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Oct 10

SINEAD O’CONNOR – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

FT + Popular167 comments • 11,104 views

#641, 3rd February 1990

Sinead O’Connor is one of the finest song interpreters not just because she thinks hard about the material and the feelings locked in it, but because she’s so good at placing songs into a situation. A great example of this is her version of “Chiquitita”, warm and homely where ABBA’s is melodramatic, replacing its theatrical flourishes with a cosy tick-tock rhythm like a parlour clock. In the video she makes you, the viewer-as-Chiquitita, a cup of tea and settles down for a chat, and it’s perfect: that’s exactly what her version feels like.

This ability to find an angle gives her cover versions life and variety: she’s happy to switch up her singing style as the track demands, she’s never reliant on one-size-fits-all passion. She can belt with the best of them – think of her “You’re killing me!” ranting on “Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home”. But she’s also happy to keep her distance if that’s what the song needs. This is why the famous video for “Nothing Compares For You” – tight close-up on O’Connor’s face, a tear sliding down her cheek, her spitting some words and flinching from others – can be misleading. It makes you think the record is brilliant because of its raw, unsimulated emotion: but really it’s more subtle than that, and the artifice of the video’s framing is as much a tell as those two teardrops.

Her “Nothing Compares 2 U” is a very moving track – it captures the stasis, anger and devastation of a bad break-up with awful accuracy – but it seems to me Sinead comes to that emotion through very calculated vocal choices, particularly the shifts between a gentle vocal tone and one more edged and occasionally so harsh it almost sounds treated. Take the chorus, for instance – it builds up as a big soft rock sweep: “But nothing compares…” – and then starts to zig-zag, O’Connor picking out individual syllables – “no-THING! com-pares” – before blurring the last two into a single stabbing cry – “TOYEW”.

How does this way of singing work with the grain of the song? “Nothing Compares 2 U” is – at least partly – about control and its limits. The singer has freedom and autonomy, she knows exactly how long she’s hurt for and is withering about others’ attempts to advise or alleviate it. By the end of the song she’s acting like it’s her choice whether he comes back or not – and this coda is the record’s prettiest and most desperate moment. So the ultra-precise vocals on “Nothing Compares” dramatise this. And they allow for some magical moments – the hopelessness of “I can see whoever I choose“, and the showy melisma on “whatever I want” and “restaurant” underlining their pointlessness in a life where all activity has become decorative and empty. The defiant, then trailing “every boy I see“. The chilling first line. And – of course – “GUESS what he told me!”

I haven’t even mentioned the music, whose stately, sympathetic pulse gives O’Connor the canvas she needs to be so devastating. Compare it to the Prince-produced original by The Family and you can easily see the work this rich, understated backing is doing – the melody is there on the Family’s version but the production strands it by turning the song’s sorrow into a fog. Everything about Sinead O’Connor’s track is clear, by contrast. But there’s still something irreducibly private about it, this portrait of a woman whose grief is all she has to hold onto.

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Comments

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  1. 1

    Just to put in a word for the live version she did of this, I think on the Grammies, dressed in a weird triangle of a yellow dress — which was EVEN MORE INTENSE AND STARTLING (esp.given the context).

  2. 2
    punctum on 29 Oct 2010 #

    My favourite Tintin book, in common with many readers, is Tintin In Tibet; certainly it was the most heartfelt of all Hergé’s volumes. His friend Chang is flying to Europe to meet him, but he hears that there has been a terrible ‘plane crash in the Himalayas, with all crew and passengers presumed killed. He is inconsolable yet still resolute. He attempts to come to terms with his grievous loss – he acts as though his right arm has been severed – but finds that the only way he can do so is, firstly, through dreams, wherein he sees Chang lying in the wreckage, injured but alive, crying for help, and secondly, through action, as he prepares to travel to the mountains to find him.

    Everybody thinks he is mad or deluded or as blinded by grief as the Himalayan snowstorms would blind the unwary traveller. But he will not be dissuaded from his task – despite the overpowering sense of loss he has refused to accept death and will make every conceivable effort, and many inconceivable ones, to find that there is still life at the other end, despite all appearances.

    Captain Haddock goes with him, grumpily complaining as ever – but still he goes with him, will not let him travel alone despite Tintin’s howls that he will travel alone if necessary. The journey is hazardous and sometimes hopeless; even their sherpa and his crew eventually abandon them, afraid of the mythical yeti. This dread of the unseen “monster” – really a fear of the unknown, or of the future – gradually deepens throughout the story.

