It was 1987 and the charts once again seemed dominated by artistes signed to Stock, Aitken and Waterman. There were exceptions though, and Sinéad O’Conner was one of these, hitting us with this fantastic début album. Certainly this seemed to make a lot of us sit up and pay attention, as this was something with guts and power.
I remember originally buying this on cassette so that I could play it whilst commuting to and from work, and then eventually CD. This has a certain cleanness about it which helps add to the atmosphere that is built throughout. With tacks that are allegorical and at times the downplaying of the music this makes for something that is still great to listen to.
Using good musicians and production values this still has that certain something, making it well worth listening to. And, yes the spoken piece on track five, ‘Never Get Old’ which is in Gaelic is the voice of Enya.
I suspect we all have our own favourites from this album and it is still worth getting out and playing for younger generations, showing them that we listened to great stuff when we were younger, and it wasn’t all the same.
I find Sinead's albums patchy but the good ones are brilliant - this debut and "Faith and Courage" are religious stuff, not in any churchy orthodox sense but in that life, the universe and everything sense. This is far superior to "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" or "Am I Not Your Girl" - a whole different thing, not cabaret, MOR stuff but cutting edge venomous songs - full of passion, love and anger. Full of pain, joy, and life experience.
With the exception of "Just call me Joe" (a dirge) and maybe "Drink before the War" -(okay but nothing special) - these are all terrific tracks delivered with a commitment and conviction that you can only do on your debut album. It is mysterious and innovative but wholly accesible. Great guitar driven music.
Ok,an teenage gay James bought this straight away after hearing 'Mandinka' just once. Not long after I saw Sinead O' Connor on 'Top of the Pops' and was blown away by her presence and appearance. I read all I could in the music presses and was really impressed when I found out that originally she had long, lustrous, hair and her agent or whoever wanted to market her in that way - appearance was everything; and so she promptly shaved it all off. Essentially she was going to get far on her musical ability or not at all. So you can imagine how important she was to a young man developing his own 'un-conventional' identity.
Ok, the prelude is over ....... GASP! The tracks on the album were at the time and indeed still are uniquely different. I love the sampling with Gaelic on 'Never Get Old' as well as the beautiful lyrics - "young man in a quiet place". 'Jerusalem' and 'Jackie' are fantastic for the vocals alone and 'Troy' is my all time favourite 'angry breaking up with someone' tune.
Yeah, the album is nearly twenty years old, but yet to be equalled. Not many men like Sinead O' Connor, and neither seemingly do many women and strangely enough for the same reasons. Few people it seems like a woman who stands up for herself and believes in what she does. Ok, so I'm biased, but try it out before you disregard it out of hand.
Sinead O'Connor's precipitous artistic decline after this mesmerising debut is, to my mind, one of the sadder tales of the last 17 years. 17 years?! I can hardly believe it myself. When I first heard 'Mandinka', after a friend relentlessly insisted I go out and buy it, I was impressed - to say the very least. When I first heard 'Troy', I was profoundly moved and genuinely speechless. It's rare to hear genuine pain and longing articulated in voice these days, as it was then, and this was an indication that this much needed, bright, beautiful and bolshy young woman was about to make the world sit up and take notice. (Eventually, what the world got was a string of irrational proclamations, bonkers religiosity and the self-appointed patron saint of victims - a kind of shaven-headed Diana). Even more sad was that, despite a handful of gems on subsequent album releases - 'I Am Stretched On Your Grave', 'Nothing Compares 2 U', 'In This Heart', 'Thank You For Hearing Me', 'You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart', the truth is that Sinead's muse and voice (artistically and literally) completely deserted her. The fact that her increasingly eccentric and mystical self-delusions suggested to her that the opposite had happened is a depressing irony. Still, at least she left us with this brilliant album, which is essential listening.
The first time I heard Sinead O'Connor sing Mandinka, I could barely believe my ears. Then I heard the album, with Mandinka, Jerusalem and Just Like U Said It Would Be in rapid succession and believed I'd uncovered a true original with a haunting voice and some of the most creative songwriting of its day. So had a lot of other people, it's true, and some of Sinead's later career failed to live up to the heights of her first album, but you've got to admire the freshness of this effort, even now. Just a few low spots on this disk, but don't let that put you off a truly memorable recording.