Little Earthquakes

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Little Earthquakes
Studio album by Tori Amos
Released January 13, 1992 (UK)
February 25, 1992 (US)
Recorded August 1990– May 1991
Genre Alternative rock, piano rock
Length 56:54
Label Atlantic (US), East West (Europe)
Producer Tori Amos, Eric Rosse, Davitt Sigerson, Ian Stanley
Tori Amos chronology
Little Earthquakes
(1992)
Under the Pink
(1994)
Singles from Little Earthquakes
  1. "Me and a Gun"
    Released: October 21, 1991
  2. "Silent All These Years"
    Released: April 1992 (US), November 18, 1991 (UK)
  3. "China"
    Released: January 20, 1992
  4. "Winter"
    Released: November 24, 1992 (US), March 9, 1992 (UK)
  5. "Crucify"
    Released: May 12, 1992 (US), June 8, 1992 (UK)

Little Earthquakes is the debut solo album of singer/songwriter Tori Amos, featuring the singles "Silent All These Years", "China", "Winter" and "Crucify".

Recording[edit]

Following the dissolution of her synth-pop band Y Kant Tori Read, Amos came back to Atlantic Records in 1990 with a 10-track demo tape. The track listing consisted of "Russia" (later to become "Take to the Sky") / "Mary" / "Crucify" / "Happy Phantom" / "Leather" / "Winter" / "Sweet Dreams" / "Song for Eric" / "Learn to Fly"" / Flying Dutchman".[1]

The album was then recorded in three phases. The first batch of tracks ("Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Winter", "Happy Phantom", "Leather", "Mother", "Sweet Dreams", "Russia/Take To The Sky", "Upside Down" and "Flying Dutchman") were recorded at Capitol Records in Los Angeles with Davitt Sigerson producing. After hearing the first group of songs, the record company was unhappy. Tori and her then boyfriend Eric Rosse recorded the second group of songs ("Girl", "Precious Things", "Tear In Your Hand" and "Little Earthquakes", plus "Take Me with You", which would not be completed until 2006 and finally released on A Piano: The Collection). This phase was recorded on a limited budget in Eric's home studio, using his old 3M 24-track analog machine and a Yamaha CP-80 piano. They also went outside to Stag Studios to use a Yamaha grand piano. During these sessions, Amos recalled the origins of the B-side "Thoughts":

"[The song] Girl was being recorded and I couldn't get a take. I was freaking out. Eric was in the booth playing air ball encouraging me to take a ten minute. Glued on the bench, I started this thing coming from nowhere singing nonsense into the mic. When I finished, Eric said, 'It's a take.' I said, 'What?' - he had left the machine running."[2][3]

These two phases resulted in the original "final" 13-track version of the album, submitted in January 1991, as revealed in the liner notes for the A Piano: The Collection box set. The tracklist is very similar to the released version: "Crucify" / "Girl" / "Silent All These Years" / "Precious Things" / "Winter" / "Sweet Dreams" / "Little Earthquakes" / "Leather" / "Russia" / "Mother" / "Tear In Your Hand" / "Upside Down" / "Flying Dutchman". Of all 14 tracks recorded, only "Happy Phantom" was omitted at this point, but it would later appear on the released tracklist.

For phase three, Amos traveled to England to work with Ian Stanley. Here she recorded what would become two of her early singles. "Me And A Gun" was the last song written for the album, while "China" was an early track, originally titled "Distance", that she wrote in 1987 along with some of the songs that appeared on Y Kant Tori Read.[4] During those sessions, she also recorded several B-sides.[2]

The second final version of the album was accepted by the record company. However, this was still revised before the final release; a 13-track promo cassette shows that "Little Earthquakes" was to appear after "Happy Phantom" on side one, with side two closing with "Flying Dutchman".[1] The latter track was presumably dropped due to the physical restraints of the vinyl LP format. The four songs recorded with Davitt Sigerson that did not make it to the final version of the album were included as B-sides on the singles released from Little Earthquakes: "Upside Down on "Silent All These Years" in the UK and on "Winter" in the US, "Flying Dutchman" on "China", and "Sweet Dreams" and "Take to the Sky" on "Winter".

The record label relocated Amos to London, where they thought she would have an easier time of breaking into success, due to the country's renown for eccentric performers. Atlantic's European counterpart, East West, promoted the record extensively. Amos spent much of 1991 performing in small bars and clubs in London and playing for music executives and journalists, often in her own apartment. The "Me and a Gun" EP containing four tracks was released in October 1991, receiving considerable critical attention. The single was re-issued the following month with "Silent All These Years" as the lead composition, and it became her first chart entry at UK #51 following Single of the Week support from BBC Radio 1 and a TV debut on the high-rated chat show of Jonathan Ross on the BBC. The back cover of the album contains pictures of phallus mushrooms, also known as stinkhorns.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk 90%[5]
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Q 4/5 stars[7]
PopMatters (positive)[8]
Robert Christgau C+[9]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[10]
Slant Magazine 5/5 stars[11]
Paul Roland 5/5 stars[12]

When the album was finally released in the UK in January 1992, it reached #14 and remained on the Top 75 charts (UK Albums Chart) for 23 weeks. A month later, it was released in the USA to breakthrough critical success and also announced itself as a chart mainstay, despite peaking outside the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying singles (along with "Me and a Gun" and "Silent All These Years") were "China" (January 1992 UK), "Winter" (March 1992 UK/November 1992 US) and "Crucify" (May 1992 US/June 1992 UK), the US EP version of which featured covers of songs by artists including The Rolling Stones and Nirvana.