    Eventually the yeti, huge and loud, emerges from behind a rock. It is an awesome and startling sight, but Tintin is keen enough to discern its true nature and knows that it too is afraid. He follows the yeti back to its cave – and there within the cave, wrapped in warm blankets with remnants of the small animals the yeti has brought back to keep him fed, is Chang, extremely weak but alive.

    I don’t think I need to underline at least one of the many analogies of this story. But Sinead O’Connor has always struck me as a similar spirit; sometimes beaten, often abused and jeered at, but she continues to defy the onset of death, betrayal and loss even as she stares them in the face, as if to stare them down. She is noticeably less politic and far more prone to open bleeding than the fictional Belgian – but which other singers, male or female, were producing work in the order of The Lion And The Cobra in 1987/8, with its panting haemorrhages of passion thwarted (“Troy”) or ravenously desired (“I Want Your (Hands On Me)”), its torrents of naked rage (“Jackie”), its rejection of nothingness (“Never Grow Old”)? This was the flipside of Enya – everything enclosed in the Watermark world floods out into Sinead’s soul and onto the red page.

    Ridiculed, threatened and boycotted for nothing more than believing things, expressing these beliefs and standing up for herself and those for whom she cares – for daring to be an Uppity Woman, even in the supposedly utopian and caring nineties – she shrugs some things off, screams away others. Her reading of Marley’s “War” at the Dylan tribute gig was closer to the bruised heart of Dylan than any of the other politesse offered up that evening – and Neil Young, for one, knew it (as, presumably, did the author of “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” himself). On 1994’s Universal Mother she includes home recordings of her infant son, a decade and more ahead of Aerial. Her 1992 covers album Am I Not Your Girl? – as with its bloody Celtic twin from the other end of the decade, Kevin Rowland’s My Beauty – uses the songs of her life to tell her apparently unpalatable story; the breaking down on the acappella “Scarlet Ribbons,” the Centipede-style free jazz eruption which climaxes “Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home” – an outrageous and brilliant addition to that year’s Top 20 singles chart, and it should have been number one for 16 weeks – the reading of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” she remembered from her schooldays; it all makes her sense.

    Because if you’re going to attempt somebody else’s song, and carry it off successfully, you have to insert yourself into it; you have to give the song something which only you could give to it, a route into its heart which no one else could hope to negotiate. So “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song Prince gave away to The Family, one of his shortlived Paisley Park Nearly-Hit Factory sidelines, in 1985, becomes in Sinead’s eyes, mouth and heart a different song entirely.

    And Sinead’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” as it struggles with its nearly inexpressible emptiness, also becomes the first real number one of the nineties, a Massive Attack production in all but name. Nellee Hooper’s production and Nick Ingman’s arrangement are more minimal than anyone else dared get away with at the time, yet the record’s depth is maximalist to its core; a simple but dense string line which does nothing much apart from stating the underlying basic chords of the song, with no embellishments or flourishes apart from a slow rise of the first violins in the instrumental break, drifting like admonitory clouds over Sinead’s grieving figure; a sparse piano; distant backing vocals like a Gregorian chain gang; and a 16 rpm hip hop beat with subtle embellishment from John Reynolds’ live drums. Just as The Lion And The Cobra, through the involvement of Marco Pirroni and Kevin Mooney, helped mutate Antmusic into unexpected shapes, there is something of an umbilical link between Sinead’s “Nothing” and the Associates’ “White Car In Germany” – the beats too deep and slow to seem real (is Paul Morley’s Nothing the missing link between the two? If only it were!).

    The arrangement has to be minimal because Sinead has to be in the foreground. Her vocal, though automatically double-tracked, is unobtrusive but unavoidable. Avoiding the tiresome melismatics of the likes of the soon-to-be-massive Mariah Carey, but forceful when she needs to be (“GUESS WHAT HE TOLD ME?”), Sinead’s vocal asks nothing more than you listen and empathise.

    And she grieves; the minutiae of ghastly bereavement (“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days”), the initiation of wilful self-destruction (“I go out every night and sleep all day”), the forced gasp of suppressed liberation (“Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want”), but knowing throughout that all these transitory pleasures, or drugs (“I can eat my dinner in my fancy restaurant,” “I could put my arms around every boy I see”), cannot begin to fill the unthinkable void, and neither can well-meaning but bland advice (“He said girl you better try to have fun no matter what you do…but he’s a fool”).

