Thursday, June 29, 2006

It makes more sense that my second choice was Catwoman, but

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All favorites of mine, you know them all well

So a little more as to why I am so excited about the box set from Tori Amos coming out soon:

We'll start with the packaging. It's deluxe! It resembles a piano! I am a marketer's dream, a fanboy geek and I'm a sucker for fancy schmancy packaging. If you're going to do a box set, you have to make it pretty.

Then there's the track listing. All those alternate versions from Little Earthquakes! Four of them! And the previously unreleased unedited version of Crucify. I am oddly not a fan of the single version that was made more radio friendly and edited in the most bizarre place (the lyric of "please save me, I cry" is truncated to the point of stupidity).

Under The Pink has its fair share of alternate versions too, including probably her finest moment, Yes, Anastasia. I'm sort of glad that Boys For Pele is getting the short shrift as it's my least favourite of her albums. The few songs that are included are my favorites off the album, so that works out. Then she's included the live version of Professional Widow that's titled The Merry Widow Version which is terrifying and brilliant in equal measure.

Disc 3 makes me a little cross, because there's the hateful horrible dance remix of Professional Widow, a remixed version of Bliss and Doughnut Song (two of her best songs) and the live version of Waitress from To Venus & Back which is far too long and way overdone (the other live version from the Past The Mission EP would have been much more welcome).

On Disc 4 there are remixed versions of two of my favorite From The Choirgirl Hotel which again makes me nervous, especially as Playboy Mommy really doesn't need ANY remixing. The final "eh" inclusion comes on the final disc with the remastered and utterly ruined version of Mary from the Tales Of A Librarian compilation from 2003.

But, oh the new songs! Zero Point is finally seeing the light of day! Fans have known of its existence since a liner note in 1999 on To Venus & Back noted that "your time is coming". I was beginning to wonder if it hadn't morphed into another song, like Just Another Dead Fag became Taxi Ride and I'm fairly certain that Freshly Mown Grass became Parasol. And all those demos! And the B-sides! It's all too too much for a geek boy fan. I own every CD single Tori Amos has ever released (even the one she didn't from Strange Little Girls, an album which is noticeable by its absence here) so I am just beside myself that there is a TON of stuff here I have never heard before. If there's full color booklets and picture CDs with it, well I'll be in geek heaven.

Bring it on.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Yes PCB, There IS A Santa Claus

As my blog title would suggest, I am a Tori Amos fan. So you can imagine how beside myself I am to discover this:

A PIANO: THE COLLECTION, will be a five-disc, career-spanning box set consisting of classics, rarities, demos, B-sides and unreleased tracks. And yes, indeed, very exciting news for Toriphiles … Tori will finally introduce us to five very special songs: “Not David Bowie,” “Zero Point,” “Peeping Tommi,” “Ode To My Clothes” and “Dolphin Song.”

Presented in deluxe packaging that resembles a piano’s keyboard, this set will be released by Rhino Records on September 26, 2006, at will be available at regular retail outlets and at the Rhino Records website for a suggested price of $74.98.

Produced by Tori, the career-spanning collection highlights selections from her studio albums as well as b-sides and songs that debuted on Tales of a Librarian. Featuring numerous unreleased songs, the box set contains a total of 86 tracks that combine well-known studio versions with rare alternative mixes, including several songs Tori remixed for this project. A PIANO: THE COLLECTION also offers a revealing and extensive track-by-track commentary penned by Tori, who discusses the inspiration behind the songs and albums and explains why they were chosen for this box set.

The compilation’s first disc includes an extended version of Tori’s 1992 debut, Little Earthquakes. The classic album has been augmented not only with a different song sequence and alternate mixes but it also features it’s four original b-sides “Upside Down,” “Take To The Sky (Russia),” “Sweet Dreams” and an alternate mix of “Flying Dutchman,” as well as the previously unreleased, unedited single version of “Crucify.”

Spotlighting music recorded between 1994 and 1996, the second disc includes songs from Under the Pink and Boys for Pele. The 18 tracks blend original and remixed versions of albums cuts with the b-side “Honey” and “Professional Widow” performed live. Also included is “Take Me With You,” an unreleased song intended for Little Earthquakes. “At the time I just couldn’t finish it,” Tori writes in the liner notes. “When we found it, there were no lyrics to speak of, just music. So you’ll have something partly recorded in 1990 but with a vocal recorded in 2006…”

The third disc also includes songs associated with Boys for Pele plus 1999’s To Venus and Back and Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection. The 15 songs feature original and remixed versions of album tracks as well as “Hey Jupiter” (Dakota Version) and “Professional Widow” (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix). Also featured is “Walk To Dublin (Sucker Reprise),” an unreleased track from the Pele sessions.

