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American Doll Posse
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Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Yo George|
|2. Big Wheel|
|3. Bouncing off Clouds|
|4. Teenage Hustling|
|5. Digital Ghost|
|6. You Can Bring Your Dog|
|7. Mr. Bad Man|
|8. Fat Slut|
|9. Girl Disappearing|
|10. Secret Spell|
|11. Devils and Gods|
|12. Body and Soul|
|13. Fathers Son|
|14. Programmable Soda|
|15. Code Red|
|16. Roosterspur Bridge|
|17. Beauty of Speed|
|18. Almost Rosey|
|19. Velvet Revolution|
|20. Dark Side of the Sun|
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Tori Amos returns with her 9th studio album, American Doll Posse, which was written and produced by Tori at Martian Engineering in Cornwall, England and is another impressive addition to an already amazing catalog of masterpieces.
In an era of digital downloads and singles, Tori Amos embraces the concept album in a sprawling 23-song oratorio. Firing across the American psychological, social, and political landscape, she takes on the state of the world, war, and feminism. To help her, she adopts five personas--her American Doll Posse--who take their characteristics from Greek gods, but not their names: Clyde, Pip, Isabel, Santa, and Tori. You need a scorecard to keep track, but don't worry. It's still Tori Amos, bending syllables in improbable pretzels with rippling piano themes and choruses that threaten to go Broadway at any moment. Amos vents her political spleen through "Isabel," leaving no doubt as to her targets on tracks like "Yo George," and comments on our impersonal age and computer addiction with "Digital Ghost." That's sung by the character "Tori," who is reputedly based on Demeter and Dionysus, representing the split between Amos's earth-mother side and her wilder, more libertine tendencies. Anti-war and pro-feminist themes are plastered across American Doll Posse like sloganeering posters. "Dark Side of the Sun" laments both sides of the war, including the Islamists who lay down their lives "for some sick promise of heaven." Amos adopts a big '80s rock sound on many tracks, with guitarist Mac Aladdin pealing off Brian May-style guitar licks over an arena-rock beat. It's where Amos details a more personal sound that American Doll Posse leaves a lasting impression. "Girl Disappearing," sung by "Clyde," holds echoes of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," not only because of the string quartet and nostalgic tone, but the updated tale of a woman losing herself. "Smokey Joe" brims with dark atmospheres, Robert Fripp-like guitar sustains, and Amos's most elaborate vocal arrangements, interweaving two sets of lyrics for "Pip." More than a concept album, American Doll Posse is a convergence experience, mixing online blogs from each character, videos, MySpace sites, and more. --John Diliberto
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition to that the packaging & artistic development of the cover, pamphlet etc. as always set the tone for a typical Tori CD; she just envelopes you into her world for the duration of the CD to it's completion. You are basically opening up a DVD with every CD whether it comes with one or not...she is that much an accomplished storyteller. Yet it is always done with an air of mystery, with disguises, intent and a ferocious desire to be heard & understood. The core of all of humanity.
