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Timewatching: The Divine Comedy Album-by-album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by LivingForever, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. DaniMoonstar

    DaniMoonstar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    The Beauty Regime

    I think it’s interesting to consider how this rather sweet ballad sounds as a track on Regeneration. Perhaps on other albums the strings and production would have been more striking and to the fore, rather than understated as it is here. It feels delicate and vulnerable in some respects. I do really like the movement into the second line in each verse, which is quite lovely. Other than that, I can’t say it’s a particular favourite, though can understand its appeal.

    2.0/5.0
     
  2. DaniMoonstar

    DaniMoonstar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    @happysunshine is very precise! You need to show your workings;)
     
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  3. DaniMoonstar

    DaniMoonstar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    I don’t read others’ comments before I rate the song so it’s interesting to go back and see what the song is about. I must shallowly admit I’d missed its ironic purpose. I’m not great at picking up on the lyrics at times, which might recur as we go forward.
     
  4. rediffusion

    rediffusion Forum Resident

    The Beauty Regime: 2.5
     
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  5. ericthegardener

    ericthegardener Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    The Beauty Regime

    It's a decent enough little song that I always forget about. Not sure if it's a great closer. Might have worked better earlier in the album. 2.75/5

    Post album thoughts: Move a couple songs around, make a couple substitutions and I think the perception of Regeneration would be very different. I usually don't like to play these "change the track list to make a better album" games, but here's an album that could really benefit. For instance, with Mastermind, I think it's a great song, but people are just worn out by drudgery by the time they get to it. It just sounds like another slow, dirge-y song. Move it up to track 3 or 4 and I think more people would "get" it. It's too colored by the songs around it.

    More thoughts on substitutions as we go through the extra tracks.
     
  6. lazzaa

    lazzaa Well-Known Member

    Location:
    London
    I really like this song and quite a sweet end to the album. The guitar here is absolutely gorgeous, and the strings too. I would love to hear this live as I think he could really belt out the last chorus! Bonus mark for the strings here too which are beautiful, Godrich was clearly a fan too as he ended up using Joby on Paul McCartney album too.

    4.5/5 for me, one of the best on the album.

    Summing up the album a bit, I know it's controversial among some but really it's one of my favourite albums of his. It's obviously quite a contrast from the other albums but I think that's to it's credit, they picked the style and went at it with conviction. I wish he would have approached Office Politics with the same conviction as it would have been better for it I think.

    There are definitely some songs on here that didn't work, but enough that did, and I'd take something interesting like this than another Divine Comedy by the numbers album like Foreverland any day.

    (Not to say that Foreverland and Office Politics are bad!)
     
  7. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Thanks to everyone for their get-well wishes.

    No need to apologise since (as has been rightly pointed out) I don't refrain from posting what I don't like and I struggle to take fans who blindly adore every second from their favourite artist seriously. Also, it would be a boring discussion.

    Dumb It Down
    I agree with you that these "message" songs could be seen as the heart of the album, for better or in @Hazey John II's case for worse.

    Completely agree with all of the above. The chorus is really more of a bridge to a chorus that never comes. Maybe the song could have been improved by a catchy chorus, but maybe it would have destroyed the feel of the song.

    That said, I can understand people complaining about this being yet another dirge, but I quite enjoy the song for what it is: 4.5

    I also agree that so many similar songs being piled together on this album makes it harder for individual songs to shine.

    That actually reminds me of Queensrÿche's "Anybody Listening":
    Is there anybody listening?
    Is there anyone who smiles without a mask?
    What's behind the words--images
    They know will please us?
    I'll take what's real. Bring up the lights

    Is there anybody listening?
    Is there anyone that sees what's going on?
    Read between the lines
    Criticize the words they're selling
    Think for yourself and feel the walls...
    Become sand beneath your feet
     
  8. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Like some people forget that there’s a song called “Regeneration”, I usually forget that The Beauty Regime is at the end of the album after what feels like the most intense, climactic track before it.

    It’s decent, I agree with Miggy that it almost has a groove to it - and it builds nicely towards the end, but I don’t find it that memorable. Perhaps more listens would help, but I’m tired and I don’t have the song on my phone right now, so...

    3/5
     
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  9. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    So, starting tomorrow, we will as usual move on to the B-sides from this album- during which we will probably answer the question “But what happened to all the cheerful/upbeat songs that Neil wrote at that time?”

    I haven’t counted them but I think there are a similar number of Neil originals to the “Fin” singles - plus a couple of covers too.

    We then go into the wilderness years with Neil, and here’s where I will actually need to do some research as I’m not sure whether there is much that was released during the 2001-2004 hiatus that we need to cover. But one way or the other, we will be onto “Absent Friends” in likely 2 and a bit weeks.
     
  10. James Cunningham

    James Cunningham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    Beauty Regime

    An excellent close to the album.
    After Neil gets the loud stuff out of the way in Regeneration... we have, on the surface, a gentle track. However, lyrically he is very direct and doesn't pull his punches. The vocal delivery is outstanding, and the arrangement is just stunning.... every note from every instrument is impeccably placed.

