To Venus and Back

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To Venus and Back
Studio album by Tori Amos
Released 20 September 1999 (UK); September 21, 1999 (US)
Recorded Cornwall, January - May 1999
Genre Trip-hop,[1] electronica, electronic rock
Length Disc one: 47:49
Disc two: 75:33
Label Atlantic
Producer Tori Amos
Tori Amos chronology
From the Choirgirl Hotel
(1998)
To Venus and Back
(1999)
Strange Little Girls
(2001)
Tori Amos live chronology
To Venus and Back
(1999)
The Original Bootlegs
(2005)
Singles from To Venus and Back
  1. "Bliss"
    Released: August 24, 1999
  2. "1000 Oceans"
    Released: September 9, 1999
  3. "Glory of the 80's"
    Released: October 11, 1999
  4. "Concertina"
    Released: February 8, 2000

To Venus and Back, the fifth album released by singer and songwriter Tori Amos, is a two-disc album set including a studio album and a live album. The first disc, titled Venus: Orbiting, features eleven original songs that find Amos experimenting heavily in electronica. It spawned the singles "Bliss" (August 1999), "1000 Oceans" (August 1999), "Glory of the 80's" (Europe only, November 1999), and "Concertina" (U.S. only, February 2000). The second disc, Venus Live: Still Orbiting, is a thirteen-track album compiling live tracks recorded from her Plugged '98 tour. This is the first official live release of Amos's career.

Background[edit]

To Venus and Back, which began life as a proposed B-sides album, is sparser both in production and arrangement than From the Choirgirl Hotel, but is similar to its predecessor in that it features overt electronica influences and a relatively subdued piano sound. The album finds Amos's voice and piano subverted in a sonic maze of electronic washes and effects, and some songs, notably "Juárez" and the epic "Dātura" are largely built around these effects. Topics covered on the album include unsolved murdered female maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juárez on the U.S.-Mexico border, hallucinogenic plants, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

In November 1999, Tori Amos was quoted by Pulse Magazine as saying that this record says a lot about the shadows and the shadow world.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[2]
The A.V. Club (favourable)[3]
Entertainment Weekly B[4]
The Music Box 3/5 stars[5]
NME (5/10)[6]
Nude as the News (favourable)[7]
PopMatters (6/10)[8]
Q 4/5 stars 11/1999 (p.116)
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[9]

The studio disc of To Venus and Back is recognized as one of Amos's most experimental yet melodic, and received mixed reviews. Some critics praised its originality, innovation and unpredictable song structures,[6][9] with one reviewer describing the album as having, "some of the best vocals of her career, embedded in modern, special-effects-laden soundscapes that move from electronica-spiced piano pop and hip-hop to ambient space music",[10] while others begrudged the album because of its overuse of electronic instruments and lack of Amos's trademark simplistic sound,[8][11] most present on albums such as Little Earthquakes (1992) and Under The Pink (1994).

The album received two 2000 Grammy Award nominations: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Bliss" and Best Alternative Music Album.

Sales[edit]

To Venus and Back, priced higher than Amos's previous releases because of its two-disc format, sold 112,000 copies in the US in its first week and debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200, number 18 on the Top Canadian Albums, and number 22 on the UK Top 40,[12][13][14] breaking her run of three consecutive UK Top 10 albums.

Two months after its release in November 1999, the album achieved RIAA Certification, reaching Gold and Platinum sales status simultaneously,[15] due to the release being a double CD set. To Venus and Back remained on the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks, with its final position at # 189 for the week of January 8, 2000, before falling off the chart.[16] As of May 2008, the album has sold 458,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Tori Amos. 

Disc one – Venus: Orbiting
No. Title Length
1. "Bliss"   3:42
2. "Juárez"   3:48
3. "Concertina"   3:56
4. "Glory of the 80's"   4:03
5. "Lust"   3:54
6. "Suede"   4:58
7. "Josephine"   2:30
8. "Riot Poof"   3:28
9. "Dātura"   8:25
10. "Spring Haze"   4:44
11. "1000 Oceans"   4:19
Disc two – Venus Live: Still Orbiting
No. Title Length
1. "Precious Things"   7:37
2. "Cruel"   6:47
3. "Cornflake Girl"   6:31
4. "Bells for Her"   5:42
5. "Girl"   4:15
6. "Cooling"   5:09
7. "Mr. Zebra"   1:17
8. "Cloud on My Tongue"   4:58
9. "Sugar"   5:10
10. "Little Earthquakes"   7:37
11. "Space Dog"   5:46
12. "Waitress"   10:24
13. "Purple People"   4:11

B-sides[edit]

Given the conditions under which the album was created, To Venus and Back is unique in that it does not have any studio tracks that serve as B-sides. Instead the album's singles are backed by live tracks recorded from the previous year's tour.