    But for whom is she grieving?

    The line “all the flowers that you planted, mama” is the song’s true core of grief. Note that:
    a) she doesn’t change the gender;
    b) she whimpers the word “mama” like an infant;
    c) this is the precise point on the video when her tears become visible (the similarly minimalist video, the face and nothing but the face on a background of unfathomable blackness).

    And this was where she started to think about her own mother, the mother who abused her beyond any rational endurance, and yet when her car crashed it was still like having an arm amputated without anaesthetic. “I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard/But I’m willing to give it another try” – is she putting words in her mother’s mouth, paraphrasing her afterlife regret and hoped-for penance?

    But she, Sinead, is still willing to give it another try, declines to die, will not be dissuaded no matter how much shit is rained down upon her head or jammed into her heart; and so her “Nothing Compares 2 U” cut through all the jive bunnies, jovial teenpop cutouts and bogus AoR compassion which had preceded and still encircled it – its appearance at number one was a defiant and shocking bolt of thunder thrown into an arena of bland acceptance of business-as-usual, since business, the WORLD, just STOPS when you’ve lost someone, I mean, how DARE it CONTINUE…there is something about the record which gets as close as pop has ever dared to “the truth”…and no, if you know what that is, it doesn’t require definition. Think of Sinead struggling through the snow and cold, sometimes seemingly on the point of death, but refusing to stop until she finds the candle of life which she knows is glowing at the other side, at the entrance, after confronting apparent demons which are only bigger guides…back to life, however we do want it.

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 29 Oct 2010 #

    The bookies are laughing after a spate of bets on the prospect of a tenless 90s proves preposterous.

    The way the “to yooou” hangs on that odd note always chilled me a little, adding to the edge her voice generally provides.

    A great way to herald a run of half a dozen #1s that should see a high average score and reception.

  4. 4
    col124 on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Absolutely a 10. This hit #1 a bit later in the US (late spring ’90, I think) and its success felt like the weather was changing, at last.

  5. 5
    Tom on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Absolutely agonised over the mark on this, not so much because Sinead doesn’t deserve it but because I do feel with hindsight I’ve been a little too liberal with the top box. But if this isn’t a 10 nothing is.

    #2 My favourite Tintin book is The Castafiore Emerald I think!

  6. 6
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Yeah, it’s the sheer number of strategies she employs all in the space of like 3 minutes – sometimes in the space of one line! – to deal with this pain that’s so tremendous.

    She’s like an actor who won’t give up – if this doesn’t work, maybe this other thing will. Like in every great drama, she never actually achieves her goal. But that doesn’t stop her from trying.

    The other day I saw “The Human Voice”, a one-woman play written in 1932 by Jean Cocteau and done for television in the 60s with Ingrid Bergman. It’s like an hour-long version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Without the singing or the music.

  7. 7
    Tom on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Watching the video again – which I didn’t until I’d finished writing the piece, hence the “lone teardrop” mistake – I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN all the cut-aways to statuary! Aside from reminding me of the “INSTRUMENTAL – 20 seconds” bit on Karaoke machines it’s like even the video director is thinking “oh shit this is intense, better show a fountain”.

  8. 8
    rosie on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Ah well, another decade and another cheapening of the process marks my own further alienation from pop as the years pass. A humdrum track that would hardly have attracted attention in 1966.

  9. 9
    anto on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Only the third number one of this decade but it sounds unmistakably nineties to me. It’s partly the production. Five years earlier this could have sidled into a power ballad as it is it’s more of a
    power-less ballad. Then there’s the vocal as this marked the point where caucasian soul singing seemed to be harking back to Plastic Ono Band rather than Astral Weeks. Her vocals here are as confessional as Kurt Cobain or Thom Yorke or Polly Harvey. Admittedly Dolores O’Riordan built a career out of a poor imitation but I wouldn’t hold that against Sinead.
    A number one to cherish.

  10. 10
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 29 Oct 2010 #

    If this had come out in 1966 it would have blown everyone’s minds, Marty McFly style!

  11. 11
    punctum on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Or Napoleon XIV style!

