1987, Music

The Lion and the Cobra (1987) by Sinead O’Connor

I get why this record was such a big deal when it came out: in 1987 it seemed rare that someone with such a distinctive voice comes along, who writes her own songs, and who seems like her artistic personality is already fully formed.But I think that, in retrospect, that view says more about 1987 and the way women were treated by the recording industry than it does about this particular record.

Because though this record does seem rather mature for someone of O’Connor’s age (not quite 21), with no experience, and from a country that, too my knowledge, had not produced a lot of female pop stars, it wears its influences on its sleeve: I hear Kate Bush, I hear Siouxsie Sioux, I hear Peter Gabriel, I hear Prince, and I hear a few things I can’t quite place. And, in some cases, the influence is kind of overwhelming, only O’Connor’s voice really keeping us from hearing something derivative.

But this is a decent set of songs for someone who hasn’t really done this before. And though the production is marred in its 1987 sound, at least it’s interesting and varied.

O’Connor herself is probably the album’s saving grace. Slightly weaker or stronger songs might not matter, and the production doesn’t, because she is such a compelling performer and because her particular Irish voice hadn’t really been placed in a kind of “modern rock” context before (to my knowledge).

Good for a debut.


All tracks written by Sinéad O’Connor, except where noted.

  1. “Jackie” 2:28
  2. “Mandinka” 3:46
  3. “Jerusalem” (O’Connor, Ali McMordie, Mike Clowes, John Reynolds) 4:20
  4. “Just Like U Said It Would B” (O’Connor, Steve Wickham) 4:32
  5. “Never Get Old” (spoken-word intro by Enya) 4:39
  6. “Troy” 6:34
  7. “I Want Your (Hands on Me)” (O’Connor, Clowes, Reynolds, Rob Dean, Spike Holifield) 4:42
  8. “Drink Before the War” 5:25
  9. “Just Call Me Joe” (O’Connor, Kevin Mooney, Leslie Winer) 5:51
  • Sinéad O’Connor – vocals, electric guitar, producer, audio mixing, arranger
  • Kevin Moloney – producer, engineer, audio mixing
  • Fachtna Ó Ceallaigh – audio mixing
  • Marco Pirroni – electric and acoustic guitars
  • Richard “Spike” Holifield – bass
  • Rob Dean – electric and acoustic guitars
  • John Reynolds – drums, programming
  • Mike Clowes – synthesizer, keyboards, string arrangements on “Troy”
  • Kevin Mooney – all guitars & bass guitar on “Just Call Me Joe”
  • Gavyn Wright – orchestra director
  • Enya – speaking part on “Never Get Old”
  • Leslie Winer – spoken words on “Just Call Me Joe”
  • Terence Morris, Lloyd Phillips & Chris Birkett – mixing on “Mandinka” & “I Want Your (Hands on Me)”
  • Jack Adams – mastering

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