White Rabbit Records - Blog

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  1. Any conversation revolving around the subject of Greatest Debut Albums, in our opinion, has to include a consideration of this pop behemoth, it is quite simply stunning…yeah snigger if you like but we’re serious and it’s you that’s missing out.

    It all starts with the songs and the songs here are sublime. Martin Fry’s lyrics hark back to another age, to the great songwriters of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s (think Cole Porter, Rodger’s and Hart) and are heartfelt and a little bit sarcy/clever, clever at the same time. Trevor Horn’s production is superb, mostly aimed straight at the dancefloor but also grandiose in the extreme on a ballad like “All Of My Heart”. Most of this production team would go on to ZTT Records and the production on Frankie’s “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome”.

    We have four top 20 singles ("Tears Are Not Enough" (#19), "All of My Heart" (#5), "Poison Arrow" (#6) and "The Look of Love (Part One)" (#4)), the album went to number 1 in the UK and still sounds bloody fantastic 41 years after it’s original release.

    Pure pop music in the extreme…if you never have, go on, give it a try

    All Of My Heart - https://youtu.be/Lfph3043yZU

  2. I said when I started this that there would be no bad reviews, they are all records in my collection ergo I like them. But, there will inevitably be some like this, albums where I don’t like this one as much as others by the same band.

    “Blind Man’s Zoo” is the Maniacs 4th album, the 2nd produced by Peter Asher (he of Peter & Gordon and brother to McCartney’s former squeeze Jane) and a million seller in the US.

    All the components are there. The songs are good (but not great), the playing is good but to my ears it lacks something following on from “In My Tribe”. It’s not as confident, almost as though it’s being apologetic for not being “In My Tribe”. If this had been their 3rd album and “In My Tribe” the 4th it would make perfect sense but as a follow up it feels like a regression.

    Standout track(s), it's difficult to choose between them, would be “Eat For Two”, the story of a teenage girl coming to the realisation she is 5 months pregnant, and “Trouble Me”, a song about Natalie Merchant’s father. Everything else is much of a muchness.

    Eat For Two - https://youtu.be/le9RHVrlWlk

    Trouble Me - https://youtu.be/DPcK0sU3jEw

  3. Now we’re cooking…by 1987 when “In My Tribe” was released chief songwriter and guitarist John Lombardo had left the band so songwriting duties fell onto singer Natalie Merchant and now principal guitarist Rob Buck, and what songs they wrote. This is the album where 10,000 Maniacs really found their voice.

    Buck and Merchant conjured up songs addressing child abuse, (il)literacy, alcoholism, the military-industrial complex and possibly the most joyous song yet written about your sisters wedding. Natalie Merchant’s voice absolutely soars throughout this record, all underpinned by Rob Bucks intricate and and equally rocking guitar parts.

    Opening song “What’s The Matter Here” tells the story of a child that is being beaten by it’s parents just next door; “Cherry Tree” tells of one persons difficulty with reading; “Don’t Talk” introduces us to a member of the band with a drinking problem and the toll it takes on the other members; “Gun Shy” is a lament to Natalie Merchant’s brother on her disappointment at him joining the military, but she will always love him; “A Campfire Song” features a guest appearance from Miss Natalie’s then beau (?) Michael Stipe and if upon first hearing “My Sister Rose” you do not want to immediately hit the dance floor then perhaps check your pulse.

    When originally released the album included a cover of Cat Stevens “Peace Train”. Following Yusuf Islam’s (aka Cat Stevens) support for the Fatwah issued upon Salmon Rushdie following the publication of “The Satanic Verses” the band asked that the song be removed from future issues of the album in order that Stevens/Islam no longer benefit financially from it. 

    It’s difficult to pick a standout song on this album as from the opener to the beautiful closing “Verdi Cries” there honestly isn’t a bad song here. If forced to choose we’ll go with “What’s The Matter Here” as it opens the record so well and sets the scene for what is to follow. Oh, and if you don’t know this album we’d be delighted if this little homage to it encouraged you to give it a listen.

    What’s The Matter Here - https://youtu.be/m39DWVFK-Bw