some electronic flourishes (though as a reviewer stated before, it's certainly not techno). This approach is used on most of the songs. However, traces of old school Tori still remain on songs like 'Jackie's Strength' (a ballad right along the lines of 'Winter' or 'Pretty Good Year') and 'Northern Lad.' This mixing of the old with the new is quite successful: it keeps the successful formulas of the past with enough innovation to make things interesting.Oh, don't get me wrong, the flaws are there. The sounds at the beginning of the otherwise beautiful 'Playboy Mommy' make me wince, as do a few of the flourishes on 'Hotel.' And Tori's certainly an acquired taste. Even though her lyrics are far more accessible than those on 'Boys for Pele', bizzare metaphors prevail as always. However, for those who are willing to dig a little deeper will find she has great insights to share, and that her music overall is beautifully crafted.A lot of people tend to group this album with 'Strange Little Girls' and 'To Venus and Back' as Tori's triumvirate of badness, and to be honest, I can't fathom why. The main accusation is that Tori did not seem as dedicated to this album, but I find that the intensity and audacity she displayed in her earlier work is here in spades -- such as in the desperate 'Spark' and the wild 'Raspberry Swirl.' This is, in my opinion, Tori at her most crazed and glorious, and I'm sure this will remain one of my favorite albums in years to come."
What else to say?
Dan Motsinger | 04/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Honestly, there is not much that I can say about Tori Amos that I'm sure hasn't already been said concerning her brilliance, emotional overflow, and the adaptation it takes to enjoy her music. It is hard for me to say which of her albums is her best, and perhaps it is no coincidence that my three favorite songs of her's are all on "Choirgirl Hotel." "Pandora's Aquarium" is simply beautiful, with lyrics such as "Line me up in single file with all your grievances..."That line alone gives the song such a beautiful feel. But more appropriately, there is "Liquid Diamonds," probably the unspoken hero of this cd. Her piano and the drums in the opening part of the song are transfixing, and her lyrics just blend in so perfectly, "There's a secret in me, It's plain to see that it is rising, but I must be floating, Liquid Diamonds." And finally, the other song that grabbed me was "Hotel." It is interesting if you listen to that song all the way through its transitions and instrument sounds make it seem like pure musical story telling, with a feel of pain and curiosity throughout the song, and then this wonderful sensation of relief and survival in the last few moments. Despite the fact that all of the songs on "Choirgirl Hotel" have their own unique and heartthrobbing, emotion-wrenching styles, Tori Amos has achieved with her fourth album something that can only be described as special."
Dan Motsinger | 08/16/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"this cd is beautiful. i was very very apprehensive about buying it after reading all of these negative comments, about how tori's changed. very true. but if you look at it, each album has shown growth...LE was her debut...UtP added some rock...BfP added more instruments..and this album adds the band. so what? after her preceeding three albums, i didn't know what else she could do - i mean, come on, there are only so many songs that one can do with just a piano and her voice. and i know, that's one of the things that made tori unique. and many of her fans like her because she's unique; not like ANYONE else out there. (even kate bush - i like kate, but she sounds like tori did in her YKTR era, not now.) are you even aware of how many artists are using just their voices and their pianos? or just guitars? look at jewel. fiona apple. blah blah blah. tori started the trend. and she's moved on. she still doesn't sound like anyone else i've heard of. anyhow, this work is beautiful..."Playboy Mommy" is a tearjerking track..and "iieee" strikes me...it's amazing. buy this. you won't be disapointed. = )"
My favorite Tori album
Amy Harrington | 12/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""From the Choirgirl Hotel" barely edges out "Little Earthquakes" as my favorite Tori Amos album. Whether it's the snowy softness of "Black Dove" , the unique, pensive sounds of "Spark" and "Iiieee", the flowing melodies of "Jackie's Strength", or the lambent sensuality of "Cruel", all the songs make this album stand out.
Tori's songs are all thought-provoking and beautiful as always, but here she expands her reach a little. "Raspberry Swirl" is a departure from her distinctive soft piano sound, but still displays the unique brand of thoughtfulness and sheer strangeness that drew me to her music in the first place."