Aimee Mann is alive and well and playing bass

I feared for Aimee Mann. She was the lead singer, bass player and chief selling point of ‘Til Tuesday, a band which was, in the mid-1980s, the Next Big Thing. Until, suddenly, it wasn’t.

Another casualty of the star machine?

‘Til Tuesday was a Boston synth-pop outfit with a hint of punk, which burst onto the scene in 1985 with “Voices Carry”. With the help of a striking video featuring Mann, she of the platinum hair and wide eyes, it was a huge hit.

TT VC 1985

Industry executives looked at her and saw dollar signs. There was a rash of publicity. I remember reading a profile in Rolling Stone. There was a picture of Mann, looking moody. The caption: “C’mon, Aimee, how can someone who looks so good feel so alienated?” This remains possibly the stupidest thing ever written, even in Rolling Stone.

Early success was not replicated. Label heavyweights demanded hits. The hits failed to come, and the band fell apart under pressure. ‘Til Tuesday; gone Wednesday.

I looked up Aimee Mann, expecting a sad story of bitterness, break-up and drug abuse. I am happy to be completely wrong. She built a solo career, worked on film music and a variety of other projects, and still performs. She has won Grammy awards, done heaps of stuff. This is her in 2008: looking healthy and happy, a woman in control of her own destiny.

Aimee_Mann_October_2008 Against all expectation, Aimee Mann is alive and well and playing bass. Her most recent album is called Mental Illness, and it is, frankly, wonderful. I have bought the download — I encourage you to do the same.

Here she is, back in the ‘Til Tuesday days, with “Don’t Watch Me Bleed”, a B-side breakup song with angsty vocals and moody bass to suit the title.

  • Artist: ‘Til Tuesday
  • A Side: Looking Over My Shoulder
  • B Side: Don’t Watch Me Bleed
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm, vinyl, stereo
  • Label: Epic
  • Made in: Australia
  • Catalogue: ES 1057
  • Year: 1985

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs





A material girl

Ah, the Eighties. The decade when marketing and pop music really hopped into bed, good and proper.

“We are living in a material world,” declaimed Madonna.

“Greed is good”, said Gordon Gecko, who didn’t actually exist though there were many like him.

Margaret Thatcher did exist, and ran a country, and she said “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families”.

I remember reading Time magazine in 1987. There was an article about how cosmetic surgery was becoming popular among young corporate achievers. I am quoting from memory, but there was one guy who said: “I can spend $10,000 on a new car to make myself feel good, or I can spend $3,000 on getting some wrinkles lifted”. Yes, it really was that shallow and revolting.Gibson front cover

Today’s record is from that period. Though I was there, I don’t remember the artist. She was not as successful in Australia as in her native America, which may have something to do with it. In the States she was huge, though. Debbie Gibson was a precociously talented singer and songwriter. She was signed to a manager at thirteen, had two top ten hits in the US when she 17, and the following year she became the youngest person ever to have written, produced and performed on a number one US single.

This album, Electric Youth, came out in 1989, and spent a month on the top of the US charts. Listening now, it is a little hard to understand the excitement. It is pleasant enough, a mix of synth-pop dance numbers with some slower ballads – I have chosen one these to share. It is sentimental, but well crafted. Gibson can sing. But it could be pretty much any girl pop act of the day.

gibson back cover

Debbie Gibson sharing the word that one Swatch just isn’t enough.

Wikipedia says of her:

In tandem with the second album, she created a perfume called Electric Youth that was distributed by Revlon, and other makeup essentials for young girls that were distributed nationwide through Natural Wonder Cosmetics, another of her sponsors at the time, among the first of artists to do so. Debbie’s trademark was her hats, usually black bowlers. She also made tight, rolled-up jeans and wearing vests over your T-shirt, friendship bracelets, and two Swatch watches popular as she is clearly seen wearing on the back cover of her popular Electric Youth album and in her “Staying Together” music video.

That was the Eighties. She was genuinely of her time. A material girl.

  • Artist: Debbie Gibson
  • LP Title: Electric Youth
  • Track: Side 1, Track 5: “Silence Speaks (A Thousand Words)”
  • Format: 12” LP 33⅓ rpm
  • Label: Atlantic 81932-1
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1989

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs