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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 23 April 2007
Tori Amos shed the red hair, split into five personalities and decided to rock. As a result, American Doll Posse is her most vibrant, eclectic and relevant album in years. It's sort of a compromise between the tight production of Choirgirl and the sprawling anger of Pele -- all translated by Pip, Santa, Isabel, Clyde and Tori.

Who are they? Doesn't matter. They're wigs. They're dresses. They're elaborate excuses for Tori to scream things like "You've been skankin' around with your talentless trash!" or whisper, over a trilling mandolin, "Your divine creator was a velvet revolution." And it certainly sounds like she'd rather praise the rock gods of the velvet age than the bearded patron of conservative America. When she sings "You've still got that something!," with a tongue-in-cheek Kiss guitar roaring beneath her, she might as well be saying "In rock we trust." After all, music has done more for America in the 2000's than the government. Tori is Patti Smith in "Teenage Hustling," she's Stevie Nicks in "Secret Spell," she's David Bowie in "You Can Bring Your Dog," and she's Tori at her best in "Father's Son" (never have her harmonies sounded so haunting).

Somewhere between tracks 15 and 18, though, things start to blend together. The songs that work best on this album are the ones that announce themselves easily, like the power ballad "Digital Ghost" (Electric guitars AND a tambourine? You can almost smell the hair gel... and, yes, that's the best kind of rock nostalgia). However, "Roosterspur Bridge," "Beauty of Speed" and "Almost Rosey" all sound like variations of the same idea. She's even less successful when railing directly on Bush ("Yo George") or the war on terror ("Dark Side of the Sun"). In the latter, she sings, "How many young men have to lay down their lives and their love... for some sick promise of heaven?" Lyrics like that are as cliche as any line pulled from Scarlet's "Gold Dust." But Tori was meant to be vague and mysterious -- which is why it's so refreshing to hear that mystery get an intense and immediate production in Posse. Case in point: the ambient, thumping "Smokey Joe" that sounds like her cover of Slayer's "Raining Blood" with a vitriolic pulse.

Yes, there's a lot of mimicry here. But it's more homage than anything else... a reminder of what really keeps the Big Wheel turning in this country.

BEST TRACKS: "Father's Son," "Digital Ghost," "Teenage Hustling," "Bouncing off Clouds," "Smokey Joe"
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on 25 April 2007
I was going to write a track by track review but there are 23 tracks on this cd so that would take forever. Her last two records were a bit too adult contemporary for my taste although they both had some great moments (ie. Carbon, Marths's Foolish Ginger, A sorta fairytale etc.) This one has more guitars and is darker on the whole compared to the last two. In my opinion it's like a cross between Choirgirl and The Beekeeper, and like the Beekeeper , this one comes with a concept too. This time around, we have five girls/dolls but the music doesnt take a backseat to the concept. You can listen to the whole cd without having to pay attention to the dolls. But where's the fun in that? :) My suggestion would be to listen to the album, get acquainted with the songs and then meet the dolls, who all have their own pages on myspace.

Teenage Hustling, Smokey Joe, Girl Disappearing, Code Red and Dragon are among the best things she's ever done.

This is for the fans who like the last two albums but still kinda miss the Tori of the 90s. Well, they dont need to go back there too often now, cuz the dolls have taken over the beehive!
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on 18 May 2007
Firstly, I wouldn't call this album a 'return to form' simply because her first five albums still remain to be her best 5, while 'Strange Little Girls', 'Scarlet's Walk', and 'The Beekeeper' have a couple of good tracks, but I really can't appreciate them as albums per se. This album, however, is better than her three last albums, and while it is consistant, has no classics like Precious Things, Winter, Little Earthquakes, Yes Anastasia, Horses and you know the rest.

Now, to stop comparing the album to her earlier work and write an actual review.

