Saturday, 5 February 2022

Charmed Life - The Best Of The Divine Comedy

If someone were to ask (and it might happen) "where does one start with The Divine Comedy?".
My answer would be: start with 'Absent Friends', then jump back to 'Casanova', and then get the rest in any order.

But now the release of this compilation short-circuits that (a bit) - 23 Neil Hannon curated tracks, plus (as is usual with Best Of compos these days) one new track ("The Best Mistakes").

My answer would now be: start with this compilation ... and then get 'Absent Friends', jump back 'Casanova', and then get the rest in any order.

I only have 2 minor quibbles with the set:

  1. it's not in chronological order (but as it was chosen, and no doubt sequenced, by Neil Hannon who am I to complain)
  2. the absence of "The Pop Singer's Fear Of The Pollen Count" (but I'm sure there are others who will bemoan their own favourite not being here)

But the content here far outweighs any minor quibbles (or the non-appearance of "My Lovely Horse").
From the breakthrough single "Something For The Weekend", through the never over-played or unwelcome "National Express" to the latter day masterpiece "Norman and Norma" this set drips with some of the finest baroque-pop with intelligent lyrics, wry observations, knowing references, no little humour, and character songs that are introduced, inhabited, and resolved inside 3 minutes.

Charmed Life?  Possibly.  According to Neil Hannon himself:

“I’ve been luckier than most.  I get to sing songs to people for a living, and they almost always applaud! So when asked what to call this collection, I thought of ‘Charmed Life’. I like the song and it rather sums up how I feel about my life.”

If you know the world of The Divine Comedy, then this album satisfies allowing access to the best stuff without changing several CDs.
If you're new to the world of The Divine Comedy - here's your chance to jump in.  What are you waiting for?

"The Best Mistakes"

"Absent Friends"

"National Express"


  1. I bought the Special Edition - it arrived on Friday, release day. A whole extra CD of Neil Hannon goodies! Easily worth the price despite owning everything else.

    1. Just the 2 disc version for me.
      Just listening to the extras on Spotify, and rueing my decision now