Customer Reviews: Whatever
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on August 3, 1999
Whatever conjures up the best elements of surf-pop, new wave, and folk rock (Roger McGuinn has a benevolent eye cast over this recording). Out on her own with a truly great batch of confessional but self-assured songs, Aimee Mann crafted a classic right out the bag with her first solo record.
I'm with Stupid was more openly defiant and rougher, but way back in 1993 Whatever already found Mann at the peak of her emotional and musical strength. Check out the layers of distorted guitars on "I Should've Known" coupled with an irresistible melody; the Byrds-isms on "Fifty-Years after the Fair" with its wonderful vocal harmonies and McGuinn's 12-string guitar resounding; the gang voices on "Say Anything" and the poignant "4th of July". Mann even tackles a May-September romance on "Mr. Harris" and sounds as dark as Days of Open Hand-era Suzanne Vega on "Jacob Marley's Chain".
Meticulously produced (by Jon Brion), written and performed, Whatever is a pop powerhouse.
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on January 26, 2000
I was one of those people that only knew Aimee Mann from the Voices Carry video - until Magnolia. I read the liner notes from PT Anderson on the Magnolia site and was intrigued. I was lucky to find a copy of Whatever a couple of weeks ago and it has become one of my all time favorites. The cd contains one of the greatest lyrics I've ever heard. From Jacob Marley's Chain: "Well, I had a little metaphor to state my case. It encompassed the condition of the human race, but to my dismay, it left without a trace...". This woman is very special. Deny yourself no longer. Discover Aimee Mann.
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on September 17, 2000
I was a reluctant Aimee Mann fan. I don't know why. I liked Til Tuesday, liked "I Should've Known" when it was released as a single. It wasn't until I'm With Stupid was released that I finally decided to listen. I kick myself now. How often does an album come along that is so superb, so perfect, so much the soundtrack of YOUR OWN LIFE? That was I'm With Stupid for me... and it lead me directly to Aimee Mann's first solo album. At first I was disappointed with it because it just wasn't I'm With Stupid. (Yeah, I know, I thought at the time that that was a bad thing!) However, as I listened to it more and more, I found that Whatever is different from I'm With Stupid... just as hard-hitting, emotional, and powerful... but stylistically different.
From the painful lyrics of "4th of July" and "Stupid Thing" to the somehow touching songs like "I've Had It", Mann writes the most intelligent lyrics-- which never fail to hit a chord with listeners-- of the last decade (at the very least.) Mann writes poignant and thought-provoking lyrics to which anyone can relate; she has the special gift of putting into clever word constructions what most of us feel but cannot express. She does all of this without being contrived or sappy. Definitely a songwriter unlike any other, although like many great songwriters (Mann's husband, Michael Penn or former Crowded House frontman Neil Finn)Mann has been the darling of media critics but never noticed by mainstream audiences. (This has a lot to do with the corporate structure of record companies and the ownership of artistic material; another story for another day.) Mann, though, has never compromised her artistic values and vision, and this is clear from her earliest solo recordings through to the present day.
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on October 22, 2004
Up until "Whatever" I dismissed Mann as the face of the one-hit wonder 'Til Tuesday, even though my husband insisted that their last album "Everything's Different Now" was a masterpiece (it is). But this album is a miracle. Not only is it a showcase for Mann's flawless singing and ridiculously great lyrics, but it also shows Jon Brion for the genius producer he is (his vocals on this are great, too). "Say Anything" is as perfect as anything Neil Finn's Crowded House ever produced, and the heart-stopping "Mr. Harris" is a beautiful homage to the work of Harry Nilsson and George Tipton. A gem, and only the beginning of a fabulous solo career that continues to this day.