  12. 12

    “I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant” = “At this level of fine dining, your foam was frivolous”

  13. 13
    Tom on 29 Oct 2010 #

    #8 I’m really surprised you don’t like this one Rosie – Marcello is right about the modernity of the production but it’s not showily or aggressively so, and in every other way it’s incredibly classicist.

    Though I think you’re right that nobody was really singing like this in 1966 – she takes some of her cues from earlier vocal stylings (which would become really obvious on Am I Not Your Girl) but then applies them to a rock-era appreciation of confrontation.

    Despite being one of the Great Weepies this hardly ever turns up on X-Factor, Idol, etc (unless it does any I always miss it) – has Sinead made it uncoverable?

  14. 14
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 29 Oct 2010 #

    By the way punctum, that’s a booming post.

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 29 Oct 2010 #

    I don’t think that I have that much to add here, other than that the space in the production and “ah ah” backing vox mean that I sometimes play this back to back with ‘I’m Not In Love’. And that you’d never think that this could be so good or interesting a song if only The Family’s version existed!

    Contemporary sixth form reaction was universally positive to variable degrees, but often more based upon the video and Prince kudos than the naked five minutes of the song itself. Certainly, the ensuing album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ was unpopular, the original material considered not a patch on ‘Nothing Compares’. An unfair comparison in some ways.

  16. 16
    Steve Mannion on 29 Oct 2010 #

    #13 “has Sinead made it uncoverable?”

    Yes and no. How could you forget The Stereophonics tackling it, De Jong style, for Warchild a few years back?

  17. 17
    Cumbrian on 29 Oct 2010 #

    I initially commented on “It’s Over” knowing that this was coming next and for me, my reaction to both Roy Orbison’s song and “Nothing Compares To You” is intrinsically related to knowing something about the artist’s life and how that seems to flow through their interpretation of the words themselves. This song is all wrapped up in the last 3 paragraphs of punctum’s post for me.

    As I said on the “It’s Over” thread, I don’t think it is necessary for a singer to have experienced something from within the song to give a great performance. But with both these songs, I am reminded of the chapter of “The Manual” in which The KLF describe what beat you should be looking to crib to get to Number One. It comes to a line where they say something like “look for the beat where the only answer to the question ‘can you feel it?’ is Yes”.

    I don’t think this record, nor “It’s Over”, got to #1 because people in general knew of the artist’s personal circumstances. I do however suspect that there is an element of being able to “feel it” with both of them and this this could well generate a certain public reaction to the record that may ultimately have been reflected in the sales.

    It is a testament to both Orbison and O’Connor that they are such brilliant performers that their life seeps into the performance enough to give it the real quality, without going over the top and ruining it. As such, this (as with “It’s Over”) is a 10 for me.

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Number 2 Watch: Two weeks for Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K – Get Up (Before The Night Is Over). Which is enjoyable enough, but pretty insignificant when placed alongside ‘Nothing Compares’.

  19. 19
    Tom on 29 Oct 2010 #

    #15 My reaction at the time was – for reasons I honestly can’t bring back to life now, other than being young and silly about emotional singing – negative. I remember listening to the end of year Top 40 though and thinking “bloody hell that’s actually really good”. And it was than a kind-of-guilty-pleasure for years until I just admitted it was amazing.

    It’s the first Popular entry to feature in an earlier FT project – my Top 100 Singles Of the 90s, written at the end of ’99. There are four others upcoming. One very shortly upcoming. This would now be a lot higher on such a list, though – it’s one of those records I like more every year.

    This is also one of two Number One Hitmakers who I served while working in the MVE Book And Comic Exchange, and the only one I bought books from (unless producers count – Eno sold a load of stuff once too). I feel a bit guilty about being so much of a jobsworth to ask Sinead O’Connor for ID but it was just after she’d grown her hair out. She sent her minder to get it and was very nice about the whole “two cash, four exchange” process.

  20. 20
    Steve Mannion on 29 Oct 2010 #

    I’m surprised Sinead frequented MVE. Surely she did not want what she did not already got?

  21. 21
    Billy Smart on 29 Oct 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Sinead O’Connor thrice performed ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ on Top Of The Pops. Wait until later to read about the Christmas show;

    25 January 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Yell, Del Amitri, Phil Collins and Adamski. Simon Mayo & Jakki Brambles were the hosts.

