Friday, April 22, 2016

Song of the Day: 'On the Boundary' by Y Kant Tori Read

Despite my love for female singer/songwriters, I somehow managed to almost miss the entire  '90s-era "heyday" of them, with only Liz Phair getting retrofitted into my repertoire thanks to my brother Bill's persistence (and a road trip to and from Saugerties, N.Y.). As a result, this adorable email from my Tori Amos-loving boyfriend was a fun '80s-related surprise, one I'll bet some of you fellow Tori-obsessed types would appreciate as well, assuming you can turn Sarah McLachlan off long enough to read it! 

Damian writes:
Something jogged my memory about this today, and I thought it would be fun to share with you. So Tori Amos had a false start into the music biz--namely, a late '80s hair band-esque outfit called Y Kant Tori Read. The out-of-print album was a big score for any Toriphile hunting through record stores in her '90s heyday, but it was the bootleg CD copy one was more likely to find (as I did). 
It's viewed as an impossibly corny, selling-out footnote in light of her successful solo singer/songwriter career that followed, but there are enough kernels of what made Tori Tori in there to make it a not-bad listen, and if one actually appreciates the sound/trappings of the era, as we do, there are even a few things approaching standouts. 
The first of these is 'On the Boundary,' which is a soundtrack-ready ballad. 
Similarly, the album closer, 'The Etienne Trilogy,' kicks off with a worthy successor to the 'St. Elmo's Fire Love Theme' instrumental, and another torch ballad afterward.  
This was the official single, 'The Big Picture,' accompanied by an unlikely video in which Tori basically channels a confrontational, ne'er-do-well big sister to her contemporary Tiffany, who of course was packing malls everywhere at the time. I have to be in the right mood for this one, and even then it barely ranks as a guilty pleasure. It has a cinematic opener that was somehow overlooked by awards committees of the time. 
The only two tracks Tori would deign to actually include in her live setlists as crowd-pleasing--or -puzzling--rarities until her more recent tours were the awkwardly earnest 'Cool On Your Island' and overwrought 'Fire on the Side,' which I could only find in a fan-made video.  
I am vaguely positive towards both, and I could see why she found them the most accessible and closest to her later work, hence my inclusion, but it's the first two links in this message I actually enjoy in their own right rather than as proto-Tori curiosities.

P.S. Damian also taught me about this old ad she did for Kellogg's Just Right cereal, beating out none other than Sarah Jessica Parker for the gig and reportedly getting paid $12,000! (It wasn't just right for Americans and is only sold overseas these days.)

1 comment:

Damian said...

And now you've taught me Just Right isn't around domestically anymore! (I used to enjoy it for including dates.)

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