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Make A Killing: Aimee Mann, song-by song

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    My intention with this thread, starting next Saturday, February 28th, is to discuss the music of Aimee Mann, from her early releases with the Young Snakes, through her bit as an 80s star with 'Til Tuesday, and on into her solo career, up until the present, on a song by song basis.

    I will be going through all of Aimee Mann's songs, one by one: not only songs on her albums but the smattering of singles, b-sides and guest appearances on other artist's albums, tribute albums, etc (which doesn't appear to be all that many!) Basically if she wrote it or sang lead on it, I plan to go over it.

    I do not plan to hold up songs that Aimee Mann may have been involved in otherwise: i.e., if she sang back up vocals on a song or contributed acoustic guitar or bass or produced a song for another artist, I will probably skip it.

    I will be covering these on a semi-chronological order: by which I mean, I will not be ordering them according the date recorded (which I don't know), but rather I will group songs by album; and then I will add other songs/albums recorded in that general era after the discussion of the main album.

    There are no biographies written on Aimee Mann's life, but I hope that from her examining her career and music we will be able to learn something new about this artist, who has been called one of the finest pop/rock singer/songwriters of the last 35 years.

    As a rough outline of the albums in her career that I will be covering the following in this thread:

    • Bark Along with the Young Snakes*
    • Voices Carry
    • Welcome Home
    • Everything's Different Now
    • "Whatever"
    • I'm With Stupid
    • Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo
    • The Forgotten Arm
    • One more Drifter In the Snow
    • @#%&*! Smilers
    • Charmer
    • The Both
    • Mental Illness
    *note: there is another archival album recorded in 1980 or 1981 called Aimee Mann & the Young Snakes. I do not plan on holding the songs on that album up for discussion, other htan one which was released in 1981 -- the reason being is I don't think it is very representative of her work and I just don't like it -- and don't know if there are people who are interested in talking about it. I suppose if people indicate in the next five years that they are interested in discussing those songs, I will oblige: otherwise I will just hold up the entire album along with one song on the first day of the thread. (the 28th>)

    I will also be rating songs on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the best. I like doing this simply because, a) for some reason it helps me to focus my mind critically when I'm listening and b) although individual users ratings mean nothing, collectively, when averaged, they are an interesting statistic. And I like to make playlists from the more highly-rated songs!

    Having said that one does not have to rate songs to participate in the thread. The main thing is to discuss the music of Aimee Mann, song-by-song and learn more about the music of this very talented singer/songwriter

    One more thing: I do not plan on holding up unreleased songs/bootlegged songs for rating; that does not mean that they cannot be discussed or referenced in their appropriate era by those who know about them; it only means that I won't make a separate entry for them.

    A proper introduction to Aimee Mann will follow in the coming days.
    tmtomh, BeSteVenn, Woodville and 24 others like this.
  2. Mule of Kiitos

    Mule of Kiitos Forum Resident

    kuusamo finland
    I am looking forward to getting some info on her work. I love Bachelor No. 2 and at one point had a now lost copy of Lost in Space, but have not investigated any of the records on either side of those two. I came to her via Magnolia around the time the film got its vhs release and loved her songs and her voice.
    Bill007 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  3. BRBD

    BRBD Forum Resident

    Lance, you're missing "Lost In Space" on your list.

    I'd strongly recommend "Whatever" next, which knocked me out at the time of release even though I'd loved "Everything is different now". It was a real step up. "I'm with stupid" felt a bit of a lesser work following it.

    MGM, tmtomh, changeling69 and 7 others like this.
  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  5. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    This thread starts tomorrow:

    Aimee Mann's music career began after she graduated from Open High School in Richmond Virginia. IN her words, after high school she "worked for a year" and on her off time wrote "really terrible" songs on acoustic guitar.

    In 1979 she enrolled in a summer music program at Berklee Music of Music. While there she put in lots of practice and, in doing so received admission to the school proper when its school year opened in the autumn of 1979. Though she worked hard there, after the first two semesters, she became convinced that she was not cut out to be a musician and took an engineering course at the school. However, the course's teacher was not good and Mann dropped out of the school altogether.

    By now she had taken up the bass guitar and, with the idea of gaining experience and learning "how to perform", she formed the punk band The Young Snakes with fellow Berklee school-mates guitarist/singer Doug Vargas and drummer Dave Bass Brown. Aimee herself sang co-lead vocals and played bass.

