The Lion and the Cobra

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The Lion and the Cobra
Sinead Lion Cobra Original.jpg
Studio album by Sinéad O'Connor
Released 4 November 1987
Recorded 1986–1987
Studio Oasis Studios, London
Genre Alternative rock, pop rock
Length 42:21
Label Ensign/Chrysalis
Producer Sinéad O'Connor
Kevin Moloney
Sinéad O'Connor chronology
The Lion and the Cobra
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
(1990)I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got1990
Alternative cover
US and Canada cover art
US and Canada 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)
    (featuring MC Lyte)"

    Released: 1988
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[2]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[5]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[6]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 8/10[7]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[8]
The Village Voice A−[9]

The Lion and the Cobra is the 1987 debut album by Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor on Ensign/Chysalis records. O'Connor, age 20, recorded the album while heavily pregnant with her first child.

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 O'Connor.

The first single, "Troy", was released in 1987. It peaked at #8 in the Netherlands and #12 in Belgium. The second single was "Mandinka". The video for "Mandinka" was shown heavily after debuting 24 January 1988 on 120 Minutes on MTV. The single was a mainstream pop hit in the UK, peaking at #17 in the singles chart, as well as #6 in her native Ireland. "I Want Your (Hands on Me)" debuted in May 1988 on the same show, featuring a rap interlude by MC Lyte. The song was featured in the 1988 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

The album charted worldwide, reaching #27 in the United Kingdom for 20 weeks, #4 in New Zealand for 13 weeks, #37 in Australia for 21 weeks,[10] #12 in Switzerland for 6 weeks, #52 in Germany for 3 weeks, #37 in Sweden for 2 weeks, #4 in The Netherlands for 43 weeks and #36 on the US Billboard Top 200,[11] staying on the charts for 38 for weeks.

The album featured prominent session musicians John Reynolds on drums, former Adam and the Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni, former Japan guitarist Rob Dean and Mike Clowes from Friction Groove on keyboards.

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.

Additional single B-sides include "Still Listening" and "The Value of Ignorance".

Slant Magazine listed the album at #46 on its list of Best Albums of the 1980s, saying "The Lion and the Cobra is regal, majestic, and allegorical, an album rife with images of war, slain dragons, and ghosts, and it's one of the most electrifying debuts in rock history".[12]

Track listing[edit]

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

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Jackie"   2:28
2. "Mandinka"   3:46
3. "Jerusalem" O'Connor, Ali McMordie, Mike Clowes, John Reynolds 4:20
4. "Just Like U Said It Would B" O'Connor, Steve Wickham 4:32
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 Holifield 4:42
8. "Drink Before the War"   5:25
9. "Just Call Me Joe" O'Connor, Kevin Mooney, Leslie Winer 5:51




Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[13] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[14] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[15] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide (IFPI) N/A 2,500,000[16]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Lion and the Cobra – Sinéad O'Connor". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  3. ^ Atkinson, Terry (14 February 1988). "Beauty and the Bleat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  4. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (28 January 1988). "The Lion And The Cobra". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Sinéad O'Connor". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 599–600. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  6. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (13 August 2007). "Sinéad O'Connor: The Lion and the Cobra". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  8. ^ Donnelly, Dave (4 November 2006). "Review: Sinéad O'Connor – The Lion And The Cobra". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Christgau, Robert (23 February 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Sinead – The lion and the cobra". Music Canada. 
  14. ^ "British album certifications – Sinead – The lion and the cobra". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The lion and the cobra in the search field and then press Enter.
  15. ^ "American album certifications – Sinead – The lion and the cobra". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  16. ^'connor+worldwide+2+million&source=bl&ots=JUxo6TPBGM&sig=6ISg9c3MQR-6jEHXbeyXFARw-EQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSo9Si2M_YAhXKE5oKHRTxCtsQ6AEIZDAN#v=onepage&q=lion%20and%20the%20cobra%20sinead%20o'connor%20worldwide%202%20million&f=false