10,000 Maniacs Build 'Campfire' Collection

As expected, Alan Jackson and Martina McBride have put together a tour that will take the pair across the U.S. in the late winter and spring. The tour is slated to kick off Jan. 29 in Moline, Ill., an

Rhino/Elektra is celebrating the career of 10,000 Maniacs with a two-disc set compiling the band's best songs and a slew of rarities. Slated for Jan. 27 release, "Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings of 10,000 Maniacs," spends one disc collecting 17 of the band's best-loved songs, including "These Are Days," "Trouble Me," "What's the Matter Here?" and its cover of "Because the Night."

The second disc includes previously unreleased demos ("Noah's Dove," "Circle Dream," "Eden"), alternate versions of some songs ("Circle Dream") and several covers, including the band's takes on Cat Stevens' "Peace Train," Jackson Browne's "These Days," Morrissey's "Everyday is Like Sunday," David Bowie's "Starman" and the Carter Family's "Wildwood Flower."

The latter disc also features vocalist Natalie Merchant's duets with ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne on Iris DeMent's "Let the Mystery Be" and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe on "To Sir With Love."

"Peace Train" was included on the original pressing of 1987's "In My Tribe," but was removed from later pressings after the media reported that Stevens, now known as Yusef Islam, supported Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's February 1989 proclamation that author Salman Rushdie should be put to death for writing his controversial "The Satanic Versus." Islam later said that he was misquoted, paving the way for the cover's return.

Merchant supervised the project and designed its packaging. She includes liner notes, as does guitarist John Lombardo, keyboardist Dennis Drew, bassist Steven Gustafson, drummer Jerome Augustyniak and music critic Anthony DeCurtis.

Formed in Jamestown, N.Y., in 1981, 10,000 Maniacs issued its first full-length, "The Wishing Chair," in 1985 on Elektra. The band went on to sell more than 10 million records across nine releases, according to Rhino.

In 1992, the band issued its biggest studio album, the 1.5-million selling "Our Time in Eden," which spawned the hits "These Are Days" and "Candy Everybody Wants." Merchant's final studio set with the band, it was followed the next year by an album culled from 10,000 Maniacs' "MTV Unplugged" performance, which has sold more than 2.2 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

After Merchant left to pursue a solo career, the band pressed on, issuing two studio sets with Mary Ramsey handling vocals. The band has been largely out of the public eye since the 2000 death of co-founder/songwriter/guitarist Robert Buck, from liver failure at age 42. The group recently returned to the road with Oskar Saville replacing Ramsey.

As a solo artist, Merchant has sold more than 5.5 million records in the U.S alone. She issued three studio sets and a live album on Elektra, before leaving the label last year. In August, she and manager Gary Smith self-issued a collection of traditional folk songs, "The House Carpenter's Daughter."

Releasing records on her own according to her own time schedule suits Merchant's new life as the mother of a baby girl, she told Billboard earlier this year.

"I'm just kind of absorbing life in a way that I never have before," she said. "And I'm sure a year from now, when things calm down, well, then, she becomes a toddler, and things probably won't calm down. I dunno, I'm in a really fascinating period of life. I sort of feel like I need to atone for all the years that I didn't understand how profound [motherhood] is."