Big Wheel is one of the best songs from the CD, and is a song not to be taken too seriously, but it is Tori's funnest song. Period. Tracks 3-5 follow, but the album really hits a peak with the tongue-in-cheek You Can Bring Your Dog, which just oozes sex appeal. Track 8, Girl Disappearing, is another highlight, and I was glad to see a return to strings, as Yes, Anastasia is possibly her best song, compositionally at least. Soon after, there is Secret Spell, which should have been the lead single in my opinion, or at least should be the follow-up. Body And Soul follows and is the best song so-far, with a mixture of rock and electronic. The following songs follow with nothing too mentionable, but the albums best song for me is Dark Side Of The Sun which is such an epic anti-war track.

The last two songs, Smokey Joe and Dragon are further highlights.

Overall, this album lacks the emotion (which Tori does best) and passion that were so elaborate in her 1990's albums, but nevertheless, I would recommend it if you liked some of her previous album. If you haven't heard any Tori Amos yet, Little Earthquakes is by far the best place to start, and is very much her definitive album.

8 / 10
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on 11 May 2007
A total knock out of an album. Tori flits in her 'doll posse' disguises from genre to genre, touching on all her best previous moments but also taking everything that little bit further. From profound pop to cocky glam rock to Eleanor Rigby-ish fragility, via sultry blues, heartbreaking rock ballads... I'd honestly say there isn't a better album to find out both the breadth and quality what Tori's got to offer than this one. If you just want catchy, elegant songs, it's got plenty - if you want something richer - a story behind every character, five contrasting outlooks on life, it's all there if you want to get more. Some of the lyrics are fascinatingly cryptic, many of them are beautifully direct ("Chin up, a happy mask was never your best diguise", on Almost Rosey), and those five characters arent just a box of wigs - Tori's even given each of them a distinctive style of singing. The 23 tracks seem a little daunting before you listen, but let yourself in, it's worth every minute.

Essential Tracks: Bouncing Off Clouds, Teenage Hustling, Almost Rosey, Devils & Gods.
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on 20 July 2007
I bought this on release and I'm still loving it. Five stars? I'd give it ten! But rather than review the album in full, I just wanted to alert other fans to the fact that the Legs and Boots CDs are now available on UK iTunes. Though you can make your own CD from the 23 double CD sets available there, I would love to have the chance of picking just one and owning the packaging. Amazon please take note.
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on 22 June 2007
Tori Amos just keeps slogging on. Despite all but the hardcore Toriphiles (for it is we who are thus called) having dismissed her as - yes - that kooky American Kate Bush impersonator, Amos remains such a far more gifted and influential artist than most two-bit NME-feted indie bands can ever aspire to - although the very nature of her own peculiar genius has led her in recent years to veer dangerously close to approaching artistic burnout.

Fans may be aware of Amos's prodigy-like status as a singer-songwriter-arranger-producer of some repute, but even genius has its limitations. Tori's previous two decidenly overlong and uneven albums saw her seriously deviate from high poetry and innovation and seemingly set about transforming herself into a more impenetable female version of Elton John; although reassuringly with American Doll Posse, Amos seems to have kicked her runaway mojo into submission and pulled some absolute corkers out of the bag.

ADP is also a far more musically adventurous record than her previous two efforts and thankfully sees a return to bursts of dark electronica - the eerie, gothic meandering of Smokey Joe sounds like a leftover from the Choirgirl/Venus days - improved quality control and - yes! - proper big tunes; Bouncing Off Clouds is probably the most beautifully immediate and emotive pop song Amos has written since Silent All These Years - bringing in a dark disco vibe and a mighty midle eight, the song almost seems to hark back (for the diehards at least) to the mainstream pop-rock of Amos's long-deleted '88 debut album Y Kant Tori Read.

And for this Tori fan of 13-odd years, Body And Soul, Teenage Hustling, You Can Bring Your Dog and Big Wheel positively shock in just how rocking they are by Tori's usual pianocentric tendencies: one can almost picture Jack 'n Meg nodding in approval at this thrilling new venture into old-skool blues-rock. Another highlight is the lovely Programmable Soda, a brass-led successor to Pele's Hello Mr Zebra, followed in a typically incongrous fashion by a shift to the sinister trip-hop vibes of Code Red - prime evidence of Amos's new proclivity to haemmorhaging personalities.

