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68 of 68 found the following review helpful:
A hauntingly exquisite live album Mar 27, 2003
By Daniel Jolley
This album stands as one of the most impressive MTV Unplugged albums ever recorded. The unique style and sound of the 10,000 Maniacs was captured beautifully in this concert, preserving an unforgettable legacy by the group which was essentially breaking up at the time this was released. Anyone who listened to the radio back then has to know and remember Because the Night. While it is still hard for me to believe this song so wonderfully suited to Natalie Merchant's voice was written by Bruce Springsteen, it served as a most impressive means of introducing Natalie Merchant sans Maniacs to the larger listening audience. Like many fans, I am not that familiar with the 10,000 Maniacs albums predating In My Tribe, but all of the 14 songs on this album (including four from In My Tribe) are just hauntingly exquisite. Each song tells a story, often a serious one touching on important social issues, infusing this modernized folk music with a very human folk music consciousness that speaks to both the head and heart in a number of very effective ways. If the unique sound of 10,000 Maniacs doesn't move you at first, give it a second listen, and I'm sure the power of the music will begin to reveal itself to you. It is unfortunate that Natalie Merchant left the group, but the magic that was 10,000 Maniacs has been wonderfully preserved in this truly incredible live recording.
33 of 35 found the following review helpful:
A surprising little find Jul 12, 2006
By Andrew Parodi
It's amazing what you can find buried under a pile of junk in the local as-is Goodwill. Sometimes you can find near mint condition CDs, such as "10,000 Maniacs Unplugged." That's exactly what happened to me a few months ago.
I was only vaguely aware of 10,000 Maniacs when this album was released in the early 1990s. I liked the song "Because the Night," but my fan-dom stopped there. So, based on my vague familiarity with that one song, I paid Goodwill the requisite dollar and was on my way. I figured one dollar wasn't too much to spend for that one song. And I was certain that all I'd get out of this CD was that one song, expecting all the others to be duds.
Several months down the line, it's hard to believe that I had ever thought these songs would be duds, and it's hard to imagine that it took me so long to become interested in 10,000 Maniacs.
These songs are really astonishing! Every one of them is beautiful, and every one of them is heavy with a social conscience and message, almost to the point of being intimidating. In some ways this has been a very shocking album. You see, when I decided to listen beyond that one song, what hooked me was the breezy melody of just about every other song. They all seemed so upbeat and happy, and the ballads seemed gentle and lulling. I couldn't understand much of what Natalie Merchant was singing about, because her glossy intonation often results in a somewhat blurred diction, making individual words hard to decipher. But that was fine because I didn't feel I needed to understand the words. I just hummed along with the melody, or snapped my fingers to the beat.
After a few months of not being able to understand what Natalie Merchant was singing, I decided to look up the lyrics. On the song "What's the Matter Here?" I had been able to make out only the words "I have heard the excuses everybody uses." When I decided to take a look at the lyric sheet and see what the excuses were about, I was shocked. I thought it would be excuses made by a dishonest lover. But the song is actually about child abuse and the excuses people make as they look the other way. The full line is, "I have heard the excuses everybody uses. He's their kid. I stay out of it. But get it through that I don't agree with what you did to your own flesh and blood." I've often wanted to say to parents, "Answer me. Take your time. What could be the awful crime he could do at such a young age?"
I then decided to look up the lyrics to one of the other songs I had taken a liking to, "I'm Not the Man." One of my other favorite singers is Sade, and she has a love song called "You're Not the Man," so I figured this Maniacs song with the similar title would have of a similar topic. Wrong again. It's actually about a man on death row. The lyrics are, "But I'm not the man. He goes free as I wait on the row, for the man to test the rope, he'll slip around my throat, and silence me. Call out the KKK, they're wild after me."
I shouldn't have been surprised when I found that "Like the Weather" is not the lighthearted and summery little ditty I had thought it was, but is a song about a bed-ridden elderly person. "And by the force of will my lungs are filled, and so I breathe. Lately, it seems this here bed is where I never leave. I get a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather. A quiver in my lips as if I may cry."
