Spin (1/97, p.59) - Ranked #13 on Spin's list of the '20 Best Albums of '96.'
Spin (3/96, p.109) - 9 (out of 10) - "...Part clasp-key dream diary, part coded message, part erotic Rorshach test, Amos' lyrics are so hermetic they'll set you tripping....her music [is]...full of breath but refusing climax, laced with brass filigrees and melodic tendrills, cut with shadows and grit..."
Q (2/96, p.93) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...it utilises the strangest brew of instruments to create its effect, with harpsichord, mandolin, harmonium, organ, bagpipes, gospel choir and even the Delgany church bells passing through....it is surely the sound of Tori Amos they way she wants to sound..."
Musician (3/96, p.87) - "...Everything on BOYS challenges the listener to accept the artist on her terms as she speaks in her own poetic language and follows her muse through territory both familiar and vaguely forbidding..."
Personnel: Tori Amos (vocals, harpsichord, piano, harmonium, clavichord); Nancy Shanks (vocals); Steve Caton (acoustic 12-string guitar, electric guitar, guitar, mandolin); The Sinfonia Of London (strings); Michael Deegan, Bernard Quinn (bagpipes); Clarence J. Johnson III (soprano & tenor saxophones); James Watson (trumpet); Tracy Griffin, Brian Graber (flugelhorn); Mark Mullins (trombone); Craig Klein (sousaphone); The Black Dyke Mills Band (brass); Alan Friedman (organ, programming, sound effects); George Porter, Jr. (bass); Marcel Van Limbeek (church bells); Manu Katche (drums); Mino Cinelu (percussion); Darryl Lewis, Mark Sterling, Marvin Sterling, Sam Berfect, Jack Trimble, James Crawford, Jr., Gus McField, Jr. (background vocals); R.O.B., Marcel.
Principally recorded in Counties Wicklow and Cork, Republic Of Ireland.
BOYS FOR PELE was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Spirituality is tangled inexorably with power and patriarchy for Tori Amos. On Amos' third solo record, the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele serves as her alter-ego, presenting a threat to Amos' ever-present, menacing father figures. On "Muhammad My Friend," she warns, "I know you've seen fire/But you've never seen fire/Until you've seen Pele blow." Amos is equally intrigued by other strong, angry females--on "Twinkle," she admires "a girl twice as hard" who reportedly killed a man.
In contrast to her words, Amos tends toward restrained, ethereal vocals; they occasionally verge on ferocity but never quite make it all the way. Her piano and harpsichord playing is, by turns, delicate and passionate. Contrasts like those between confessional and enigmatic lyrics, and between an underlying sense of anger and a voice that holds back from truly expressing it, create an electric tension throughout BOYS FOR PELE.
PELE is the first record Amos has self-produced, and it branches out from her previous work, exploring more loosely structured songwriting and experimenting with the use of strings, brass and a gospel choir.
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- Pieces: The String Quartet Tribute to Tori Amos (Vitamin String Quartet)