This is one of those albums that I can only listen to during the summer. The music is wonderful - folky and poppy - with a beautiful combination of jangly guitar work Rob Buck and the unique vocals of Natalie Merchant. To my ear, the music is bubbly and happy, but the preachy lyrics (which cover such topics as child abuse, illiteracy, war, and the environment) are not. But not to worry, because producer Peter Asher put together an album that has a fantastic sound to it with a touch of the '70s pop sensibilities he brought to Linda Ronstadt albums 10 years prior. I had the two subsequent Maniacs albums on cassette, but they didn't quite measure up to this album; the group's breakthrough album was also their best. Custom made for college campuses in the late '80s, which, not coincidentally, I was frequenting at the time.
In its recap of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties," Rolling Stone magazine placed this album at number 65. And this is one of the rare times when Rolling Stone and I are in complete agreement.
Fans of the band will want to know if my CD has 12 tracks or 11. Mine has 12; it includes the cover of Cat Stevens' Peace Train. In 1989, that cover was removed from the CD version after comments made by Stevens (by now a Muslim convert and known as Yusuf Islam) that were perceived to be supportive of the fatwa on author Salman Rushdie. It's not a particularly notable cover, but the tape I listened to in the late '80s had Peace Train on it, so I was insistent that my CD have it as well.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #37
Tracks: The album starts off strong with 4 great songs, especially What's The Matter Here?. Other favorites include Gun Shy, Sister Rose, and City of Angels. I usually skip The Painted Desert and Verdi Cries.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Even though it was released in the summer of 1987, I didn't discover 10,000 Maniacs until the following summer, which faithful readers of the blog know as the "Lost Summer of Mark."
Previously revisited for the blog:
More Than This (1997)