"Trouble Me" - 10,000 Maniacs
from the album Blind Man's Zoo (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #44
This week's 'robbed hit' comes from the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, who came together in upstate New York in the early 80's with various names and lineups before settling with lead singer Natalie Merchant and the current moniker. Releasing an independent-label debut in 1983, they attracted critical and DJ attention, and after being signed by Elektra Records, put out The Wishing Chair two years later, with underground buzz and college radio starting to play their music (I, myself bought that record back in my school days). With that bit of momentum, though with the departure of original guitarist John Lombardo, the band was set up with legendary producer Peter Asher (James Taylor and the label's own Linda Ronstadt) for their third studio set In My Tribe. An amazing collection of folk-rock songs and storytelling, a cover of the Cat Stevens classic "Peace Train" got MTV playing the band (though it eventually was pulled from later pressings of the album after the whole Salman Rushdie affair). The follow-up, "Like The Weather", landed them on pop radio, and had their first minor pop hit at #68, while making the top-40 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart at #37. But the album's centerpiece, the anti-child abuse screed "What's The Matter Here?", sent them to #9 on the burgeoning Modern Rock format (and #80 pop).
Continuing with Asher at the helm, the Maniacs recorded their next album, Blind Man's Zoo, which came out in the spring of 1989. The lead single, "Trouble Me", was a breezy soft-rock nugget that borrowed from Fleetwood Mac as much as Joan Baez, with Merchant, who wrote the song with keyboardist Dennis Drew, getting a bit more personal...
While "Trouble Me" gave the band a ton more exposure on radio, reaching the top ten on both the Modern Rock (#3 for four weeks) and Adult Contemporary (#7) charts in Billboard magazine, it stalled just under the pop top-40 in August of 1989. The record also went to #20 on their Mainsteam Rock radio list as well. Internationally, the single was their first top-40 hit in Canada at #31, and was a minor hit in the UK at #77.
Follow-up single "Eat For Two" missed the Hot 100, but did go to #12 on the Modern Rock (Alternative) radio chart, and slipped in at #93 in Britain.
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Here's the band performing on the Letterman show promoting the single...
...and lastly, from their MTV Unplugged performance with Natalie joined by the singer who replaced her when she left, Mary Ramsey...