Copyright 1996 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe

February 1, 1996, Thursday, City Edition


LENGTH: 402 words

HEADLINE: Aimee Mann's voice still carries;
MUSIC REVIEW AIMEE MANN At: the Paradise Tuesday night

BYLINE: By Steve Morse, Globe Staff

To borrow one of her song titles, this was a "welcome home" show by Aimee Mann. The longtime singer of 'Til Tuesday still has a home in Brookline, but she is based in Los Angeles, where she just revived her career with the quintessentially jaded, but exquisite, "I'm With Stupid" album.

"You don't have to buy it if you don't want to," Mann, an enduring iconoclast, told the sold-out Paradise crowd.

Mann's homecoming show was filled with terse attitude ("I sort of miss Boston" was another of her lines), but she could get away with singing the phone book and still command rapt attention.

Mann has expressed a lot of bitterness in recent interviews - complaining that her new album was made a couple of years ago but was delayed because of record-label headaches - but the Beatles-influenced album is well worth the wait; and so was her show. She skipped around stage in her black Converse All-Stars, singing most of the songs from the new disc, but also surprising with her '80s 'Til Tuesday hit, "Voices Carry." It was given a much trippier treatment than the original, filled with feedback guitar swirls from newcomer Michael Lockwood, one of three "LA cats" in her new band. (The other member is Bostonian John Sands, a drummer who used to play with the Joneses.)

As for "Voices Carry," Mann said later backstage, "We were winging it. It was just a thrown-together, last-minute version. We only tried it one other time on the tour."

Mann is shunning most of her past songs (though the Boston audience obviously wanted to hear more), but she's worked hard to reinvent herself as a crafty, alternative-pop artist who's relevant to the '90s - and that came across beautifully at the Paradise.

The set was highlighted by last year's hit "That's Just What You Are," which appeared on the "Melrose Place" soundtrack. From the new album came "Speedball" (which rocked much harder live), the ballad "You Could Make a Killing" and the Beatlesque "Sugarcoated," with its caustic note, "You look the part of the poor brave martyr . . . Out of your mouth comes this stream of cliches." Clearly, Mann still doesn't suffer fools gladly, which has been her chief blessing, but also her chief curse by industry standards. Still, it's great to see her back on a Boston stage, the scene of so many past triumphs. She's come a long way since 'Til Tuesday won the WBCN Rock Rumble in - yikes! - 1983.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, 'Til Tuesday's Aimee Mann has redesigned herself for the '90s.