Elisabeth Vincentelli
January 23, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure, and Unknown Recordings of 10,000 Maniacs

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B+

Weirdly enough, 10,000 Maniacs’ literate folk-pop sounds better now than it did in their late-’80s heyday. At the time, singer Natalie Merchant was often derided as a pretentious hippie chick; but in the Age of Britney, her astute social commentaries are more poetic than heavy-handed. (Wisely, this two-CD set spans only the group’s Merchant-led 1982 — 93 lineup.) Skip the overly reverential hit cover of Patti Smith’s ”Because the Night” so you can (re)discover such gems as the popular ”Trouble Me,” the obscure ”Planned Obsolescence,” and the unknown ”Can’t Ignore the Train.”

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