Editors’ Notes With post-punk energy and oddly antique charm, 10,000 Maniacs cut through the synthesized haze of the mid-‘80s on The Wishing Chair. The band drew upon such disparate influences as African juju music, British folk and American garage rock to fashion their sound here; guitarist Robert Buck juxtaposed chiming lead lines with hellacious feedback washes, while organist Dennis Drew’s stately organ harkened back to the Band’s Garth Hudson. But what gives the album its special brilliance are the strikingly lucid lyrics and enraptured singing of Natalie Merchant. Her persona — at once innocent and visionary — brings focus to these sinister small-town scenes, eerie childhood reveries and poignant family vignettes, illuminating songs like “Can’t Ignore the Train,” “Cotton Alley” and “Tension Makes a Tangle.” Merchant leads her bandmates through serene cemeteries (“Lilydale”), across blasted vistas (“Grey Victory”) and into the thick of raw combat (“My Mother the War”) with equal aplomb. Crisply produced by Joe Boyd (of Fairport Convention renown), The Wishing Chair is a mesmerizing work of American Gothic musical art.

SONG
Can't Ignore the Train
1
2:44
 
Scorpio Rising
2
3:14
 
Just As the Tide Was a Flowing
3
2:18
 
Lilydale
4
3:12
 
Back O' the Moon
5
3:32
 
Maddox Table
6
3:19
 
The Colonial Wing
7
4:05
 
Grey Victory
8
3:07
 
Among the Americans
9
3:07
 
Everyone a Puzzle Lover
10
3:17
 
Cotton Alley
11
3:23
 
Daktari
12
4:29
 
My Mother the War
13
3:32
 
Tension Makes a Tangle
14
3:32
 
Arbor Day
15
2:17