Artist: Tori Amos
Title: Y Can’t Tori Read
Musicians:Tori Amos – lead singer, acoustic piano, Paulinho Da Costa – percussion
Richard Bernard – bouzouki, Gene Black – guitar, Kim Bullard – acoustic piano, programming, keyboards, Steve Caton – guitar, Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
Devon Dickson – bagpipes, Steve Farris – guitars, Tim Landers – fretless bass guitar
Fernando Saunders – bass guitar, Matt Sorum – drums, Peter White – acoustic guitars
Eric Williams – mandolin. Backing vocals:CeCe Bullard, Merry Clayton, James House
Rick Nielsen, Zobbin Rander, Nancy Shanks, The Valentine Bros.
Producer: Joe Chiccarelli
Y Kant Tori Read is an album by the 1980s synthpop band of the same name, fronted by then-unknown singer and songwriter Tori Amos.
The band consisted of Amos, singer-pianist Kim Bullard, and future Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum, as well as long-time Amos collaborator guitarist Steve Caton and various studio musicians.
The choice of producer in Joe Chiccarelli (not her producer for her later LPs), was that of Amos, who had liked some of the albums that he made previously. According to Chiccarelli in an interview with HitQuarters:
“[Tori Amos] had a very strong vision of what she wanted to do on her first album. And despite the lack of success of that album, it was an interesting process because she was very vocal and very passionate about how she wanted it to sound and what her influences were and the emotions she was trying to convey.”
Although Amos has since gone on to effectively disown the album,Chiccarelli has said that she was very happy with it at the time.
The eponymous album was released in 1988 to dismal sales and the band split shortly after. Its lack of success and subsequent deletion has made it one of the most sought-after Tori Amos collectibles, fetching upwards of $1,000 in compact disc format in original longbox. At the height of Amos’ career vinyl copies would often sell for between $300–500 and still do today.
Because of the scarcity of legitimate copies of the album it has been heavily bootlegged, so much so that an extensive FAQ on the topic was created. Bootleg versions generally stem from one of the first editions to surface, on a foreign label called Pacific Records. Even the one for sale on Amazon are most likely bootlegs.
One music video was produced, for the song “The Big Picture”, featuring Amos prancing around a “ghetto city” sound stage set in thigh-high boots and a halter top.
This is the very first album by Tori Amos, a young Tori Amos. It’s pretty much a hard 80s pop style. You can hear the strength in her voice though which would come through full force in subsequent LPs. At least she knew enough not to use a drum machine even though they were all the rage at the time. Yes, this is a full band. The lyrics throughout this LP are a bit more sophisticated than one might expect, but knowing Tori’s background and other things about her, it’s not a surprise. Overall, this is not her finest produced LP, it has a very slight thinness, but not bad at all. Her subsequent LPs had a different producer and were impeccably recorded and produced.
1). The Big Picture: It’s just a great pop song, including the lyrics. However, the song was a commercial failure and received absolutely no critical comment. A video clip for The Big Picture was shot by Marty Callner. The only band member to appear in it is Tori Amos.
2). Cool On Your Island: This song was also a commercial failure and received absolutely no critical comment. After the failure of the first single by the band, the label did not feel expenses were warranted to film a music video. There was also a promotional CD single issued for the Phil Collins song “A Groovy Kind of Love”. Inexplicably it featured “Cool on Your Island” as tracks 2 and 3; the album and edit versions. Ironically the track would go on to be a favourite for Amos to perform at live concerts later in her career.
Amos has told a story on The Rosie O’Donnell Show regarding an incident where the release of this single may have kept her out of harm. She states that between the failure of “Y Kant Tori Read” and her successful solo career she was detained by German police while travelling because a friend (and co-traveller) had marijuana on her person. When the police were interrogating her, she stated she was a musician and that she had been “on a record with Phil Collins.” As he was extremely popular there at the time, she was set free. This song has a slight Caribbean feel and features Tori’s future singing style
3)Fayth: No that is not a typo, it’s the way they spelled it for the title of the song. Is this Tori trying out some rap? Almost, it’s an interesting song where the verses are almost a rap and then the chorus is sung and sung well. The lyrics are rather sophisticated. As to what the song is about, we will never know just as we won’t really know what any of the songs on this album are really about. While Tori will practically give you a lecture on any of her songs from all her LPs after this one, she doesn’t talk about the songs on this album.
4). Fire On The Side: This is a strong song. Kind of like a full band pop version of Little Earthquakes style. Draw your own conclusions as to what it’s about.
5). Pirates: This is my least favorite song on this LP. It’s just standard pop with nothing distinctive outside of her voice sounding raspy and strained on this tune.
6). Floating City: The vocals are great on this tune. It seems to be about the lack of spirit through the vanity of arrogance.
7). Heart Attack at 23: The start of this song is just solo piano with Tori’s vocals then all of the sudden it goes hard pop, almost rock.
8). On the Boundary: This song has a unique style in that it almost sounds like it doesn’t quite start in the verses and an interesting use of acoustic guitar and strings. Tori’s voice sounds strained here as well though, but it’s not a bad song.
9). You Go To My Head: This is also typical pop, but with good slap bass work. Not my favorite, but ok.
10). Etienne Trilogy: This is the longest song on the album clocking in at 6:15. The first minute and ten seconds is an atmospheric like intro then goes into piano and vocals and rums. It’s a typical pop ballad and the first glimpse of the later Tori style we are familiar with. The lyrics and vocals are great here and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. There is a strange fade out to bagpipes in the last 47 seconds for some reason.
Ok, here’s the official video of The Big Picture:
Here’s “Floating City” (two styles). First one is a video somebody put together of the original version (and quite a good job I must say) the second is Tori embracing the past failure, learning from it and performing it live in 2015. Only Tori can do this:
Here’s Heart Attack at 23: https://youtu.be/X-469tgMcmc
Here’s a little bonus of stuff long before this first album from Tori Amos: