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