The songs that I loved, loved, loved the most on this CD are:
1.Yo George: Obviously a clear reference to George Bush and his political invasion of Iraq. What a clever way she has of attempting to somewhat disguise what she's really saying into a musical jigsaw puzzle for us to piece together into our own interpretation.Read more ›
The Tori Amos fans who found the sadly underrated "The Beekeeper" album too sweet and serene for its own good (something which I'll never understand) will likely be happy about "American Doll Posse". It's an album full of attitude, of different textures and atmospheres, slightly more upbeat than many of her albums, that covers most of the bases associated with Tori Amos - politically incorrect, intensely sexual, instrospective philosopher, spiritual awakener, piano goddess. All of these facets of Tori's persona are embodied by the five different characters who compose the album's title and who are featured extensively in the album's booklet, and it's a musical ride that's both complex and fulfilling. The production is lush but never distracts the listener from the essence of Tori's music - her haunting voice and piano playing - and alternates between flat-out rock ("Teenage hustling", "You can bring your dog", the excellent first single "Big wheel", "Body and soul", "Bouncing off clouds"), piano-driven atmospheric numbers ("Code red", "Smokey Joe", "Father's son","Dark side of the sun", "Girl disappearing"), eastern influences ("Velvet revolution", "Devils and gods"), piano and vocal numbers (the politically explicit "Yo George", "Roosterspur bridge", "Dragon").Read more ›
(That being said -- it's perfectly clear why the bonus tracks "Drive All Night," "Miracle" and "My Posse Can Do" are subpar, and that's why they're not here . . . except for the last one, which comes on the 8 minute DVD).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
POSSE is clearly Tori's most politically-themed album to date and I think she handles it with the right amount of subtlety without being too preachy. For as political as "Dark Side of the Sun" is, it's an amazingly beautiful song that nearly brings me to tears each time I hear it. I think that if an artist is going to release political music, it needs to be supported in some respect. Tori doesn't just wail "impeach Bush" she makes sharp observations such as "you have the whole nation on all fours," "you say you're not bothered to lie beneath pigs, then go on Laura, here's a flower for your grave" and offers some solutions, "I'll save you from that Sunday sermon, Boy I think you need a conversion." Her pain and sadness over an unjustified war is unmistakably evident. She's also clearly not a "W" fan yet she's passionate enough about her position to back it up, and herein lies the secret of the album's success: she's passionate about it. While I've liked her recent work (most of 2002's SCARLET'S WALK and about half of 2005's THE BEEKEEPER) the problem with those works is that they weren't always cohesive (possibly due to them being too long) and she didn't seem overly passionate about all aspects of them.
POSSE isn't just glam rock and political statements, which will surely appeal to the many Tori fans who worship her first (two) album(s). POSSE includes some "old-school" Tori sounds that are some of her most beautiful songs to date. The sonically subdued but vocally rich "Father's Son" could easily reside with the girls from 1994's UNDER THE PINK and a less percussion-intensive "Beauty of Speed" could pass as an alumnae from 1992's LITTLE EARTHQUAKES. The album also offers beautiful, emotion-filled songs from a contemporary Tori, which is important because all artists must evolve. "Roosterspur Bridge" and "Almost Rosey" are such tracks that remind us our piano goddess is still creating.
Despite how much I enjoy the "classic" tracks, I feel they are overshadowed by the real gems of the album, the rougher tracks such as "Teenage Hustling," "Code Red," the initial single "Big Wheel," and my already-favorite "Body and Soul". These songs are so full of energy and emotion, and they demonstrate how multifaceted Tori continues to be, while drawing from the musical inspiration that is at the core of her being. Another strong point for POSSE is that the songs are quite diverse, yet they compliment each other very well, the softer tracks balancing the harder tracks balancing even the pop, radio-friendly tracks such as "Bouncing off Clouds" and "Secret Spell." I hope fans of Tori's early works listen to and appreciate POSSE for the sonic menagerie that it is, but there will no doubt be people who don't think the POSSE lyrics are esoteric enough and that the overall tone of the album isn't EARTHQUAKES enough. Time will tell how well this album bodes with both the EWF and non-EWF crowd, but I think Tori has managed to do what she hasn't done in a long time: create a solid and musically satisfying album (even if it's 23-tracks long) that she's passionate about while continuously evolving musically and clearly re-creating herself.
Maybe that's partly because, in an age where the commercial single has all but died in most parts of the world, Amos no longer has b-sides as an outlet for the overflow of songs that seems to result most times she goes to the studio. But it would be a mistake to simply assume that ADP is a shorter album buried amongst b-sides. All successful musicians have to shape their impulses to fit what the market requires of them - Bach didn't write hundreds of cantatas just because he liked writing cantatas, but because he was paid to write church music. When he had an employer who loved instrumental music, that's what he wrote.
So, the market no longer wants b-sides and the personal mp3 playlist is king. Amos' response has been to create bigger albums. Do they work? Well, obviously it's partly a matter of opinion. But there tends to be an agreement among fans that the long, continuous thread of Scarlet's Walk worked somewhat better than the scattershot sweetness of The Beekeeper.
What about American Doll Posse? Is it a sprawling mess of an album? Arguably yes, although any sense of excess is helped by regarding it as a 20-track album, with 3 bonus tracks that just happen to be riding on the same physical disc. But it's a GLORIOUS, exhilarating mess.
