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Craig's Music Club
Music CD Recommendation

Spotlight on: Scarlet's Walk by Tori Amos
Alternate: Hell to Pay by the Jeff Healey Band



Cover image/photo of Scarlet's Walk by Tori Amos Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk

Tori Amos is nothing if not experimental. With the stripped-down Little Earthquakes, the more rock-influenced Under the Pink, the heart-wrenching breakup album Boys for Pele, her electronica-fest/"miscarriage album" From the Choirgirl Hotel, the overproduced-yet-sparse backed with live "greatest hits" double-disc To Venus and Back, and the collection of reinterpreted covers known as Strange Little Girls, Tori has been all over the musical map. What was left but a concept album?

But Scarlet's Walk is more than just any normal themed collection of songs. It is also Amos's response to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of 2001. It is a statement on the status of a country that has lost its easy self-confidence. It is a return to the basics while being a culmination of all the work that has preceded it.

And it is one damn fine collection of tunes.

Starting off slow (as she generally likes to do) with "Amber Waves," a tossed away ingenue who went "from a ballet class to a lap dance straight-to-video" and who accompanies Scarlet on this leg of her journey. We then continue with "a sorta fairytale," in my opinion one of the best songs ever written, and I don't say that lightly. Its tale of only-on-the-road love is touching and the production involved makes the music feel as if it were surrounding me while coming from inside me (very similar to the effect the music of The Microphones has on me). "a sorta fairytale" is followed immediately by the bouncy "Wednesday," another favorite but in a different way....

But I'm not going to sit here and describe every song on the album because it is not meant to be seen that way. It is definitely one of those albums that needs to be listened to as a whole and not just song-by-song. It seems to me to be the perfect road-trip album (something I am always on the lookout for). With Scarlet's Walk, Tori Amos has attempted to produce a "sonic novel" and succeed she has.

(If you want a rundown of the whole story, that can be found on A Dent in the Tori Amos Net Universe's Scarlet's Bio page; it is quite the read and works greatly toward explaining Amos' often cryptic lyrics.)


Hell to Pay by the Jeff Healey Band Alternate Recommendation: Jeff Healey Band, Hell to Pay

Forgive the mullet (it was 1990, after all). Hell to Pay is one hard rocking "white boy blues" album.

The Jeff Healey Band is probably best known for their top 5 hit, "Angel Eyes" (off See the Light). But it was with their next album that they were truly able to show their stuff. There are seven or eight great tracks here and the rest are good enough for repeated listens. I never skip songs when I listen to this because I have had it for so long it feels like a concept album.

Blind since the age of one, Canadian Healey's sit-down style of guitar playing rivals that of some of the top guitarists of the day. Mark Knopfler guests on the band version of his "I Think I Love You Too Much," the best track on the album; and no less than George Harrison shows up beside Healey and Co. on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"--the only cover of this song that doesn't make me cringe. Healey really makes it his own.

Unfortunately, the band has been unable to recapture the greatness displayed on this recording. I picked up Feel This on the strength of Hell to Pay and was greatly disappointed. Then they released the album of cover songs (Cover to Cover) and I kind of lost interest.

After a long hiatus, the band has released their new effort Get Me Some but as far as I'm concerned--like the song says--I've "only got Hell to Pay."



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