Copyright 1999 BPI Communications, Inc.
November 13, 1999
LENGTH: 746 words
HEADLINE: With Her SuperEgo Label's Solo Set, Mann Does It Herself
BYLINE: Jim Bessman
NEW YORK-Like many artists burned by record company politics, critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Aimee Mann is doing it for herself with her latest album, "Bachelor No. 2," which will initially be made available only via the artist's Web site.
Observers note that attention for the album is likely to be bolstered by Mann's performance on the Reprise soundtrack to the film "Magnolia," which includes some of the same tracks featured on her solo album (see story, page 1).
The much-acclaimed singer/ songwriter has seen her share of record company-related woes since striking out on a solo career following the demise of 'Til Tuesday, the late-'80s, Boston-based group she fronted, which is known for the hit "Voices Carry."
Her critically hailed solo debut album, "Whatever," came out in 1993 on Imago Records, which lost its distribution deal with BMG the next year. Her follow-up album, "I'm With Stupid," came out three years later on DGC/Geffen. That label also re-released "Whatever." According to SoundScan, "Whatever" has sold 130,000 units, while "I'm With Stupid" has sold 97,000. When DGC/Geffen was absorbed by Interscope earlier this year during the PolyGram/Universal merger, Mann, who was well into recording her third solo album project, was dropped.
But out of deep disappointment came hope, as the unsigned Mann, now living in Los Angeles, reaped a New York Times Magazine feature in July that detailed her clash with Interscope over the progress of "Bachelor No. 2" (Billboard, Sept. 25). Mann acquired the rights to the unreleased Geffen album and, is releasing it on her own SuperEgo Records label next month.
The 13-track "Bachelor No. 2" includes the song "Nothing Is Good Enough," an instrumental version of which appears on the soundtrack to "Magnolia." Three other soundtrack cuts-"Deathly," "Driving Sideways," and "You Do"-are also on her solo disc. Included, too, is "(The Fall Of The World's Own) Optimist," which Mann co-wrote with past collaborator Elvis Costello.
Material from "Bachelor No. 2" has previously surfaced on a limited seven-song "preview edition" EP, 2,500 copies of which were pressed and sold by Mann at her recent summer acoustic-tour gigs at $10 a pop. But even then, in keeping with her bad luck, that tour had unbelievably bad moments.
"It was "The Tour Of The Almost Violent, Horrible Maiming Death,' " says Mann. "Four of us were driving through Michigan in our van at about 70 miles per hour, and a drunk driver going 100 rammed into us while trying to pass. We fishtailed and slid off the road and flipped over three times-but we played that night. Then the car we had to rent got hit by lightning the next day."
On the plus side, though, Mann discovered a major benefit of going it alone. "Half of the people who come to the shows will buy a record, which is shocking," says the Frank Riley-booked artist. "And I get to keep the money, even though it's not that many [units sold]. So it's much more satisfying, and I don't mind so much the work of touring."
"Bachelor No. 2," she notes, isn't as electric guitar-based as "I'm With Stupid." "I was going for a vintage Dionne Warwick sound on [album tracks] "Satellite' and "Nothing's Good Enough,' but I didn't really hit the mark."
Mann, who is published by Aimee Mann Music (ASCAP), adds that there are songs on the album that deal with "the state of being single and not dating, or dating with the impossibility of ever really having a successful relationship," though she characterizes her current relationship with husband Michael Penn as "great."
"Deathly," deals with "having a crush on someone but knowing it's impossible to see it through under any situation-so it can't really get started."
According to Mann's manager, former 'Til Tuesday drummer Michael Hausman, "Bachelor No. 2" will be available initially through Mann's aimeemann.com Web site, with fulfillment via artistdirect.com. Musicblitz.com will handle marketing and promotion, he says, while myplay.com will offer a free download of the track "Momentum." Liquid Audio is involved in additional Internet promotion.
Hausman says traditional distribution is also in the works, and there will be direct sales to retailers as well.
Touring in December will include performances the first three Tuesdays at Los Angeles club Cafe Largo, where Mann has previously established residency. Tour stops next year will include New York in late January, perhaps in an off-Broadway theater location.