In 1998, the UK's Q magazine readers voted Little Earthquakes the 66th greatest album of all time, and in 2002 the same magazine named it the fourth Greatest Album of All-Time by a Female Artist.[13]

The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It is her only album to do so.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Tori Amos. 

No. Title Length
1. "Crucify"   4:58
2. "Girl"   4:06
3. "Silent All These Years"   4:10
4. "Precious Things"   4:26
5. "Winter"   5:40
6. "Happy Phantom"   3:12
7. "China"   4:58
8. "Leather"   3:12
9. "Mother"   6:59
10. "Tear in Your Hand"   4:38
11. "Me and a Gun"   3:44
12. "Little Earthquakes"   6:51

Personnel[edit]

  • Tori Amos - acoustic & electric pianos and lead vocals on all tracks, background vocals on tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 10 & 12, sampled strings on tracks 2 & 8
  • Steve Caton - guitar on tracks 2, 4, 10 & 12, bass on track 2, background vocals on tracks 4 & 12
  • John Chamberlain - mandolin on track 1
  • Paulinho da Costa - percussion on tracks 1 & 6
  • Jake Freeze - rat pedal on track 4, saw on track 12
  • Stuart Gordon - violin on track 7
  • Ed Green - drums on track 1
  • Will Gregory - oboe on track 7
  • Tina Gullickson - background vocals on track 1
  • Chris Hughes - drums on track 7
  • David Lord - string arrangement on track 7
  • Will McGregor - bass on tracks 4, 10 & 12
  • Carlo Nuccio - drums on tracks 4 & 10
  • Philly - finger cymbal on track 3
  • David Rhodes - guitar on track 7
  • Eric Rosse - drum and keyboard programming on tracks 2, 4 & 12, background vocals on tracks 4 & 12, Irish war drum on track 5
  • Jef Scott - bass on track 1, 8
  • Mathew Seligman - bass on track 7
  • Nancy Shanks - background vocals on tracks 1 & 12
  • Phil Shenale - keyboard programming on track 6
  • Eric Williams - ukulele on track 1, dulcimer on track 6
  • Orchestra arranged and conducted by Nick Caro on tracks 3 & 5

Charts[edit]

Chart (1992) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 54
U.S. Top Heatseekers 1
UK Album Chart 14
Australia ARIA Album Chart 14
Canadian Album Chart 49
Dutch Album Chart 85
Single
US Billboard Hot 100 Chart
US Hot 100 Airplay
US Hot Modern Rock Tracks
US Hot Adult Top 40
Canadian Hot 100 Chart
UK Singles Chart
UK Airplay Chart
Irish Singles Chart
French Singles Chart
German Singles Chart
Dutch Singles Chart
Swedish Singles Chart
Australian Singles Chart
New Zealand Singles Chart
"Silent All These Years" (1991)
-
-
27
-
-
51
35
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"Silent All These Years" (re-release, 1992)
-
-
-
-
-
26
50
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"China" (1992)
-
-
-
-
-
51
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"Winter" (1992)
-
-
-
-
-
25
-
-
-
-
-
-
49
-
"Crucify" (1992)
-
-
22
-
73
15
23
25
17
84
79
16
83
17
"Silent All These Years"
(US only re-release, 1997)
65
66
-
26
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[14] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[16] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^
Summaries

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Cover versions by other artists[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Campbell, Paul (1997). Tori Amos Collectibles. London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6174-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Interview with Eric Rosse". Keyboard (New York: New Bay Media). September 1992. 
  3. ^ Amos, Tori (1992). Little Earthquakes. New York: Amsco Publications. ISBN 0-8256-1345-0. 
  4. ^ http://www.hereinmyhead.com/collect/lost/a-e.html#d2
  5. ^ Undue Noise (May 4, 2009). "Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes - Album Review". AbsolutePunk. 
  6. ^ Huey, Steve. Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes > Review at AllMusic
  7. ^ "Review: Little Earthquakes". Q: 82. February 1992. 
  8. ^ Rausch, Stephen (January 29, 2003). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes". PopMatters. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ "CG: Tori Amos". Robert Christgau. 
  10. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/tori-amos
  11. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (November 7, 2003). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/A826.htm
  13. ^ http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/qlistspage2.html#Women
  14. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Music Canada. 
  15. ^ "British album certifications – Tori Amoas – Little Earthquakes". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Little Earthquakes in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  16. ^ "American album certifications – The Cranberries – Little Earthquakes". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  17. ^ Ling, Dave (March 1995). "Review: Dream Theater". RAW Magazine. Retrieved 13 December 2011. Reproduced on Dave Ling's website, www.daveling.co.uk. 
  18. ^ Father Ray Mukada sings "Leather"