From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998), Scarlet’s Walk (2002) and The Beekeeper (2005) are the focus of the fourth disc, which contains 15 songs including original and remixed versions of album tracks. Also featured is the unheard intro for “Marys Of The Sea” from The Beekeeper as well as four previously unreleased songs “Not David Bowie,” “Zero Point,” “Ode To My Clothes” and “Dolphin Song.” In the liner notes, Tori writes: “Some songs seem to have a timeline for when they want to be finished and put out to the world. At the time when we were working on ‘Dolphin Song,’ I had all kinds of ideas for her development after the basic tracking had been done. Instead she got set aside for a while. But once we started to go through the tape library we put ‘Dolphin’ up on the faders again, and I realized we didn’t need to record anything else; it was finished.”

The final disc features 22 tracks spotlighting Tori’s impressive list of renowned b-sides and includes the exclusive digital release “Merman” from 1999. For what could be the most intriguing addition to the collection, Tori invites listeners into her artistic process with a medley of demos for the songs, “Fire-Eater’s Wife/Beauty Queen,” “Playboy Mommy” and “A Sorta Fairytale.” Amos explains in the liner notes: “I’m usually pretty reticent to expose the musical development process…The demo medley was a choice I made so that other songwriters can feel an affinity with the idea that songwriters have to push themselves and not just accept the first incarnation that you are presented with. Each of these three songs are presented here in their completed form somewhere within the box set so you can see conception to development.”

The track listing for A PIANO: THE COLLECTION is as follows:

* = previously unreleased
Disc 1
1. “Leather” (Alternate Mix)
2. “Precious Things” (Alternate Mix)
3. “Silent All These Years”
4. “Upside Down”
5. “Crucify” (Unedited Single Version)*
6. “Happy Phantom”
7. “Me And A Gun”
8. “Flying Dutchman” (Alternate Mix)
9. “Girl”
10. “Winter”
11. “Take To The Sky (Russia)”
12. “Tear In Your Hand”
13. “China”
14. “Sweet Dreams”
15. “Mother” (Alternate Mix)
16. “Little Earthquakes”

Disc 2
1. “Cornflake Girl”
2. “Honey”
3. “Take Me With You”*
4. “Baker Baker” (Alternate Mix)
5. “The Waitress” (Alternate Mix)
6. “Pretty Good Year”
7. “God”
8. “Cloud On My Tongue”
9. “Past The Mission” (Alternate Mix)
10. “Bells For Her”
11. “Yes, Anastasia” (Alternate Mix)
12. “Blood Roses”
13. “Mr. Zebra”
14. “Caught A Lite Sneeze” (Alternate Mix)
15. “Professional Widow” (Merry Widow Version – Live)
16. “Beauty Queen/Horses”
17. “Father Lucifer”
18. “Marianne”

Disc 3
1. “Walk To Dublin” (Sucker Reprise)*
2. “Hey Jupiter” (Dakota Version)
3. “Professional Widow” (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix)
4. “Putting The Damage On”
5. “Bliss” (Remixed Version)
6. “Suede”
7. “Glory Of The 80’s”
8. “1000 Oceans”
9. “Concertina” (Single Remix Version)
10. “Lust”
11. “Datura”
12. “Sugar” (Live from sound check)
13. “The Waitress” (Live)
14. “Snow Cherries From France”
15. “Doughnut Song” (Remixed Version)

Disc 4
1. “A Sorta Fairytale”
2. “Not David Bowie”*
3. “Amber Waves”
4. “Iieee” (Remixed Version)
5. “Playboy Mommy” (Remixed Version)
6. “The Beekeeper”
7. “Jackie’s Strength”
8. “Zero Point”*
9. “Sweet The Sting”
10. “Ode To My Clothes”*
11. “Spark”
12. “Intro Jam”* and “Marys Of The Sea”
13. “Cruel” (Remixed Version)
14. “Dolphin Song”*
15. “Gold Dust”

