Little Earthquakes

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Little Earthquakes
Lecover-big.jpg
Studio album by Tori Amos
Released
  • January 6, 1992 (UK)
  • February 25, 1992 (US)
Recorded 1990–91
Genre
Length 56:54
Label
Producer
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: November 18, 1991
  3. "China"
    Released: January 20, 1992
  4. "Winter"
    Released: March 9, 1992
  5. "Crucify"
    Released: May 12, 1992

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 composed 12 songs, recorded them at Capitol Records in Los Angeles with Davitt Sigerson producing, and in June 1990 submitted them for copyright.[1]

Amos approached Atlantic Records in December 1990 with a 10-track demo tape, some being newer songs but mostly ones from June. 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" and "Flying Dutchman".[2] Atlantic was unhappy with the songs, and in response Amos and her then boyfriend Eric Rosse recorded some new songs, including "Girl", "Precious Things", "Tear In Your Hand" and "Little Earthquakes". The song "Take Me With You" was recorded during these sessions, but not released until 2006 (with re-recorded vocals.) This session was recorded on a limited budget in Rosse's home studio, using his 3M 24-track analog tape machine and a Yamaha CP-80 piano. Amos and Rosse also went to Stag Studios to use a Yamaha grand piano. Satisfied with these recordings, Atlantic determined that the album Little Earthquakes would have 13 tracks, removing "Learning to Fly" and adding four from the December recording session.[1]

Amos moved to London to work with Ian Stanley; Atlantic thought Amos would have an easier time of achieving success, because of English appreciation for eccentric performers. 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.[3]

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 the song "Little Earthquakes" was to appear after "Happy Phantom" on side one, with side two closing with "Flying Dutchman".[2] The latter track was presumably dropped due to the physical restraints of the vinyl LP format.

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 number 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.

Release[edit]

When the album was finally released in the UK in January 1992, it reached number 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.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Christgau's Consumer Guide C+[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[7]
NME 7/10[8]
Pitchfork Media 8.6/10[9]
Q 4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[12]
Slant Magazine 5/5 stars[13]

Reviews of the album were generally positive. Josef Woodward of Rolling Stone described Little Earthquakes as "an often pretty, subtly progressive song cycle that reflects darkly on sexual alienation and personal struggles", and that by the end of the album "we feel as though we've been through some peculiar therapy session, half-cleansed and half-stirred. That artful paradox is part of what makes Little Earthquakes a gripping debut."[11] His original rating of three and a half stars out of five in the 1992 print version of the magazine was later rounded up to four stars out of five on Rolling Stone's website. Jean Rosenbluth of the Los Angeles Times wrote that few had "progressed from the silly to the sublime as quickly or smoothly as Amos" and praised Little Earthquakes as "a quixotic, compelling record that mixes the smart sensuality of Kate Bush with the provocative impenetrability of Mary Margaret O'Hara."[7] Among negative assessments, Stephanie Zacharek of Entertainment Weekly felt that Amos' songs "are too self-consciously weird" to be enjoyable,[14] while Robert Christgau only expressed praise for the song "Me and a Gun".[5]

In the United Kingdom, where Amos was first promoted, the album was also warmly received. Jon Wilde of Melody Maker stated that Amos "possesses a rare ability to explore a multiplicity of emotions and a broad range of perspectives within the same song", describing the album's songs as "cerebral soul music for the kind of people who mean to read TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom on their holiday but end up spending all their time exchanging bodily fluids with strangers."[15] Q's John Aizlewood wrote that "Guilt, misery and failed relationships thread their way through Little Earthquakes with occasional detours for childhood traumas transformed into adult inadequacies" and praised Amos' lyrics, concluding: "Little Earthquakes is disturbing, funny and sexy by turns. Amos does all this with the unmistakable stamp of a potentially great songwriter. Where on earth can she go from here?"[10] Roger Morton of NME, however, was more reserved, writing that "it isn't easy getting to grips with Tori" and calling Little Earthquakes "a sprawling, confusing journey through the gunk of a woman's soul... Sometimes it's magical and sometimes it's sickly and overwrought."[8]

Legacy[edit]

In a retrospective review of the album, Steve Huey of AllMusic stated that with Little Earthquakes, Amos "carved the template for the female singer/songwriter movement of the '90s" and that while "her subsequent albums were often very strong, Amos would never bare her soul quite so directly (or comprehensibly) as she did here, nor with such consistently focused results."[4] Barry Walters of Pitchfork Media cited Little Earthquakes and its follow-up Under the Pink as Amos' "milestones" and wrote that "the legacy of these milestones linger over today's underground", citing a number of acts who "all wear their sensitivities as strengths as she did."[9]

Reviewing the 2015 remastered edition of the album, J.C. Maçek III of Spectrum Culture wrote: "With its lack of standard rock and pop clichés of the day and reliance on acoustic piano and an excellent (if unconventional) voice, Little Earthquakes sounds as unique today as it did in 1992."[16] In a four-star review, Jessica Machado of Rolling Stone wrote that "nearly 25 years later, the album's emotional highs and lows seem even more impressive for a debut."[17] Alex Ramon of PopMatters wrote that Little Earthquakes "immediately demonstrates her ability to go right to the heart of an emotional experience and powerfully communicate it through a variety of musical styles."[18]

Accolades[edit]

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.[19]

The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written 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
  • Matthew 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
Australian Albums (ARIA)[21] 14
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[22] 49
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[23] 65
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[24] 85
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[25] 18
UK Albums (OCC)[26] 14
US Billboard 200[27] 54
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 Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[28] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[29] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Yessaid.com
  2. ^ a b Campbell, Paul (1997). Tori Amos Collectibles. London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6174-3. 
  3. ^ Hereinmyhead.com
  4. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Little Earthquakes – Tori Amos". AllMusic. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved April 16, 2015. 
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  7. ^ a b Rosenbluth, Jean (March 1, 1992). "In Brief". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Morton, Roger (January 11, 1992). "Review: Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". NME. London: IPC Media. p. 28. 
  9. ^ a b Walters, Barry (April 16, 2015). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes / Under the Pink". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved April 16, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Aizlewood, John (February 1992). "Review: Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Q. No. 65. London: EMAP. p. 82. 
  11. ^ a b Woodard, Josef (April 2, 1992). "Review: Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Rolling Stone. No. 327. New York City, USA: Wenner Media LLC. p. 46. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 17–18. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  13. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (November 7, 2003). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  14. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (April 24, 1992). "Little Earthquakes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  15. ^ Wilde, Jon (January 4, 1992). "Review: Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Melody Maker. London: IPC Media. p. 29. 
  16. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (April 30, 2015). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition)". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  17. ^ Machado, Jessica (April 14, 2015). "Little Earthquakes: Deluxe Edition". Rolling Stone. New York: Wenner Media LLC (1233). Retrieved May 23, 2015. 
  18. ^ Ramon, Alex (June 2, 2015). "Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes / Under the Pink (reissues)". PopMatters. Retrieved June 20, 2015. 
  19. ^ Rocklistmusic.co.uk
  20. ^ "Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition)". Amazon.com. February 2014. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  21. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Hung Medien.
  22. ^ "Tori Amos – Chart history" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Tori Amos.
  23. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  24. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  25. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Hung Medien.
  26. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Tori Amos – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Tori Amos.
  28. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  29. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Music Canada. 
  30. ^ "British album certifications – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Little Earthquakes in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH