Over twenty years ago Tori Amos released her third solo album which divided her completely from the usual mainstream pop that she had previously flirted with on occasion to the casual listener. This time round with Boys for Pele, she was fierce, angry, unconventional and committed to a certain sound and vision. It’s an all time favourite and whilst this review won’t tackle the album itself (I’ll save that for another day) this review looks firmly at the remastered angle.
To answer the question of is the album good? Simply. Hell yeah! Go buy and if you don’t have it already the remastered deluxe edition is the version to get. For that you’ll get the original album, with the original version of Talula which was replaced with the single version (Tornado Mix) and the track In The Springtime of His Voodoo is back on the album in its rightful place. These tracks had been missing since the reissue of the album following Tori’s dance hit remix of Professional Widow and whilst the radio edit of that remix is present, its’ on disc 2 and not ruining the flow of a carefully constructed album.
The Boys for Pele remaster itself is much improved in two areas. Firstly, the album was always a quiet one and with everything turned up a bit more, you can hear more of the quieter noises. The harpsichord feels more mechanical and percussive. The piano pedals have more oomph. The backing vocals are the biggest difference across the board. In songs like “Father Lucifer”, “Little Amsterdam”, “In The Springtime of His Voodoo” and “Doughnut Song” in particular sound fully, more alive and more importantly far clearer. This brings me to the second benefit of the remaster – greater audio clarity. Vocals are separated out. You can hear the spit and gulps of Tori’s voice. You can hear more dynamics in the percussion and bass. It’s a lot of subtle changes that amount to a decent clarity instead of some of the more muddier original mixes. I must note though that the difference is slightly less for my ears personally than the Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink remasters – but then I think that’s also down to the individual ear.
The reason I suggest the deluxe version is the 21 track disc two covering almost all the recordings currently available from the Boys for Pele era. Two tracks are missing, one a live cover of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” which could be understandable but the second is original track “Samurai”. It is a bluesy jam session so maybe it was considered too off the cuff to be redone, or the track itself is lost in the vaults.
We do however have four unreleased recordings. “To The Fair Motormaids of Japan” had been a lost track referred to in an interview decades ago that Tori said she couldn’t get to together for the record on time. It’s a beautifully strange piece and utterly Amos from beginning to end and reminds me of her “Losing Her Religion” cover in places. What’s clear is that all the b-sides are remastered in 2016 style because the sound is very similar to recent Tori albums instead of keeping the airy, slightly bass-less sound of the album. Also mega is “Sucker” which is a spiteful orgy of harpsichord smashing, piano low note rolling venom fest. The alternate Talula mix simply moves the guitar placements back a bit for less of a band sound, and “Rookery Ending” is a lovely piano and vocal outro for Voodoo and actually gives a great insight into song development. Of course there’s some classic b-sides here too. Personal favourites are the dreamy “Graveyard”, playful “Toodles Mr Jim” and the utterly devastating “Hey Jupiter (Dakota Version)”. All these have been remastered too and it shows with new sounds and delights coming into life making “Alamo” in particular even more bombastic than before. If anything it’s the b-sides that have more to discover about them than the originals!
As a remastered collection, its fantastic and fans can rediscover a classic whilst new joiners can pick up the current definitive edition, complete with linear notes of quotes about the song if you get the physical version. It’s an album that’s aged like a fine wine and you can drink from its wisdom in fine audio glory now.
Recommended Track : Caught A Lite Sneeze