Volume 95, Issue 23

Friday, October 12, 2001
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Grayline puts the fun back into rock

Disc of the Week

Chancey Smith's: Great food with attitude

Tori and Live break the silence

Gazette Comics

Tori and Live break the silence

Tori Amos
Strange Little Girls


Four stars (out of five)

Tori Amos' new cover album seems to be less a tribute and more a critique of modern American culture.

Remakes of Eminem's "'97 Bonnie and Clyde," The Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun," Lou Reed's "New Age" and Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" simultaneously combine Amos' melancholic melodies with political angst, creating a statement clearly borne out of activist concern.

As she showed on her previous albums Boys for Pele, From a Choirgirl Hotel and To Venus and Back, Amos has moved beyond the simple vocal-piano formula and now includes such things as wurlitzers, PJ Harney-esque rants and tribal drums.

Courageously, Strange Little Girls even dubs the voices of both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush to successfully critique the Second Amendment, United States citizens' long protected and highly controversial right to bear arms.

Despite the grand spectrum of adaptations, Amos' unmistakable personality and sound supercedes the boundaries of both genre and time .

Strange Little Girls presents the unexpected and proves that "words like violence, break the silence."

–Sarah Moylan



Four 1/2 stars (out of five)

Many new influences can be found on Live's V, including a brilliant guest appearance by ambient hip-hopper Tricky, whose threatening, growling rap makes an impressive addition to the album's first single, "Simple Creed."

Lead vocalist Ed Kowalczyk delivers the track's positive message with the sincere, insistent urgency missing from the bland rock artists, often heard on modern radio.

Live's ability to blend different styles and influences – like the sounds of hip-hop and East Indian music – with their own mix of spiritual, intellectual rock makes for an ambitious and successful combination.

The use of electronic drum loops instead of manual drums on several tracks also serves to refresh Live's sound.

Kowalczyk had a hand in writing some songs and although his lyrics tend to be borrowed directly from U2 and The Beatles, the words are nonetheless articulate and poetic.

With his passionate delivery, Kowalczyk's vocals are a success. A possible exception to the success is the over-the-top "Like A Soldier," where Kowalczyk promises "go on like a soldier through the storms of love." His attempt at rapping on this track, as well as on "OK?" verge on the theatrical and almost comical.

Nonetheless, one must give Live credit for doing something different and remaining creatively articulate – which is more than one can say for many of the cookie-cutter rock and pop artists on the scene today.

–Maggie Wrobel

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Copyright The Gazette 2001