Entertainment Weekly - 1/23/04, p.101
"10,000 Maniacs' literate folk-pop sounds better now than it did in their late-'80s heyday." - Rating: B+
Q - 4/04, p.1283 stars out of 5
- "[T]hey possessed a capacity to beguile that had listeners convinced, temporarily at least, the world was indeed pastel-hued."
Dirty Linen - p.45
"[Their] early work blended bristling-punkish electric guitar work with Merchant's sometimes dreamy, sometimes intense vocal magic..."
Includes five previously unreleased tracks.
10,000 Maniacs: Natalie Merchant (vocals, piano); Robert Buck (guitar, banjo, mandolin, synthesizer); John Lombardo (guitar, bass, background vocals); Steven Gustafson (guitar, bass); Dennis Drew (accordion, piano, organ); Jerome Augustyniak (drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: Michael Stipe, David Byrne (vocals); Don Grolnick (piano); Paulinho DaCosta (percussion).
Producers include: 10,000 Maniacs, Bill Waldman, Albert Garzon, Joe Boyd, Peter Asher.
Compilation producers: 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant.
Recorded between 1982 & 1993. Includes liner notes by Anthony DeCurtis.
Personnel: John Lombardo (vocals, guitar); Natalie Merchant (vocals, piano); Robert Buck (guitar, banjo, mandolin, synthesizer); Steve Gustafson (guitar); Bill Dillon (acoustic guitar, slide guitar, mandolin); Richie Stearns (banjo); Mary Ramsey (violin, viola, background vocals); Morgan Fichter (violin, background vocals); Ralph Morrison III, Bruce Dukov (violin); Pamela Goldsmith, Novi (viola); Dennis Karmazyn, Jane Scarpantoni, Larry Corbett (cello); Dennis Drew (accordion, piano, organ); Kim Laskowski, Atsuko Sato (bassoon); Maceo Parker (alto saxophone); Pee Wee Ellis (tenor saxophone); Fred Wesley (trombone); Amanda Kramer (piano, pump organ); Don Grolnick (piano); Jerome Augustyniak (drums, percussion); Jim Foti (drums); Jerry Marotta, Paulinho Da Costa (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Ed Thacker; Frank Filipetti; Frank Wolf; George Massenburg.
Audio Remasterers: Daniel Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Audio Remixer: Joe Barbaria.
Liner Note Authors: Dennis Drew; Jerome Augustyniak; John Lombardo; Natalie Merchant; Steve Gustafson; Anthony DeCurtis; Steve Woolard.
Photographers: Pam Taylor; Laura Lavine; Rob Marinissen; Ebet Roberts; Jo‚lle Dep¢nt; Andrew Catlin; Natalie Merchant.
Arranger: Paul Buckmaster.
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/rock, 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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine