Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection review by Mike Long

The "MTV Generation" is a term which has come to have negative connotations. I am a member of the "MTV Generation" and I'm very proud of it. I was an adolescent when MTV premiered and I soon became very accustomed to watching this new music channel. Just as The Buggles predicted, I soon found myself relying on MTV for music rather than the radio. People like myself who grew up during this period are stereotyped as having short attention spans and only liking fast-paced entertainment. The one detrimental effect that watching MTV had on me was that it made me very accustomed to watching music videos -- something which I don't get to do much anymore. As the music channels have moved away from videos and gone to more entertainment programming, I must get music videos where ever I can. The advent of DVD has brought a new outlet for this passion, as many artists have released music video compilations on home video. A recent entry into this genre is Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection.

Tori Amos hit the music scene as a solo artist in 1992. Her music was immediately recognized as unique not only because of the poetically honest lyrics, but her use of the piano as opposed to the guitars which were prevalent at the time. Amos has subsequently released eight albums and continues to develop and change her sound. She has also been outspoken politically, as she's on the advisory board of RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network).

Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection contains 19 music videos spread across two DVDs. The videos are as follows (the song title is followed by the album from which the song came -- NOTE: the videos are not in chronological order):

Disc 1:

"Past the Mission" (Under the Pink)

"Crucify" (Little Earthquakes)

"Jackie's Strength" (From the Choirgirl Hotel)

"A Sorta Fairytale" (Scarlet's Walk)

"Winter" (Little Earthquakes)

"Spark" (From the Choirgirl Hotel)

"Sleeps with Butterflies" (The Beekeeper)

"Cornflake Girl" (US Version) (Under the Pink)

"Hey Jupiter" (Dakota Version) (Boys for Pele)

"Silent all these Years" (Little Earthquakes)

Disc 2

"Caught a Lite Sneeze" (Boys for Pele)

"1000 Oceans" (To Venus and Back)

"God" (Under the Pink)

"Bliss" (To Venus and Back)

"China" (Little Earthquakes)

"Raspberry Swirl" (From the Choirgirl Hotel)

"Talula" (The Tornado Mix) (Boys for Pele)

"Sweet the Sting" (The Beekeeper)

"Pretty Good Year" (Under the Pink)

(For a good indicator of how the world of music videos have changed, note the fact that there are four videos from Amos' first two albums, but the number declines after that.)

As with her music, the videos from Tori Amos are often challenging. They offer visuals which both illustrate the lyrics and compliment the music. The videos range from the boisterous energy of "Cornflake Girl" to the dark imagery of "Spark". The videos never wander into the realm of the disturbing (well, except for maybe "A Sorta Fairytale"), but the images are often stark and full of multiple meanings. The early videos, most notable "Crucify" and "Silent All These Years" offer somewhat simple images, but as Amos' music changes, so do the videos. While some of the clips feature Amos playing the piano, none can be consider true performance videos. The videos are presented in their original form, as they would have aired on music video channel, but some, such as "Crucify" are truly "singles" and bits of the original song have been removed to shorten the video.

This collection is a no-brainer for fans of Tori Amos. A music video compilation was released on VHS several years ago, but this new 2-disc collection is much more comprehensive and impressive. The videos show the growth of Amos as an artist in her music and also offer a nice palette of diverse videos. The only other thing that I would have liked to have seen in this set is a additional track featuring the kickass version of "Cornflake Girl" done by Jawbox.

Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection comes to DVD courtesy of Rhino Home Video. The videos contained in this 2-disc set are all presented in their original aspect ratio -- some are full-frame and some are letterboxed at various sizes -- and the transfers are all 4:3. The video quality varies from video to video. Overall, the images are sharp and clear on every track, and the colors are especially nice. But, the earlier videos, most notably "Crucify" and "Silent All These Years" show a noticeable amount of grain and artifacting. (The white backgrounds on these clips certainly don't help matters.) Video noise is kept to a minimum and none of the videos show any defects from the source material. The DVD carries both a PCM Stereo audio track and a DTS 5.1 track. (The DVD box has the Dolby logo, but the menus list only the PCM Stereo and DTS tracks.) The DTS tracks sound fantastic and represent some of the best mixed music which I've heard on DVD. 5.1 music has a tendency to be flat and tinny, but not hear. Every note comes through clearly and Amos' voice is strong. For those of you without a DTS decoder the stereo track is good as well, sounding very close to the original CD versions of the songs.

Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection carries a few extras, the first of which is one of the most impressive that I've seen on a music video compilation. Tori Amos provides audio commentary for every video. Her talks may not be as in-depth as I would have liked, but it's great that she comments on every video. She touches on locations and the director when appropriate, but for the most part, she talks about how the visuals and the song intertwine. For some of the videos, she talks about what the production was like. Amos does get caught up in the "name game" at times, talking about people by their first names as if we know who they are, but the chats are interesting nonetheless. The DVD features an alternate video for "Cornflake Girl" from the UK which is a totally different video. There is also a video for the remix of "Professional Widow". "Behind the Scenes: 'A Sorta Fairytale'" (20 minutes) is a featurette which explores the making of that video. It is comprised mainly of behind-the-scenes video of Amos and co-star Adrien Brody on-set, and it details the painstaking detail which went into shooting for the digital effects in the video. The segment also contains an interview with Amos as she talks about the video.

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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