Saturday, September 17, 2022

"Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs

Song#:  3931
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  44
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Despite not having a major Pop chart hit, this band's third album, 1987's In My Tribe, became a #37 gold seller (eventually double-platinum) thanks to coverage on MTV, exposure on college radio, and the #9 Modern Rock hit "What's the Matter Here?" (#80 Pop). It set them up well for bigger success and in the summer of '89 they returned with their fourth album Blind Man's Zoo. This first single was released and it would be a #3 hit at Modern Rock while getting to #20 Rock. On the Pop chart it would nearly crack the Top 40. A second single, "Eat for Two," wouldn't fare as well only reaching #12 Modern Rock. Still that was enough for the album to reach #13 and go gold (in '97 it would be certified platinum).

ReduxReview:  The band's modern folk-rock sound and songs certainly pushed them forward, but it was the unique voice of Natalie Merchant that created a lasting impression. Her unhurried, nearly deadpan approach was alluring, interesting, and comforting. She was the sound of 10,000 Maniacs. She also wrote all the lyrics and occasionally the music as well. So her decision to leave the band (see below) had to have been devastating to the rest of the band. They would survive over the years, but were never the same without Merchant. Of course, her solo career was quite successful. But before all that, the band was on a roll with this song nearly making the Pop Top 40. The album wasn't quite as good as In My Tribe, but it had several highlights and this was one. The mid-tempo tune was quirky and hooky and there really wasn't anything like it on the radio. Fans of hair metal and other hot genres of the day may not have been into the band, but a sizable college and adult crowd glommed onto them and bought the albums despite the lack of support from pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1991, lead singer and main songwriter Natalie Merchant let the band know that she was going to head out on a solo career. It seems that she done with being part of a band that made decisions together and wanted to do her own thing. However, instead of leaving immediately, she committed to the band for a further two-year period. In that time, the band would tour and record two albums. First was 1992's Our Time in Eden. Like the band's previous two albums, it would do well reaching #27 and going gold (later double-platinum) while featuring no major Pop hits. Two singles would make the lower third of the Pop chart while becoming hits at Modern Rock. One of the songs, "These Are Days," would be their first and only song to top the Modern Rock chart. Then in 1993, they would release the live album MTV Unplugged. The band had already performed on that show in '89, but it was not recorded and released as an album. With Merchant's impending departure, the second time around it was. The show was highly successful and the album would end up becoming the band's biggest seller eventually going triple platinum. It would get to #13 tying the peak of Blind Man's Zoo and spawn the band's biggest hit, the #11 remake of "Because the Night." Merchant would then head out on a solo career. Her first album, 1995's Tigerlily, would be a major hit. It would peak at #13 and eventually sell over 5 million copies. It featured her first and only Pop Top 10 hit, the #10 "Carnival." Two more Pop Top 30 singles would follow. Her next album, 1998's Ophelia, would go platinum and be her first and only LP to crack to Top 10 (#8). Merchant's further recordings would be less successful. As for the remainder of 10,000 Maniacs, when Merchant signed on to continue as a solo artist with Elektra Records, the label had no interest in the rest of the band and dropped them. Yet they decided to continue on and got former member John Lombardo back in the fold along with his duo partner singer Mary Ramsey. The new lineup secured a deal with Geffen and in 1997 issued out Love Among the Ruins. It didn't perform well (#104), but did spawn the #25 remake of Roxy Music's "More Than This." The band would record a few more albums over the years and go through several lineup changes.


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