Album Reviews

Y Kant Tori Read: Y Kant Tori Read (Rhino)

Y Kant Tori Read
Y Kant Tori Read
Rhino

It’s funny, an artist’s salad days. Sometimes, when an artist becomes famous, they suddenly become embarrassed by their career’s stutter-steps. Y Kant Tori Read is one such embarrassing early days release; the band formed in the mid-80s and featured a flamboyantly coiffed and sexily clad lead singer named Tori Amos. But the album wasn’t a success, and it quickly went out of print; upon Amos’ solo debut, it wasn’t acknowledged at all. Thus, it was extremely surprising that this long-neglected album turned up on digital platforms and confirmed as a legitimate release.

Yet for all her distancing, Y Kant Tori Read is actually much, much better than one might think. Sure, when you play the album for the first time and hear “The Big Picture,” there’s an initial shock hearing her front a somewhat generic Eighties-sounding hard rock band. But thirty seconds later, her voice kicks in, and you suddenly forget about all of that; she’s going straight into Kate Bush territory, and she does a damn fine job of it. Furthermore, it doesn’t sound terribly different from what her post Little Earthquakes material would sound like. In fact, that’s true of the rest of Y Kant Tori Read; “Fire On The Side” and “Etienne Trilogy” are clear antecedents of Little Earthquakes, and wouldn’t’ have sounded out of place there. “Floating City,” “On The Boundary,” and “Cool On Your Island“ are also superior numbers that evoke Under The Pink. Only one truly bad song can be found here, and that’s “Fayth,” but even then, it’s not a bad song, but it’s a badly-arranged song, sung too fast; had it been slowed down a bit, it would have been perfect.

Listening today, it’s nearly impossible to understand just why Amos distanced herself from this project, aside from the fact that the front cover and the promotional shots must have seemed downright embarrassing for an artist who would soon become known for vulnerable sounds about womanhood. Apparently Amos’s opinion has changed over the years; Youtube videos can be found of her performing a handful of these songs. Though this digital release doesn’t answer any questions or offer any insight about Amos’s feelings about it, perhaps when the expanded physical edition that’s purportedly coming next year will offer some answers.

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