To Venus and Back

Last updated

To Venus and Back
Tori2.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 20, 1999
Recorded Cornwall
Genre Trip hop [1]
LengthDisc one: 47:49
Disc two: 75:33
Label Atlantic (US), East West (Europe)
Producer Tori Amos
Tori Amos chronology
From the Choirgirl Hotel
(1998)
To Venus and Back
(1999)
Strange Little Girls
(2001)
Tori Amos live chronology
To Venus and Back
(1999)
The Original Bootlegs
(2005)
Singles from To Venus and Back
  1. "Bliss"
    Released: August 24, 1999
  2. "1000 Oceans"
    Released: September 9, 1999
  3. "Glory of the 80's"
    Released: October 11, 1999
  4. "Concertina"
    Released: February 8, 2000

To Venus and Back, the fifth album released by singer and songwriter Tori Amos, is a two-disc album set including a studio album and a live album. The first disc, titled Venus: Orbiting, features eleven original songs that find Amos experimenting heavily in electronica. It spawned the singles "Bliss", "1000 Oceans", "Glory of the 80's" (Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe only), and "Concertina" (US only). The second disc, Venus Live, Still Orbiting, is a thirteen-track album compiling live tracks recorded from her Plugged '98 tour. This is the first official live release of Amos's career.

Contents

Background

To Venus and Back, which began life as a proposed B-sides album, is sparser both in production and arrangement than From the Choirgirl Hotel, but is similar to its predecessor in that it features overt electronica influences and a relatively subdued piano sound. The album finds Amos's voice and piano subverted in a sonic maze of electronic washes and effects, and some songs, notably "Juárez" and the epic "Dātura" are largely built around these effects. Topics covered on the album include unsolved murdered female maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juárez on the US–Mexico border, hallucinogenic plants, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

In November 1999, Tori Amos was quoted by Pulse Magazine as saying that this record says a lot about the shadows and the shadow world.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [2]
The A.V. Club (favourable) [3]
Entertainment Weekly B [4]
NME (mixed) [5]
Nude as the News(favourable) [6]
PopMatters (6/10) [7]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg 11/1999 (p.116)
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [8]

The studio disc of To Venus and Back is recognized as one of Amos's most experimental yet melodic, and received mixed reviews. Some critics praised its originality, innovation and unpredictable song structures, [5] [8] with one reviewer describing the album as having "some of the best vocals of her career, embedded in modern, special-effects-laden soundscapes that move from electronica-spiced piano pop and hip-hop to ambient space music", [9] while others begrudged the album because of its overuse of electronic instruments and lack of Amos's trademark simplistic sound, [7] [10] most present on albums such as Little Earthquakes (1992) and Under the Pink (1994).

The album received two 2000 Grammy Award nominations: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Bliss" and Best Alternative Music Album.

Commercial performance

To Venus and Back, priced higher than Amos's previous releases because of its two-disc format, sold 112,000 copies in the US in its first week and debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200, number 18 on the Top Canadian Albums, and number 22 on the UK Top 40 , [11] [12] [13] breaking her run of three consecutive UK Top 10 albums.

Two months after its release in November 1999, the album achieved RIAA Certification, reaching Gold and Platinum sales status simultaneously, [14] due to the release being a double CD set. To Venus and Back remained on the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks, with its final position at # 189 for the week of January 8, 2000, before falling off the chart. [15] As of May 2008, the album has sold 458,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan. [16]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Tori Amos.

Disc one – Venus: Orbiting
No.TitleLength
1."Bliss"3:42
2."Juárez"3:48
3."Concertina"3:56
4."Glory of the 80's"4:03
5."Lust"3:54
6."Suede"4:58
7."Josephine"2:30
8."Riot Poof"3:28
9."Dātura"8:25
10."Spring Haze"4:44
11."1000 Oceans"4:19
Disc two – Venus Live, Still Orbiting
No.TitleLength
1."Precious Things"7:37
2."Cruel"6:47
3."Cornflake Girl"6:31
4."Bells for Her"5:42
5."Girl"4:15
6."Cooling"5:09
7."Mr. Zebra"1:17
8."Cloud on My Tongue"4:58
9."Sugar"5:10
10."Little Earthquakes"7:37
11."Space Dog"5:46
12."Waitress"10:24
13."Purple People"4:11

B-sides

Given the conditions under which the album was created, To Venus and Back is unique in that it does not have any studio tracks that serve as B-sides. Instead the album's singles are backed by live tracks recorded from the previous year's tour.

TitleLengthSingle
"Hey Jupiter" (live)4:32"Bliss" (1999)
"Upside Down" (live)5:47
"Baker, Baker" (live)3:54"1000 Oceans" (1999)
"Winter" (live)6:59
"Famous Blue Raincoat" (live)5:25"Glory of the 80's" (UK) (1999) /

"Concertina" (US) (2000)

"Twinkle" (live)2:48

Following the theme of the album's second disc, which is composed of live tracks arranged similarly to an actual concert, the B-sides that appear on the album's singles are live songs performed solo with Amos on the piano. The chart above lists only the songs that were released as B-sides on singles from To Venus and Back.

The sole track recorded during the To Venus and Back recording sessions that does not appear on the album, nor as a B-side, is the nine-minute "Zero Point". Of the song's exclusion from the album, Amos has said that the song wasn't intentionally left off the album, rather an over-sensitivity about a certain gardening issue led "Dātura" to being included instead. [17] The liner notes of To Venus and Back state, "Zero Point - your time is coming". The song was released seven years later on A Piano: The Collection (2006).

Personnel

Charts

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA) [32] Platinum1,000,000^
Summaries

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Tour

The album was supported by a short tour in 1999, the "Five and a Half Weeks Tour", which Amos co-headlined with Alanis Morissette beginning a month prior to the release of To Venus and Back. Many referred to Amos as the "opening act" for Morissette because she always performed first; however, this was due only to the logistics of setting up a grand piano for performance. An Amos-only stint, the "To Dallas and Back" tour, also took place, but promotional plans were cut when Amos suffered her third miscarriage in November 1999.

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