The Lion and the Cobra

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The Lion and the Cobra
Sinead Lion Cobra Original.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 November 1987
StudioOasis Studios
Camden, London
  • Sinéad O'Connor
  • Kevin Moloney
Sinéad O'Connor chronology
The Lion and the Cobra
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
Alternative cover
The Lion and the Cobra (Sinéad O'Connor album - cover art).jpg
North American cover art
Singles from The Lion and the Cobra
  1. "Troy"
    Released: 1987
  2. "Mandinka"
    Released: 1 December 1987
  3. "I Want Your (Hands on Me)"
    Released: 4 July 1988[2]

The Lion and the Cobra is the debut album by Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor, released on 4 November 1987 by Ensign and Chrysalis Records.

O'Connor recorded the album while in the later stages of pregnancy with her first child. The title of the album is from Psalm 91:13 "you will tread upon the lion and cobra", and the track "Never Get Old" opens with an Irish language recital of Psalm 91 by singer Enya.

The photograph of O'Connor on the album cover was taken by Haysi Fantayzee member Kate Garner. The covers of the United States and Canada issues differed from the European release, as it was decided a more subdued pose would present a "softer" image of the star.

The first single, "Troy", peaked at number eight in the Netherlands and number 12 in Belgium. It was not a hit in Britain when it was released there in 1987.

The second single – "Mandinka" – was a mainstream pop hit in the UK, peaking at number 17 in the singles chart in February 1988, and at number six in her native Ireland.

"I Want Your (Hands on Me)" was featured in the 1988 horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. It was used in a prominent characters' death sequence, as well as the films end credits. As the third single from the album in the UK (after "Troy" and "Mandinka"), it peaked at number 77 in May 1988. The single remix includes a rap by MC Lyte, not included on the album version. There are two mixes featuring the rap: the "Dance mix" and the "Street Mix".

The album charted worldwide, reaching number 27 in the United Kingdom and number 36 on the US Billboard 200.

"I'm really proud of them," she remarked of the album's songs, and her reluctance to perform them, in 2005. "For a little girl to have written some of those songs… I wrote my songs as therapy, if you like. I don't go back to it. I don't want to go there emotionally. I haven't paid all this money for therapy for fucking nothing."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA−[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[6]
Los Angeles Times[7]
Rolling Stone[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[10]
Slant Magazine[11]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[12]

The Lion and the Cobra received critical acclaim. In a write-up for Slant Magazine's list of the best albums of the 1980s, where it placed at number 46, Sal Cinquemani called The Lion and the Cobra "regal, majestic, and allegorical" and "one of the most electrifying debuts in rock history."[14] It was ranked at number 44 on Pitchfork's 2018 list of the best 1980s albums, with Cameron Cook saying that its "themes of patriotism, sexuality, Catholicism, and social oppression set the stage for a career marked by a resolute sense of independence."[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Sinéad O'Connor, except where noted.

1."Jackie" 2:28
2."Mandinka" 3:46
3."Jerusalem"O'Connor, Ali McMordie, Mike Clowes, John Reynolds4:20
4."Just Like U Said It Would B"O'Connor, Steve Wickham4:32
5."Never Get Old" (spoken-word intro by Enya) 4:39
6."Troy" 6:34
7."I Want Your (Hands on Me)"O'Connor, Clowes, Reynolds, Rob Dean, Spike Holifield4:42
8."Drink Before the War" 5:25
9."Just Call Me Joe"O'Connor, Kevin Mooney, Leslie Winer5:51


Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[16]



Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[27] Platinum 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[28] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide 2,500,000[31]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (22 May 1990). "Folkie Madonna". The Village Voice. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Australian Music Report No 727 – 4 July 1988 > Singles: New Releases". (original document published by Australian Music Report). Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  3. ^ Doyle, Tom (October 2005). "The Mojo interview". Mojo. No. 143. p. 42.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Lion and the Cobra – Sinéad O'Connor". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Sinéad O'Connor: The Lion and the Cobra". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. pp. 300–01. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  7. ^ Atkinson, Terry (14 February 1988). "Beauty and the Bleat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  8. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (20 June 2021). "Sinéad O'Connor: The Lion and the Cobra". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  9. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (28 January 1988). "The Lion And The Cobra". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  10. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Sinéad O'Connor". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 599–600. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (3 August 2007). "Review: Sinéad O'Connor, The Lion and the Cobra". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  12. ^ Powers, Ann (1995). "Sinéad O'Connor". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 278–79. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  13. ^ Donnelly, Dave (4 November 2006). "Review: Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion And The Cobra". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  14. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. p. 3. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  15. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 10 September 2018. p. 8. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  16. ^ The Lion and the Cobra (booklet). Sinéad O'Connor. Ensign. Chrysalis. 1987. VK 41612.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  17. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  18. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  20. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  21. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  22. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Sinéad O'Connor | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Sinead OConnor Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – CD 1988". Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1988". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Sinead O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". Music Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Sinead O'Conner – The Lion and the Cobra" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 10 June 2019. Enter The Lion and the Cobra in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1988 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle statussen"
  29. ^ "British album certifications – Sinead O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Sinead O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  31. ^ Abjorensen, Norman (25 May 2017). Historical Dictionary of Popular Music. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781538102152. Retrieved 24 November 2018 – via Google Books.