    22 February 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Tina Turner, Chris Rea, Beats International, Guru Josh and Adam Ant. Mark Goodier was the host.

  22. 22

    Re the performance I mentioned in #1, I had a conversation at the time about it with then-editor of ARENA mag Dyl4n J0nes — I know, swank swank, but bear with me — and he was very scornful, I think for similar reasons to Tom-when-young, that this level of extreme but directed and controlled emotionality unsettled him… Anyway at the time he was giving me work so I thought him a fine fellow and was taken aback by his opinion: since then of course he has proved to be a serial twerp on TV and off so hurrah! etc

  23. 23
    Dave on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Nice write-up. Listening again in headphones for the first time in probably a few months, I’m really struck by how this is really a duet between Sinead and herself. (Sinead #2 comes in at “I could eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant”). Other artists tend to use this approach as a kind of back-up for harmonies etc. — Kelly Clarkson has one other major vocal melody as counter-point, for instance, because oftentimes you couldn’t really cram much more of her on the track.

    But here the interplay between the front and back vocals is really interesting because it’s so identical. The back-up Sinead is always slightly subdued compared to the spotlight, like the immediate beginning of the decay of the sound — I think of my piano teacher always asking me to “match the sound” between two notes, meaning that you play the next note with an ear for the slight decay from the previous note. When the voice finally rises to the identical intensity of the foreground — as in “I KNOW THAT LIVING WITH YOU BABY WAS (sometimes hard)…” — the effect is almost vertiginous. You don’t realize that the #2 vocal (I really hesitate to call it “background,” more like a sub-foreground) provides such a grounding sweep and pull, so that when it intensifies up to the level of the main vocal it feels like a wave crashing against you unexpectedly.

    The second vocal may be literally identical in terms of its mix, I’m only referring to the effect. I do think it’s just the tiniest bit softer, though.

  24. 24
    thefatgit on 29 Oct 2010 #

    The video was definitely a “time stands still” moment. Emotionally raw, to the point where you either have to look away or rush to hug her somehow. It’s that perception of vulnerability that sucked me in, and the sheer craft of NC2U that kept me enthralled. Marvellously minimal. A ballad that conveys such power, it crumbles the collected works of 80’s soft rock power balladry to powdered pumice.

    And the simplicity of the video itself, with her face-front fixed stare defying you to remain emotionally detatched, interspersed with statues and italianate landscaped gardens, like a Peter Saville album cover come to life. The frozen tears of stone angels against the saltwater stream navigating the curve of her pale cheek. Gorgeous.

  25. 25
    Lex on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Great write-up Tom! I have little to add on this song apart from “every word is true”, which links neatly to your classic FT post on “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” that needs to be linked here. I love how she manages to effectively turn both originals into Sinéad O’Connor songs, cathartic and confessional. She did much the same to “Sacrifice” (despite the cheesy piano) and “All Apologies” (also Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe”, but the Sinéad version isn’t on Youtube).

    I didn’t follow her career avidly – she arrived a couple of years too early, and I don’t remember this from the time – but several of her songs still blow me away with their sheer feeling: the terrifying “Troy”, still a benchmark of intensity for me; “I Am Stretched On Your Grave”. She’s a really crucial artist in terms of the ’90s confessional singer-songwriter, and her erasure from rock history is pretty unfair (and Exhibit 9482020 of how artists who code too much as “women’s music” are always marginalised, never canonised).

    And then there’s the way she brought that unflinching intensity to her most infamous cultural moment – ripping up a picture of the Pope on SNL, and then what she did in the face of virulence that seems completely astonishing now at the Dylan tribute concert a few days later. Both clips really amazing to watch, btw – such incredible bravery, both scenarios weirdly unimaginable now, and made more poignant by the fact that nearly 20 years on, she was proved to have been right. (This article, “Isn’t Sinead O’Connor overdue a massive, grovelling apology from absolutely everybody?” is superb.)