The album starts deceptively with Yo George which, while lyrically pointed, is musically very reserved and almost polite. It gives no hint of the sudden burst of energy that unleashes Big Wheel, Bouncing Off Clouds and (after briefly lulling the listener into a false sense of security) the aggressive Teenage Hustling. Amos hasn't sounded this animated for close to a decade.
After that the tempo settles down a bit, but the energy level stays high. Part of that is because she sounds like she's having FUN. She clearly relishes throwing herself into forceful numbers like Teenage Hustling and Body and Soul, or the blatant swagger of You Can Bring Your Dog. There's plenty of humour in that track, Big Wheel and Mr. Bad Man, if only you're willing to hear it. This isn't the coolly analytical Amos that brought us the Strange Little Girls cover album. More than ever before, this is Amos the entertainer, urging us to get caught up in the moment.
There are moments of seriousness and repose as well, such as Father's Son and Girl Disappearing, the latter featuring a beautiful string quartet accompaniment. And Amos has included a fair number of lyrics referring to wars and bombs, especially in the songs that are credited to `Isabel'.
Ah yes, the concept. It seems that no Tori Amos album is allowed to go without one these days. In this case, it's best to regard it as a `take it or leave it' deal. If it helps you, use it, and if it doesn't then it can be quite safely put to one side. Amos has confessed in at least one interview that this time around, the songs came first. Really, the concept of five different singers is best regarded as a kind of acknowledgment that ADP covers a number of diverse styles, and a guide through the maze. And there does seem to be a degree of legitimacy in Amos' decision to demarcate the different approaches. For instance, there's a noticeable contrast between the dark aggressive singing of `Pip' and the higher-pitched, slightly pained emotionalism of `Clyde'. As different members of the posse enter and leave the stage, the album sometimes changes tack quite dramatically.
It's the sheer diversity of ADP that's likely to make it a hit-and-miss affair for a lot of listeners. Some people know what they like, style-wise, and what they DON'T like, and never the twain shall meet. You can lead a horse to water, so to speak.
But if you're the kind of person who enjoys a sense of restless exploration; if part of why you're even interested in a Tori Amos album is because she's refused to stick with the `girl and a piano' label she was so unfairly slapped with by lazy journalists and fans; if you can cope with jumbled yet inspired kaleidoscopes that hearken back to the Beatles' White Album, then American Doll Posse is going to give you quite a ride.
On "American Doll Posse" (23 tracks; 79 min.), Tori brings a (vinyl) double-album's worth of music, presented by 5 characters (Pip, Isabelle, CLyde, Santa and Tori). Things start off poorly, with "Yo George", a lame and predictable rant (yes, we get it), but then immediately kick into overdrive with "Big Wheel" and "Bouncing Off Clouds", two hard-charging songs (and singles) that are miles better than anything on "The Beekeeper". "Digital Ghosts" and "Your Can Bring Your Own Dog" round out an overall very good Side 1. From there on, though, it becomes a pick-and-choose affair. There's the excellent excellent "Girls Disappearing", followed by a mediocre "Secret Spell" on Side 2, and up and down and up again it goes. The epic "Code Red" is the highlight on Side 3. By the time Side 4 rolls around, I am fighting fatigue due to the lenght of this album, although "Dark Side of the Moon" is another stand-out.
"American Doll Posse" is certainly not a bad album, but once again Tori is victim of her own over-ambitiousness, and there was nobody to rein her in, as Tori serves as her own producer. This could've been an absolute knock-out album, had about 1/3 of the songs been set aside for some other purpose (singles B-sides, fan-friendly downloads, and the like). As on previous Tori albums, Matt Chamerlain (drums) and Jon Evans (bass) provide outstanding musical backup.
As to the bonus DVD, please save your money! The DVD runs a mere 8 min. (and that's not a typo), and for that you get one extra track ("My Posse Can Do", set to still photographs you find in the album's booklet), and a 5 min. behind the scenes look at the photo-shoot of the various "American Doll Posse" characters (from the looks of it, this was done at Tori's house in England). And that's it.