As for the 'political girl-band' concept, I fear Amos suffers from having so many ideas that one songwriting persona now simply isn't enough for her. And with too many other highlights to even mention here - not to mention three further songs I have heard from the album sessions that were presumably only left off of the record on account of that pesky matter of a CD only having so many minutes available - it would seem a little artistic scizophrenia can do five girls a world of good. The Queen of the Faeries has returned, and this time maybe five of her is more than enough for all of us.
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American Doll Posse is a inventive concept album which sees Tori assume the persona of five very different women (Isabel, Clyde, Pip Santa & Tori) based upon Godesses from Greek mythology, but - and more importantly - each different persona also represents a side of Tori Amos' personality. She vents her political spleen as Isabel, explores her emotional vulnerability as Clyde, expresses her confrontational and angry side as Pip, her loving, sensual and passionate emotions as Santa and, as Tori, is a caricature of herself, Tori Amos, the recording artist.

In Tori's words, "What I'm trying to tell other women is they have their own version of the compartmentalised feminine which may have been repressed in each one of them. For many years I have been an image; that isn't necessarily who I am completely. I have made certain choices and that doesn't mean that those choices are the whole story. I think these women are showing me that I have not explored honest extensions of the self who are now as real as the redhead."

When you have explored the album and have started to become familiar with each track on the album, it is then an interesting experiment to see if you can match each song with the character who is performing it. However, now the concept of the album has been explained, I also have to say that - even without the knowledge of the idea behind this work - you can appreciate and enjoy this just as much thinking of it as merely a Tori Amos album. For all of the intricate psychology, self-analysis and image assassination behind American Doll Posse, it isn't difficult to listen to at all and much of the music is immediately accessible.

Spanning twenty-three tracks, American Doll Posse is an ambitious project and may seem daunting for anyone playing this for the first time, but the good news is that it is absolutely packed with fantastic songs and has a diversity which makes it a varied, entertaining, rollercoaster experience. Tori covers many deep lyrical themes of which anti-war possibly comes across the strongest (Yo George, Dark Side Of The Sun), but sexuality, exploitation and feminism is the other dominant subject at the fore of this album (Teenage Hustling, Fat Sl*t). For example, on the brilliantly bouncy Big Wheel, Tori declares, "I'm a M.I.L.F./Don't you forget" which led to it being banned from many radio stations in the U.S.

There is absolutely no question that this is the best Tori Amos album in a long time. Tori fans have discussed and enthused about the relative merits and the artistic integrity of recent releases, but even the most ardent fan has had to admit that much of her work such as The Beekeeper and From The Choirgirl Hotel has been good, but ultimately disappointing. This album, however, is not disappointing in any way. If you love Tori for beautiful, piano-driven ballads you are literally spoiled for choice - the powerful Digital Ghost, the beautiful Girl Disappearing, the masterpiece that is Father's Son, the haunting Smokey Joe, the amazing Roosterspur Bridge and Almost Rosey - all superb tracks. If you want some brilliant, catchy, uptempo, intelligent pop, you have Bouncing Off Clouds or Secret Spell and for some mean and moody melodic rock, look no further than Code Red and You Can Bring Your Dog.

Tori Amos has produced something very close to her masterpiece. Fascinating, arty and yet packed full of hooks, catches and music which will stay with you long after the album has finished and get you reaching for the CD to satisfy your craving to hear 'that song' just one more time. This is a release with longevity, a piece of work to enthuse about, one which reveals something new to you with every listen and is Tori's most complete work for many years. Absolutely essential for fans of Tori and pretty much essential for everyone else too. Just wonderful.
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VINE VOICEon 25 May 2007
Tori Amos has never been one to shy away from the big concept, from her 2002 album Scarlet's Walk, its 2005 follow-up The Beekeeper or 2001's schizophrenic covers project Strange Little Girls.