  26. 26
    Billy Smart on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: There are more Sinead UK TV appearances on the list than I was expecting;

    ASPEL & COMPANY: with Lynda La Plante, Ian McShane, Jack Dee, Sinéad O’Connor, Hothouse Flowers (1993)

    BANG BANG IT’S REEVES AND MORTIMER: with Morwenna Banks, Charlie Higson, Matt Lucas, Sinéad O’Connor (1999)

    THE DANNY BAKER SHOW: with Leslie Nielsen, Jackie Collins, Sinéad O’Connor (1994)

    THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW: with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Matt Lucas, Sinéad O’Connor (2007)

    THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW: with Gillian Anderson, Chris Addison, Sinéad O’Connor (2009)

    LATER WITH JOOLS HOLLAND: with Sinéad O’Connor, The Beautiful South (1994)

    LATER WITH JOOLS HOLLAND: with Sinéad O’Connor, Dusty Springfield, Brownstone (1995)

    LONDON UNDERGROUND: with Frank Skinner, Sinéad O’Connor, Ellen Cleghorne, Stephanie Hodge (1992)

    PARAMOUNT CITY: with Curtis & Ishmael, Boy George, Sinéad O’Connor, Frank Skinner (1991)

    THE ROXY: with Jack ‘N’ Chill, T’Pau, Sharp & Numan, Sinéad O’Connor, Bros (1988)

    T•F•I• FRIDAY: with Will Macdonald, Andrew the Barman, Courteney Cox, Mansun, My Life Story, Jimmy Tarbuck, Sinéad O’Connor (1997)

    T•F•I• FRIDAY: with Will Macdonald, Andrew the Barman, John Barnes, Billy Bragg, Cake, Faith No More, Sinéad O’Connor, Super Furry Animals (1997)

    TERRY WOGAN’S FRIDAY NIGHT: with Arthur Smith, Leslie Nielsen, Sinéad O’Connor (1992)

    THE WHITE ROOM: with Sinéad O’Connor, Björk, Dave Stewart, Lou Reed, Shane McGowan, Roachford, Gene (1995)

    WIRED: with The Proclaimers, Sinéad O’Connor, Michael Bolton, Michelle Shocked (1988)

    WOGAN: with Maureen Lipman, Rutger Hauer, Sinéad O’Connor (1990)

    THE WORD: with Boy George, Sinéad O’Connor, Ride, Jagdeed, Jah Wobble (1992)

  27. 27
    rosie on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Tom @13 – Ok, it’s not that I actually dislike it, and I’d probably be inclined to give it a 5 or a 6 on the strength of that quirky voice that is so clearly capable of musical gymnastics but being kept nicely reined in here. All the same, she’s no Kate Bush here, let alone a Bjork or (straying slightly from the field) Cathy Berberian. And anyway, you know me by now, and you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I don’t think Sinead’s voice was done any favours by being strained through a fug of electronic pea soup.

    Besides, I associate it with an occasion later the same year when I, for reasons which may become clearer in time, was an invited guest of Subterranea while being uncomfortably aware that I was not exactly part of Subterranea’s target demographic. And Ms O’Connor also caused a stir by her high-profile wading into the delicate local community politics of the area without doing her homework first.

    I’m grateful to Marcello for reminding me of Mr Napoleon XIV. Certainly an original voice in 1966, that finest of all pop years, but perhaps one that had more impact on Marcello’s toddlerhood than my own incipient adolescence. As it is, I suspect that Sinead would have been blown away by Tina Turner, in her prime and with a full Spector gale at her back!

    (I should point out that my comment is on the recording a lone, not having seen the video. We don’t seem to get video links any more)

  28. 28
    MikeMCSG on 29 Oct 2010 #

    Hmm – I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I liked it at the time and bought the album but became so alienated by the antics of the artist that it’s become the Mrs Rochester of my record collection. It’s worth remembering, MC, that we only have Sinead’s side of the story as far as her childhood abuse goes.

    #17 The majority of purchasers would have very little insight into Sinead’s background. Before this she was a one hit wonder from two years back.

    # 25 I remember that Word appearance very well. She just wouldn’t engage with Boy George when he criticised the homophobia in her beloved rap artists’ lyrics and kept trying to divert the discussion to sexism in heavy metal instead.

  29. 29
    Jonathan Bogart on 29 Oct 2010 #

    The Castafiore Emerald > Tintin in Tibet, yes!

  30. 30
    Tom on 29 Oct 2010 #

    TIT is Herge working through his very personal demons through the character of Tintin; TCE is him working through his everyday (equally personal) irritations through the character of Haddock – so they’re kind of a pair! And TIT is very powerful, I’m certainly not saying I dislike it.

    (As a young child I found both baffling, but TIT had the Yeti at least)

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