My first introduction to the music of Natalie Merchant was, as was the norm at that time, through hearing My Mother The War being played by John Peel.
Originally released in '83 My Mother The War reappeared two years later in a rerecorded version on the criminally underrated album The Wishing Chair.
The shifts in style on The Wishing Chair are fascinating - it's sometimes hard to believe it's the same band you were listening to moments before. The album was produced by the great Joe Boyd who allowed bands to sound like themselves which was good news for Natalie Merchant and Co.
10 000 Maniacs made lots of fine music in their time but they never again put together an entire album as musically and lyrically rich as The Wishing Chair. The album has a very homespun, folky feel to it and is undoubtedly a less accessible album than the Maniacs' more pop-focused later work, but is all the more appealing for it. Over the years Natalie Merchant has been accused of being a bit po-faced and serious but this album proves that there was a time when the girl could rock.
Over the last 30 years or so Natalie Merchant has produced some of the finest music from across the pond and The Wishing Chair should be an essential addition to anyone's collection.
A brilliant, timeless masterpiece from start to finish. Can be bought here
10,000 Maniacs - My Mother The War