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Boys for Pele (Deluxe)

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Album Review

Boys for Pele is the harshest and most challenging work in Tori Amos' catalog. However, it also stands as the most cathartic, nourishing, and artistically thrilling of her career. Birthed in the wake of a devastating breakup, Pele is a sprawling ode to the feminine, conjured in a whirlwind of pain that forced Amos to embark on a quest into the dark unknown to find the fire within that had been snuffed out by the men in her life. After her breakthrough confessional Little Earthquakes and the delicate impressions of Under the Pink, Amos struck out on her own for the first time, unfettered and uncompromised. Pele would be her debut at the helm as sole producer, a control she would maintain for the rest of her career. With that power, Amos was free to exorcize the demons as she saw fit. She did so with new additions to her arsenal: a harpsichord, brass flourishes, a choir, labyrinthine lyrics, and a pantheon of spirits summoned in the Louisiana bayou and the Irish countryside. It was a jarring shift. While unflinching songs like "Me and a Gun," "God," "Icicle," and "The Waitress" flirted with what was to come, Pele delved directly into the darkness, cleansing both her and the listener in ways that she hadn't before attempted. Like hitting an exposed nerve or an open wound, the rawness was striking. Following the sparse opener "Beauty Queen/Horses," the discord on "Blood Roses" shocks Pele to life with medieval harpsichord magic. That electricity surges throughout, most notably on "Professional Widow," a powerful dose of industrial-piano ferocity that holds nothing back in its demands for peace, love, and a little something extra. When her rage is restrained, the pain seeps through in quiet moments of devastation like "Hey Jupiter," "Putting the Damage On," "Doughnut Song," and the utterly heartbreaking "Marianne." While the first half of Pele houses the more immediate numbers, the back end of the LP provides rewards for the patient listener. From the rousing "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" to the funky "Little Amsterdam," Amos slowly crawls out from the underworld, nourishing her spirit with a Southern gospel choir on "Way Down" and finding bittersweet solace on "Twinkle." Although the album runs long — and is emotionally exhausting in scope — the shared journey is part of the experience, as listeners play the Dante to Amos' Virgil. Boys for Pele remains one of her very best works, timeless in its examination of pain, self-discovery, and acceptance. [The 2016 remastered Deluxe version offers slight improvements to the original recordings, bolstering the background effects and amplifying much of the low end, especially in the quieter spaces on "Hey Jupiter," "Muhammad My Friend," "Little Amsterdam," and "Putting the Damage On." However, unlike the revisions found on Tales of a Librarian, these refinements don't alter much. Except for the curious exclusion of "Samurai," the bonus disc compiles all the previously released B-sides from this prolific era — even Armand van Helden's jarring "Professional Widow" remix — as well as the live tracks found on the Hey Jupiter EP. For longtime fans, the most exciting inclusion is the legendary "To the Fair Motormaids of Japan." While the new "Talula" mix and the "Voodoo" snippet of "Rookery Ending" will please the completist crowd, "Motormaids" is good enough to warrant inclusion on the original album, sonically falling somewhere alongside "Cooling," "Doughnut Song," or even an Under the Pink B-side. These additional resources provide an even deeper insight into both Amos' psyche during the Pele years (especially on "Hungarian Wedding Song"), as well as the atmosphere in the studios during these sessions (like on the revealing "Amazing Grace/Til the Chicken," which features George Porter, Jr. and a brief allusion to the opening chords of "Past the Mission"). Even for fans who already own the bulk of this material, the reissue is worthwhile for these new glimpses into one of Amos' most defining and honest eras.] ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Conflake Girl reclaims her fire

Part concept album, part breakup record, Boys for Pele is a seminal work from Amos, who steps capably into the role of producer on this album, and though you'll find brass bands, choirs and yes, the inevitable cow bell, this is not your typical third album self indulgence but an artist marking a very specific, singular and personal work. She traces the bloodline of the piano back to the harpsichord & plugs it in, creating an electric yet baroque sound you can hear to visceral effect on songs such as 'Blood Roses' & 'Professional Widow'. Her ability to write earnestly in the confessional mode is as strong here as on previous efforts, particularily with the moving 'Marianne' & 'Donut Song'. For an 18 track album there is surprisngly little filler, some of the shorter numbers fall somewhere in the place between skits on a rap album and tonal shift markers, but no one can imagine Boys for Pele without 'Mr. Zebra'. Still, It's hard to deny the amazing six song streak that opens the album, each vintage Tori; melodic, hooky, lyrical and compelling. Looking back now over the 20 years since the albums release you can see an artist absolutely at their zenith, her musicianship is focused, her voice soars, she is confident enough to experiment and skilled enough to turn those experiments into reckonings. Fans of Amos aren't looking for the dilution that makes more watery hits, nor do they shy away from challenging or idiosyncratic wor; this piece, perhaps her most focused and certainly her most ambitious, rewards the listener who craves unique music that surprises as it pleases.

😃 B-sides Galore 😃

AWESOME... It's wonderful to see that the "Powers That Be" have given this album of supreme musical achievement the "Royal Treatment". Tori Amos is an artist who is known not only for her full length album contributions, but also for her "hidden gems" that could be found on her maxi singles which were not included on her albums in the 90's. Tori's fans, new & old alike, now have the opportunity to hear her digitally remastered material the way she had always meant for us to hear the music... ENJOY!


Amazing! It's a masterpiece!


Born: August 22, 1963 in Newton, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos) was one of several female singer/songwriters who combined the stark, lyrical attack of alternative rock with a distinctly '70s musical approach, creating music that fell between the orchestrated meditations of Kate Bush and the stripped-down poetics of Joni Mitchell. In addition, she revived the singer/songwriter traditions of the '70s while re-establishing the piano as a rock & roll instrument. With her 1992 album Little Earthquakes, Amos built a dedicated following...
Full Bio
Boys for Pele (Deluxe), Tori Amos
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  • $17.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock, Adult Alternative
  • Released: Jan 22, 1996

Customer Ratings


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