Title Length Single
"Hey Jupiter" (live) 4:32 "Bliss" (1999)
"Upside Down" (live) 5:47
"Baker, Baker" (live) 3:54 "1000 Oceans" (1999)
"Winter" (live) 6:59
"Famous Blue Raincoat" (live) 5:25 "Glory of the 80's" (UK) (1999) /

"Concertina" (US) (2000)

"Twinkle" (live) 2:48

Following the theme of the album's second disc, which is composed of live tracks arranged similarly to an actual concert, the B-sides that appear on the album's singles are live songs performed solo with Amos on the piano. The chart on the left lists only the songs that were released as B-sides on singles from To Venus and Back.

The sole track recorded during the To Venus and Back recording sessions that does not appear on the album, nor as a B-side, is the nine-minute "Zero Point". Of the song's exclusion from the album, Amos has said that the song wasn't intentionally left off the album, rather an over-sensitivity about a certain gardening issue led "Dātura" to being included instead.[18] Interestingly, the liner notes of To Venus and Back state, "Zero Point - your time is coming". The song was released seven years later on A Piano: The Collection (2006).

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (1999) Position
Billboard 200 (US) 12
Billboard Top Internet Albums (US) 1
Official UK Album Chart 22
ARIA Album Chart (Australia) 6
Austrian Album Chart 17
Top Canadian Albums 18
Finnish Album Chart 30
IFOP Album Chart (France) 31
German Album Chart 11
Norwegian Album Chart 10
Dutch Album Chart (Netherlands) 24
Swedish Album Chart 49
Swiss Album Chart 27

Singles[edit]

Title Chart Position
"Bliss" (1999) Canadian Hot 100 7
"Bliss" (1999) Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales (U.S.) 16
"Bliss" (1999) Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (U.S.) 89?
"Bliss" (1999) U.S. Billboard Hot 100 91
"1000 Oceans" (1999) Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales (U.S.) 22
"Glory of the 80's" (1999) UK Singles Chart 46
"Glory of the 80's" (1999) Australian Singles Chart 81
"Concertina" (2000) US AAA 18
"Concertina" (2000) Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales (U.S.) 48

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[19] Platinum 1,000,000^
Summaries

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

Tour[edit]

The album was supported by a short tour in 1999, the "Five and a Half Weeks Tour", which Amos co-headlined with Alanis Morissette beginning a month prior to the release of To Venus and Back. Many referred to Amos as the "opening act" for Morissette because she always performed first; however, this was due only to the logistics of setting up a grand piano for performance. An Amos-only stint, the "To Dallas and Back" tour, also took place, but promotional plans were cut when Amos suffered her third miscarriage in November 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "To Venus and Back". September 12, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2014. A two-CD set, one half is a live album and like all such self-indulgences it's mainly unremarkable. It does, however, with the addition of a full band, act as a compass for her new direction. Which mainly means trip-hop 
  2. ^ AllMusic Review
  3. ^ The A.V. Club Review
  4. ^ Entertainment Weekly Review
  5. ^ The Music Box Review
  6. ^ a b NME Review
  7. ^ Nude as the News Review
  8. ^ a b PopMatters Review
  9. ^ a b Rolling Stone Review
  10. ^ Morse, Steve (1999-08-27). "'Venus' of the Road". The Boston Globe. 
  11. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (1999-09-22). "Sharps & flats". Salon.com. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  12. ^ "Mariah Scores 14th No. 1 Single". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  13. ^ "Tori Amos > Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  14. ^ "everyhit.com". Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  15. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum Database". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  16. ^ "The Billboard 200 - Chart Listing For The Week Of Jan 08 2000". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-07-12. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Ask Billboard - How Many Dolls are in a Posse". Billboard. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  18. ^ Tori Amos - A Piano: The Collection. Rhino. 2006. p. 34. 
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Tori Amos – To Venus and Back". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH