"They never topped this one. It remains one of the greatest rock albums of all time and certainly one of the most criminally underrated. The six-piece Maniacs on this album showed many different sides and colors - leading some to the conclusion that the album is disjointed; well, what's wrong with that? Who wants to listen to a bunch of clones of the same song? The shifts in style are fascinating - it's sometimes hard to believe it's the same band you were listening to moments before. This album's production is also top-notch - they were lucky enough to have the legendary Joe Boyd, a man known for letting bands sound like themselves. (Nothing he's produced EVER sounds dated...check it out.) It's worth comparing this to the clinical and overly-glossy production jobs that followed on their following albums. Lyrically this is how I prefer to hear Natalie Merchant, too - with words that suggest and evoke. She's drawing pictures rather than preaching and moralizing which would be an irritant on later albums. They tip their hat to traditional folk on "Just as the Tide Was A-Flowing", and their love of the material is very evident here; they also deliver some stormy rockers like "Scorpio Rising" and "My Mother the War", but sadly this marked the end of their edge; they'd never do anything this raucous ever again. The absolute best thing about this album is that they sound like a group without any obvious front man (or woman); it sounds like the ideas came from several personalities. A brilliant, timeless masterpiece from start to finish."
Scott Briggs (scott.briggs@worldnet | Brooklyn, N.Y. USA | 10/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whoever said above that there's a reason this album is found in the bargain bins just proves my point that what this actually proves is that almost nobody has any taste in good music. Also, most 10,000 Maniacs fans only came into the fold with Blind Man's Zoo, In My Tribe, or egads, the Unplugged album, which is basically fine but ignoring their earlier work is unfair to the band, plus The Wishing Chair is actually an underrated, charming, infectious, affecting, magical, wonderful recording that stands up to any of the band's later works."
"When Natalie Merchant left 10,000 Maniacs in 1993, she made a huge mistake as far as I'm concerned. Although I do enjoy her solo albums, especially Ophelia and Live in Concert, nothing she has done as a solo artist can possibly compare to the work she produced with 10,000 Maniacs. This album is just one of the too few examples of what a great band they were when Merchant was the lead singer. This album has more of a folky sound than their later releases, probably due to John Lombardo's strong influence on the sound (he wrote most of the music) but this album can rock out as well. Songs like Scorpio Rising and My Mother the War are among the best tracks on the album, along with Lilydale (one of the best Robert Buck/Natalie Merchant compositions, IMO) and Cotton Alley. The only bad thing about this album is the fact that it's hard to figure out anything Merchant is singing. Her voice is sometimes overbearing, like on Arbor Day and Just as the Tide Was a Flowing but that's only a minor complaint since Merchant has gone on to become one of the best vocalists out there, IMO. I highly recommend this album for Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs fans or for those interested in hearing the beginning of a terribly underrated band who deserved to have a much longer career with Natalie Merchant at the helm. "
An American dreamscape
lost_in_space82 | 03/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD, The Wishing Chair, is one of the best CD's I have yet come across. I bought it about six years ago, after Our Time In Eden came out, and I still listen to it often. The Wishing Chair is like a painting or a novel. It's an American dreamscape...songs like "Cotton Alley" and "Can't Ignore the Train" show snippets of small town life, "Grey Victory" recounts the bombing of Hiroshima, "Among the Americans" tells the story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears and "Maddox Table," one of my favorite tracks on The Wishing Chair, tells the story of industrialization and the beginning of unionization without being preachy. And Daktari...try NOT to dance when you listen to that track."
Arguably the best Maniacs CD
Scott Briggs (scott.briggs@worldnet | 09/15/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Few albums impress me on a first listen. The Wishing Chair is one of those albums. When I first heard it, I could hardly believe how much I thorougly enjoyed it. The Maniacs' other albums, (In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo and Our Time in Eden, all of which I listened to prior to Chair), needed a few subsequent listens before I fully appreciated them, but even in appreciating them I still don't enjoy them as much as I do their first album released under a major label. From the first song "Can't Ignore the Train", I was hooked but it just gets better and better. I love the ambiance this album generates (tones of which can be found in their previous recording which have been compiled in Hope Chest), set by such songs as the ethereal "Lilydale" and the incredible "Back o' the Moon". Probably the best song (or at least my favorite) is "Everyone a Puzzle Lover"; just an amazingly beautiful song. And of course, there're the lyrics by Natalie Merchant, who in 10,000 Maniacs, wrote some of the best lyrics in popular music, in my opinion. Lastly, this album hasn't aged a bit (none of the Maniacs' albums have); indeed it was ahead of it's time."