Aimee Mann scored her only hit single with her first attempt. She fronted Boston new wave band ‘Til Tuesday, whose debut single ‘Voices Carry’ reached #8 on the Billboard charts. Despite the immediate success of ‘Voices Carry’, it took a few years for Mann’s artistry to catch up with her success. ‘Til Tuesday hit their straps with their third album, 1988’s Everything’s Different Now, an underappreciated masterpiece that chronicled Mann’s breakup with fellow songwriter Jules Shear.
‘Til Tuesday didn’t release any music in 1987, but Mann had a couple of interesting appearances on record. She sang backing vocals on Rush’s ‘Time Stand Still’, an unusually poignant song from the Canadian progressive rock trio. She also placed a song as a solo artist on the soundtrack to Back to the Beach.
I’ve never seen Back to the Beach, but I understand that it’s a 1980s parody of 1960s beach party films. It stars Frankie Avalon, who appeared in many of the original 1960s beach party movies, as well as surf guitar legend Dick Dale. It’s an incongruous vehicle for Mann’s first solo release, ‘Sign of Love’. Mann’s song shares album space with Pee-Wee Herman’s take on ‘Surfin’ Bed’ and Dave Edmunds’ ‘Wooly Bully’.
Unusually, Mann didn’t write ‘Sign of Love’ – it was penned by her friend Jennifer Condos. She didn’t record it with ‘Til Tuesday, instead working with a bunch of studio musicians. It’s not technically a b-side, but it fits the spirit of the series – an overlooked track that didn’t appear on a studio album.
Mann has disowned ‘Sign of Love’, but to these ears it foreshadows the tuneful adult pop of Everything’s Different Now. Perhaps the chorus is more repetitive than Mann would have written herself. Mann didn’t properly launch her solo career for another six years with 1993’s Whatever, leaving ‘Sign of Love’ as an overlooked curiosity in her catalogue.
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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.
Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.
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