Sunday, 11 May 2014


Quick Quiz: What's the connection between these two CDs?

If this was a pub quiz, the question would be on the hard side. If this was a music quiz it would be easy.

The Answer: Aimee Mann.

And to those of you who said: who? your musical education is sorely lacking.

Til Tuesday (forget the apostrophe which is annoying) was Aimee Mann's band and she wrote, either singly or in collaboration, all the band's songs. You could call them intelligent pop-rock with great hooks, good harmonies, and great and very distinctive lead vocals from Mann who also played bass. If you can't afford all three albums (which I'm now regretting not buying instead of this compilation) then this compilation is essential. That said, apart from one big hit they never really enjoyed the commercial success they deserved.

Five years after the band split up, and due to contractual problems, Mann finally emerged in 1993 as a solo artist and proceeded to release, somewhat erratically, a series of excellent albums. Typically they enjoyed massive critical acclaim and lousy sales condemning the talented Mann to cult status. There is one compilation available but it was released by Mann's previous label and she is vociferous in asking people not to buy it. Her own authorised compilation has yet to appear. When it does, grab it.

Meanwhile you can enjoy her collaboration The Both with Ted Leo, another cult artist and one of whom I'd never heard. They recently toured together and enjoyed it so much they went into the studio and produced this excellent album. What makes it special is that it's a genuine collaboration. All the songs, apart from one by Phil Lynott, are co-written. Vocals are dictated by the song's content and harmonies are plentiful. Leo's electric guitar gives Mann's more laid back style a good jolt of energy making this a definite rock album rather than singer-songwriter territory and Mann adds substance to Leo's rockist style. The result, an album acclaimed by the critics, loved by everyone who buys it, and almost certainly doomed to mediocre sales. Me, I want them back in the studio together and I want Mann to release her authorised compilation of her solo work.

Basically, Aimee Mann is great. Give her a listen whether it's Til Tuesday, her solo stuff, or The Both. She's so good that her and her band appeared in an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer where she was heard to say, "Man, I hate playing vampire towns."

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