Little Earthquakes

Little Earthquakes
Little Earthquakes
Studio album by Tori Amos
Released January 13, 1992 (UK)
February 25, 1992 (US)
Recorded 1990–1991
Genre Alternative rock, piano rock
Length 56:54
Label Atlantic (US), East West (Europe)
Producer Tori Amos, Eric Rosse, Davitt Sigerson, Ian Stanley
Tori Amos chronology
Little Earthquakes
Under the Pink
Singles from Little Earthquakes
  1. "Me and a Gun"
    Released: 1991
  2. "Silent All These Years"
    Released: 1991
  3. "China"
    Released: 1992
  4. "Winter"
    Released: 1992
  5. "Crucify"
    Released: 1992
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk 9/10 stars[1]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Q 4/5 stars 2/92, p.82
PopMatters (positive)[3]
Robert Christgau (C+)[4]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[5]
Slant 5/5 stars[6]

Little Earthquakes (1992) is the solo debut album of singer/songwriter Tori Amos, featuring the singles "Winter", "China", "Silent All These Years" and "Crucify".



After leaving her home in Baltimore for Los Angeles in 1984, Amos spent three years as a struggling bar-room pianist and lounge act, performing a mix of covers and her own songs.

In 1986, she co-founded the synthpop band Y Kant Tori Read, and was signed to Atlantic Records. The band released an eponymous album in 1988, but it sank without a trace, and the band dissolved. In 1990, Amos came back to Atlantic Records with a 10-track demo tape. The track listing consisted of "Russia" (later to become "Take to the Sky") / "Mary" / "Crucify" / "Happy Phantom" / "Leather" / "Winter" / "Sweet Dreams" / "Song for Eric" / "Learn to Fly"" / Flying Dutchman".[7]

The album was then recorded in three phases. The first batch of tracks ("Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Winter", "Happy Phantom", "Leather", "Mother", "Sweet Dreams", "Russia/Take To The Sky", "Upside Down" and "Flying Dutchman") were cut at Capitol Records in Los Angeles with Davitt Sigerson producing. After hearing the first group of songs, the record company was unhappy. Tori and her then boyfriend, Eric Rosse, recorded the second group of songs ("Girl", "Precious Things", "Tear In Your Hand" and "Little Earthquakes", plus "Take Me With You", which would not be completed until 2006 and finally released on A Piano: The Collection). This phase was recorded on a limited budget, using Eric's old 3M 24-track analog machine and a Yamaha CP-80 piano. They also went outside to Stag Studios to use a Yamaha grand.[8] During these sessions, Amos noted "[The song] Girl was being recorded and I couldn't get a take. I was freaking out. Eric was in the booth playing air ball encouraging me to take a ten minute. Glued on the bench, I started this thing coming from nowhere singing nonsense into the mic. When I finished, Eric said, 'It's a take.' I said, 'What?' - he had left the machine running." This resulting track became the B-side "Thoughts".[9]

These two phases resulted in the original "final" 13-track version of the album, submitted in January 1991, as revealed in the liner notes for the A Piano: The Collection box set. The tracklist is very similar to the released version: "Crucify" / "Girl" / "Silent All These Years" / "Precious Things" / "Winter" / "Sweet Dreams" / "Little Earthquakes" / "Leather" / "Russia" / "Mother" / "Tear In Your Hand" / "Upside Down" / "Flying Dutchman". Of all 14 tracks recorded, only "Happy Phantom" was omitted at this point, but it would later appear on the released tracklist.

For phase three, Amos traveled to England to work with Ian Stanley. Here she recorded what would become two of her early singles. "Me And A Gun" was the last song written for the album, while "China" was an early track, originally titled "Distance", that she wrote in 1987 with some of the songs appearing on Y Kant Tori Read.[10] During those sessions, she also recorded several B-sides.

The second final version of the album was accepted by the record company. However, this was still revised before the final release; a 13-track promo cassette shows that "Little Earthquakes" was to appear after "Happy Phantom" on side one, with side two closing with "Flying Dutchman".[7] The latter track was presumably dropped due to the physical restraints of the vinyl LP format.

The record label relocated Amos to London, where they thought she would have an easier time of breaking into success, due to the country's renown for eccentric performers. Atlantic's European counterpart, East West, promoted the record extensively. Amos spent much of 1991 performing in small bars and clubs in London and playing for music executives and journalists, often in her own apartment. The "Me and a Gun" EP containing four tracks was released in October 1991, receiving considerable critical attention. The single was re-issued the following month with "Silent All These Years" as the lead composition, and it became her first chart entry at UK #51 following Single of the Week support from BBC Radio 1 and a TV debut on the high-rated chat show of Jonathan Ross on the BBC. The back cover contains pictures of Phallus mushrooms, also known as stinkhorns.

