I haven''t paid much attention to Sinead O''Connor in quite a few years, and that turned out to be a plus when I listened to this collection. I was able to judge the tracks from the perspective of the present, unaffected by the controversy that surrounded this artist and the...
I haven''t paid much attention to Sinead O''Connor in quite a few years, and that turned out to be a plus when I listened to this collection. I was able to judge the tracks from the perspective of the present, unaffected by the controversy that surrounded this artist and the sharp turns she took in her career, and to hear the "hits" spread among the lesser-known songs so that they blend in smoothly.
Furthermore, I admit that even though I have liked her recorded product since 1990, I never really thought of Sinead as a VOCALIST. I do now. Different from Barbra or Aretha, to be sure, but on this collection there is proof that through the years she successfully sang in a wide variety of settings, all of them valid and convincing. She used her voice in every way, from a sly aside to piercing shrieks. But I wonder, did she ever really want to be a star? You would think so. I would call her 80''s album "The Lion And The Cobra" a pop-rock album, and the selections chosen here support that: "Mandinka", "I Want Your Hands On Me", "Just Like U Said It Would B". From this album we also hear stark desperation in the very emotional "Troy". From the same period is "Heroine", a song from the 1986 film "Captive", where fellow Irishman The Edge of U2 accompanies Sinead on an optimistic, very U2-like track. (Later on, the dramatic emotion heard in "Troy" is echoed in "You Have Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart", the song from the 1993 film "In The Name Of The Father", co-written by Bono of U2 - and a powerful, accomplished production this track is!) Next phase: her hugely successful album "I Do Not Want What I Haven''t Got", the very pinnacle of her career. These selections are most compelling. "Nothing Compares 2 U" presents her plaintive voice in fine form. "The Emperor''s New Clothes" is another solid pop-rock track. "Last Day Of Our Acquaintance" is an anguished and somewhat bitter ballad about a relationship in the process of being dissolved. And "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" is an amazing blend of Irish traditional music and a hip-hop beat. At this peak of popularity, Sinead inexplicably decided to pause and remember standards she grew up with; so from this period we hear "Don''t Cry For Me Argentina" and "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home". She performs them with sincere feeling and with skill, but the retro sound of these tracks certainly did not enhance her pop-rock status. Later, Sinead turned aggressively activist, attacking the Catholic Church in the brilliant and shattering track "Fire On Babylon" - heavy beat, sinister horns, blistering vocals, sound effects conjuring up doom. Her next target, on a 1995 collaboration with Bomb The Bass, was the UK. Similar in tone and heaviness to "Fire On Babylon", "Empire", with lyrics like "Vampire, you suck the life of goodness/From now on I''ll call you England...", leaves no doubt about her feelings for that mother-nation. In a total 180, "John I Love You" features Sinead crooning sweetly to her infant, to the accompaniment of soft keyboards and strings.
In all honesty, these ARE the "best" of this singer; all of the songs on her albums do not measure up to these. Still, to have given birth to a body of music that produced this collection is an accomplishment many would envy, especially considering the detours in her career path. Frankly, the first listen left me in an afterglow of amazement, even though most of the tracks were not new to me. I have to conclude that an artist does not have to pursue the straight line of stardom in order to create a legacy.