1. This day in history: January 12, 2002. 9:49 AM, California time. The Steve Hoffman Music Forums officially launched with this thread. Thank you for 20 years of music, discussion, and great memories! Join our "Thank You!" thread, and we'll see you in the forum!
    Dismiss Notice

Timewatching: The Divine Comedy Album-by-album thread

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

  1. Dalav

    Dalav Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    When the Working Day is Done

    However lyrically important it might be for the album, it’s mostly about the middle section for me, particularly the upward trajectory of the strings and the accompanying choir. As stated earlier, it could have been another Our Mutual Friend moment, but Neil pulls it back and it fizzles. But that’s his quality control at work and it is probably for the best as there are only so many times that trick can be pulled off, and we’ve already seen impatience over it in the past from some on the thread here. But the section is quite rousing and majestic as it marches along, enjoyable both here and in Beside The Railway Tracks. And for that….

    4.2./5
     
  2. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I'm a bit puzzled at that. I don't think one has to be excited about today's song, but complaining about its tune and the whole thing becoming annoying while citing "Wilson" as an enjoyable alternative doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    Don't get me wrong. I love most of Saint Etienne, but that track is the most skippable on their debut album, because a) it lacks a tune altogether and b) the samples annoyed me on first listen, since it's just the same few phrases repeated ad nauseam. I'm happy if I never have to hear "Would you like some sweets, Willy?" (repeated around 30 times) ever again.

    For those who haven't heard it, here it is for comparison:
     
    LivingForever likes this.
  3. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Ha! The stuff of nightmares… :D

    I have to say “Foxbase Alpha” is far from my favourite Saint Etienne album - (that would be a tie between “Tiger Bay” and “Good Humor”), and that’s largely because of stuff like this. I think I remember one of the band saying that at the time they made it, they didn’t really consider themselves musicians and didn’t really know how to write a song, which probably explains some of these little sketches!
     
    The Booklover likes this.
  4. Dalav

    Dalav Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    The Divine Comedy Ltd

    After initially resisting the idea of replacing Queuejumper with this track as the album opener, I’m warming to it. It deserves to be there. It fits. The collage of chosen samples sets the stage for what’s to come and immediately announces “experimental tracks ahead”. If it’s to be a concept album, might as well hit the theme hard. And I love that the industry spotlighted here is vinyl records, as @The Booklover points out.

    Measured on its own merits, it’s ok but not quite up my alley other than as an occasional diversion. I think “How’s Your Wireless”, for example, is better at mixing a restrained number of samples with a song.

    And as an album that perhaps seeks to break from what might be a safer TDC sound, I enjoyed this line for the brand-pushing wink to listeners it is, “more than any other factor, it’s this adaptabity that has enabled the Divine Comedy Ltd to achieve their conspicuous success.

    2.9/5
     
  5. Radiophonic_

    Radiophonic_ Electrosonic

    Location:
    Royal Oak MI
    "After the Lord Mayor's Show": I'm not sure the lyric works in regard to his "two fingers to people who had success and then flamed out" idea AND the "let's honor the street sweepers" idea. The former comes off as a bit snide and assholish as a concept, though it doesn't necessarily come through as such in the lyrics, thankfully. There are countless reasons why artists fail to maintain a certain level, and it speaks of a certain pettiness to want to slate them for it, especially when you had the same goal for quite a few years, one which you (it could be argued cynically) changed your entire sound to pursue. It's easy enough to leave that aside though, for the latter idea of honoring the working person, and the song is lovely. It grabs me from the opening with that piano line. 4.25/5

    "When the Working Day is Done": While this is intended to applaud those who just get on with it, it comes off more like a lament, with lines like "with all the songs that go unsung," but it's also a lovely track. Makes sense as a final song, obviously. Is it too much of the same with the prior track? I suppose I need to listen to the album in full a few more times to really judge, but I've been mostly doing this track by track, so I'll withhold judgment on that. 4/5

    "The Divine Comedy Ltd": Yeah, I'd have begun the record with this as well, particularly if you want to lean into the office/work concept, which he of course said wasn't meant to be such an overriding thing, but c'mon, who are we kidding? You wrote enough songs for it, it's a concept record. 3.75/5

    I do wonder if there was a slight loss of nerve in a commercial sense with this record, given the swings between "standard" DC tracks and the electronic stuff. I do want to lay out a couple separate playlists for myself messing with the two sides of this record and seeing what emerges.
     
