The 80s: 10,000 Maniacs’ ‘In My Tribe’

10,000Maniacs1Many may know Jamestown, NY native Natalie Merchant from her solo career. The singer/songwriter became a regular on pop, Top 40 and adult contemporary radio when she hit the scene with her 1995 debut album, Tigerlilly, which included the hits “Jealousy,” “Wonder,” and “Carnival.”  Her introduction to the music world, however, was as the lead singer for the band 10,000 Maniacs.

Formed in 1981 with the name Still Life, the band then became Burn Victims before they finally settled on their present name.  In 1987, the band released the album In My Tribe, their second major label release, which managed to dodge the sophomore jinx when it hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Albums chart, peaking at #37. Other than a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” all the songs on In My Tribe were either written or co-written by Merchant, with veteran Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Asher on the production end. The songs range from the danceable “Hey Jack Kerouac,” the mellow and moody “Verdi Cries,” and the in between, the mid-tempo melancholy of “Don’t Talk.” The single “Like The Weather” helped introduce a new group of music listeners to the band when it cracked the Top 40 on the Mainstream Rock chart, while peaking at #68 on the pop chart. The single “What’s The Matter Here” didn’t do quite as well on the pop chart, but was a Top 10 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

In My Tribe was not only a success with radio, but also with consumers and music critics.  The album went gold soon after its release and then platinum the following year.  It was also included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.

—Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is a Dallas, Texas-based, independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado, with a Master of Science degree in Marketing. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his release Inertia at, follow him on Twitter @MontroseC and check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star.

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