    The trio was a part of the thriving Boston hardcore scene and sported a "break every rule" ethos that eschewed conventional melodies and song structures and displayed some typical influences of avant garde proto-punk: originally a Talking Heads style band, they soon gravitated into a more English-influenced aesthetic with Joy Division, the Cure, Gang of Four, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, among others, being major influences.

    The original trio recorded an entire album which remains unreleased; however they did release one song": "Brains and Eggs" which appeared on a compilation called A Wicked Good Time, released by Boston indie label Modern Method. The song was specially recorded for the compilation.

    In 2004, a radio performace recorded by the original trio was released in the UK with the not one hundred percent misleading title of The Young Snakes featuring Aimee Mann.

    So tomorrow morning (Central Europe Time, I will be holding both the songs "Brains and Eggs" up for discussion (and rating, if you choose) and the album which is entitled Aimee Mann and the Young Snakes. I hope to see some of you here!!

    After that, starting on Sunday the 28th, I will move on, song by song through the 1982 EP Bark Along With The Young Snakes and the following songs:
    1. Give Me Your Face (Aimee Mann/Doug Vargas)
    2. Suit Me (Mann/Vargas)
    3. Don't Change Your Mind (Mann/Vargas)
    4. The Way the World Goes (Mann/Vargas)
    5. Not Enough (Mann/Vargas)
    After that I'll hold Bark Along with the Young Snakes as a whole for discussion and then, on the 6th of March I will begin with the Voices Carry album with "Love In a Vacuum."
  6. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    My favourite of hers.
    WHMusical and Lance LaSalle like this.
  7. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    I'm in. Aimee Mann is certainly one of my favorite artists.
    tmtomh, patel kismet, Bill007 and 3 others like this.
  8. BRBD

    BRBD Forum Resident

    Man, I've been following Mann since the first 'Til Tuesday album. How did I not know this existed?

    And it's a post-punk sound? This should be interesting.
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Brains and Eggs" written by Aimee Mann and Doug Vargas. It was produced by Mark Fisher and engineered by Rob Dimit.

    "Brains and Eggs" was released on a Modern Method Records compilation called A Wicked Good Time! which collected songs from various Boston-area punk and hardcore bands. It was the only release by the original Young Snakes:

    Aimee Mann: vocals, bass
    Doug Vargas: vocals, guitar
    Dave Bass: drums

    I transcribed the lyrics below, but welcome to correction.

    What about the line you said you'd draw
    Around your ideas of love?

    Lust can be dust
    The same
    Lust can be dust
    The same

    There is a tether in your brain
    Connected to your body's frame(?)

    Lust can be dust
    The same
    Lust can be dust
    The same

    Do your gloves know what to do
    Creating desired point of view?

    Lust can be dust
    The same
    Lust can be dust
    The same

    From the brain to the egg
    From the brain to the egg
    Stronger interest in my kiss
    You have no ideas, no protests

    Lust can be just The same
    Lust can be dust The same

    Be the same
    Be the same
  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Also today, The Young Snakes featuring Aimee Mann.

    This album was released in 2004, and on discogs it's called a compilation...I saw a comment on YouTube by drummer Dave Bass who mentioned an unreleased album and said

    When the Young Snakes recorded this song for the "Wicked Good Time" LP, we also recorded an ENTIRE ALBUM which has NEVER been released. Different than the live radio show material which was released on a CD in UK...(Dave B - original Young Snakes drummer)

    I assume that this is the UK album he was talking about. The liner notes on the album itself are no help as they are just a first-person essay by Dave Bass about his career in the early eighties.

    Because I think it is probably a live album (and frankly, not one I enjoy -- the harshly compressed sound not helping matters) I've decided to just hold the album up as a whole today, as I normally do with live albums.

    1. Brains and Eggs (Mann-Vargas)
    2. Oh Nina (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    3. Everything Goes Out of Control (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    4. Stop It (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    5. Rewind (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    6. Politics Are (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    7. In This World (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    8. Having Fun (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    9. Gang X
    10. Use Me (Bill Withers)
    11. Karl K9 (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    12. Young Snakes
    13. Brains and Eggs #2 (Mann-Vargas)
    14. Austistic (Bass-Mann-Vargas)
    However, several "1981 demos" do stream on YouTube, with the same producer and engineer as "Brains and Eggs", so I think that the songs from the missing unreleased album can be found -- but as usual I will not hold up bootlegs or the like for discussion (though I have no problem with others discussing them on this thread!)

