Y Kant Tori Read PhotoA cult clustered around Y Kant Tori Read (the name of the band and the LP) when Tori Amos became famous three years later with the confessional Little Earthquakes. The singer/songwriter then distanced herself from Y Kant Tori Read, which she explained reminds her of struggling in California and other things she doesn't want to remember (some detailed in "Me and a Gun"). Even though in the liner notes, Tori (no surname) explains how this is the record she wanted to make, Amos has since copped the trite "record company pressure" plea. Actually, this is not that bad, but hardly an indicator of the lyrical bite in her future solo work. Plus, like too much from the vapid video age, it's just shallow and corporate. She's already aping Kate Bush, but producer Joe Chiccarelli worked with Pat Benatar and lets it show. (Meaningless aside: Chiccarelli broke through with Sheik Yerbouti.)

Go back to Benatar's rendition of Bush's "Wuthering Heights" to get the gist of this '80s romp: the true-blue "Cool on Your Island" and "Floating City" invoke Madonna; Amos almost raps in the Abdul-ish "Fayth"; "Pirates" showcases a Miami Vice backdrop; Berlin also haunts several tracks, including guilty pleasure "Heart Attack at 23." However, traces of Amos' future niche do kindle in "Fire on the Side." The kooky closing trilogy (wherein she wonders if she's a witch) achieves some uniqueness. Thus, Y Kant Tori Read beams much sunnier than the bleak '90s Amos catalog, but also floats away weightless. As for the bonuses, "Song for Eric" pulls a Sinead O'Connor. "Ring My Bell" is a laboriously unnecessary remake that actually paves the way for her version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Apparently, except for Tori, the Y Kant Tori Read band didn't make the vinyl. Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander actually sing backup on this collector's item oddity. Other personnel includes Guns n' Roses stickman Matt Sorum, Steve Farris of Mister Mister, and keyboard journeyman Kim Bullard (who co-wrote many of the tunes). Don't pay a lot for Y Kant Tori Read. (You'll still want to see the video for the "Big Picture" though.) ~ Doug Stone, All Music Guide