10,000 Maniacs, from Jamestown in the state of New York, came to prominence in 1983 after the self-recording of a debut album which they released on their own label.   The following year, having made something of a buzz in the UK after being championed by John Peel, the band was signed to Elektra, part of the Warner Bros. empire. The early part of 1985 saw them in London recording their debut album, released a few months later as The Wishing Chair, with veteran producer Joe Boyd enlisted to help.  Boyd had just finished working with R.E.M. on Fables of The Reconstruction, and I think it’s fair to say he ensured the sound of the Athens, GA band would have an influence on the new album he was assisting with, as best can be heard on the first single lifted from it:-

mp3: 10,000 Maniacs – Can’t Ignore The Train

It’s just under three minutes of shimmering and wonderful indie-pop, thanks in particular to the tremendous guitar playing of the late Robert Buck.  I’d actually forgotten just how great this single sounded until it was aired recently at the Little League night in Glasgow a few weeks back, and this led me to digging into Discogs to pick up another copy as a very belated replacement for the one that was lost many years ago.

I played the b-side, which I can’t remember doing so back in 1985, although I must have done so on at least one occasion.  Listening now, I reckon I must have dismissed it on the grounds that it was too quirky and too different from the majestic a-side.  The thing is, I now have almost an additional 40 years of reference points, and so can confidently say that the lads in Vampire Weekend must have found a copy in some second hand store as they went about writing their own material in the first decade of the 21st century.

mp3: 10,000 Maniacs – Daktari

All in all, it’s a fairly decent debut 45 for the major label who must have been bemused that it didn’t make any inroads into the charts.  Having said that, R.E.M. were also being largely ignored in 1985.





Boxers appeared in January 1995, some 10 months after the release of Vauxhall And I, but seven months prior to the issue of Southpaw Grammar. Thankfully, from this listeners’ perspective, it is a song that fits in more with the former than the latter.

The sleeve on the top is the UK release, and the cover star is an American fighter called Billy Conn of the 1930s and 40s, who at one-time was the Light-Heavyweight champion of the world (in an era when just one man held the title at a particular weight, unlike today with its myriad of ‘champs’ recognised by different governing bodies). Apart from appearing on a Morrissey record sleeve, Billy Conn has had several brushes with the performing arts, including appearances on TV and in movies. He was also name-checked in the famous film On The Waterfront

The sleeve underneath is the US version, and shows Morrissey outside an old London training gym. The two b-sides, along with the single itself, would all later find their way onto the compilation LP, World Of Morrissey.

Boxers is one of the stronger Morrissey songs from the era, as is Have-A-Go- Merchant, the b-side on the 7″ single. But the additional track on the 12″ and CD single suffers from really bad saxophone playing from Boz Boorer which has often led me to skip past it when it comes round on the i-pod.

mp3 : Morrissey – Boxers
mp3 : Morrissey – Have-A-Go Merchant
mp3 : Morrissey – Whatever Happens, I Love You

The single peaked at a disappointing, but atypical for the period, #23.

Oh and legend has it that the title of the 7″ b-side was inspired by what Morrissey thought was  this tame cover version:-

mp3 : 10,000 Maniacs – Everyday Is Like Sunday