The Crucify EP, more than a single and less than an album, was my first taste of the way Tori worked back then. She was probably the most prominent and consistent EP-artist in the '90s, as nearly every single she put out was released in this format, with at least two, and usually three or four, extra, non-LP songs on it. If you were a completist, as I was (and still am), this made collecting Tori both frustrating and quite rewarding. To wit: while you would always get a profound feeling of accomplishment from finding some, say, UK release of 'Silent All These Years' in the import section of the local Sam Goody or Hastings, there was always, in those final years before the internet and sevices like this, at least one that you just couldn't get no matter how hard you tried. The Crucify EP was never one of these; ever since its release, it has always been right up front with the LPs, where you can always find it.
Of course now, in the days post-ebay, post-amazon, finding all of Tori's myriad EPs is easy; all it takes is money and an internet hookup (and the nerves and patience to dig through ebay and wait out any number of auction opponents). Still, in spite of the fact that you don't even have to go to that much trouble to find Crucify, and in spite of the fact that it will never cost you fifty or seventy-five dollars, it stands up with the best of those rarer, more costly EPs. The single mix of the title track that begins the record is excellent, the kind of track that reminds one that the 'remix' isn't always a waste of studio time, and that it can sometimes add another dimension to a song, or bring out an element of it that isn't emphasised in the album mix. This is followed by the album version of 'Winter,' which would wind up with an EP of its own; while there's no particular reason for it to be here, it fits the context and is just a damn good song anyway. But the reason to buy this record, for most of us, is the three tracks that follow: the covers. These are stark, simple recordings, just Tori and the piano, and they are perfect in their simplicity. Her version of the Rolling Stones' 'Angie' is breathtaking; a slow-burning, passionate rendition that exceeds the original in emotional quality and brings out the melodic potential of the song that the Stones neglect; pardon the cliche, but she truly makes it her own. Ballads simply are not their specialty; they are (one of) Tori's, so she had little trouble taking a seemingly tepid ballad by a non-ballad-oriented act and making it a thing of great passion and beauty. Next up, she did something that really took nerve: she took the ultimate rock anthem of the age, and, with no more than her voice and 88 keys,without changing a word, converted it into damn near a new song. Supposedly, Kurt Cobain liked Tori's 'Teen Spirit,' which is nothing like his original, but for lyrics (you can understand them in this version, by the way). I've always believed that there's no point in covering a song if you don't have something new to contribute to it, some variation upon the standard interpretation. Note-for-note remakes are for bar-bands, 'tribute bands' and the like; when a genuine artist covers a song, he or she should be able to present it to you in a new way, from a perspective other than that of its originator. Tori's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' haunting yet comprehensible, does this beautifully.
Which brings us to the end: 'Thank You,' by Led Zepplin. The Zep had a more profound influence upon the young Myra Ellen Amos than any other musical force, perhaps; it certainly shows in her vocal style, and her tendency toward mystical epics on record. Either way, her version is etherial, evoking mental pictures of sunrise beaches and highland mists as well as any Zep original. When I saw her live, at the Backyard in my home town of Austin, Texas days after Hurricane Katrina, she did Zep's 'When the Levee Breaks' in tribute to the people of the gulf coast; it was one of the highlights of the evening. Tori probably does Robert Plant better than anyone these days, quite possibly including the man himself.
In conclusion, even though there's no difficulty in finding it, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, the Crucify EP is a wonderful piece of work, entirely worth the trouble you don't have to go through to find it.