a short site about The Divine Comedy

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Absent Friends – UK / Ireland

Absent Friends

The two Absent Friends CDs come as different format. One is a CD single in a thin case, and the other is a maxi single in a regular jewel box.

CD single


Image This item is packaged as a single box. The picture used is an extended (left and right) and cropped (top and bottom) version of the photo used for the 7” or the promo CD (see below). So, this CD can be considered as main release of the single despite it includes only one bonus track: ‘Mr. Right’. Note that on this release the titles’ letters are not smooth, and by looking closely are a bit pixelated.
The inside shows, over a photo of the room’s walls, the tracklisting, credits, copyright notes, serial numbers, catalogue reference. And finally, the band’s website address and a Parlophone logo.
The spine shows the titles and serial number, as well as a ‘Music from EMI’ logo. The little part of the inlay on the back shows again the tracklisting, the bar-code, manufacturing information, serial and catalogue numbers, as well as a the French price code (PM 537), and a Parlophone logo. It’s hard to describe the photo used as a background, but it probably looks like a chair.
Unlike the album Absent Friends which is designed as a blue plaque, the associated releases from that era come with sober disc design. The Absent Friends CD single has a green background with white writings. At the top we have the titles, and at the bottom a copyright note. There we have a reference to Bel Biem, and the label code LC 0299. Then, serial and catalogue numbers and a Parlophone logo.
On the other side, near the centre we can read: EMI UDEN 5497572 @ 1 and IFPI L047

Maxi CD

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It’s rather strange that for a 3 tracks ‘maxi’, Parlophone decided to release it in a standard jewel box. Perhaps the policy at the time was to create confusion with the album and hoping it’d boost sales? Only joking… Actually, the case comes with a small sticker saying “3 track maxi CD” and listing the content (plus the serial/catalogue numbers which are also printed): the concept of such a maxi is to offer 3 versions of the title track: the regular version, an alternative version (a radio session version), and the video as a CD-ROM track. And another song, from the same radio session is also offered: ‘Something For The Weekend’.
The front cover shows an alternate photo, this time Neil looking at his glass. There is no booklet, just a simple insert. The other side has a black background, with credits and instruction on how to play the video with a computer. Then copyright notes, and once again serial/catalogue numbers. Note that, on this release, and perhaps due to changes within EMI’s organization (Music from EMI), Parlophone is said to be a Capitol Music Label. And finally, we’ve got the band’s website address and a Parlophone logo.
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Image The back inlay features the photo of the room’s walls as a background. Over it we can see a bar code in a white frame at the top, the tracklisting in the middle. At the bottom: copyright notes, followed by serial numbers, catalogue reference, and the French price code (PM 514), and finally Parlophone and Enhanced CD logos. The spine shows the titles and serial number, as well as a ‘Music from EMI’ logo. The other side of the inlay (it’s a transparent jewel case) is plain black.
Unlike the CD single the disc has a black background with green writings, which is a bad idea. At the top we have the titles, and at the bottom a copyright note. There we have a reference to Bel Biem, and the label code LC 0299. Then, serial and catalogue numbers and Parlophone + Enhanced CD logos.
The background differs from the CD single not only by its colour, but it’s coloured on both side if we look at the centre. On the disc, near the centre we can read: EMI UDEN 5497570 @ 1 and IFPI L047


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Both singles from Absent Friends were also released as 7” records, despite the album wasn’t released as a LP by Parlophone.
The cover of the record uses the same front design as the CD single, although the typeface is correct (smooth letters). The picture is just cropped on both side to fit on a square, but shows slightly more details on the top. The back cover uses, as both CD, the paintings-on-the-wall picture as a background. It features at the top the bar code, in the middle the tracklisting, and at the bottom credits plus copyright note at the bottom. As the CDs, Parlophone is now a Capitol Music label. The note ends with the serial and catalogue numbers, the French price code (PM 215), and finally the band’s website and a Parlophone logo.
The record’s labels are green and feature the title’s design, and the face letter with track name. Both side also have copyright notes (with a reference to Bel Biem), followed by label code, serial number and catalogue reference either followed by the letter A or B. And it ends with a Parlophone logo.
Near the label are engraved R 6641 A-1 R641 A-1-1 on the A side, and R 6641 B-1 R614 B-1-1 F.A.TOWNHOUSE on the B side.
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Promo CD

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Unlike Come Home Billy Bird, the promo discs of the Absent Friends single were sent mainly in UK, to promote the acoustic tour the band was doing in June 2004. The discs have been sent by different services either from Parlophone/EMI, AJPR or other services. Sometimes it was accompanied with a press release.

Unfortunately, we cannot read what the EMI sticker is supposed to tell us, neither the press releases, but here is what the AJPR sticker says: “The Divine Comedy release new single ‘Absent Friends’ through Parlophone Records on June 14th. ‘Absent Friends’ is the title track from Neil Hannon’s recently released about which has been hugely acclaimed from all quarters and features a magnificent string arrangement courtesy of collaborator Joby Talbot. The Divine Comedy will play a series of nine intimate UK theatre dates in June including three consecutive nights at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre on 14th, 15th and 16th.”
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Image The front cover of the disc features the same picture as the CD single or the 7”, but less cropped than the latter. It is still cropped on the left and right comparing to the CD, but strangely it has much more details on the bottom and on the top too. The title’s typeface is correct (smooth letters). The back uses again the ‘pictures on the wall’ picture as a background, which has the same cropping differences.
More interesting, the back cover tells us, the disc actually contains a shorter radio edit of the song. At the bottom we find credits and copyright notes. It expresses some concern regarding copying this promo CDs, especially burning or uploading to the Internet, a worry for EMI at the time who went to use a Copy Controlled system for the album promo. Then, it features the catalogue number CDRDJ 6641.
The disc features a green design as the CD single, with the title at the top. The bottom features a similar copyright note, this time with a reference to Bel Biem, and the label code.
On the other side, near the centre it reads: IFPI L047 EMI UDEN CDRDJ 6641 @ 1

In-store ad.


A 12”x12” in store advert was printed to promote the release of the single. It features a reproduction of the album cover in the bottom-left corner.