If you’d have asked, we’d have pretended to know about Amos, based on a recollection of a hit single or two and a woman playing the piano.
We’d have been wrong: first time through we hated this 20th anniversary re-release of one of her classic albums, what with the Kate Bush-esque wailings and shoutings, and the hammered piano. How could we not have known how bad she was?
But then we figured she must have something, read the sleeve notes and tried again.
Instead of loathsome, we decided this album is awesome. The Pele of the title is a Hawaiian volcano peak goddess. The cover shows Amos holding an uncocked gun, a reference to her song Me And A Gun, in which she sings about being raped: “It’s kind of funny things you think / At times like these / Like I haven’t seen Barbados / So I must get out of this.”
The Pele cover was meant to show she’d got over it, though in the updated sleeve notes she’s not so sure. Pele comes into it because all the men she’d known are thrown in the volcano and burned to their essentials.
So, it’s a powerful album from a classically trained musician baring her soul, exploring mythology, religion and gender with constant reference to patriarchies. Maybe not for Christmas day, but certainly for the new year and reflecting on life.
This reissue comes with 21 bonus tracks of unreleased songs, demos and live recordings, and includes the Armand Van Helden “star trunk funkin’” remix of Professional Widow.