    I probably haven't paid enough respect to Joby' s string arrangements on this album. Whilst lacking the bombast of previous albums, his impeccable ability to serve each song is mind-blowing..... A master at work!

    Anyway, it is another...
    5/5
     
  11. Dalav

    Dalav Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    The Beauty Regime

    I like the way it sounds, sparse and clear to begin with, and the strings work well, nice drum sound. It gets a needed injection of life by the end but.....it's just doesn't move me. And, as I think back over the album, there are plenty of gentle and lovely moments, yet too often no emotion was stirred. Glad that Neil tried a different direction--that should be supported. But I miss the combination of Neil, whimsy, and variety, which together act as a secret sauce.

    3.2/5
     
  12. happysunshine

    happysunshine Fulfillment is the richness of awareness

    Location:
    Earth
    The Beauty Regime

    I was first going to rate this a 3.5 from memory as my son was watching Lilla spöket Laban on TV. I finally got a chance to give it a relisten and refresh my memory and I like it more than I remembered.

    The arrangement is stripped back and quite different from much of the album. The production is faultless — and there’s not a single spacy effect in sight! Major geek alert, but I love the sound of the snare! Had the snare been mixed, like, 500 dB louder this could have been a 70s Al Green recording. Thinking about it, I’d love to hear Al Green do this song because there is a definite soul feel to it that I really enjoy. Joby’s strings are excellent as usual and give the song some extra emotional weight. And last but not least I just love the music and the basic vocal melody in this song. This song was really made for late-night listening.

    I might be in a particular mood today or it might be because I had porridge for breakfast or it might be the weather or whatever, but this song actually moves me. The message is simple, direct and still relevant and Neil’s vocals seem heartfelt.

    The perfect way to end a sometimes imperfect album.

    4.4/5
     
  13. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    “The Beauty Regime” scored 54.55 points from 15 votes - although I have just listened to both the studio and live versions and I feel my 3/5 was a bit harsh, listening to it on its own without all the preceding drudgery really brings out the beauty in the song and its arrangement.

    I’m therefore upgrading my score to a 4/5, making the final score:

    3.70
     
  14. Zardok

    Zardok Forum Resident

    Location:
    Castle Cary
    Regeneration 2.8

    The Beauty Regime 2.9

    An undistinguished ending to one of the iffiest album's in the Divine Comedy's catalogue. If these had been the first two Divine Comedy songs I'd listened to, I might not have istened to many more.
     
  15. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    So we now move onto the B-sides from this album, and we begin with the “Love What You Do” single, released on 26th February 2001, a couple of weeks before the album itself.

    I have to say, listening to CD1 as a 3-track EP might have given you false hope of a much more upbeat album to come, but hey- track 2 on it is:

    Soul Trader

    The first B-side from the “Regeneration” era, and another title which is a “hilarious” pun. ;)

     
  16. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    “Soul Trader” is one of the several B-sides which were in contention for the album when the band played the tryout Scottish shows in February 2000 - and so here’s a recording of it in its first arrangement. (Usual caveat about the recording quality...)

    Guess what... congas! :D

     
  17. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Mastermind

    I'm betting on car crash.
    Like @LivingForever, I also don't think it was meant as a joke and would have ended up sounding similar to this on a conga-enhanced, Godrich-free album. So I'm grateful for him reigning them in since the song's impact is lessened in this arrangement.

    That's a great anecdote. I always love it if artists don't rigidly stick to fixed setlists and even play random requests.

    Me too. And that's why the solo rendition (though nice and a welcome change to the setlist) is a bit disappointing: apart from that final "okay", there's another one of my favourite vocal bits, the "at the seams" at the end of the second verse, not being emphasised in the same way as in the studio version.

    Me too. I also think it fits the general outsider message of the song: within this "loved up London arena" taking cocaine would have been the norm. Refusing to do so, would have made you an outsider.
    I remember that. Quite hypocritical since he dabbled in it himself and then even moved on to heroin with Justine Frischmann. The first thing that came to mind when I heard that TDC line was the first verse from Super Furry Animals' "Down A Different River":
    Stuffed to the eyeballs with God knows what
    You're a conversational hazard
    Talking so quickly with so much ease
    I think you might have just snorted a blizzard
    Oh! Won't you tell it to someone else?


    I'd certainly rather hear this (or any other song from the album) than "Bad Ambassador" in concert.

    Thanks for sharing this. Just like with @Summer of Malcontent's "Love What You Do" story, it's great to read the personal impact the message of some of these Regeneration songs can have. That final twist in the last chorus is what really makes the song lyrically.

    I can strongly identify with that.

    "Mastermind" is like a singer/songwriter classic with a touch of easy listening. I like it very much, but feel the strings are slightly too schmaltzy at the end. I also agree that the ending is too abrupt following the climax of "and that's okay".

    4
     
  18. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    Soul Trader

    I might be being a bit dense, and the song is new to me, but I'm not sure what it's about. A TV preacher? A soul musician?

