10,000 Maniacs – Playing Favourites

10000 maniacs cover

10,000 Maniacs
Playing Favourites
Omnivore Recordings

American Folk-Rockers Finally Release a Genre Defining Live Album.

I can remember a time when 10,000 Maniacs were the ‘darlings of the airwaves’ in the UK, both daytime and night-time which is some feat with our national radio. Yet I was still unprepared for what came out of my speakers on opening track What’s The Matter Here?
It doesn’t matter what my preconceptions were, but Mary Ramsay’s gorgeously rich voice and a band that are as tight as a fish’s bum were a lot louder and even, dare I say it ‘rockier’ than I’d expected.
I surprised myself by instantly recognising the intro to Like The Weather; although this punchy piece of Folk-Rock doesn’t sound like the song in my memory bank; it’s actually a whole lot better…especially as it revolves around some powerhouse drumming from Jerome Augustyniak.
Recorded in September 2014 at the Reg Lenna Center in Jamestown NY; in readiness for this year’s 35th Anniversary Tour 10,000 Maniacs sound very comfortable with this ‘louder sound;’ with songs like More Than This and My Sister Rose firmly putting to bed any memories of the twee Acoustic band that recorded an exceptional Unplugged album many, many years ago.
While American to the core; their sound owes a lot more to British bands like Fairport Convention and even Fleetwood Mac in their ‘in-between’ years.
Although it’s an intrinsic part of their back catalogue this version of Because The Night (yes, the Bruce/Patti song) sounds almost Prog with the Viola/Violin intro and the way Mary haunts the lyrics with her almost ethereal voice.
For me there are a few pleasant surprises along the way; and ones that make me with I’d been there that night, like Stockton Gala Days and especially Candy Everybody Wants.
But, it’s the re-interpreted fan favourites like Rainy Day and My Sister Rose with a slightly reggaefied keyboard and trumpet backing, that will draw fans in like bees to honey.
The album comes to rattling close with first an old favourite of mine Hey Jack Kerouac then These Are The Days, which showcases the band in all their glory, then surprise, surprise the song that ‘broke them’ in the UK via the legendary John Peel closes the show and after all these years My Mother The War still sounds exciting and pertinent today in 2016.
For a live album, PLAYING FAVOURITES falls down the crack many do these days; any
between song interaction is edited out; making for a record that can and will be played into perpetuity but takes away the magic and the point of a live recording surely.
If like me, you have only dipped into 10,000 Maniacs extensive catalogue over the years, (that’s 35 and counting!) you will be forced to sit up and take notice when you hear this album.


Released June 3rd 2016


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