by: Sinéad O'Connor

As one of alternative rock's most sought-after collaborators -- having Sinéad on even one track would garner enough press to render a release noteworthy -- O'Connor racked up enough "guest vocalist" credits during the late '80s/early '90s to warrant two of these compilations. For the most part, her forays into dub, dance, and Anglo-Irish rock were successful, culminating in multiple platforms for her distinctive and often otherworldly voice to rise into the great beyond from. Spirituality -- despite her habit of tearing up pinups of pontiffs -- has always played a huge role in O'Connor's artistic persona, and many of the songs featured on Collaborations rely on Eastern mysticism ("Visions of You" with Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart) and deconstructed Christianity (Peter Gabriel's gorgeous "Blood of Eden"). This preoccupation with the inward serves her well on lush, mid-tempo projects with the Asian Dub Foundation ("1000 Mirrors") and the The ("Kingdom of Rain") but has a tendency to fall short on works recorded with the Edge ("Heroine"), Moby ("Harbour"), and Terry Hall (the latter's whimsical and sugar-coated "All Kinds of Everything" sticks out like a sore thumb here). All in all it's as essential a piece of O'Connor's history as anything in her catalog -- although the omission of "Haunted" with Shane MacGowan & the Popes is nearly unforgivable -- and a huge missing chunk in the puzzle for fans who had to sit through records by Afro Celt Sound System and Damien Dempsey to get the pieces in the first place. ~ James Christopher Monger

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