Casanova (The Divine Comedy album)

Casanova is the fourth studio album by Northern Irish chamber pop band the Divine Comedy. It was released in 1996 by Setanta Records, and it happened to be the band's commercial breakthrough. It was certified Gold in the UK in July 1997, aided by the release of the album's first single, "Something for the Weekend", which reached No. 13 on the charts. Two other singles released from the album, "Becoming More Like Alfie" and "The Frog Princess", charted at No. 27 and No. 15, respectively.[3]

Studio album by
Released29 April 1996 (1996-04-29)
RecordedJune 1995 – January 1996
The Divine Comedy chronology
A Short Album About Love
Singles from Casanova
  1. "Something for the Weekend"
    Released: 17 June 1996
  2. "Becoming More Like Alfie"
    Released: 12 August 1996
  3. "The Frog Princess"
    Released: 4 November 1996

Composition edit

Treble writer A.T. Bossenger wrote that, with Casanova, Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon "started going for a more straightforward pop tone as the base for his songwriting", resulting in the album having a more Britpop flow to it.[1] Its central theme is sex, around which all songs on the album centre, except "The Dogs and the Horses", which is the last song on the album and whose theme is death.[1] Jeremy Lee of ABC News considered that this record brought Neil Hannon "closer to the orchestral pop sound he'd been dreaming of."[2]

Casanova exemplifies the influence of American singer-songwriter Scott Walker:[4] "Through a Long & Sleepless Night" shares the same title as a track from Walker's first solo album, while "The Dogs and the Horses" is reminiscent of the chamber pop musical style of Walker's first four solo albums. Two of Casanova's songs were originally composed by Hannon as potential theme tunes for the 1995 sitcom Father Ted: Hannon's first attempt was rejected, and he reworked it to become "A Woman of the World"; his second attempt was accepted and used as the theme for the series, but was later reworked as "Songs of Love", eschewing the original version's guitar for harpsichord.[5]

Recording edit

Casanova had the longest recording period of any Divine Comedy album up to that point and consequently had a higher budget. Setanta was able to indulge Neil Hannon's desire because of the success of Edwyn Collins' hit single "A Girl Like You".[2]

Casanova featured more musicians than on the band's previous two albums, Liberation and Promenade, but like those two albums, Neil Hannon performed the majority of the instrumental parts himself, with co-producer/drummer Darren Allison directing proceedings.[6] The album's closing track, "The Dogs and the Horses", recorded at Abbey Road Studios, features a large orchestral ensemble which includes future members of the live band, namely Joby Talbot, Stuart 'Pinkie' Bates, Grant Gordon, and Bryan Mills. Talbot was beginning to play an increasingly important role in the band; he arranged and orchestrated "The Dogs and the Horses," and he co-arranged "Theme from Casanova" with Hannon.

Legacy edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [7]
Entertainment WeeklyA[9]
The Guardian     [10]
Q     [4]
Rolling Stone     [11]
Wall of Sound83/100[13]

The album's sixth track, "Songs of Love", made its debut on the popular Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted,[5] officially remaining the show's theme song, as heard in its opening titles and end credits. The song was later covered by Ben Folds on his EP Sunny 16 in 2003 and Peter Bjorn and John as part of Under the Radar's Covers of Covers album in 2022.[14]

The album was included in the 2010 edition of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[15] In 2014, NME included the album in its list of "30 Glorious Britpop Albums That Deserve a Reissue Pronto," saying "Gawky Neil Hannon as smooth loverman was a conceit that actually worked and it produced two of Britpop's least obvious classics in the hilarious Cold Comfort Farm-inspired tale of 'Something for the Weekend' and the movie fantasy of 'Becoming More Like Alfie'."[16]

Track listing edit

All songs written and arranged by Neil Hannon, except "Theme From Casanova", arranged by Hannon and Joby Talbot; "The Dogs & the Horses" arranged and orchestrated by Talbot.

1."Something for the Weekend"4:19
2."Becoming More Like Alfie"2:59
3."Middle-Class Heroes"5:26
4."In & Out of Paris & London"3:27
6."Songs of Love"3:26
7."The Frog Princess"5:13
8."A Woman of the World"4:12
9."Through a Long & Sleepless Night"6:12
10."Theme from Casanova"5:51
11."The Dogs & the Horses"5:14

Personnel edit

Personnel per CD booklet A Secret History... The Best of the Divine Comedy.[6]

  • John Allen – celeste, whistle
  • Darren Allison – percussion, drums, producer, engineer, mixing
  • Kathy Brown – cello
  • Jane Butterfield – trombone
  • Andy Chase – producer, engineer, mixing
  • Emile Chitikov – violin
  • Ian Cooper – mastering
  • Eos Counsell – violin
  • Rob Crane – design
  • Alison Fletcher – violin, viola
  • Anna Giddey – violin
  • Charlotte Glasson – viola
  • Ruth Goldstein – cello
  • Tom Gurling – assistant engineer
  • Neil Hannon – bass, guitar, percussion, piano, arranger, Hammond organ, vocals, producer, tympani [timpani], art direction, Wurlitzer
  • Rebecca Hayes – violin
  • Robin Hayward – tuba
  • Yuri Kalnitz – violin
  • Robbie Kazandjian – assistant engineer
  • Mark Knight – violin
  • Alex McRonald – flute
  • Bryan Mills – bass
  • Paul Mysiak – assistant engineer
  • Darren Nash – assistant engineer
  • Gerard Navarro – assistant engineer
  • Gareth Parton – assistant engineer
  • Alex Postlethwaite – violin
  • Alice Pratley – violin
  • Alice Reynolds – laughs
  • Joe Richards – cello
  • Adrian Roach – oboe
  • Laura Samuel – violin
  • Padraic Savage – violin
  • Chris Scard – assistant engineer
  • Joby Talbot – piano, arranger, conductor, alto saxophone, orchestration
  • Titch Walker – trumpet
  • Jane Watkins – cello
  • Kevin Westenberg – art direction, photography
  • Chris Worsey – cello

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Bossenger, A.T. (13 March 2014). "10 Essential Britpop Albums". Treble. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Lee, Jeremy (3 October 2020). "Little-Known, But Brilliant Northern Irish Band the Divine Comedy Celebrates 30th Anniversary". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Divine Comedy – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b Aston, Martin (June 1996). "The Divine Comedy: Casanova". Q. No. 117. Archived from the original on 1 September 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Father Ted Theme". Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b Allison, Darren. A Secret History (CD booklet). Setanta Records. SETCDL100.
  7. ^ Raggett, Ned. "The Divine Comedy: Casanova – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  8. ^ Micallef, Ken. "Casanova – Review". Dotmusic. Archived from the original on 30 August 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  9. ^ Flaherty, Mike (24 October 1997). "Casanova – Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  10. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (3 May 1996). "The Divine Comedy: Casanova (Setanta)". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Cohen, Jason (17 April 1997). "The Divine Comedy: Casanova". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  12. ^ Male, Andrew (May 1996). "The Divine Comedy: Casanova". Select. No. 71. p. 100.
  13. ^ Hall, Russell. "Review: Casanova". Wall of Sound. Archived from the original on 14 April 2001. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  14. ^ Redfern, Mark. "Under the Radar Announces "Covers of Covers" Album, Shares Grandaddy and EMA Tracks". Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  15. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  16. ^ "30 Glorious Britpop Albums That Deserve A Reissue Pronto". NME. 21 July 2014.

External links edit