Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Casanova – The Divine Comedy (#249)

Hi, I’m Elizabeth, and another of Stegzy’s guest posters. If you arrived here via Stegzy’s Livejournal (LJ still exists, who knew?) then you might know me as Venta.

Casanova was released in the mid-90s, and everyone who’d fallen in love with the Divine Comedy via their previous album Promenade groaned gently. Gone was the high-concept songwriting, the delicate, classical-sounding instrumentation and the references to French New Wave cinema. Instead the band veered towards Britpop, themed the album around sex, and hit the charts running with lead single Something for the Weekend.

Needless to say, Casanova was massively more commercially successful than Promenade.

I, however, was not in the groaning gently camp. I’d never heard of this band The Divine Comedy, but based on chart performance I dismissed them as some form of novelty act. With the arch lyrics, overblown coy voice-overs (“Oooh, go on, you know you want to…”) and trite references, I figured they’d not last long. All right for a couple of songs, of course, but not a band you’d really want to let into your album collection.

A year or two later, someone made me a tape compilation. On it they put Songs of Love, another track from Casanova which by then was known to everyone but me as “the theme from Father Ted”. I fell in love with it, and was immensely surprised not only to find it by the same band, but on the same album. I cautiously investigated.

And there are songs on the album that are worth listening to. Songs of Love, The Dogs and the Horses, The Frog Princess… even the others are fun now and again, even down to the mock radio 4 outro. I branched out, and found that The Divine Comedy (or, as it should be more accurately known, Neil Hannon plus whoever he’s roped in this time) are really rather clever. They fell into a bit of a Britpop hole for a while, and still occasionally over-reach themselves in terms of pomposity, but their music is always worth listening to.

Casanova isn’t their best album, but even their flirtation with the commercial zeitgeist still allows the talent to shine through at times.

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#154 – The Best Indie Anthems – Various Artists

The Best Indie Anthems - Various ArtistsThe Best Indie Anthems – Various Artists

This compilation starts off well. Opening with Radiohead’s High and Dry, Catatonia’s Road Rage and the odd gem from atypical nineties/noughties inde bands.

But then about the twentieth track, it appears that the compiler has given up and opted just to put twenty songs that happened to be on the radio as he or she was compiling the album. The theme to the box office flop Lost in Space for example. Hardly indie.

It’s like when you go into a pub and ask for a pint of real ale. The landlord or barman fetches you a pint of something like Greene King or something from Shepherds Neame or Adnams. Yes, way back in the dusty mists of time when our pubs had mainstream beers like Tetley, John Smiths and Trophy, such treats might have seemed like real ale. But in today’s environment this is not the case. Greene King et al are now just as bad as the Tetleys and Scottish Newcastles of the day.

Indeed such logic can be applied to the Indie genre of music. The majority of artists that try to pass themselves off as Indie are as mainstream as Sony and Virgin Records and have no true claim to the indie crown. Blur for example. They’re so mainstream they’re akin to the M1.

Shame really. I had high hopes for this album.

 

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Music Project–Album #42– A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

Two today because I’m feeling generous.

There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.

 

I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.

 

The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.

 

Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.

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