When the album was finally released in the UK in January 1992, it reached #14 and remained on the Top 75 charts (UK Albums Chart) for 23 weeks. A month later, it was released in the USA to breakthrough critical success and also announced itself as a chart mainstay, despite peaking outside the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying singles (along with "Me and a Gun" and "Silent All These Years") were "China" (January 1992 UK), "Winter" (March 1992 UK/November 1992 US) and "Crucify" (May 1992 US/June 1992 UK), the US EP version of which featured covers of songs by artists including The Rolling Stones and Nirvana. During this time, Amos recorded the song "The Happy Worker" for the Toys movie soundtrack, and a cover of Anita Ward's UK no.1 "Ring My Bell" for the UK NME compilation Ruby Trax.

In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Little Earthquakes the 66th greatest album of all time, and in 2002 the same magazine named it the fourth Greatest Album of All-Time by a Female Artist.[11]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Amos. 

No. Title Length
1. "Crucify"   4:58
2. "Girl"   4:06
3. "Silent All These Years"   4:10
4. "Precious Things"   4:26
5. "Winter"   5:40
6. "Happy Phantom"   3:12
7. "China"   4:58
8. "Leather"   3:12
9. "Mother"   6:59
10. "Tear in Your Hand"   4:38
11. "Me and a Gun"   3:44
12. "Little Earthquakes"   6:51


The album (as with most of Amos' albums) is also known for its collection of B-sides. The four songs recorded with Davitt Sigerson that did not make it to the final version of the album were included on the singles released from Little Earthquakes.

Title Single
"Upside Down" "Silent All These Years" (UK, 1991), "Winter" (US, 1992)
"Thoughts" "Silent All These Years" (UK, 1991)
"Sugar" "China" (UK, 1992)
"Flying Dutchman" "China" (UK, 1992)
"Humpty Dumpty" "China" (UK, 1992)
"The Pool" "Winter" (UK/US, 1992)
"Take to the Sky" "Winter" (UK/US, 1992)
"Sweet Dreams" "Winter" (UK/US, 1992)
"Angie" "Winter" (UK Limited Edition, 1992), "Crucify" (US, 1992)
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" "Winter" (UK Limited Edition, 1992), "Crucify" (US, 1992)
"Thank You" "Winter" (UK Limited Edition, 1992), "Crucify" (US, 1992)
"Here. In My Head" "Crucify" (UK, 1992)
"Mary" "Crucify" (UK, 1992)
"Ode to the Banana King" "Silent All These Years" (UK Limited Edition, 1992)
"Song for Eric" "Silent All These Years" (UK Limited Edition, 1992)
"Ring My Bell" "Ruby Trax Compilation" (1992)
"Happy Worker" "Toys Soundtrack" (1992)
"Take Me With You" "A Piano: The Collection" (2006)


Chart (1992) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 54
U.S. Top Heatseekers 1
UK Album Chart 14
Australia ARIA Album Chart 14
Canadian Album Chart 49
Dutch Album Chart 85


Title Chart Position
"Silent All These Years" (1991) US Modern Rock Tracks 27
"Silent All These Years" (1991) UK Airplay (UK) 35
"Silent All These Years" (1991) UK Singles Chart 51
"Silent All These Years" (1992 re-release) UK Singles Chart 26
"Silent All These Years" (1992 re-release) UK Airplay (UK) 50
"Silent All These Years" (1997 re-release) US Adult top 40 26
"Silent All These Years" (1997 re-release) U.S. Billboard Hot 100 65
"Silent All These Years" (1997 re-release) Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (U.S.) 66
"China" (1992) UK Singles Chart 51
"Winter" (1992) UK Singles Chart 25
"Winter" (1992) Australian Singles Chart 49
"Crucify" (1992) UK Singles Chart 15
"Crucify" (1992) Swedish Singles Chart 16
"Crucify" (1992) French Singles Chart 17
"Crucify" (1992) New Zealand Singles Chart 17
"Crucify" (1992) US Modern Rock Tracks 22
"Crucify" (1992) UK Airplay (UK) 23
"Crucify" (1992) Irish Singles Chart 25
"Crucify" (1992) Canadian Hot 100 73
"Crucify" (1992) Dutch Singles Chart 79
"Crucify" (1992) Australian Singles Chart 83
"Crucify" (1992) German Singles Chart 84

Cover versions by other artists


External links

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