    It feels on the pastiche-side of the Divine Comedy spectrum, along with the likes of "Freedom Road", with the slightly American accent. Though I couldn't say exactly which band or genre it's pastiching. It has that insistent pounding 4/4 chords (don't know the musical term) that was so ubiquitous in Britpop and gets old quickly.

    I respond better to the live version, because it sounds more like his natural voice, and I like the organ. It sounds like less of a pastiche vocally, but more of a pastiche instrumentally. It certainly went down a storm with the audience. If the point of those concerts was to get the audience to decide for them which songs were fit for the album, this should have been a shoo-in. But something seems to have not translated well to the studio version. I detect autocratic producer's hand again. Perhaps, as "Perfect Lovesong" was too obviously played like a Brian Wilson production, this originally aped old American soul session musicians too closely, in Godrich's estimation. As it stands I don't think it deserves a place on the album (or any other DC album, actually)

    2/5
     
  19. a paul

    a paul Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Soul Trader
    I feel like there were a few Regeneration b-sides that I wasn't fussed about, so will see if I'm right. This is definitely one of them.
    I don't like the recorder in this song, or the lyrics. It is kind of catchy, but I'm glad it's not on the album, unless Nigel could/would have given it a much different style.

    2/5
     
  20. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Soul Trader

    This track sounds a bit unfinished, as if they'd decided to not do a full arrangement and just stick it on a single as a B-side. The recorder solo is fun, but the tempo is so unvaried that it does get a bit monotonous towards the end. Still, the melody is memorable enough, so overall I come down on the "liking it" side.

    3.7
     
  21. jon-senior

    jon-senior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastleigh
    I'm quite fascinated by the b-sides to Regeneration. For the first time, it feels like the songs weren't conceived as b-sides, but were recorded alongside the album tracks before tracklisting was done. I don't have any genuine evidence for that, of course, but they were certainly recorded in the same studio at the same time, and I assume Nigel Godrich was in the producer's chair for the whole process.

    So, at some stage the album will have been sequenced and they'll have known how many songs were left over. So what next? Was the whole release schedule mapped out before it began, or were the b-sides selected in advance if each single? There's definitely a trajectory: upbeat cheerful songs for Love What You Do, remorseful songs of apology and doubt by the time of Perfect Lovesong. That seems to mirror what was going on behind the scenes too much to be coincidental, but feels like a discussion best left for a week or so.

    Either way, the song that ended up as B-sides here probably weren't recorded as B-sides. They will have have become B-sides either because they didn't fit the themes of the album it because they weren't quite good enough.

    Soul Trader feels like it's a little of both. I don't dislike it, but there's nothing about it musically that stands out - it feels like an instance where handing the arranegement over to the band as a whole has resulted in something a bit generic. The recorders are nice, I guess, but they're a bit of a running theme through the sessions, so they're not enough. Beyond them, it bounces along pleasantly enough, but that's about all.

    Lyrically, I'm not really sure what it's about. Is the Soul Trader bad? It sounds like he/she probably is, but "we just can't say no"? Perhaps this is about the temptations of selling out on a new record label, but that might be a bit of a stretch. If it is, then it's an awkward theme to be addressing on the b-side of the first single, but it would rather fit the narrative as we now know it.

    Back in the days of the TDC forum, I remember someone getting extraordinarily angry with the first line of the song, disgusted that the man who had written Don't Look Down had now written "Soul Trader, you trade in souls", but it's a line that's always made me smile. I'm not sure even now whether it an audacious example of lazy writing, or a tongue-in-cheek slice of genius. I guess it explains the pun to anyone who hasn't seen the title written down.

    All in all, it's a perfectly serviceable b-side that would have stuck out badly on the album (and would probably have become quite irritating given how much I played Regeneration at the time). Hard to go above a 2.5/5 for this, but I don't really mean that as a criticism.
     
  22. James Cunningham

    James Cunningham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    Soul Trader

    A decent song, but not one for the album in my book. I'm sure there is slightly more potential within the song than we get, but not enough to build a top tier track.

    I have always enjoyed it as part of the CD single, and now the Regeneration bonus disc, but the occasional listen is all it really merits.

    2.5/5
     
  23. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    Hey, which is better, Soul Trader or Soul Destroyer?
     
  24. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Soul Trader
    I've just discovered that I actually own both LWYD CD singles, which is a little embarrassing given my score for it, and that I was never a big singles buyer! :sigh: I think I was keen to hear the b sides :D

    I'm also unsure what its about, and had similar thoughts abour record companies etc while listening to it, but it does seem odd to do this so soon! I thought perhaps the verses sound almost as though he could be singing it to himself (or a version of), or maybe others in the music industry, with the 'we' being the general public, but no idea who or what the 'soul trader' is!

    Agree entirely!

    That pounding 4/4 beat reminds me of something but I can't put my finger on what it is... something from the 60s, perhaps, which was aped too often by Britpop bands? Is the song meaning somehow linked to whatever it is pastiching?

    Haha, tough question! The songs or the person/entity? :p (I'm not sure either way...)

    3.0/5.0
     
  25. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    There’s only one way to find out...

    FIGHT!
     

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