Tori Amos

Tori Amos & Wu-Tang Clan Review

This week Jim and Greg welcome rock goddess Tori Amos to the show for an intimate conversation.

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Music News

In what is turning into a regular Sound Opinions segment:“The Recording Industry vs. The Consumer,”Jim and Greg turn this week to a news item coming out of Oregon. Earlier this year the RIAA filed a lawsuit accusing 17 unnamed suspected University of Oregon students of illegally sharing music. The suspects are identified only by an Internet address, and industry lawyers have demanded that the university identify them. Previously when the RIAA has done this, universities cooperated. But the University of Oregon's response has been quite remarkable. UO officials are refusing to identify the students without an investigation, saying that this would compromise their privacy and property rights. Oregon's Attorney General has backed the school and is accusing the RIAA of bullying. Jim and Greg speak to Tony Green, a reporter at the Oregonian, about what is fast becoming a contentious battle.

While they may not be effective, the record industry lawsuits are an attempt to maintain ground in an ever-changing landscape. The next two stories speak to this music industry flux. Universal, the top music label, has ordered its artists to take full tracks off of their MySpace pages. While MySpace was once viewed as a great promotional tool, it's now been added to the list of digital distribution enemies. Therefore, commercial successes like Colbie Caillat are having to remove content from their sites and explain the issue to hungry fans. This move might have been a response to losses Universal experienced last quarter. They're also laying off a number of top and mid-level executives, and Vivendi, the company that owns the label, has announced plans to acquire video game publisher Activision. Activision produces Guitar Hero, the game that has proven to be more successful than any music release this year.

Another area the music industry is struggling with is commercial radio. With an increasing number of alternatives to radio including internet radio and the iPod, broadcast radio listenership has been gradually diminishing over the past few years. In an effort to maintain listeners, program directors are actually choosing to play fewer songs, more times. New York Times reporter Jeff Leeds explains that commercial radio stations are oddly choosing to keep the listeners they've got, rather than get new ones. The most recent example of this strategy is the tremendous amount of airpla{artist: y given to OneRepublic's hit single "Apologize." The Timbaland} produced track recently broke the record for the most plays of a song on the nation's Top 40 stations in a single week. It was played almost 11,000 times in one single week and was heard by more than 70 million listeners.




Tori Amos

Veteran musician Tori Amos stopped by the studio recently to talk to Jim and Greg. The singer/songwriter was in town on a tour to promote her most recent album American Doll Posse, which both Jim and Greg agreed was a Buy It. Tori is known for her strong feminist views, as well as her accomplished piano skills. But, as she explains, both those things weren't seen as positives early on in her career. After failing with her glam rock project Y Kant Tori Read, Tori decided to stay true to her heart and her musical roots. She approached record companies with her honest, political, piano-driven songs and was told that no one wanted the“girl at the piano.”Luckily for us she stuck with that and has gone on to make and sell records.

For this album Tori decided to collaborate with some true rockers: drummer Matt Chamberlain and guitarist/producer Mark Hawley (aka Mac Alladin aka Mr. Tori Amos). Jim and Greg talk to Tori about why she chose to do such an earthy, almost Zeppelin-esque record. She explains that the sound partly came out of the content of the songs — which express the anger and frustration Tori felt for and on behalf of American women after 2004's presidential election. She gave a lot of thought to the different roles American women play on a daily basis, and even adopted different female characters for different songs. If you get a chance to see Tori perform on this current tour, be ready for someone different to pop up.

review8-Bit Diagrams8 Diagrams available on iTunes

Wu-Tang Clan 8 Diagrams

It's been six years since pioneering hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan released an album, but now they're back with a new one called 8 Diagrams. Greg explains that you can‘t underestimate how groundbreaking and influential the group has been. They’re known for their spooky, layered sound, which often includes sci-fi and martial arts film clips, as well as their cryptic lyricism. There's not a whole lot of that on display on 8 Diagrams however. The group's central emcee, Ghostface Killah, appears to have put more effort into his solo album, The Big Doe Rehab. He's only on three of the Wu-Tang tracks, and has openly criticized the album. The one member who is fully invested in Wu-Tang is producer RZA. Both men could have benefited from some collaboration. Greg gives Wu-Tang's album a Burn It, and Ghostface's a Trash It. Jim appreciated the appearance of Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, but he agrees with Greg 100%: Ghostface needs RZA, and RZA needs Ghostface.


Featured Songs

  1. Sleater-Kinney,“You're No Rock N' Roll Fun,”All Hands on the Bad One, 2000
  2. Colbie Caillat,“Bubbly,”Bubbly, 2007
  3. OneRepublic,“Apologize,”Dreaming Out Loud, 2007
  4. Polygon Window,“Polygon Window,”Surfing on Sine Waves, 1993
  5. Tori Amos,“Cornflake Girl,”Under the Pink, 1994
  6. Tori Amos,“Body and Soul,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  7. Tori Amos,“God,”Under the Pink, 1994
  8. Tori Amos,“Little Earthquakes,”Little Earthquakes, 1992
  9. Tori Amos,“You Can Bring Your Dog,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  10. Tori Amos,“Big Wheel,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  11. Tori Amos,“Strange Little Girl,”Strange Little Girls, 2001
  12. Wu Tang Clan,“Heart Gently Weeps,”8 Diagrams, 2007
  13. Wu Tang Clan,“Take It Back,”8 Diagrams, 2007
  14. MGMT,“Electric Feel,”Oracular Spectacular, 2007
  15. Bootsy Collins,“What's a Telephone Bill?”Ahh…The Name is Bootsy, Baby! 1977
  16. Qui,“New Orleans,”Love's Miracle, 2007
  17. Tunng“Bullets,”Good Arrows, 2007
  18. Tunng“Soup,”Good Arrows, 2007
  19. Against Me!,“White People for Peace,”New Wave, 2007

Footnotes Photos from Tori Amos's visit to Sound Opinions Oregon Attorney General criticizes RIAA's conduct in P2P cases Music Theft at 58 Campuses Targeted in Latest Wave of Deterrence Program Oregon Challenges RIAA's Tactics in Music Piracy Claim Universal Music Group Universal Barring Artists from Posting Full Songs on MySpace Vivendi to Acquire Activision Guitar Hero Sales Surge Jeff Leeds article,“Radio's Newest Strategy: Play a Hit, Again and Again” One Republic's homepage“Apologize”music video Timbaland's homepage Tori Amos's homepage Jim reviews American Doll Posse Y Kant Tori Read on Wikipedia Matt Chamberlain's bio on DrummerWorld Jim reviews Little Earthquakes Tori Amos performs“She's Your Cocaine”live… with angel wings Wu-Tang Clan's homepage The Big Doe Rehab on Metacritic RZA on AllMusic John Frusciante's homepage