Secret History: Best of the Divine Comedy

A Secret History: Best of the Divine Comedy

by The Divine Comedy

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For those who want lyrical bones to chew on, there's no denying Neil Hannon's sly appeal. To dismiss him as "baroque" would be as misleading as pegging him as the missing link between Noel Coward, Anthony Newley, and Scott Walker. But Hannon's highly evolved song constructions,…  See more details below


For those who want lyrical bones to chew on, there's no denying Neil Hannon's sly appeal. To dismiss him as "baroque" would be as misleading as pegging him as the missing link between Noel Coward, Anthony Newley, and Scott Walker. But Hannon's highly evolved song constructions, grandiose orchestral pretensions, and baritone crooning seem as much quaint classicism as a bicycle built for two -- even as his deft, complex, ambitious arrangements are contemporary. (He's no Leon Redbone.) In the end, his consummate skills as a writer come across most. You hang on the surprise of every wily word, wrapped around venerable melody. Distilled here to a best-of, Hannon makes one of his strongest cases for his dashing, romantic charm. It's this sweeping romanticism, the thick violins and pianos like spectacular sunsets spurring his yearning singing, that transcends his occasional lapses into naughty schoolboy leering. One listen to Fin de Siècle's triumphant "The Certainty of Chance" or A Short Album's cascading "In Pursuit of Happiness" is to open the blinds in a dark room that emit bursts of blinding light; the sweep of the orchestra playing madly, as if running to catch a train, and Hannon's voice bawling along, carried away, shedding its sporadic smugness. Today's Divine Comedy is a lot sweeter and emotional than Dante's. As a word of caution, the uninitiated might find the opening "National Express" and the so-so "Generation Sex" tough going. But with the early help of Hannon's first English hits "Something for the Weekend" and "Becoming More Like Alfie," one can get hooked into Hannon's passion play without realizing it. Pop can mean something more than momentary, torpid trifle again, if only those stifling blinds can be lifted.

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Divine Comedy   Primary Artist
Matthew Ward   Violin
Simon Jones   Trumpet,Piccolo Trumpet
Darren Allison   Percussion,Drums
Chris Austin   Conductor
John Best   Vocals
Kathy Brown   Viola
Chris George   Violin
Gordon Grant   Guitar,Drums
Robbie Hay Jacobs   Cello
Ian Lawrence   Vocals
John Murphy   Viola
Bob Samuel   Trumpet
Robin Smith   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Nik Turner   Vocals
Julia White   Vocals
Phillip Robinson   Vocals
John Gibbons   Vocals
Ken Wilson   Vocals
Kelly McCusker   Violin
Jing Lou   Viola
David Temple   Choir Master
Mike Coates   Vocals
Marcus Law   Trumpet
Padraic Savage   Violin
Joby Talbot   Piano,Oboe,Saxophone,Cor anglais
Betsy Taylor   Cello
Peter Devlin   Double Bass
Paul Hoyle   Vocals
Neil Hannon   Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Violin,Hammond Organ
Alison Fletcher   Viola
Anna Giddey   Violin
Adam Howard   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Alex Postlethwaite   Violin
Alice Pratley   Violin
Catherine Browning   Viola
Max Spiers   Oboe
Ivor Talbot   Guitar
Juliet Warden   Violin
John Murphy   Viola
Stuart "Pinkie" Bates   Organ,Accordion,Hammond Organ,Bass Trombone
Bruce Boyd   Vocals
Miggy Barradas   Drums
Jeff Cook   Vocals
Charlotte Glasson   Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Viola
Phil Dawson   Double Bass
Charles Mutter   Violin
Damita Haddon   Vocals
Tom Hammond   Trombone
Simon Haram   Soprano Saxophone
Chris Worsey   Cello,Viola
Timothy Yall   Violin
Tim Myall   Viola
Jane Butterfield   Trombone
Ben Nabarro   Violin
Kelvin Christiane   Clarinet
David Aspin   Viola
Aroussiak Baltaian   Violin
Lisa Betterridge   Violin
Krista Caspersz   Violin
Emile Chitikov   Violin
Eos Counsell   Violin
Yannick Dondelinger   Viola
Andrew Harwood-White   Bass Trombone
Yuri Kalnitz   Violin
Mary Martin   Violin
Matthew Gunner   Horn
Jonathon Morcambe   Horn
Paul Mason   Vocals
Maya Bickel   Violin
Daniel Newell   Trumpet
Roy Theaker   Violin
Lucy Wakeford   Harp
Zoe Lake   Viola
Simon Baggs   Violin
Kate Birchall   Violin
Natalie Box   Violin
Jessamy Boyd   Viola
Alison Brister   Vocals
Tina Burnett-Pope   Vocals
Chris Caldwell   Alto Saxophone
Lucy Castle   Violin,Viola
Jo Chapman   Vocals
Roger Cleave   Vocals
Rachael Conner   Vocals
Constantinou   Vocals
Emily Davie   Violin
Simon Estell   Saxophone
Rob Farrer   Percussion
Lenny Fogin   Vocals
Felicity Ford   Vocals
Naomi Fulop   Vocals
Elise Golden   Vocals
Ruth Goldstein   Cello
Robert Goodall   Vocals
Veronica Gray   Vocals
Stephen Greenway   Vocals
Paul Haddon   Vocals
Benjamin Harte   Violin
Joathan Hassan   Horn
Jane Helliwell   Vocals
Christopher Higgs   Vocals
Martin Hudson   Vocals
Maggie Huntingford   Vocals
Quentin Hutchinson   French Horn
Rhael Jenkins   Vocals
Stuart King   Clarinet
Liz Knight   Vocals
Joanna Lacey   Viola
Rebecca Larsen   Alto Flute,Piccolo
Berenice Lavigne   Violin
Vincent Lawler   Vocals
Steve McAdam   Vocals
Sue McCrone   Vocals
Emma Mitchell   Violin
Duncan Moulton   Cello
Bryan Mills   Bass,Guitar
Tansy Davies   Horn

Technical Credits

Jon Jacobs   Producer
Neil Hannon   Producer
Alex McRonald   Contributor
Charlotte Glasson   Contributor
Rebecca Larsen   Contributor

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