Sales of this limited edition CD go towards the Body Shop's Trade-Not-Aid program which promotes commercial trade with native manufacturers in undeveloped countries. This special package is constructed of handmade paper from Nepal and is limited to 25,000 copies.
Personnel: Natalie Merchant (vocals, piano); Bill Dillon (acoustic guitar, slide guitar, mandolin); Robert Buck (acoustic guitar); Richie Stearns (banjo); Morgan Fichter (violin, background vocals); Mary Ramsey (viola, background vocals); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Kim Laskowski, Atsuko Sato (bassoon); Dennis Drew, Amanda Kramer (piano, organ, pump organ); Steve Gustafson (acoustic bass); Jerome Augustyniak (drums, percussion); Jerry Marotta (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Ed Thacker.
Recording information: Sony Music Studios, New York, NY.
Photographer: Ebet Roberts.
Unknown Contributor Role: Dennis Drew.
Recorded during the 1993 tour supporting the OUR TIME IN EDEN album, MTV UNPLUGGED was the last 10,000 Maniacs album to feature co-founder and primary vocalist Natalie Merchant. Robert Buck's sterling guitar playing still forms the center of the band's sound--especially on the stripped down version of "Don't Talk," from the band's watershed album, IN MY TRIBE. Another standout track is "Eat for Two" (from BLIND MAN'S ZOO), which is much slower than the studio version and pairs a full string section with Merchant's lyrics about unplanned pregnancy.
The album focuses heavily on material from OUR TIME, an album that featured Dennis Drew's keyboards prominently. Drew's playing shines here as well and both "Gold Rush Brides" and "Jezebel" are highlights. Along with an excellent take on "Stockton Gala Days," these three songs are proof that the Maniacs gave their live set some serious thought, in many cases improving on their studio versions. A cover version of "Because the Night," a song made famous by Patti Smith, gave the band an unlikely hit single. For those interested, the cellist and backup vocalist on this album, Mary Ramsey, became Merchant's permanent replacement.
Entertainment Weekly (10/29/93, p.61) - "...[10,000 Maniacs'] pleasant guitar jangle...doesn't deviate that much from what we've already been sold..." - Rating: B-
Q (12/93, p.125) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...10,000 Maniacs play up a storm. Never has the voice of Natalie Merchant sounded so heart- stoppingly beautiful--warm enough to defrost the hardiest ice-warrior..."
Stereo Review (1/94, p.128) - Performance: Cozy / Recording: Clean - "...this is a gorgeous set from a band that plays best when it plays least--and they underplay to perfection here...."