Monday, 8 June 2009

“I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” by SINEAD O’CONNOR. A Review of the Limited Edition April 2009 2CD Reissue of her 1990 Number 1 Album.

"…God Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Cannot Change…Courage To Change The Things I Can…"

There's a lot on here - and not on here - so let's get to the details...

The 10 tracks of Disc 1 (51:13 minutes) are the LP "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got." originally released on Ensign Records CHEN 14 in March 1990 in the UK and Ensign 21759 in the USA (it reached Number 1 on the charts in both countries). Produced by Sinead and Nellie Hooper and Engineered by Chris Birkett, unfortunately the original CD was always a lacklustre affair sound-wise - but this April 2009 Limited Edition 2CD remaster by ADAM NUNN at Abbey Road Studios is 'so' much better - warm and clear - and huge in places.

Listening to the now upfront drums and bass of "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" is wonderful (Steve Wickham of The Waterboys plays Fiddle on it). The very quiet "Three Babies" is now beautiful too - the strings arranged by Sinead and Nick Ingman acting as a powerful backdrop to the melody - her vocals emotional and real. "The Emperor's New Clothes" features ANDY ROURKE of THE SMITHS on Bass (he's also on "You Cause As Much Sorrow") with blistering guitar work from MARCO PIRRONI of Adam Ant's backing band - it's a punky little number that still rocks. "Black Boys On Mopeds" was arranged by KARL WALLINGER of WORLD PARTY (ex Waterboys) and ends Side 1 of the original LP in acoustic style - the remaster bringing out its quiet power and heartfelt lyrics about "...police who kill black boys on mopeds..."

The opener of Side 2 - Prince's stunning "Nothing Compares 2 U" changed her life. I remember the video to this day - like a fist in the solar plexus - and here it still has that same visceral punch - great stuff and an undeniable masterpiece. Pirroni co-wrote "Jump In The River" and while it rocks, it suffers a little from too much clever-clever production that now sounds a little dated. No such problems though with the spiked "You Cause As Much Sorrow" - it sounds fantastic now - huge when the band kicks in after the acoustic opening - and the album finisher is the same - drenched echoed vocals...

The packaging is only ok. As you open the digipak your met with the photo and the "God's place..." quote that centred the inner sleeve of the original LP - it was of the Roach family standing by a photo placard of their murdered son Colin, but some twat has reversed the way it faced so now spells their boy's name backwards - sloppy. The booklet isn't any great shakes either - it's a paltry 8-pages - there is new notes by JOHN REYNOLDS her drummer and flatmate of the time - his reminiscences are interesting and informative. There are session details for the album and the extras - and on the rear page there's reproductions of the pictures sleeves from the six singles that came off and surrounded the album. Better is the truly lovely photos of Sinead - the one that fronts the inlay in particular is a contender for the most beautiful woman in the world category - exquisite. There's more under the see-through trays that house each CD. But neither the digipak nor the inlay reproduce the lyrics that came with the original LP inner and CD booklet, which is again really slapdash because her words have always been brave and true and sometimes uncomfortable - they should be here, but they're not...

The "Bonus Disc" (46:23 minutes) opens with a genuine sensation - one of two album outtakes and they're both cover versions. "Night Nurse" is a Gregory Isaacs song - it's a funky reggae version given a Sly and Robbie groove - it had customers come to the counter in our shop asking who it was... The second is a big-guitars version of John Lennon's underrated "Mind Games" from his album of the same name (1974). It's excellent. Speaking of womanly excellence, Etta James had put out a great return-to-form album on Island Records in 1989 called "Seven Year Itch" - from it Sinead took "Damn Your Eyes" written by Steve Bogard and Barbara Wyrick and it became a non-album B-side to "Three Babies" in October 1990 - it's rare on CD and is a genuine bonus in remastered sound here.

"My Special Child" was released as a stand-alone single around the album in May 1991 (it was in aid of "The Simple Truth" foundation trying to help Kurdish refugees) - it's gorgeous and features LIAM O'FLYNN of THE CHIEFTAINS on Uillean Pipes with DONAL LUNNY of PLANXTY and THE BOTHY BAND arranging the strings of THE IRISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA. But even more lovely is the non-album "Silent Night" - it was released as a single in December 1991, but this is the "Long Version" from "The Ghosts Of Oxford Street" soundtrack of the same year - it's also produced by and features PETER GABRIEL on Keyboards. Previously unreleased or not, the two final live tracks are badly recorded and are disappointing - and as you can see from the playing time, there were plenty of room for other 12"/CD single tracks - the "Live Video Version" of "Nothing Compares 2 U" - or the "Night Until Morning Dub/Earthapella" mix of "I Am Stretched..." with the sample of The Smiths "How Soon Is Now" guitar part - or the excellent "Value Of Ignorance" non-album track from the CD single of "Three Babies"...

So there you have it - an album that still stands the test of time - now given a great sonic upgrade and a bonus disc with some half-decent nuggets on it. And even if the packaging is a little lacklustre and the bonuses not fleshed out enough - it's still a thoroughly recommended purchase.

Sinead O'Connor has always been beautiful and brave - inside and out - and here's where that searcher of spirit really started her journey...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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