It would be too easy to say John Lennon died the day The Beatles split up, but it wouldn't be far from the truth

Fortunately, nobody rang to ask me where I was when I heard that John Lennon had been shot, because I haven't a clue. But I do remember an interview he recorded for Radio 1 a day or so before his death. He was asked a question about the death of Elvis. Lennon said that he had a simple answer: Elvis had really died the day he entered the US army. It would be too easy to say that John Lennon died the day The Beatles split up, but it wouldn't be so far from the truth. As individuals, the Beatles have recorded around 50 or 60 albums. Out of all that dross, you could probably squeeze enough material for one decent album, and none of it would date from after Paul McCartney's Band on the Run, released in 1973. Once or twice, I have been gulled into buying later records by reviews saying that McCartney has recovered some of the old magic, but it is always a false alarm.

It is a curiosity that, after The Beatles broke up, other musicians were better at continuing the band's tradition than were either Lennon or McCartney. It is sad to think of ageing Beatles fans buying ghastly records such as Double Fantasy or "Mull of Kintyre" when they should have been listening to Badfinger or Squeeze or Elvis Costello.

This brings me to my favourite records of 2000. I have chosen three, and I'm rather pleased that none of them has made it into Q magazine's selection of the best 50 albums of the year. My big discovery of the year was Aimee Mann. I've always had a weakness for really angry, difficult women - indeed, I married one - but they don't come much angrier than Mann. Over the past decade, she has produced only three albums, and each seems to have involved a huge row with a record company.

I should have noticed her years ago. Way back in 1988, when she was in a group archly titled 'Til Tuesday, she collaborated with Elvis Costello on the song "Other End of the Telescope". In fact, I've got a theory that, during the recording session, while Costello was looking the other way, Mann stole all his talent. That would explain something about both of their careers in the years since.

Mann is as angry as ever. Her songs are rude about men and about critics - sometimes at the same time ("Critics at their worst/Could never criticise/ The way that you do"). If you visit her website (, you'll find an attack on a company that released an unauthorised greatest hits album. As for her new album, Bachelor No 2, she had to buy it back from the record company because it didn't consider it commercial enough. I'm baffled, because it's brilliant: acid lyrics with sweet tunes. Based on previous experience, I'm a bit nervous about recommending records to New Statesman readers, but I cannot imagine anybody not enjoying this. And it gives me an especially warm feeling to be able to recommend a married couple. Mann is now married to the singer Michael Penn, who is virtually unknown in Britain. Weirdly, he is an ex-brother-in-law of Madonna (being the brother of Sean Penn). His new album, his fourth, is called MP4, and is way better than this "amusing" title suggests. Imagine that, instead of splitting up after Abbey Road, The Beatles had decided to do one more album, with John doing all the vocals and nothing by Ringo: it might have sounded like this. MP4 is not available in Britain, but you can get it on (Also, even with postage, the Aimee Mann album is a third cheaper from the US Amazon - why do we put up with this?)

My third choice, Bali by Wondermints, is available in Britain. Wondermints are like a happy, hallucinatory reminiscence of virtually any brilliant pop band you can think of. They also have a strange, twisted sense of humour. One of their songs is called "In and Around Greg Lake". There must be about five people in the world who find that funny. Three of them are in long-term institutions, one of them wrote the song, and I'm the fifth. You need to be able to recall some lyrics by the pomp rock band Yes, which, as far as I can remember, go something like: "In and around the lake/Mountains come out of the sky/And they stand there." And Greg Lake was a member of that other absurd pomp rock trio Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Trust me, it's funny.

But then, whether someone who can recall Yes lyrics from the early 1970s is to be trusted - or, indeed, allowed out unaccompanied - is a subject I will put delicately to one side. If you buy one of these albums and hate it, I won't refund your money, but you can write to me and insult me at