Sunday, July 27, 2014

Classic Album Review: Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)

Sinead O’Connor has made a career out of wearing her heart on her sleeve – continually putting it out there, and damning any consequences.

O’Connor’s second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, is a prime example of exactly that, and it explores all of the usual Sinead perennials – from broken relationships to motherhood to social injustice to religion.
All of these themes will be very familiar to fans of O’Connor’s work, and they’re more or less ever present strands on each of her albums. What we get on I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got is personal, intimate, heartfelt … and seldom safe.

But what separates this album from earlier or subsequent work is the presence of a smash hit single, with the inclusion of her take on Prince’s emotional break-up epic ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, which was a No.1 hit across the globe back in 1990.

That track is an obvious highlight on the album, but I’ve always thought it odd that such a talented wordsmith (in her own right) should be best known to the masses for her interpretation of someone else’s words. But I guess she’s not alone in that regard.

What that hit did was to expose O’Connor’s work to a much wider public, and in many respects that in itself granted her a fair amount of artistic license or freedom when it came to controlling later output.

‘Nothing Compares’ also pretty much guaranteed the commercial success of the album itself, and IDNWWIHG is generally accepted as O’Connor’s most popular work.

Musically there’s a bit of everything – strings, fiddle, drum programming, a variety of percussion, some acoustic stuff, and some old fashioned power-pop.

The album credits are not without their heavyweights; including onetime Adam Ant collaborator Marco Pirroni on guitar duties (plus a song-writing credit for ‘Jump In The River’), and the legendary Pilster Jah Wobble sharing bass responsibilities with one Andy Rourke (ex-The Smiths). And there’s first husband, drummer, and sometime producer John Reynolds, who also happens to be the father of Sinead’s son Jake.

All up, it’s a great listen, but with its heart wrenching themes, it’s not really an album for all occasions … handle with care, and do not mix with alcohol.

Highlights: ‘Nothing Compares’, the scene setting opener ‘Feel So Different’, the genre-defying ‘I Am Stretched On Your Grave’, the simplicity of ‘Three Babies’, and the politically-motivated telling-it-like-it-is ‘Black Boys On Mopeds’.

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