Tori Amos' 'Librarian' hushes her glory

Compilation of rarities, B-sides and hits falls short

Tori Amos "Tales of a Librarian" (Atlantic Records) 3 out of 4 stars

Tori Amos was the quintessential female piano-rocker of the '90s, but her time in the spotlight has passed. Luckily, she and her producers are smart enough to realize this and use nostalgia to their advantage with her most recent release, "Tales of a Librarian." Amos has released seven full-length albums, beginning with "Little Earthquakes" in 1992, and has had enough hit singles to rival all of today's pop divas. After such a rich career, it is certainly appropriate to release a collection of Amos' best songs. "Librarian" is an assortment of old works, a few new songs and B-sides, and a DVD featuring live footage. The emphasis is clearly on Amos' early-'90s work, completely ignoring 2001's cover album "Strange Little Girls" and last year's "Scarlet's Walk." All the tracks included from "Little Earthquakes" have been re-mastered for added clarity, a common occurence in the industry. The songs, including "Silent All These Years" and "Crucify," do sound slightly clearer, but the sound of the original recording may just have been part of the charm. The four new songs on the album are good additions to Amos' oeuvre, but lack the creative substance that her early works contained. Also, a techno remix of "Professional Widow" is out of place and almost unlistenable. The selection of tracks on "Librarian" is interesting, and while several definitive songs have been selected to represent Amos' successful career, many essential works are also missing. "Hotel," arguably one of Amos' best songs, is not one of the tracks selected from 1998's "From the Choirgirl Hotel." "Librarian" is one of many "best of" collections that have popped up all over record store shelves recently. Any musical artist that today's college students listened to in middle school, or even high school, has now reached the point of being too past their prime to produce good work, but still not too far past to forgo a nostalgic reunion of past works. This collection is solid and certainly contains a number of Amos' classic works, but it leaves much to be desired. Real fans would do well to make their own Amos collections, because this selection defines the interests of the record label, not the listener.

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