In My Tribe was 10,000 Maniacs' second (and best) album and the record that made the band collegiate favorites and singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant a star. Producer Peter Asher's rich balance of acoustic and electric instruments gave muscle to the group's folk-rock. "Hey Jack Kerouac" found Merchant musing on the literary beats of the 1950s, but the song's musical hook was the rich bed of rhythm guitars laid atop the solid drums. "Don't Talk" offered a similarly propulsive rock sound, with lyrics that advised troubled lovers to keep it to themselves. R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe offered hipster credibility by guesting on "A Campfire Song," while a cover of Cat Stevens's "Peace Train" offered listeners a familiar port of entry. However, when Muslim convert Stevens announced his support of Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini's call for the execution of Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, the band rereleased the album without "Peace Train." --John Milward
Review by Chris Woodstra
10,000 Maniacs's breakthrough album and creative high point, In My Tribe offers a survey of social concerns, including child abuse ("What's the Matter Here"), illiteracy ("Cherry Tree"), war ("Gun Shy"), and the environment ("Campfire Song") -- all tackled subtly and tastefully without too much preaching or pretension and in believable, real-life situations. Producer Peter Asher, whose credits include James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, provides the perfect sheen -- the group's pleasant folk-pop lends itself nicely to the '70s-styled singer/songwriter production. In the end, the album proves powerful not for the ideas (they've been covered before) but rather for the graceful execution and pure listenability. In My Tribe has served as one of the soundtracks for P.C. living and was required listening on college campuses in the late '80s.