  6. drykid

    drykid Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hereford, UK
    Yeah, am aware of that but I was digressing wildly at the time anyway and didn't want to needlessly over-complicate the analogy :) For what it's worth I don't think Beatles Forever is that bad a track and it's a shame they didn't include it. Given the way that the released double album does finish with the epic "Hello My Old Friend" I think "Beatles Forever" could've worked after that as a kind of "Her Majesty"-style bit of silliness to close on. They could even put in a gap of a minute or two before it like they did with the secret tracks on nineties CDs. That way people who want to hear it get to, and those that don't have plenty of chance to switch off first.
     
    LivingForever likes this.
  7. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Yes, I remember that, too. I think it's in the liner notes of the deluxe edition. Yet it's the one album that has been re-issued the most. It's definitely overrated. Cool cover, though.
    My favourite is Finisterre, but both of your selections are great as well and tie for second place.

    I also love So Tough, Words And Music By and Tales Of Turnpike House.

    What do you think of the new album? To be honest, I've never been so disappointed by a Saint Etienne album before. It sounds like a second-rate extracurricular fanclub release with pseudo-experimental sluggish soundscapes instead of a proper album. One can sense that it was mainly cobbled together by Pete during lockdown without equal input of all band members. The whole commercial art director vibe of the cover and videos isn't my cup of tea either, to put it mildly. It's the first of their albums I won't buy.
     
    Radiophonic_ likes this.
  8. jon-senior

    jon-senior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastleigh
    Yes! Which is fine in and of itself, but it's hard to reconcile that exactly with the rest of the album - Infernal Machines and You'll Never Work, for instance, only make sense in this context if people used to whittle their vinyl albums by hand which - as far as I know - isn't the case!
     
  9. DaniMoonstar

    DaniMoonstar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    The Divine Comedy ltd.
    Heh, went to see Public Service Broadcasting a couple of weeks back in Nottingham. My wife’s a big fan and I like them too. If you’ve never heard them…, well, now you have. As @LivingForever states, they sound like this. Exactly like this.

    3/5
     
  10. DaniMoonstar

    DaniMoonstar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Yes, can be an acquired taste. I recommend checking out ‘Go!’ probably their best known track and pretty great. I’d recommend ‘Blue heaven’ but it’s pretty Indie and I seem to recall that’s not your thing.
     
    The Turning Year likes this.
  11. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Some more comments on @jon-senior's alternate tracklist of the album:

    If I hadn't already got used to this as an integral part of my improved tracklisting of Bang Goes The Knighthood, this would be a tempting addition. I love the tune, and the playful Thomas Dolby style of the music certainly fits the Office Politics vibe.

    That's an interesting idea. You could even extend this section and add "Just Can't Get Enough" from the bonus disc of Foreverland to add another cover of a band mentioned at the end of "Psychological Evaluation" besides M. That said, though the slot you picked would fit thematically, I personally wouldn't include the covers of M and Depeche Mode, because they ditch all the synth goodness of the originals in favour of the traditional TDC sound. Musically, I love Office Politics because of the more electronic sounds and experiments, which is why I've opted for the more electronic alternate versions of "Queuejumper" and "After The Lord Mayor's Show". I'm afraid these covers would dilute that, especially because the originals are known for being synth classics. That would only leave the Vapors cover, which admittedly is more experimental and would fit, but having only one cover defeats the party concept.

