More John Peel Archive: catching up with O

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I don't have many records beginning with O, but there are two selections in the John Peel Archive that I consider absolute classics. Both came out when I was at school, and I still have both of them on vinyl.

The first one is the debut record from Sinéad O'Connor, The Lion and the Cobra.
I think this is still her best record, a fiery yet multi-layered effort, recorded around the time the 20 year old Sinéad was expecting her first child. Cue lots of commentators saying that it sounded wise beyond its years, but that is actually fair I reckon. It manages to survive a glossy 80s production because the songs are so strong, from the moment the dark opener 'Jackie' sets the tone, through to the hit single 'Mandinka', 'Jerusalem' and the epic 'Troy'.

The second is the only full length album ever released by Mary Margaret O'Hara, Miss America.
The story of this album is intriguing. Inital recordings were produced by Joe Boyd, and then by XTC's Andy Partridge, who was allegedly fired for his atheistic leanings (as evidenced on his band's 'Dear God' single). Mary Margaret is unique in that no-one actually sings like her, and her seemingly fragile voice hovers on the edge of ecstasy or even panic. There is much to love here, but I'm highlighting 'Body's in Trouble' because every time I've played this to someone who isn't aware of her, they have been stunned by it.

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