Amos wouldn't be Amos without building her record around an eccentric concept. Throughout the bulky list of twenty-three tracks (including 5 interludes) changes of mood, tempo and subject recur forthrightly, owed to the differing perspectives of 5 characters Amos has concocted for her "posse": Clyde, Isabel, Pip, Santa and of course Tori, all of whom are credited in the liner notes. The categorizing of the tracks in this manner, though much more discernible than the grouping of songs on 2005's "The Beekeeper" into six different "gardens," is unnecessary for the enjoyment of the album.
Beginning with the coolly cryptic "Yo George" ("Is this just the Madness of King George?/Yo George, well you have the whole Nation o all fours."), she then whips into the fast-paced lead single "Big Wheel" which finds her breaking free of a man who hinders her self-expression with its self-assured lyrics. The romantic protestation of "Bouncing off Clous" follows, a gigantic wave of instrumentation geared to sweep listeners off their feet and carry them off. Romance succeeds, however, in the cheeky "You Can Bring Your Dog."
"Girl Disappearing" may be the most culturally relevant track on the disc. Spotlighting the repercussions of tabloid culture, Amos muses on the war women wage against each others. never fumbles her message.
"Envy can spread herself so thin/She slipped it in before I could notice it/In my own war, blood in the cherry zone/When they pit woman against feminist/Riding on backs of palominos/Ditching the blond shell/Working her hell on that red carpet."
This with songs like the bitterly sarcastic "Mr. Bad Man" or the curiously titled "Programmable Soda." The best is "Secret Spell," with its widescreen, epic melody that finds beauty in a clean slate, even if love has abruptly met an end.
Religious commentary comes with "Father's Son" and the anxious, seething "Body and Soul." She also continues to wage criticism on President Bush in the likes of "Code Red" and "Dark Side of the Sun," the latter of which cuts to the heart of the matter: "So how many young men have to lay down/Their life and their love of their woman/For some sick promise of a heaven?" She even manages to send a message to Laura Bush in "Posse Bonus."
Moments of pure wisdom and grace abound in lines like "Sometimes I think, I think I understand/The Fear in the boy/The Fire in the man" in "Roosterspur Bridge" or "My dark twin, the annihilating Feminine, does not need civilizing" in "Smokey Joe."
The most evocative moment is the unflinchingly rapturous "Almost Rosey." Her most gorgeous, mercurial melody to date married with melancholy observations ("Just why do they say "Have a nice day." anyway/We both know they wouldn't mind if I just curled up and died."), it pieces together an intriguing story of the pitfalls of love and life.
She wraps things up with "Dragon," where one woman confronts another about her past while comforting her as well, telling her to "just stay awhile" since "they forgot about the power of a woman's love."
If feminism is in dire straits as of late, Amos gives it a warm embrace with "American Doll Posse" without resorting to undue stereotypes. In such a time as 2007, she is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The limited edition contains an 8-minute bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes footage and an additional track, "My Posse Can Do."
However, I do give Tori an enormous amount of credit for expanding her musicality and trying different styles of music (spanish troubador, 70's glam rock) and adding guitar and strings. I think having a "musically full" sound is a good idea. But adding instruments and overdubs is kind of like frosting on top of a cake - a little bit is good, a whole lot is not. There was waaaay too much icing on this cake, and entire effect sounded overwrought, earnest and way overdone, especially the overdubs. I think this is going to hurt her, too, when she tours, as she'll be forced to do a lot of "karaoke" singing to taped background vocals.
Concept albums can be great; regretably, this one is middling. Tori has already channeled other people and created a cd from it - Strange Little Girls. This time with Posse, the results are actually worse, because for better or worse, it feels a bit like a re-tread of SLG.
In a way I feel sorry for Tori because she wants to be fresh, original, and cutting edge. I mean, who else creates characters on a cd and then gives them each blogs? At the end of the day, I could care less about the concept, it's the lyrics and music that will draw me in, and continue to make me play it again and again. And this is where the album failed me.
It does have some inspired moments - "Girl Disappearing" is beautiful, "Digital Ghost" music is excellent (although the lyrics are lame, lame, lame) and "Big Wheel" is bouncy and great - but most were disappointing.
Posse is like panning for gold - sometimes you find that nugget of gold, but most times you don't. And unless you're a major Tori fan, I can't recommend it.