To Venus and Back

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["Bliss" is] not just about the biological father, but also the authority figure, whoever it is that I put in that position. "Bliss" is really about control, and about certain things in our DNA that you can't use a strainer to get rid of. You can't separate completely from whoever made you, because they're a part of you. [3]

Other topics covered on the album include unsolved murdered female maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juárez on the US–Mexico border ("Juárez"), hallucinogenic plants ("Dātura"), and Napoleon Bonaparte ("Josephine").

The renditions of "Sugar" and "Purple People" on Venus Live, Still Orbiting come from a soundcheck. Both tracks were originally released as B-sides, the former on the "China" single, and the latter on the single for "Spark". 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. [4] The liner notes of To Venus and Back state, "'Zero Point' - your time is coming", and the song was eventually released seven years later on A Piano: The Collection (2006).


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.

Critical reception

To Venus and Back
Studio album / Live album by
ReleasedSeptember 20, 1999
Venuevarious venues during her Plugged '98 tour
StudioMartian Engineering, Cornwall, England
47:50 (studio)
75:32 (live)
Producer Tori Amos
Tori Amos chronology
From the Choirgirl Hotel
To Venus and Back
Strange Little Girls
Tori Amos live chronology
To Venus and Back
The Original Bootlegs
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [5]
The A.V. Club (favourable) [6]
Entertainment Weekly B [7]
NME (mixed) [8]
Nude as the News(favourable) [9]
PopMatters (6/10) [10]
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 [11]

The studio disc of To Venus and Back is recognized as one of Amos's most experimental yet melodic, and received generally positive reviews. Some critics praised its originality, innovation and unpredictable song structures, [8] [11] 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", [12] while some begrudged the album because of its overuse of electronic instruments and lack of Amos's trademark simplistic sound, [10] [13] 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. [14]

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, [15] [16] [17] 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, [18] 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 number 189 for the week of January 8, 2000, before falling off the chart. [19] As of May 2008, the album has sold 458,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan. [20]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Tori Amos

Disc one – Venus: Orbiting
4."Glory of the 80's"4:03
8."Riot Poof"3:28
10."Spring Haze"4:44
11."1000 Oceans"4:19
Total length:47:50
Disc two – Venus Live, Still Orbiting
1."Precious Things" Little Earthquakes (1992)7:37
2."Cruel" From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998)6:47
3."Cornflake Girl" Under the Pink (1994)6:31
4."Bells for Her"Under the Pink5:42
5."Girl"Little Earthquakes4:15
6."Cooling"B-side to "Spark" (1998)5:09
7."Mr. Zebra" Boys for Pele (1996)1:17
8."Cloud on My Tongue"Under the Pink4:58
9."Sugar"B-side to "China" (1992)5:10
10."Little Earthquakes"Little Earthquakes7:37
11."Space Dog"Under the Pink5:46
12."The Waitress"Under the Pink10:24
13."Purple People"B-side to "Spark"4:11
Total length:75:32 123:22


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.

"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.




RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA) [35] Platinum1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

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