How Was That Not Huge(r): Revisiting Til Tuesday's Debut Album 'Voices Carry'!

Ya ever just shut yourself in a room with just one album for six days straight?

Turns out the CD player in my workshop decided to refuse to open, taking Til Tuesday's 1985 album Voices Carry hostage in the process. I had grabbed the album from inside the house just the day before, needing a break from the steady stream of Mogwai and Trevor Something that I'd been playing.

The CD player made no demands, but did not let me play anything else. I did what anyone else would do who feared the idea of being left alone with their tinnitus and hit "PLAY".

In doing so, I was as jarred by the slap bass that opens "Love In A Vacuum" as I had been the first time I heard the album. Remind me, when was slap bass ever cool?

The song had been an odd choice for album opener and even odder when chosen to be the second single. A demo of the song (with no slap bass) had already been a local Boston hit, so the suits at Epic must have thought releasing it as the next single would be a slam dunk.

 For third single, they chose "Looking Over My Shoulder" which, again, may be a fine song on its own, but it obviously wasn't going to make anybody forget that "Voices Carry" was much, much better.

It is only now, after being forced to listen to nothing else for six days and thirty years too late to do a damn thing about it, that I finally see how the band could have played it so "Voices Carry" wouldn't have become the albatross that it became...

"...and ACTION!"

Aimee Mann is covered in blood as she stands atop what appears to be a shallow grave, shoveling heaps of dirt in slow motion while singing "I guess you gave as you good as you got. I guess this love is dead at last."

Holy shit, we would have thought as we watched the video on MTV, she fucking killed the guy.

In a series of increasingly intense flashbacks, we see things spin sideways for Aimee and her ill-fated ex and, in doing so, proper second single "Don't Watch Me Bleed" becomes the song that establishes Til Tuesday as that most rare of '80s icons, the TWO hit wonder!

Sonically speaking, its the only song on the whole album edgy enough to follow "Voices Carry", and, as luck would have it, also seems to pick up the story line, which we all know would soon become "a thing" on MTV (see "Robert Palmer" and "ZZ Top").

Of course, then they would have felt committed to carry it further, which would have meant releasing "Winning The War" as third single because it would have filled out the backstory and lines like
"We should should have stopped it long ago when it was love still" suddenly resonate with a heretofore unappreciated clarity.

And that's when it starts to dawn on you just how perfect for its time Voices Carry (The Album) was and how cinematic Aimee's songwriting was at a time when most others were still rhyming "mind" with "find".

It's not just the level of self-awareness that Mann had at 23, but the ability to put such complex relational observations into otherwise concise pop songs that leaves this jaw glued to the floor.

I was actually kind of disappointed when the CD player suddenly popped open as if one of my hundred of presses of the EJECT button from six days ago had finally hit its mark.

One can also say that - for this listener, at least - its never too late for a buried gem to hit its mark.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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