    Bringing in "Beside The Railway Tracks" is another fit regarding the electronic style, and I like your suggestion how it could tie into the narrative. The fact that it prefigures a later tune is also great for a concept album. Unfortunately, I can't stand the 'vocals' on it, so I'll have to leave it off.
     
  12. Radiophonic_

    Radiophonic_ Electrosonic

    Location:
    Royal Oak MI
    The problem with the new album for me at least is that I was completely unfamiliar with all of the tracks they were sampling, so the whole goal of nostalgia for the late 90s meant little in that regard. It does also feel like the slightest thing they’ve done musically in a long time.
     
    LivingForever and The Booklover like this.
  13. jon-senior

    jon-senior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastleigh
    That's all reasonable enough. To be honest, I crowbarred the covers on because I really enjoy them (though I left off Just Can't Get Enough as it was a bit too piano based). Girl Overboard is a track I'd pretty much completely overlooked before now, and there's no way I'd have put it on Bang, but the style fits well here, and I've really come to appreciate it. And I think Beside The Railway Tracks perfectly hits the sweet spot between similar enough to When The Working Day Is Done to sound deliberate, but different enough to sound like it's worth including in its own right.

    I'd still like to add some of the other electronic doodles from the bonus disc, but I haven't got enough of a handle on them yet - I'm hoping the next few days will help me with that.
     
    The Booklover and LivingForever like this.
  14. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Looking forward to that. I've now incorporated four of them into the second half of the album, which works quite well.

    I've decided against changing the order in which the official tracks appear, even though I was initially tempted to include more uptempo tracks in the second half. However, I feel that @LivingForever was right to argue that the first half already has a loose narrative that ties into the concept, and others have already added why the other songs fit as well. Together with @Vagabone's reminder that not everything has to be in chronological order, this all adds up to my being okay with the original track order.

    However, my new expanded version mainly addresses two gripes I have with the album:
    First, there's not enough electronic/synth music on the second half. Second, there's too many songs veering into derivative French dirge territory following one another. To remedy this, I've replaced two songs with their more electronic counterparts from the bonus disc and added four of the synth instrumentals of the era (incl. one from the Foreverland bonus disc). It makes sense, that these all appear in the second half after our visit to "The Synthesiser Service Centre Super Summer Sale". For thematic coherence, some titles need to be altered, but that isn't a problem with instrumentals. Finally, I couldn't resist adding one bonus track with vocals but without electronic backing, because it fits the theme so well.

    The full 22-track album looks like this and clocks in at 76m 56s:

    1. The Divine Comedy Ltd
    2. Queuejumper (early version)
    -> more electronic and sinister
    3. Office Politics
    4. Norman And Norma
    5. Absolutely Obsolete
    6. Infernal Machines
    7. You'll Never Work In This Town Again
    8. Psychological Evaluation
    9. The Synthesiser Service Centre Super Summer Sale
    10. The Life And Soul Of The Party
    11. The Erotic Dreams Of Andrea Palladio
    -> could fit the delusional character being taken advantage of, which leads to the next song after their 'romantic' encounter; the architect's name in the title could be replaced by the name of the character in question

    12. A Feather In Your Cap
    13. I'm A Stranger Here
    14. Dark Days Are Here Again
    15. ARP Break
    -> a bit of electronic playfulness among the gloom of the surrounding tracks; the title (including one of the major analog synth brands mentioned in track) fits perfectly
    16. Where Have All The Milkmen Gone?
    -> refers to a time when milk bottles were still delivered, which sets the scene for the time frame of the next track
    17. Philip And Steve's Furniture Removal Company
    18. The Berlin Airlift
    -> injects some really dark electronic vibes creating suspense and could be the moment Knox murders Bird; needs a new title
    19. 'Opportunity' Knox
    20. After The Lord Mayor's Show (alternate version)
    -> more electronic
    21. Nordyland 83
    -> a more dynamic track than the two surrounding ones while the final work of the day is being done; needs a new title (does anyone know what Nordyland refers to?)
    22. When The Working Day Is Done

    If you'd split this over two LPs or CDs (like the environmentally detrimental CD versions of The Beatles' red and blue compilations), you'd get 11 tracks on each both lasting around 38.5 minutes. LP/Disc two would fittingly start with the morning after of "A Feather In Your Cap".
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
  15. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    If I could understand taste and how it works, then this thread would have been unnecessary, because I'd have known what everyone thought of every song anyway.

