Some thirty years after it was recorded, the Tori Amos curio Y Kant Tori Read has finally been officially issued digitally for the first time. Predating her solo debut album Little Earthquakes by four years, 1988’s eponymous album from Y Kant Tori Read featured Amos fronting a synth-heavy rock band. If you thought her later albums such as Under The Pink, Boys For Pele and From The Choirgirl Hotel were surprising, you won’t believe the stories behind this great lost album of the ‘80s...
- Y KANT TORI READ FEATURED A FUTURE MEMBER OF GUNS N’ ROSES
Before he took up the Guns N’ Roses drumstool which Steven Adler fell off, drummer Matt Sorum was a member of LA’s Y Kant Tori Read. Sorum, who also later played with The Cult and Velvet Revolver, began working with Amos in the mid-‘80s. “I was playing in a little club, and I introduced myself, we started a band, and we decided to call it Y Kant Tori Read,” Sorum told Austin music blog Ovrld. “I had a fucked-up hairdo. Flock of Seagulls was big, Duran Duran, there was that whole New Romantics thing going on in England entering over to America. So I cut my hair, kind of like a rockabilly hairdo gone bad.” It wasn’t just Sorum who had the mad ‘80s hair – as the album cover proves, Tori was also a victim of the times. “She had these big boots on and her hair was all crazy,” Matt Sorum told VH1 in 2000.
- THIS WAS TORI’S “PIRATE PHASE”
If her outfit and accessory on the album cover wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the Y Kant Tori Read album caught Amos during her pirate phase. In Jake Brown’s biography Tori Amos: In The Studio, producer Joe Chiccarelli recalls giving the 24-year-old singer-songwriter the sword she wields on the cover. “I'd given her that sword as a Christmas gift because she was always talking about pirates and she had this thing for pirates and the sword - not thinking it would end up on the cover. But she loved this cover at the time.” One need only look at the song titles to see In the Jay S Jacobs biography Pretty Good Years, it was suggested Amos even took fencing lessons in this swashbuckling era.
- FASHIONS BY RETAIL SLUT
In 1994 while musing about the fact her Y Kant Tori Read look overshadowed the music, Amos suggested to Vox “It’s hard not to notice a girl with two-foot hair and plastic snakeskin boots up to her thighs, unfortunately.” At the time, Amos shopped for her eye-catching outfits at LA’s Retail Slut, an outlet which specialised in Goth, S&M and alternative looks which was open between 1983 and 2005. "The Big Picture", the only music video Y Kant Tori Read ever released, features Tori alternately dressed in tight leather pants, crop top, impressive ripped acid wash jeans and a Seinfeld-esque puffy shirt.
- BACKING VOCALS FOR… SANDRA BERNHARD?
When Y Kant Tori Read failed to receive commercial acclaim and a heart-breaking Billboard review called the album “bimbo music”, Amos disappeared from the spotlight to lick her wounds. As well as recording the original demo of the hit Days Of Thunder theme song "Show Me Heaven" and an unreleased dance album (you can read more about these in our 25 Tori Amos facts story here), Amos picked up a few backing vocalist jobs to make ends meet. One of these roles included singing on American comedian Sandra Bernhard’s cover of Prince’s "Little Red Corvette". Bernhard, who had an on-again/off-again relationship with Madonna in the early ‘90s, performed the track in the finale of her film Without You I’m Nothing while dressed in little more than a G-string. Bernhard and Amos were introduced by guitarist and songwriter Steve Caton, who had previously been a member of Y Kant Tori Read.
- ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER
After 25 years of distancing herself from the album, Amos setlists in the last few years have seen Y Kant Tori Read fan favourites creeping into her gigs. "Cool On Your Island", "Etienne" and "Fire On Your Side" have made multiple appearances since 2014, with some Y Kant Tori Read tracks waiting almost 30 years to make their live debuts. Even during those years when she spoke about Y Kant Tori Read as a terrible mistake in her career, Amos knew there was a certain magic to these nave little girls of hers. When asked about releasing rarities such as Y Kant Tori Read songs in 2005, Tori told this writer their long absence helped make them special. “Some things need to stay as little gems. If you mass market them they can lose their charm - part of their charm is having to find them. There are gods and goddesses you don’t hear about – you have to seek them out.” In fact, she even let slip that her husband, producer Mark Hawley, kept copies of these very songs Amos had distanced herself from. “Somebody has them on the iPod!” she laughed. “Husband has everything logged.”
You can now hear what the fuss is all about here...