Top positive review
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Redhead dancing girl
on 15 April 2004
It would be churlish, perhaps, to criticise a woman, who in twelve years has produced at least three of the best albums of that period ('Little Earthquakes', 'Under the Pink', 'Boys for Pele'). True, commercial success is more elusive these days (this album charted at a lowly #74 in the UK), and many fans have jumped ship after three releases that divide opinion ('To Venus and Back', 'Strange Little Girls', 'Scarlet's Walk'). But to her legions of fans, Amos's abstract musings will always be songs of the goddess.
Should this best of be regarded as a contractual obligation? Well, certainly it is unlikely to win Amos any new fans. Most likely, the people who will buy it will be those who already own her studio output. The new tracks are worthwhile - one good ('Angels'), one fantastic ('Snow Cherries from France'), and the 'rare' bee sides, though less fun than the jaunty originals, provide extra punch. The choice of tracks for inclusion has provided topic for debate, but as Amos has herself said, someone's favourite song would always have been left off. Still, it is difficult to understand how the pretty but unassuming 'Baker Baker' is worthy of a place here, over the actual hits 'Caught a Lite Sneeze' and 'Hey Jupiter' or even the lovely '1000 Oceans'.
Still, what is here is uniformly very, very good. And for the most part the remastering/remixing is well done. The slightly sludgey sound of the earlier material is made fresh and crisp, and the rejigging of 'Winter', 'Tear in Your Hand', 'God' and 'Cornflake Girl' breathe new life into these songs. However, the more recent material fares less well, with the heady atmospherics of 'Spark' strangely muted. And, frankly, the single remix of 'Crucify' is far better than any that has been commited to a long player. The most contentious inclusion - Armand Van Helden's remix of 'Professional Widow' - isn't as jarring as some have made out. It's framed nicely between two of the short songs from 'Pele', and as Amos's biggest hit and a joyously irreverant gesture to those who take her music too seriously, is welcome.
We look forward to May 2004's live DVD release with enthusiasm.