Tori Amos - Crucify EP
Released July 7th, 1992.
The more time goes on, the more I'm beginning to think that the EP, like the B-side, is a lost art form. How many of you, honestly, own an EP? They were de rigeur throughout the 60s, 70s, and most of the 80s, but now most bands don't even bother with them. You know the most recent EP I bought? Iron Maiden's No More Lies
. It contained the title track, a live version of "Paschendale", and a demo version of "Journeyman". No new material. Come on....that's a single, surely?
In the early 90s, though, a lot of bands understood the importance of the EP, whether they used it to try out new ideas they weren't entirely sure about, to expand on the ideas they'd presented on a recently released album, to give a taster of what's to come, or even simply to tide their fanbase over until their next major release. My Bloody Valentine's Glider
EPs, for instance, is a fantastic example of what EPs can do for a band - delivered months and months before Loveless
, they saw the band coming into their own, and were responsible for an awful lot of the hype surrounding the release of Loveless.
Tori Amos, in her early days, understood the EP. Her first EP, Winter
, whetted the public's appetite for Little Earthquakes
, her solo debut (she's previously been the lead singer of a failed hair metal group called Y Kant Tori Read). Following the release and blanket critical acclaim of that album, she put out an epilogue of sorts in the Crucify
You'd need to be fairly braindead to have not realised that this EP is covers-heavy. One, in particular, caused a bit of a stir. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the song that first brought Tori to the world's attention, having been previously included on the Winter
EP. Remember, of course, that Winter was released in 1991, so Tori's cover appeared whilst the Nirvana original was still fresh and new. It is, needless to say, entirely different to the original. Stylistically, Tori doesn't deviate from the Little Earthquakes
template (one woman and her piano) at all on this EP, but considering how well that served her, and how much her more recent releases have cried out for that level of intimacy, we can't complain.
The benefit of using this style is that it lets Tori draw the natural poetry held within each song right to the surface. As someone who holds an intense hatred for Nevermind
, I was blown away when I first heard her cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for this very reason. Having hated the song for years, I was forced to re-assess it as a decent song that Nirvana ruined through their own ineptitude and lack of confidence.
The other two covers, "Thank You" and "Angie" (Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones respectively), are much the same. Though, in these cases, I'm a big fan of the originals, Tori's versions are still better. Indeed, her re-reading of "Thank You" amounts to a minor revelation - it demolishes Robert Plant's undeserved reputation as an oversexed, Lord Of The Rings-obsessed, uninspired lyricist, and reveals that hey, he can write some pretty da
mn touching stuff when he wants to. This, incidentally, was not Tori's first Zeppelin cover - she'd previously tackled "What Is And What Should Never Be".
The more astute amongst you will have noticed that all of the 3 songs Tori chooses to cover were written and performed, originally, by men. This is a concept Tori would come back to several times in her career, most famously on the full-length covers album Strange Little Girls
. It's also a concept she'd never sound so completely at ease with, and a concept that would never again yield such results as this.
The EP is rounded off with "Winter", taken straight from Little Earthquakes
, and a remix of "Crucify". The latter is fairly pointless as remixes go, choosing only to add some guitars to the equation. The Little Earthquakes
version was brilliant, though, and this isn't that much worse. "Winter", too, remains one of Tori's most glorious constructions, both musically and lyrically. The piano line (recently sampled by Four Tet) is simply wonderful.
is, of course, nowhere near as essential as Little Earthquakes
, an album that may well be the only truly essential female singer-songwriter record ever (though it pains the Kate Bush fanboy inside me to type that). But, it is without a doubt one of the finest EPS I own, and given the price you can pick this up for (sup Amazon, 131 used & new from $1.95), it should a welcome addition to any collection. Provided you're secure in your masculinity, of course.
[b]Within The Genre - 4.5/5
Outside The Genre - 3.5/5
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
Kate Bush - The Kick Inside
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II