    Anyway, I think someone said upthread that he/she couldn't explain intellectually liking certain pieces of music, and it's the same for me, but tentatively: "Wilson" has a great hypnotic percussive effect that really works for me, and I enjoy the short samples as they have a rhythm that goes along with the backing beat. They are almost able to function as verses and choruses of a regular song. With "The Divine Comedy Ltd." that is not the case. Secondly, I can't really hear most of what is being said in DCL. Some of the spoken tracks run over each other and they're all a bit grainy (and yeah, I know that they run over one another in "Wilson" as well, but at least there they are clearly spoken and I think each line is said at least once without being obscured by another line). It irks me that I have no idea if they are supposed to convey any meaning or not.
     
    LivingForever and The Booklover like this.
  16. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    @DaniMoonstar might be able to confirm whether this is true, but I think it might be a colloquial term for Ulster (or part of it)?
     
    DaniMoonstar and The Booklover like this.
  17. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Thanks for clarifying. I get what you say about the rhythms having a hypnotic effect on you. Your misgivings about not being able to hear all the samples are understandable, too. It was just your previous focus on the tune being better that I couldn't get a grip on.
     
  18. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    As you both seem to be ELO experts and I've never even listened to one of their albums, which one would you recommend as a starting point? I'm afraid I only really know a few singles like "Mr Blue Sky", "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Don't Bring Me Down".
     
  19. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Depends on what you like, because ELO doesn't have a single, homogeneous sound.

    Their first albums are more or less progressive rock, and as messrs. Wood and Lynne said at the time, ELO was a chance to take off from "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles and take that kind of stuff to its ultimate conclusion. If that tickles your fancy or if you've heard "10538 Overture" and liked it, try the debut album.

    As Roy Wood left and Jeff Lynne was able to follow his own muse, ELO morphed into a symphonic rock band from album 4 (Eldorado) on, and by their sixth and seventh albums they had perfected that sound. So if you're interested in music with huge orchestral backing and ingratiating melodies, and if you've heard "Living Thing" or "Mr. Blue Sky" and liked them, then go for either A New World Record or Out of the Blue.

    Then ELO went disco, and if that seems like a good starting point for you, being the birthplace of "Don't Bring Me Down", try Discovery.

    Then Jeff Lynne introduced synths to the ELO sound, and that inaugurated the band's final phase. Time is your best bet here, if you want a taste of this phase and you like "Here is the News".

    Or you could just go for the safe choice and sample these tunes on YouTube. :)
     
  20. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Okay then - tomorrow’s song is:

    The Best Mistakes

    Premiered 5 minutes ago!

     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
  21. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Ok, how many times should I listen to this before I decide I don’t like it?

    :D
     
    The Turning Year likes this.
  22. Radiophonic_

    Radiophonic_ Electrosonic

    Location:
    Royal Oak MI
    Sounds like we had a similar reaction...
     
  23. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    I’m slightly wondering if there’s some rule that every Greatest Hits album he does must contain a new, self-referential song about himself and the things he’s done in his life…
     
  24. Radiophonic_

    Radiophonic_ Electrosonic

    Location:
    Royal Oak MI
    Ha, yeah...when I saw it was a self-validictory thing I could only think "really?"
     
  25. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    I might do a “here’s what I think on a first listen” post later and then another one tomorrow after a few more. Might be interesting!
     

Share This Page

molar-endocrine