Disc 5
1. “The Pool”
2. “Never Seen Blue”
3. “Daisy Dead Petals”
4. “Beulah Land”
5. “Sugar”
6. “Cooling”
7. “Bachelorette”
8. “Black Swan”
9. “Mary” (Tales Version)
10. “Peeping Tommi”*
11. “Toodles Mr. Jim”
Demo Medley:
12. “Fire-Eater’s Wife/Beauty Queen” (Demo)*
13. “Playboy Mommy” (Demo)*
14. “A Sorta Fairytale” (Demo)*
15. “This Old Man”
16. “Purple People”
17. “Here. In My Head”
18. “Hungarian Wedding Song”
19. “Merman”
20. “Sister Janet”
21. “Home On The Range” (Cherokee Edition)
22. “Frog On My Toe”

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hard Candy

I realise I haven't posted in a while but you know, I haven't really had anything overly interesting to say since the visa fiasco. But on Wednesday I went to see Hard Candy and it would be remiss of me not to talk about what is easily the best film I have seen this year.

While the most uncomfortable cinematic viewing experience will always and forever be Spanking The Monkey, Hard Candy comes in a very close second. I knew the general gist of the film (teenager turns tables on suspected pedo), but I was not adequately prepared for just how intense, harsh and unforgiving it was going to be. Ellen Page was quite incredible as the teen. She struggled a little in the initial transition from cutesy to raging psychopath but once she hit her stride, there was no stopping her. Patrick Wilson made everyone forget he was in Phantom Of The Opera with his performance here, though he did remind us all that he was in Angels In America. He made his character, a possible pedo and murderer to boot, sympathetic and made you root for him, which is no easy task. The ending resolutely refuses to give any easy answers or explanations, preferring to leave its audience shaken. It's been a LONG time since a film was brave enough to do that. And I say brava.

In other news, the early reviews for Superman Returns have been the universal raves I was both hoping for and expecting. Hopefully when next Wednesday rolls around, the film starts smashing all the opening day records it possibly can and goes on to be the best reviewed AND most successful film of 2006. That would make me very happy.

As for the H-1 visa situation, there is still no firm word on when the Immigration bill is going to be read so at the moment I am just having to wait it out. I did some research and discovered that every other requested increase to the quota has been turned down so I am not that hopeful. I have formulated a good plan B though, which if you look at it from the right angles, the B could sort of stand for Blackmail. I'll reveal all when I have to, but not before........

Thursday, June 08, 2006

H-1, PCB 0.

The quota for this year's H-1 filled up in record time. Before I got one. Awesome. As part of the immigration bill that's about to be read, debated and hopefully passed, the H-1 quota will increase by 50,000 with immediate effect. Companies like Microsoft are threatening that they will relocate entirely overseas if this doesn't happen. As the US economy is in the toilet, I would imagine that kind of pressure has a lot of sway right now. But I can't count on that, so I'm not. If it happens, great. In the meantime however, it's time for Plan B. If only I knew what the fuck Plan B was.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Suck on THAT, Ratner!

I'm being very smug today. Why? X Men: The Last Stand, fresh from shattering box office records LAST week has now suffered the second biggest second weekend drop off ever, beaten only by Ang Lee's Hulk, and the margin is a mere 3 and bit per cent. That'll teach them. Perhaps now Fox will realise just what they gave up in driving Bryan Singer, the jewel in the X crown, away to direct Superman Returns.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

United 93

I went back and forth and back and forth over whether I could see this movie. Is it too soon? Is it right? Will I cope? And so on and so on. In the end I realised that I had to see it for many reasons, not least the fact that nobody seems to have a bad word to say about it.

The film has been made with the utmost care and sensitivity and with the approval and co-operation of the relatives of those on board the flight and those on the ground who watched it all unfold, helplessly aghast. It takes place in real time and is filmed with an immediacy that makes the viewing experience unbearably uncomfortable and entirely gripping all at the same time. What is such an acheivement about this film is that you are left with no doubt that this film is a very important work, a story that needed to be told and immortalised for hundreds of reasons, but it doesn't once batter you about the head shouting "LOOK! WE'RE TELLING AN IMPORTANT STORY!" (something I fear will not be said of Oliver Stone's upcoming World Trade Centre). What's more, without any emotional manipulation or blatant heart string tugging, it reduced me to floods of tears for the last 10-15 minutes and I had trouble recovering myself and stopping the tears while the credits rolled. An absolutely astonishing film, a tricky proposition that paid off and is a fitting tribute to the people who were involved.