10,000 Maniacs: Dingwalls, London

IT IS NOT generally known that the Sea Witch behind the last whirlpool in the north, who died for love, had a younger sister, and here she is now. She is singing funny little songs from LA, wherein the I Ching encounters real human conflict. She is backed rather than accompanied by five rather unspectacular folk-rock musicians, and dances much better than she did on the telly.

That name! Why couldn’t it be Loretta Grey And The Soaring Castles or something really appropriate like that? Then one would stop anticipating — in frustration — lunacy (oh yah, dopey US freakos with sub-Polanski intimations. Peel likes them, yah, I know) and simply savour the aroma of mystical airs.

A mystical air, actually, is a bloody rare do these days. The TM (sic), thanks to the whirling and oscillating Ocean Cadet, have one at their calloused fingertips. Her starfish voice moves under and over waves of time-honoured ritual — that is, they sometimes sound like Steeleye Span. Or Fairport Convention. Ha, beat that for facile-but-true. And now into the field of vision comes ‘The Waltons meet The Munsters doing The Last Waltz at some Motels in a room near B52′ — but I think we’d best leave that well alone.

10,000 Maniacs, for all this, are disarmingly plain and glow with magnetic undercurrents like fireflies over haystacks. They came across graciously, not ingratiatingly, and seemed somehow natural.

© Chris RobertsSounds, 20 April 1985

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