New opus American Doll Posse is no exception. The songs here are performed by four fictional women based on aspects of what I suppose we could call the eternal feminine - and a fifth, Tori, who is an iconic version of the artist herself and presides over the artwork holding a Bible and bleeding from under her skirt.

Maybe she's been exploring sub-personalities in a transpersonal psychology programme, maybe it's just a way to organise her own fractured artistic landscape. Whatever the rationale, this time Amos has produced a work as towering and as complex as The Who's Quadrophenia, Kate Bush's masterpiece Hounds Of Love or Bowie's superb mid-90s comeback 1.Outside.

Like the latter album, American Doll Posse features linking "interludes" of a few seconds' length - some, like the wounded howl of Fat Slut or the political diatribe of Yo George - as fascinating as the songs themselves. As an album it's both intimidating and magnetic, huge in emotional scope and musical variety, and stretches to an immense 1 hr 19 minutes.

The different voices who perform the songs - Clyde, Pip, Santa and Isabel - are a long way from the instant stereotypes of Spiceworld or masculine fantasy. They're closer to archetypes, linked more strongly to classical mythology than to marketing, though the album is supported by some of the most innovative publicity we've seen in recent years. LiveJournal, MySpace, Blogspot and Tagworld have all recently hosted multimedia work "written" by the different Amos personae, and all have light to shed on the music heard here.

Some songs are almost unbearably intense - centrepiece Code Red moved me to tears on first listen although I had absolutely no idea what it was about. The lyrics, reproduced in the booklet in tiny coloured print, are dense and difficult to decipher but support the music in a way which approaches the numinous.

All this is not to say that the album doesn't have its instantly accessible moments. Big Wheel and Bouncing Off Clouds are perfect pop singles, Teenage Hustling rocks like hell and Father's Son is as gorgeously tuneful a ballad as anyone could hope for. But this is no more than the lure for what's revealed at second, third and fourth listen. At the age of 43, child prodigy Tori Amos may well have finally produced her masterpiece.

- by Clare O'Brien, as published at Subba-cultcha.com
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on 21 September 2011
I've been a Tori fan since the first album. I loved everything up to Venus and Back and then I didn't (and still don't) enjoy the next few albums that much and I really don't like The Beekeeper. But I kept faithfully buying the CDs - then this came along and I was so happy, Tori was back!
So, why review it now and not when it came out? Well, it was in my car for a month or so and I listened to it loads back in 2007. Then, last week, looking for something I haven't played for a while I stuck it in my CD player. As almost every song started I was thinking - oh, I remember this one, this rocks - then another good one - and so on. There is some real rock attitude and some tender beauty too with enough spine-tingly moments.
Doesn't knock Choirgirl Hotel off my number one Tori spot but it's in my top 4.
I don't get people who don't like this one.
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VINE VOICEon 27 April 2007
Introducing Pip, Santa, Isabel, Clyde and Tori, the 'American Doll Posse'. This album is a concept album of sorts, with the stories of the songs being told by the different characters.

Sounds complicated? It's fantastic! The use of 'characters' brings a mix of sounds to the album, from Pip's rocking 'Teenage Hustling' to a more poppy sound from Santa, and a melancholic one from Clyde. Tori's characters are incredibly well thought-out and convincing; each has her own interest and personality - Santa, for example, is interested in beauty. Tori's been writing blogs under the pseudonyms of the 'dolls' for the past few months to coincide with the release of the album. They're strewn across the internet, but all of the links can be found on Tori's site.

The album is produced by Tori herself (in Cornwall!), and the sound is really good. All of the instruments sound clear and Tori shows her songwriting skills throughout. Not having heard 'The Beekeeper', I can't compare, but this album harks back to a darker, earlier Tori. The first single, 'Big Wheel' is brilliant too. There is something raw, almost primal, to the rockier songs (particularly the Santa/ Pip song 'Body and Soul'), whereas the slower one ooze emotion and melancholy feeling.

If you enjoy Tori's vocal gymnastics, her weird blend of rock, pop and piano-led ballads and her ability to write songs that will stick in your head then you will love this album.
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