    This album, The Young Snakes featuring Aimee Mann does not seem to stream anywhere.

    Tomorrow, I'll begin holding up the five songs from the Young Snakes' EP Bark Along with the Young Snakes.
    groovelocked likes this.
  11. groovelocked

    groovelocked Forum Resident

    Columbus OH (USA)
    Brains and Eggs..
    Wow that was not what my ears were expecting! Interesting.. more a curiosity than something I can really rate.
    It lead to The Way The World Goes on YouTube, from the 4 track EP which I thought was much better and Give Me Your Face..
    This is gonna be a pretty informative tread!
    Elliottmarx and Lance LaSalle like this.
  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    "Brains and Eggs" sounds like a stock post-punk album track -- not the stand out cut I assume it was as it was the one chosen for the compilation. There are a lot of interesting ideas going on in the music: the guitars and bass are really quite good...and I thnk that there are bits of the melody that, ifcouched in a markedly different arrangemet, would not sound so different from other later works Aimee would be involved in, especially some of the early 'Til Tuesday stuff; I also note that the note of wounded vulnerability tempered with a bit of bitter, resentful anger that perhaps characterizes a large portion of her work is evident in this early track.

    I very much enjoy it and I can see it's connection to her her later work but ultimately it sounds pretty ordinary for the times: 2.8/5
  13. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    As for The Young Snakes featuring Aimee Mann:

    Well, I've already written that I don't like it. The sound is really harsh to my ears. I do own a copy of the album, and it is interesting -- not too far off today's song but nothing really stands out from the general hardcore Talking Heads meets early Cure/Joy Division/Siouxsie Sioux vibe.

    I've only listened to the CD twice and I'm not really in the mood to listen to it again so....1/5

    I do find the whole narrative of Aimee Mann, the determined step-by-step process of her early career interesting and this is part of of that narrative: the part where she learns to play live and rejects trad song structures. There's stuff going on in the music (particularly the EP which we'll start on tomorrow) that is more sophisticated than many punk bands, both rhythmically and in terms of vocal harmonies and the like -- they were decent musicians, not just kids banging around in a garage.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
    groovelocked and robcar like this.
  14. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    "Brains and Eggs" has a very Devo-ish vibe, with maybe a bit of The B-52s thrown in. It's not much of a song, but it's fun to hear this! Aimee sounds like she's imitating Kate Pierson a little bit.


    I can't comment on the live release since I've not heard it.
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  15. Elliottmarx

    Elliottmarx Always in the mood for Burt Bacharach

    Los Angeles
    Having been a 13 year in 1987's America it is impossible for me to hear "brain" and "eggs" in the same sentence and not think of the very famous, This is Your Brain on Drugs public service announcement which was aired every 12 minutes. Even though this was written well before that ad campaign, I can't help but to think it is about drugs - which it isn't.

    Like others I see this as a curio, not something I would necessarily revisit - but definitely of its time and of limited interest. While from Boston this song just screams New York early 80's.

  16. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Brains and Eggs"
    Average: 2.0667
  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    AFter the release of "Brains and Eggs", The Young Snakes entered the studio a second time, this time at Blue Jay Studios in Carlisle, Massechusetts and they recorded their debut (and only) EP Bark Along with the Young Snakes. The producer this time was Andy Breslau, a little known producer who has a handful of production credits, most of them after this, especially for the blues group The Holmes Brothers.
    The album was engineered by Rob Dimit who had engineered "Brains and Eggs."

    Information is hazy, but at some point the drummer, Dave Bass (ne Brown) left the band and formed the seminal straight-edge hardcore band NFX, though notes on discogs say that he is the drummer, uncredited, on an indeterminate number of songs. At any rate, the official drummer on the album was Michael Evans, who also contributed backing vocals.

    Also credited it Michael Hausman on "additional percussion" -- this is the first professional collaboration between Hausman and Aimee Mann, who were romantically involved at this time. In the following year they would form 'Til Tuesday with others; and later Hausman would become Mann's manager, a position he holds 'til the present day.

