Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings

Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings

3.7 4
by 10,000 Maniacs
The product of a sleepy industrial town perched in New York State's western corner, 10,000 Maniacs were an unlikely commercial breakthrough. But break through they did in the late '80s with their second album of ebullient folk-pop, In My Tribe. The Maniacs married chiming melodies to topical themes given voice by the alluring


The product of a sleepy industrial town perched in New York State's western corner, 10,000 Maniacs were an unlikely commercial breakthrough. But break through they did in the late '80s with their second album of ebullient folk-pop, In My Tribe. The Maniacs married chiming melodies to topical themes given voice by the alluring Natalie Merchant. Aptly described by its subtitle, this 31-song survey assembles the group's biggest hits alongside a tasteful selection of rarities and cover versions. In keeping with Merchant's pointed pen, the former group includes thoughtful ruminations on child abuse ("What's the Matter Here?") and the poetry of everyday life ("These Are Days") as well as a stirring live rendition of the impassioned Bruce Springsteen–Patti Smith song "Because the Night." Fans will delight in early tracks such as "My Mother the War," which reinforces the Maniacs' initial left-of-the-dial status, which placed them in sonic company with then contemporaries such as R.E.M. and the Cure. An added bonus is Merchant and company's simmering version of Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" -- which was removed from later versions of In My Tribe as a protest against the singer-songwriter's support of a fatwah against author Salman Rushdie. The many other cover versions that fill the set's second disc attest to the band's broad-ranging influences, from a tear-stained take on Tom Waits's "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You" (a rare single) to a folksy version of Iris DeMent's gorgeous "Let the Mystery Be" (from MTV's Rock N' Roll Inaugural Ball), a duet with David Byrne. With rich rewards for both casual and maniacal fans, Campfire Songs offers a thumbnail portrait of a fascinating and influential band, with enough extras to warrant a closer look.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Spanning 31 songs and two discs, one covering "The Most Popular Recordings" (aka "The Hits") and one covering "The Obscure & Unknown Recordings" (aka "The B-Sides and Cover Versions"), Rhino/Elektra's 2004 compilation Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings of 10,000 Maniacs is as good a career overview as could be assembled. The hits disc may miss a minor charting single like "Few and Far Between," but it has all the songs of note, from the hits to album tracks. Meanwhile, the rarities are devoted pretty much to B-side covers in addition to four previously unreleased demos, the early outtake "Poppy Selling Man," plus their cover of Cat Stevens' "Peace Train," which was removed from latter-day editions of In My Tribe. There's enjoyable stuff on both discs -- the singles "Like the Weather," "What's the Matter Here?," "Trouble Me," "Candy Everybody Wants," and "These Are Days" are very good indeed, laying the groundwork for adult alternative pop
ock, while the early demos on the second disc are livelier than most Maniacs material and the Michael Stipe duet on "To Sir With Love" is a priceless artifact from the height of Clinton optimism (which faded quite quickly). But even these moments have the Achilles' heel of a production that is far too big for the group's gentle simple songs. Overall this expertly assembled collection -- which is as good as a 10,000 Maniacs anthology could be -- is best as a time capsule, capturing the earnest, precious optimism and PC nature of American college rock before grunge came along and dirtied everything up.

Product Details

Release Date:
Elektra / Wea


Album Credits

Performance Credits

10,000 Maniacs   Primary Artist
Don Grolnick   Piano
Pee Wee Ellis   Tenor Saxophone
Bruce Dukov   Violin
Maceo Parker   Alto Saxophone
Jevetta Steele   Voices
Jerome Augustyniak   Percussion,Drums,Group Member
Robert Buck   Synthesizer,Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Pedal Steel Guitar,Devices,Group Member
Paul Buckmaster   Conductor
Larry Corbett   Cello
Paulinho Da Costa   Percussion
Bill Dillon   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Slide Guitar
Dennis Drew   Organ,Piano,Accordion,Group Member
Morgan Fichter   Violin,Background Vocals
Pamela Goldsmith   Viola
Steve Gustafson   Bass,Guitar,Group Member
John Lombardo   Bass,Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Dennis Karmazyn   Cello
Amanda Kramer   Piano,Pump Organ
Kim Laskowski   Bassoon
Bob Magnusson   Bass
Jerry Marotta   Percussion
Natalie Merchant   Piano,Vocals,Group Member
Novi   Viola
Mary Ramsey   Violin,Viola,Background Vocals
Fred Wesley   Trombone
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Atsuko Sato   Bassoon
Richie Stearns   Banjo
Jim Foti   Drums
Ralph Morrison   Violin

Technical Credits

Iris DeMent   Composer
10,000 Maniacs   Producer
David Bowie   Composer
Jackson Browne   Composer
John Prine   Composer
Bruce Springsteen   Composer
Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Composer
Tom Waits   Composer
Gary Smith   Producer
Peter Asher   Producer
Jerome Augustyniak   Composer,Liner Notes
Joe Barbaria   Remixing
Joe Boyd   Producer
Jerry Boys   Engineer
Robert Buck   Composer
Paul Buckmaster   Arranger
David Campbell   String Arrangements
A.P. Carter   Composer
Dennis Drew   Composer,Liner Notes
Frank Filipetti   Engineer
Paul Fox   Producer
Steve Gustafson   Composer,Liner Notes
Tony Harris   Engineer
John Lombardo   Composer,Liner Notes
Lenny Kaye   Producer
Mark London   Composer
George Massenburg   Engineer
Natalie Merchant   Composer,Liner Notes,Art Direction
Morrissey   Composer
Mike Scott   Engineer
Patti Smith   Composer
Stephen Street   Composer
Ed Thacker   Engineer
Mike Walsh   Composer
Jay Vicari   Engineer
Anthony DeCurtis   Liner Notes
Donald Black   Composer
Albert Garzon   Producer,Engineer
Steve Woolard   Liner Notes
Gina Tampio   Engineer
Mary Van Houten   Engineer
Bill Waldman   Producer,Engineer
Michael Walsh   Composer

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Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
The Maniacs’ peak was on In My Tribe and Blind Man’s Zoo. Many of the other songs just don’t match the songs from those albums. The best of disc probably rates 3 ½ stars and the rarities disc is about 2 ½ stars. Natalie Merchant and her band mates were idealists whose execution didn’t always match their ambition. Protest music should have more heat than they generated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to hear Natalie Merchant at her very best and the distinctive guitar work of the late great Robert Buck, then this is the CD set for you. This is smart music, no love songs. Socially conscious lyrics put to great music. The upbeat Natalie that her ''solo'' fans have missed is all here. From the weird wild early days, to classics songs with meaning like: Don't Talk (alcohol abuse) What's the Matter Here (battered children) Hey Jack Kerouac (the beat poets) Poison in the Well (precursor to Erin Brockovich) Eat for Two (youth pregnancy) Big hits like: Like The Weather, Candy Everybody Wants, These Are Days, and the Springsteen/Smith cover Because The Night. CD 2 has some great rare gems like the Cat Stevens cover Peace Train, no longer available on the classic In My Tribe CD, and songs that fans know from cd single added tracks, like some great covers of the likes of John Prine, Lulu, Morrissey, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, David Bowie, etc. This is one of those ''best of'' CD's that will make you want to go out and get all the 10,000 Maniacs CD's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an almost perfect chronicle of the 10,000 Maniac's years together. I was at their final show at Lake Chataqua and I will never forget it. I say it is ALMOST perfect, because I was sad to see that Scorpio Rising wasn't included. I have one of the 200 or so original demo records with Planned Obsolesence. The quality of the remaster is amazing. I love this CD and I love the band.