Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Divine Comedy - A Secret History, The Best Of The Divine Comedy [1999] + A Secret History, Limited Edition Rarities [1999]


Divine Comedy - A Secret History, The Best Of  The Divine Comedy [1999] + A Secret History, Limited Edition Rarities [1999]

A Secret History... The Best of the Divine Comedy is a greatest hits compilation album by the Divine Comedy, released in 1999. The album was the last to be released by the band on the Setanta Records label, and featured a collection of singles and best-known songs from the previous five studio albums. Re-recording of "The Pop Singer's Fear of the Pollen Count" and a remixed version of "Your Daddy's Car" were included, along with two new tracks, "Gin Soaked Boy" and "Too Young to Die". The Noël Coward tribute recording of "I've Been To A Marvellous Party" was also included.   A limited release edition was available with an accompanying hard-back book and extra CD. The book featured Kevin Westenburg photographs taken from previous album photo shoots interspersed with the recollections of people who had worked closely with the band. Graham Linehan and Sean Hughes were among the contributors. The additional CD, Rarities, featured a whole album's worth of rare, live and demo recordings, including cover versions of tracks by David Bowie, Talk Talk and Kraftwerk. Of special interest was the inclusion of the demo of a track from the band's debut album, Fanfare for the Comic Muse, an album which had previously been all-but ignored from the back catalogue. (Wikipedia)

It was quite easy to dismiss The Divine Comedy as simply a novelty band with a kitschy, comic shtick; but this collection represents more than simply a flimsy feel good album. After repeated listening it is apparent that The Devine Comedy's body of work has real, deep emotional depth, lyrically and musically. "The Summerhouse" is a song of rare outstanding beauty; whimsical with the ever-present comic edge, but still up to the job of relating the intangible feeling of what it is to be a child in the middle of an unending summer holiday. Joby Talbot's surprisingly grand-scale orchestration is a perfect match for Neil Hannon's writing; none better than on "In Pursuit of Happiness", an edgy, dramatic, purposefully over the top theatrical tour de force that leaves the listener unable to choose whether Hannon or Talbot has outdone the other.  Sadly, in about 2001 Hannon decided that The Divine Comedy (at least in this original guise) was done, and that the whole project had "run out of steam". Disappointing undoubtedly, but this decision gave birth to one of their best, "Too Young To Die" in which Hannon says a heartfelt goodbye to The Divine Comedy 1.0, with a breathtakingly powerful vocal, even giving us a comic Mariah-esque vocal run at the end. (Amazon)

I have used the Japanese CD version for CD1 - and the Rarities CD from the Limited-edition release. This a great Chamber Pop/Orchestral pop set.






Track lists


01 National Express 5:06

02 Something For The Weekend 4:19

03 Everybody Knows (Except You) 3:48

04 Generation Sex 3:30

05 Becoming More Like Alfie 2:58

06 The Summerhouse 4:14

07 Your Daddy's Car 4:03

08 The Pop Singers Fear Of The Pollen Count 3:54

09 The Frog Princess 5:12

10 Gin Soaked Boy 5:03

11 Lucy 4:37

12 Songs Of Love 3:22

13 In Pursuit Of Happiness 3:29

14 I've Been To A Marvelous Party 3:42

15 The Certainty Of Chance 6:11

16 Too Young To Die 4:20

17 Tonight We Fly 2:57

18 Don't Look Down [Japan Bonus] 4:48


 01 Bernice Bobs Her Hair 3:35

02 Bleak Landscape 3:45

03 The Booklovers 4:12

04 The Certainty of Chance 3:27

05 Commuter Love 5:01

06 Dear Lord and Father of Mankin 3:51

07 A Drinking Song 3:39

08 The Frog Princess 6:29

09 Generation Sex 3:42

10 Life on Mars 3:12

11 Life's What You Make It 2:52

12 The Model 3:56

13 National Express 4:32

14 Painting the Forth Bridge 4:04

15 Queen of the South 4:02

16 The Summerhouse 4:38

17 Soul Destroyer 1:58

18 Your Daddys' Car 4:03

19 Moon River 1:24




  1. Replies
    1. Hi heartofstone.
      A great sound and always pleasurable listen. I enjoy the chamber pop sound, and the stories that are created by them. I have all twelve studio albums the produced with Neil Hannon. I purchased the excellent box set "Divine Comedy - Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time [2020]" to replace my vinyl albums that have some wear on them . I might post those one day.


  2. Hi Butterboy,
    I don't know much about this band! I'll give it a try

    1. Hi Il Commendatore,
      You should always try new music, you never know unless you try.


  3. Thanks for sharing, BB. I bought the single but couldn't afford the 2CD compilation, so it's nice to be able to finally hear it after all this time.

    1. Hi Paolo,
      Thanks for that.
      I am glad you have something new to listen to.


  4. Hi Butterboy--can you please reup the link for this post? Thanks so much. I've just discovered the brilliant Duckworth Lewis Method (1st album) thanks to you and would like to hear more. Cheers!

    1. Hi BG,
      New links established, tested and working.
      Duckworth Lewis Method are a fine chamber pop group. I have a few albums.