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Tori Amos | Fade to Red Video Collection | review | alternative | Lollipop
Fade to Red: Video Collection (Rhino)
by Tim Den
Tori Amos is one of few artists whose music not only doesn't need music videos to be compelling, but whose music videos are able to match the intensity contained within the songs by tastefully rendering her brilliant metaphors and haunting imagery. Fade to Red: Video Collection gathers (almost) all of her videos throughout her illustrious career, from '92's landmark Little Earthquakes to last year's The Beekeeper. Some are stoic and dignified ("Silent All These Years," "Pretty Good Year," "China," "Winter") while others an explosion of the senses ("Raspberry Swirl"), but never do they betray the mood and nature of the songs. Standouts include the close-up of her face as she sings "when you gonna make up your mind? When you gonna love you as much as I do?" in "Winter" - magnifying and freeze-framing a lifetime's worth of emotions into those few seconds - as well as the scene in "Past the Mission" where, in a vague gesture of both liberation and surrender, an entire village's women lay down under Tori's command in front of a priest. Powerful manifestations of the messages embedded in her playful, multi-faceted verses.
My favorites, though, come from From the Choirgirl Hotel (my favorite album of hers). "Jackie's Strength" - the song and the video - uses a post-assassination Jackie Kennedy as both a blanket metaphor for courage, as well as a microcosm of many people's inner battles, as Tori somehow weaves multiple lives into the tapestry that is the song's title. Who else has the lyricality, imagination, and daring to tackle such a feat? She is a master at the peak of her game. "Spark," the opener of From a Choirgirl Hotel, is executed with fewer layers as Tori plays a beautiful abductee fleeing for her life. The way the colors are saturated and the shots are choreographed to the music are just splendid: A thrilling emotional rollercoaster ride.
Another clip worth mentioning is "A Sorta Fairytale," from her '02 album, Scarlet's Walk. I dare say it is THE video where literal interpretation and obscure metaphors pull equal weight. Tori and co-star Adrien Brody play characters whose emotional states mirror those of their outer appearance: An incomplete leg-and-head for Tori, arm-and-head for Adrien. As they fumble to understand each other, they are eventually united on a beach, where a kiss fills out the rest of their incomplete selves. Though, at first viewing, the morbid forms that the main characters appear in might hinder you from seeing the video's true beauty, repeated viewings will assure you that its message is beautiful and moving. Check out the bonus feature where the director of the clip, Tori, and several crew members talk about the approach and significance of the video.
And, of course, the one constant in every video is the expressiveness of Tori herself. Truly, few other performers muster so wide a spectrum as she, as every ripple of her lips, grinning of her teeth, lifting of her brow, and shutting of her eyelids accentuates the pace and essence of the music and lyrics. She is simultaneously playful, flirtatious, vulnerable, mysterious, scornful, disciplinary, independent, and a sex symbol to be worshipped. What's more, she has remained absolutely gorgeous with age, untouched by the passing of time. The curve of her smile still melts this man's heart as it first did years ago.
I could go on forever, but further praise of this woman's ability to intertwine ungodly melody and words shall be saved for another time. Fade to Red: Video Collection is a must for anyone who is a fan, or wishes to enter and be enraptured by one of the most talented musicians of the last 20 years.