The Lion And The Cobra

Sinead O'Connor

Ensign/Chrysalis, 1987

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The ‘80s boasted quite the diverse contribution to girl power, from Tina Turner's explosive comeback to Madonna and her sexually daring image. And among all the female artists that emerged during this era, the then no-name Sinead O’ Connor -- with her debut The Lion And The Cobra -- stood out as one of the most essential and boldest singers in the arsenal of emancipated women that wanted to make a statement just as much as they wanted to make music.

Sinead’s baldness was not the only reason why she was such a tour de force in the music industry, although it certainly got her some attention. It was rightfully her music, which rocks, sighs and surges in all the right moments. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Lion and the Cobra one of rock's classic albums that should not be overlooked.

For a rock album, The Lion And The Cobra is quite atypical. Except for the single “Mandika,” there aren’t much heavy guitars involved in most of the record, much of Sinead's music after this would go in a pop direction. So this is a sonic anomaly, but it's also unique for the way O’Connor carries herself throughout it.

The animal aggression on the record is in its music, the flawless vehement voice and Sinead's attitude. The sheer fire in her singing is just too uncompromising and does more justice to the record as a rock album than a pop album; it may not have the sound, but it has the spirit.

O’Connor’s unbelievable all-encompassing vocal range from the belligerent, powerful “Troy” to the upbeat rocker “Mandika,” to the highly sexual “I Want (Your Hands On Me)” to the potent “Never Get Old,” puts The Lion And The Cobra on a whole new plane for a debut record. In short, it summarizes why O'Connor possesses one of the greatest female voices in pop history.

Listeners will notice the constant drastic tempo changes that the album winds through, from the minimal but no less powerful “Jackie” and “Drink Before The War” to the bombastic “I Want Your (Hands On Me)” and "Jerusalem.” Things seem to flow with perfection because the intensity that O’Connor’s singing brings to every song never fades out, even by a whit, no matter what mood -- melancholic, bitter, sensuous or vulnerable – a song finds itself in. It stays the same throughout the record, maintaining its tension and grittiness, and never letting it go.

The Lion And The Cobra is the complete package; it is as much about the music and the lyrics as O’Connor’s attitude and daring appearance. Even though there were a slew of female rockers that followed in her footsteps (even well after her popularity started waning), none could create a record that matched the brilliance of The Lion And The Cobra, which has stood the test of time and is as awe-inspiring as it was 20 years ago.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



© 2007 Vish Iyer 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.