A Secret History: the Best of CD, Import
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2006 Reissue of the Group's First Anthology that Originally Appeared on the Setanta Label.
Sadly, in about 2001 Hannon decided that TDC (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. Love it.
I think that anyone stopping at only this album would be making a terrible mistake. It makes a splendid introduction, pulling fine songs from Hannon's various albums, but it really should serve only as an introduction. I would strongly recommend at least four other albums to anyone wishing to explore his music: CASANOVA (which contains some of his biggest hits), A SHORT ALBUM ABOUT LOVE, REGENERATION, and ABSENT FRIENDS. But all of his songs have at least a few good songs. If you are pretty certain you want to go pretty deeply into Hanson's music, then get CASANOVA and ABSENT FRIENDS first. If you aren't so confident, try this anthology instead. Even for those owning most of the other Divine Comedy albums, this has many rareties that more than justify the purchase price. Either way, if you don't know Neil Hannon's work (and I find far too few Americans do not), be prepared for a treat.
Having the majority of The Divine Comedy's catalog, I wasn't totally sold on the idea of a collection but then this limited edition came out! First off the packaging is fabulous! It comes in a hardback book form measuring about 7 inches square. It is packed with wonderful photos from all the releases - very nice. But by far the real treat is the 18 track bonus disc full of rarites, covers, demo tracks and awesome live recordings! Neil's version of "Life On Mars" is really grand, and so is the cover of Talk Talk's, "Life's What You Make It". With both discs the collection expands to a whopping 35 songs and for me, is a great representaion of a very clever artist. As for the first "hits" disc itself, just about everything I could see popping up on it - did. (apart from the wonderful "A Woman of the World") I really liked the fact that "I've Been to A Marvelous Party" made it - a often overlooked gem from the Noel Coward tribute disc. Other obvious highlights include "Something For the Weekend", "Gin Soaked Boy", "Songs of Love", "National Express", and the killer "Becoming More Like Alfie".
This is just a super collection, whether you go for the domestic, one disc version, or this super cool limited one, you'll be very pleased. Pour the drinks and stoke the fire dear!