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on October 31, 1999
I bought this album way back in '93 when it came out and still cannot stop listening to it. There are three good tracks and ten indisputable pop masterpieces. "I Know There's a Word for This", like many songs here, is at once so beautiful, catchy, unpredictable, and simple that you wonder why nobody is making millions off it, and "Jacob Marley's Chain" should win a Grammy for its utter preposterousness alone. "Mr Harris" still brings a tear to my eye after six years, while "Fifty Years After the Fair" will, I am convinced, save the world someday. Subtle, cerebral, and impossibly catchy
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on January 11, 2000
My first acquaintance with Aimee Mann is this near perfect pop record from 1993. Formerly singer with the horrible Til Tuesday, Mann's debut solo album is simply lovely stuff. Written at the end of her long-time relationship with Jon Brion (he still co-wrote and produced most of the tracks), it's the sound of somebody finding their feet - I Should've Known - and then losing it again - Stupid Thing. Very special, and heartily recommended to Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Merchant fans and anyone who likes a classy, tuneful album.
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on January 13, 2000
With the attention she has been getting of late for her work on the soundtrack to the movie "Magnolia," it appears that Aimee Mann just may be on the verge of a long overdue career breakthrough. Let us hope that such will bring new attention to this long neglected album.
Put it another way. All pop music (and I mean that in the best sense of the term) should sets its heights this high. Full of impossibly catchy melodies and sharp cutting lyrics, "Whatever" soars in a manner that most of today's chart acts can never even hope to duplicating. Songs like "50 Years After The Fair," "Put Me On Top," "I've Had It," "I Could Hurt You Know," "Could've been Anyone" and "4th of July" (the latter a favorite of Aimme's pal Elvis Costello) are just the tip of the ice berg. For fans of acts like Crowded House, Kirsty MacColl, Sam Phillips Matthew Sweet, etc. this album is a real find, as are Aimme's second solo album "I'm With Stupid," the soundtrack to the movie "Magnolia" and especially the final 'Til Tuesday (Aimme's old band) album "Everything's Different Now."
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on March 2, 2000
From the first time I heard this CD at the house of a friend and rabid Aimee Mann Fan, I have loved every song. Not only is the songwriting as personal and concise as anything Ms. Mann has ever done either solo or under the Til Tuesday moniker, but the arrangements frame every work in a Beatle-esque (but never pretentious or strained) light that takes the messages and melodies one step further into the realm of classic recordings. I was upset this CD didn't get the ardent attention it deserved . . . maybe people will take the advice of Aimee's contributions on the Magnolia soundtrack and start paying attention to one of the true singer/songwriter giants of the past 20 years. Get this one, get any Aimee Mann or "Til Tuesday, get them all!
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on February 21, 2001
It's amazing, but Aimee Mann's subsequent albums aren't really disappointing. You might think they would be, as her solo debut "Whatever" is so perfect that no rating or review is really going to do it justice.
Absolutely everything works on this album, and in ways the listener isn't going to expect. The production is what catches the attention first: it often sounds otherworldly, with unfamiliar or strange-sounding instruments (the first song, for example, ends with Mann singing into a Dixie cup), but at the same time entirely natural and inviting.
It would be nothing, though, without quality songwriting. Mann has been known since her 'til tuesday days for her way of combining irresistible hooks with dark, gloomy, and unforgettable lyrics. "Whatever" represents the peak of her writing output, with every song worth lingering over. My particular favorites: the haunting "4th of July", "I've Had It", "Way Back When", "I Know There's a Word", "Say Anything", and the sole surprising note of optimism, "Mr. Harris". I might as well have listed the other half of the songs on the album, as they're equally fascinating and well-crafted. There's no filler here.
I discovered Mann with this album when it was in its first release, when I was in tenth grade or so. My own musical interests have migrated a long way since then, and I've abandoned most new music. And I still listen to her music, and this album is still one of my favorites.
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on July 9, 2004
This is one of the great albums of all time.The melodies and prose are exceptional.They clearly linger 11 years after first hearing this album.The beauty of this album will never leave those who care to invest 1% of their soul.
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