Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#789 in the Series) is the 10,000 Maniacs, The Wishing Chair.
I actually remember when I first purchased this album. I was looking for something different. Local radio played a few tunes off this and I loved the sound. I distinctly remember making the trip to trusty ole’ Hegewisch Records to see if they had it. It was good news/bad news when I got to the store. It was a little more popular than I expected. The vinyl was sold out so I had to buy it on cassette. Okay, I didn’t have to but I did. Say what you want about those old cassettes, but there was actually something good about them. We may have looked at it as a drag at the time, but it was a positive to me. Unlike CDs or downloaded MP3s of this time period, you had to listen to a full side. You couldn’t skip from song to song. Well you could, but it was a pain in the ass so you usually didn’t. When I went recently listen to this one I remembered every song on the album. I bet I wouldn’t have said that if had spent most of the time listening to it on CD.
This 1985 release was the band’s major label debut (Elektra). By listening to their sound back then I thought for sure that they were from Scotland or some part of the UK or maybe even Ireland. I never in 10,000 years would have guessed that they were from upstate New York. At least not by listening to the sound of Natalie Merchant’s singing voice. Later I also heard a few times that guitarist Robert Buck was Peter Buck of R.E.M.’s brother. Of course he was not but I think that rumor was fueled by the fact that The Wishing Chair was produced by Joe Boyd. Joe also produced R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction which was released just about the same time.
“Lilydale” was probably the best known song on the album. I laughed when I first heard it because I thought it was the first song in history to mention Ovaltine! Ha. But it was just Natalie’s voice playing a trick on my ears. She actually was saying “Some think is was haunting” not, “some think it was Ovaltine.” Give it a listen below.
“Scorpio Rising” was a killer rocker. Listening to this once again was a treat. Not only had I forgotten how much I loved this album, but especially this track. This might be my favorite song on the album.
Another track that eventually received a decent amount of airplay was “Can’t Ignore the Train.”
This album received decent reviews but did not chart. They would find commercial success beginning with the very next album, In My Tribe.
- “Can’t Ignore the Train” – 2:43
- “Scorpio Rising” – 3:06
- “Just as the Tide Was A Flowing” – 2:25
- “Lilydale” – 3:11
- “Back o’ the Moon” – 3:32
- “Maddox Table” – 3:19
- “The Colonial Wing” ** – 4:02
- “Grey Victory” – 3:07
- “Among the Americans” – 3:07
- “Everyone a Puzzle Lover” – 3:17
- “Cotton Alley” – 3:23
- “Daktari” ** – 4:23
- “My Mother the War” – 3:31
- “Tension Makes a Tangle” – 3:33
- “Arbor Day” – 2:59
- Robert Buck: electric guitar/devices, acoustic guitar, mandolin, pedal steel
- Jerry Augustyniak: drums
- Steven Gustafson: bass, electric guitar
- John Lombardo: 6 & 12 string guitars, bass
- Dennis Drew: organ, piano, accordion
- Natalie Merchant: voice