Like any group of sensible young people going into business for themselves, the Boston-based band ‘Til Tuesday had a plan.
Singer/bassist Aimee Mann and androgynous guitarist Robert Holmes wrote it in the winter of 1983 and even called it “The Master Plan.”
Often, after a long evening of songwriting, they would crack open a few beers, consult the plan and check it for flaws. “Step one: Make a tape and give it to Ric Ocasek of The Cars. Maybe he’ll want to produce us,” began the plan.
Wardrobe was not left to chance either. The band decided to wear grey and black, and when they went looking for a keyboard player, no way was he going to have long hair and a beard . . .
Their music was designed to match, with fashionably bleak lyrics and subdued guitar and synthesizer licks.
The plan worked perfectly. ‘Til Tuesday had only been together six months when they walked away with the grand prize in the 1983 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble – a battle of the bands sponsored by WBCN-FM in Boston. A demo, Love In A Vacuum, immediately went into heavy rotation at the station, and less than a year later the band had signed with Epic Records.
Their debut album, Voices Carry, was released in February 1985, with the title track (a diatribe against an asshole ex-boyfriend) providing the group with a Top Ten single.
Aimee Mann’s striking blonde hair, high cheekbones and icy-blue eyes made her an MTV favourite (they won “Best New Artist” at the MTV Video Awards), but her personal life provided her with more than enough inspiration for her songwriting.
She grew up in Richmond, Virginia, until – at the age of four – she was kidnapped by her estranged mother and taken to England.
Two years later, back in Richmond, her father and new stepmother sent her to a psychiatrist. She had still not recovered when she arrived in Boston in 1979 to attend the Berklee College of Music.
Robert Holmes finally snapped her out of it and together they formulated their master plan, talking Michael Hausman (then living with Mann) into quitting his own group (The Dark) and recruiting young Bronx-born keyboard player Joey Pesce, another ex-Berklee student.
Their second album, Welcome Home (1986), was a giant, confident step forward while Everything’s Different Now (1988) consolidated their success with soaring love ballads, including The Other End (Of The Telescope) co-written with Elvis Costello who also contributed backing vocals.
‘Til Tuesday officially disbanded in 1992. Aimee Mann released her superb debut solo album, Whatever, in 1993.
No sooner had Mann secured an audience for her solo music than her record company, Imago, went broke, leaving her to crawl from the contractual wreckage for the second time in her career.
She was finally able to release I’m With Stupid on Geffen at the end of 1995. The album included guest vocal performances by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze.
Mann’s career got a kick-start in early 2000 when she released her soundtrack for the critically acclaimed film Magnolia; the song Save Me was later nominated for an Academy Award. The superb album Bachelor No. 2 was released in May of that year.