Picture biog: Sinead's controversial career in photosDuring all the years when Sinead O'Connor's wonderful musical work was often overshadowed by political actions, she kept producing a few albums while also collaborating both with big names like Faithless, U2 and Peter Gabriel, and with then newer groups like Irish band Aslan.
Collaborations opens on a menacing high with "Special Cases" with Faithless, then slips easily into the gorgeous sequential melody of Asian Dub foundation's "100 mirrors". From her reggaeish anti-colonialist protest song with Benjamin Zephaniah, "Bomb da Bass", to the porno cheese of The Blockheads' "Wake up and make love with me" to her whispering collaboration with the resonant Aslam ("Up in Arms"), care has been taken to make the collaborations fit together. It's been done so well that it could always have been intended to be one album. This success hinges on a combination of a generally electronics based sound, and a walking-friendly pace.
Even more striking is how O'Connor, so often accused of being an iconoclast, puts the needs of each song and the artists who wrote it before her own stardom. Though her distinctive voice is instantly recognisable, her vocals adapt both emotionally and stylistically to match the mood and technical needs of each track. She switches from high pitched delicate strands of sound, to rich lead, to calming backing, without sounding unnatural. In the end, variety and listenable consistency balance out beautifully.
You may not have heard a few of the bands or songs on this CD, but one of the joys of it is that they're all well worth discovering. The final track - a supposedly ironic cover of the revolting Eurovision Song Contest winner "All kinds of everything" - is the only iffy inclusion.
The album omits only a few of her collaborations, most inexplicably her gorgeous duet with Pogues' Shane MacGowen ("Fairytale of New York") and her musically daring work with Manchester band James ("Vervaceous"). Perhaps they just didn't fit with the other songs. More collaborations excluded are those with Christy Moore, Willie Nelson, The Chieftains, and the monks of County Limerick's Glenstal Abby. Perhaps they'll show up on another album in future. With Sinead, you just never know what's coming next.
- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
"...if one thing shines through these collaborations, it's that O'Connor's iconoclastic musical spirit is something we'd do well to keep track of. " - Andrew Gilstrap for Pop Matters
"... this oddball collection of 17 songs from other people's albums, many unheard up to now by most in the U.S., holds together nicely, is enjoyable from start to finish with no real clunkers, and could give you a new appreciation for the bad girl from Dublin."- Charles Andrews
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