To really appreciate a collection of demos, you have to be a serious fan of the artist -- and serious fans are exactly who a bootlegger calling itself Blast Records was going after with this collection of 10,000 Maniacs demos. As its title suggests, this CD contains demos of songs that were written for 1987's In My Tribe, which is arguably the band's finest, most essential studio album. While "Poison in the Well" ended up being releasing on 1989's Blind Man's Zoo, most of the selections came out on In My Tribe as planned. If you're heavily into 10,000 Maniacs, this bootleg is an intriguing listen, for it gives you a chance to hear how "Don't Talk," "Cherry Tree," "The Painted Desert," "Hey Jack Kerouac," and other pearls sounded before Peter Asher produced the final versions and added his production gloss. There are alternate takes of five songs; listeners will hear how "Like the Weather" sounded with slightly different lyrics as well as how "A Campfire Song" was played before REM's Michael Stipe came in for his brief guest spot. The sound quality is decent but not audiophile quality -- remember: these are only demos, not the digitally mastered versions that actually ended up on In My Tribe. Nonetheless, the excellence of the songs comes through loud and clear even in their rawest, least-produced state. Although not recommended to casual listeners, this bootleg will be fascinating for those heavily into 10,000 Maniacs.
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