Copyright 1990 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe

December 31, 1990, Monday, City Edition


LENGTH: 562 words

HEADLINE: These Boston rockers refuse to roll over;
MUSIC REVIEW 'TIL TUESDAY At: The Paradise, Friday night

BYLINE: By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff

    Rock 'n' roll's past is littered with good and great bands that just didn't last. In Boston alone you can look back fondly upon Mission of Burma, Human Sexual Response, La Peste, the Nervous Eaters, Pastiche, Girls Night Out and the Del Fuegos.

'Til Tuesday - Boston's best new wave/mainstream crossover hope of the mid-'80s - is determined not to join that list. They were a hit right out of the box in 1985 with "Voices Carry," but, commercially speaking, a failure with albums two and three. At present, they are unsigned. Two original members departed, leaving singer-songwriter-sometime bassist-acoustic guitarist Aimee Mann and drummer Michael Hausman. Pretty much everyone expected 'Til Tuesday would fold their tent and take their place as a rock 'n' roll footnote.

Well, let's hear it for never-say-die spirit. Friday night, a reanimated 'Til Tuesday - with Jon Brion on guitar and Buddy Judge on guitar and keyboards - rewarded a sold-out Paradise crowd with a warm, generous 110-minute set: all the hits (somewhat revamped), some new stuff and a batch of neat covers. Mann, who once seemed rather aloof onstage, isn't at all now; she seemed genuinely thrilled to pack a club in her hometown and she gushed her thanks at the end.

'Til Tuesday, which is embarking upon a minitour, deserves a full house - and a record deal. Of course, from a record company point of view, they're not the kind of band that can be easily pigeonholed and sold. 'Til Tuesday is often quiet and subtle; as alluring as their flowing melodies are, they don't hit you over the head. They linger, dance lightly, entice.

What 'Til Tuesday frequently did Friday night was play soft, shimmering rock 'n' roll - but cut it with a bittersweet bite, a low-key edge. It's a workable juxtaposition, but a tricky field to negotiate: You somehow expect soft music to be less challenging, more lyrically smooth. And, as Mann often mines the depths of romantic entanglement, purring lines like "I'll feel a whole lot better when you're gone," there's a lot of conflict going on - she pens a mighty persuasive kiss-off. But she's just as convincing when she's conveying a sense of wistful yearning, as in the gorgeous, relaxed "Coming Up Close." Seeing 'Til Tuesday again - but for the first time in a long while - was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. And, like taking an invigorating drive through hills and valleys, way out in the country, with the top down, on a crisp autumn day.

'Til Tuesday's own songs tend to be on the serious side - this was clear on their first local radio hit, "Love In a Vacuum." Their sense of playfulness came through on a thrashing of "Voices Carry," and on the covers, which included Cream's "Strange Brew," Van Halen's "Running With the Devil" and Elvis Costello's "Girls Talk." (There's added irony when a woman sings this last song.) But the cover of the night had to be Badfinger's "Baby Blue." It's one of those forgotten pop classics from a minor band and another era, but it perfectly fit the general 'Til Tuesday ethos: That is, it's about a relationship that's breaking apart. Yet, it's an oddly rousing, optimistic song, one where the singer really hopes that the ex makes it and remembers the love that was once shared.

There's nothing wrong with a little optimism, right? It was in the air and on the stage at the Paradise.