The Lion And The Cobra

Sinead O'Connor

Ensign/Chrysalis, 1987

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Sinead O’Connor’s debut album, The Lion And The Cobra, was released at just the right time. The album not only gave the pop music industry a much-needed shot in the arm, but it also became a permanent staple on every college radio station playlist. I should know. I was in college when it was first released.

Judging from the album’s arresting image of Sinead with a clean-shaven head and the very first track “Jackie,” it is quite fair to say that the world didn’t know quite to make of this unique creature. With a banshee wail and a piercing electric guitar, this was one angry young woman who meant business. But before you could ask the obvious question, “Where did this girl come from,” the album’s material made the answer abundantly clear - “Dublin, Ireland, wot’s it to ya?”

The first half of The Lion And The Cobra my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is as good as it gets. The upbeat single “Mandika” has the tightest of rhythm sections, not to mention crisp production from Sinead and Kevin Moloney. In contrast, the lilting melody of “Just Like U Said It Would B” helps to lighten the oppressive feel quite considerably. One of the standouts has to be in the form of the heavy, yet beautiful, “Jerusalem.” If there had been a video for this particular track, you could just imagine it would feature Sinead in a dark forest surrounded by wolves. That would have certainly been a foreshadowing of sorts, symbolic of Sinead’s impending fame and all of its pitfalls.

If the guitars sound familiar, they come compliments of Marco Pirroni of Adam & The Ants fame. Fellow Irishwoman Enya also joins in on the Gothic fun with a spoken vocal on “Never Get Old,” which has a wonderful jazz piano as its accompaniment. And as the album’s longest track, the emotional “Troy” was designed as the centerpiece and focal point. It is also the most challenging listen that takes a few plays to really appreciate. I don’t know why, but hearing that song after all these years, I couldn’t help but think it sounds a lot like Phil Collins’ song “Another Day In Paradise.” I’m have a feeling gonna get a lot of hate mail for saying that.

Even though it isn’t the remix version, “I Want Your Hands On Me” leaps out as being the one song that doesn’t quite seem to fit in. But in Sinead’s case, that is always a good thing. The terrific MC Lyte rap may be sadly missing, but the other elements like jungle beats and percolating synths are all in place. The last two songs close the album out on a somber note but still manage to hold up surprisingly well. “Drink Before The War” has the feel of an organ-driven story song and “Just Call Me Joe” brings back the electric guitar, though this time Sinead opts to sing in her sexy, sleepy voice. Nothing wrong with changing it up.

My one regret is that I never got to see Sinead O’Connor perform live. Like this album, it surely would have been one concert to remember. We stodgy Americans may not have known what to do with her when she first burst onto the scene like a bat out of hell, but when we took some time to let Sinead's music sink in, there would be no stopping her from making a lasting impression.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-



© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ensign/Chrysalis, and is used for informational purposes only.