TORI AMOS

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A few years before her rebirth as an arty alt-rock demigoddess in 1992, Tori Amos recorded an album in 1988 called Y Kant Tori Read. This was also the name of the band; Ms. Amos is billed only as "Tori" in the credits. The name Y Kant Tori Read was a joking reference to the talented pianist's inability to read sheet music. Other musicians who participated in the recording include at least two of her future cohorts (guitarist Steve Caton and Brazilian percussionist Paulinho Da Costa) as well as Matt Sorum (then-drummer for the Cult and later for Guns N' Roses and its offshoots), Steve Farris (former Mr. Mister guitarist), jazz musicians Peter White and Tim Landers, and one Zobbin Rander (an obvious pseudonym for Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander). The album was a failure in its day, and sank without a trace by the time Amos' solo debut Little Earthquakes arrived in 1992. Until 2017, Amos had disowned the album, and it was kept out of print at her request. In September of 2017, the album was finally released digitally, in newly remastered form. On Record Store Day Black Friday of 2017, the album will be given a limited physical release, with 4,000 copies issued on LP and 3,500 issued on CD.



The music of Y Kant Tori Read bears little resemblance to anything that Amos has done since. Although her Kate Bush-like vocals are recognizable, the only songs that suggest her future piano-dominated style are "Fire On The Side" (a song about adultery), the opening seconds of "Heart Attack At 23", and bits and pieces of the "Etienne Trilogy" that closes the album. The rest of the songs are reminiscent of several '80's female pop-rock acts (i.e. Heart, Bonnie Tyler, Vixen) with a few borrowed stylings from Robert Plant's solo albums. There are occasional signs of Tori's future persona trying to break out; for example, it's not too surprising that "Cool On Your Island" eventually found its way back into her repertoire. But too many of the clumsily overproduced tracks are bogged down in redundant synthesizer noise that is annoying and inappropriate. Y Kant Tori Read is a badly aged relic of the hair-band era, but it does now have its admirers among Amos' fan base, and it may have some appeal for retro-'80's enthusiasts.


Track Listing:

1. The Big Picture
2. Cool On Your Island
3. Fayth
4. Fire On The Side
5. Pirates
6. Floating City
7. Heart Attack At 23
8. On The Boundary
9. You Go To My Head
10. Etienne Trilogy:
-- a. The Highlands
-- b. Etienne
-- c. Skyeboat Song


Three decades after the fact, another recording from the Y Kant Tori Read band surfaced on the internet, made up of five songs from a one-sided demo cassette. This demo tape was recorded in 1985, by a lineup consisting of Amos, Caton, Sorum, and bassist Brad Cobb (who was playing with Stryper by the time Y Kant Tori Read recorded their 1988 album). The demo was submitted to Warner Brothers, and was stashed away by the label until 2016, when it was sold on eBay for approximately $200. The typewritten words in the cassette inlay credited the tape to "Tori Ellen Amos & Her Band Named: Y Kant Tori Read".

If the Y Kant Tori Read album bears the dated stamp of the late-'80's, the 1985 demo cassette makes the band sound as though they were aiming for the equally synth-driven pop-rock market of that decade's earlier half. Although the usual Kate Bush similarities do seem to be present, the songs on this demo tape come across like an Americanized variation on Bush's quirky early-'80's albums, making the material more reminiscent of Quarterflash and Missing Persons. Amos plays a synthesizer on these tracks, but the instrument is usually not dominant, showing that Y Kant Tori Read truly was a band effort, rather than just a vehicle for the future star as the eventual album's cover art would suggest. In fact, Caton steals at least two of the songs ("Friends?", "Looking For Eldorado") with his guitar work, and the entire band blends well together on "I Don't Know How To Leave You", which is the song that displays Amos' synth-playing to the best effect. Not to say that this material is any good, but these demos at least come off better than the overproduced Y Kant Tori Read album. The hard rock edge of "Trail Of Tears" gives the politically-charged song the most immediacy of the five.


1985 Demo Cassette Track Listing:

1. Trail Of Tears
2. The Lonely Parade
3. Friends?
4. Looking For Eldorado
5. I Don't Know How To Leave You

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