And the song "Hey Jack Kerouac" piqued my interest in the life of a writer I now feel is a kindred soul. After studying a bit about his life, I now understand why Natalie Merchant begins the song with, "Hey, Jack Kerouac, I think of your mother and the tears she cried. They were cried for none other than the little boy lost in the little world that hated and that dared to drag him down, the little boy courageous." Kerouac died of alcoholism in his late forties while still living at home with his mother.
Suffice it to say that this is a heavy album. (Did I mention that "Eat for Two" is about a young unwed pregnant girl who regrets giving in to her boyfriend's pressures? "Pride is for men," Merchant sings, "Young girls should run and hide instead.") If you want a happy, upbeat album, you may need to look elsewhere, or perhaps avoid reading the lyrics! If you want an album with a social conscience, this may be it.
After reading a little bit about Natalie Merchant, I find that it was perhaps inevitable that I'd be a fan of this album. She is sometimes referred to as "the Emily Dickinson of pop music." Emily Dickinson is my favorite writer.
8 of 8 found the following review helpful:
Natalie Merchant and 10.000 Maniacs are SUPERB Jun 21, 2000
By Adelio Garcia Alfisi
As the last CD and video of the 10,000 Maniacs, with Natalie Merchant as their vocalist, she knew how to say 'good bye'. From the very beginning of the video she captures you with her voice. In this video you will hear and see the best of 10.000 Maniacs, until 1992, and you will enjoy the charm and passion of Natalie singing "Don't Talk", "These are Days" and what they called the 'stand up song': "Stockton Gala Days". To see this video is way best than just hear the CD, even though the camera work is not so brilliant. I highly recommend "Eat for Two", "Candy Everybody Wants", "Trouble Me" and "Because the Night", after that, you will run and buy Natalie's "Ophelia" and "Live in NY" videos. Don't miss this opportunity to be delighted with good music. For me was not so easy to have this video, but if you are a truly 10.000 Maniacs fan, this MUST be in your collection, is never too late.
17 of 20 found the following review helpful:
Can be listened to over and over again Jun 11, 2000
By Shelley Gammon
I wasn't a big 10,000 Maniacs fan when I first saw the MTV Unplugged performance, but I fell in love with their work for this CD. Deep, thought-provoking lyrics are penetrating. I'm haunted each time I hear "I'm not the Man," the story of the framing of an innocent black man for murder in the segregated south... it makes me think of "To Kill a Mockingbird" a little bit.
Natalie Merchant's voice is penetrating and this album flows song-to-song so that it can easily be listened to non-stop, over and over again. The songs are not distractig so that you could listen to them intently while driving, or tune them out as background music while at work. Rocking, yet mellow - an excellent CD.
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Not your typical unplugged... Jul 13, 2000
By Mark Roth
Usually, these unplugged events are less than wonderful, but this is an exception. 10000 Maniacs' background in folk music is a real asset, especially here. Instead of just playing the songs the exact same way as on the CD only unplugged (the norm), they have made subtle changes to the sound that really make a difference. "Eat for Two" has a slower tempo and a string/wind ensemble. There is a wonderful banjo part on "What's the Matter Here." Jerry Augustyniak softens the drums slightly and lays back accordingly. His drum part on "These Are Days" is different from the CD, but equally good. Rob Buck is just as comfortable on the acoustic guitar as on the electric. This kind of musical taste, ability, and sensitivity sets10000 Maniacs apart from the crowd. A compliment of extra musicans, including a certain viola player/singer named Mary Ramsey, round out the roster. Natalie Merchant shows why she is a star, and gives a great performance, but she does flub a note here and there. Because the Night may have been a big hit, but it is the most un-Maniacs like song here. Overall, this is one of the best unpluggeds ever, right up there with REM and Neil Young. Highly recommended.
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