Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 5 years old.
Of all the 10,000 Maniacs disks, I opted to go with In My Tribe. Mostly because it was the first one I purchased way back - get this - 22 years ago! Fuck I'm feeling old. I remember getting ribbing from Denton and his friends about a group with such a weird name. Mind you - these guys were more used to Shalamar and Evelyn Champagne King, so what the hell did they know?
In My Tribe wasn't their debut disk - hell, it wasn't even their major label debut, it was just the first time I had heard of them. And for 1987, it was a pretty unique disk. They are a tough group to define if you've never heard them before. Maybe like R.E.M., but with a more snooty attitude and more jangly guitars.
They touch on lovely things here like child abuse, alcoholism, illiteracy and greed. On paper, they can seem a bit full of themselves, but they pull it off. And by 'they', I'm pretty sure we're talking about Natalie Merchant. I'd been to a number of concerts where she admonished the audience/city about their woeful ways.
That all being said - the songs still work. I'm not a fan of "My Sister Rose", but other than that all the songs are good. If you don't have a first edition of the disk, you'll be missing one song - a cover of Cat Stevens' "Peace Train". The Maniacs and Elektra Records pulled it after they found Stevens became a Muslim and there was false information regarding him supporting terrorism.
Peter Asher did a good job with the production (mostly known for his work with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor - and lesser so for being part of Peter & Gordon'). I have favorite songs though - "A Campfire Song", "Don't Talk", "Gun Shy" and "Like the Weather". And I like "Peace Train" too.
In My Tribe probably isn't their most cohesive, most listenable or most successful disk, that would be Our Time in Eden, but this disk put them on the map - which is why it's getting the nod right now.
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