    The album, releaed on January 1st, 1982 was the first of only three releases by the Boston-based indie label Ambiguous Records -- it was released on vinyl only and is long out of print, the label having apparently folded after its third release in 1982.


    1. Give Me Your Face (Aimee Mann/Doug Vargas)
    2. Suit Me (Mann/Vargas/Donnelan)
    3. Don't Change Your Mind (Mann/Vargas)
    4. The Way the World Goes (Mann/Vargas)
    5. Not Enough (Mann/Vargas)
  18. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Give Me Your Face", written by Aimee Mann and Doug Vargas; produced by Andy Breslau and engineered by Rob Dimit.

    Aimee Mann:lead vocals, bass
    Doug Vargas: guitar, vocals
    Michael Evans (?): drums, backing vocals
    Michael Hausman: additional percussion

    Lyrics below are my quick attempt at transcription: I make no claims as to accuracy!

    Give me your face
    Give me your eyes
    I want to own it now
    It's mine

    Take off your face
    For (?)
    Leave the shoulders
    Leave the neck

    Give me your face!
    Give me your face!

    I don't want speech
    Keep the throat
    But what's inside mouth
    I want the most
    I want to buy you flowers
    A fresh bouquet
    I want to make a present of every word I say
    And I want to say:

    Give Me Your Face!
    Give Me Your Face!

    Will we assemble
    You in a minute
    And it won't hurt a bit
    It won't hurt a bit
    no, it won't hurt

    Go face to face
    Give me the face
    Peel it off, glue it to mine
    Let me consume you
    I don't want anyone to tell us apart

    Give Me Your Face!
    Give me your face!
    Give me your face!
    Give me your face!
  19. captouch

    captouch Forum Resident

    Bay Area, CA
    Well, neither of these songs appeals to me in any way. I grew up and got into the music in the late 70's and throughout the 80's, so it's not like I wasn't listening to a lot of music at the time. But this isn't the kind of music I would have gravitated to. It's not markedly different in overall style - I liked New Wave bands. But I just don't think it's done very well in any particular aspect and only marginally curious to hear as the earliest work of one of my very favorite artists.

    I agree with an earlier post that it's a bit Devo-like in certain ways. I was never a Devo fan though.

    So I'd give both Brains and Eggs and Give Me Your Face: 1/5
    DTK and Lance LaSalle like this.
  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I think the lyrical idea is interesting, if rather staid post-punk fare: a rather vampiric relationship: on the surface, the narrator wants to "buy you flowers and make a present of every word I say", but really the narrator wants the object of their affection's face: their beauty, their identity, their look.

    Is this a song written to a woman from a man's point of view? It seems that she's casting the narrator into a rather traditionally masculine role, albeit a creepy one. Someone who is empty and hollow inside. And that makes the song a little more interesting, lyric-wise.

    It's a fairly dark lyric, but it's not without it's clunkiness, to be sure: a couple of the lines, coupled with the Chryssie Hynde-meets-Yoko Ono delivery are really rather funny -- but I feel like Aimee and the rest of the band are really genuinely giving this their all with all the arty earnestness they can muster and I don't really get a sense that there is irony at play here.

    It's all easy to miss in the quirky angular post-punk rhythm of it all, but, as I did on "Brains and Eggs" I think there are glimmers of Mann's trademark melodicism here and there in the song: she may be trying to suppress it, almost consciously, but it's still there.

    I quite like the quirky, popping bass and almost funky guitar work: and the drums and percussion are great on this one.

    groovelocked, robcar and captouch like this.
  21. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Indeed, I do enjoy it but in the end, I don't think I'd enjoy it as quite much if it wasn't Aimee Mann.
    smilin ed likes this.
  22. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Big fan, but I always viewed the the EP as a fun curio. The songs are weak and self-consciosly new wave quirky in my ears.
    Much better was to come...
  23. AveryKG

    AveryKG a keen gardener no more

    west London
    First time I've heard that and surprised how much I liked it. 3/5
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  24. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

  25. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    First time hearing this EP, but I agree entirely with Lance's views on "Give Me Your Face". Interesting lyrical concept and I hear bits of Aimee's melodicism. I enjoy the angular, chunky guitar playing. I don't think she's nearly the singer at this point that she would grow into. She sounds as though she's imitating a combination of Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux. Still, it's interesting.


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