a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

Absent Friends – Rest of the world

Absent Friends

Like with Regeneration, EMI manufactured a different print for Absent Friends between United Kingdom and the rest of the world. But this time the reason is not that the UK print had to be manufactured in UK, the actual reason was that the band managed to get Parlophone release the album (in UK) without EMI’s Copy Controlled system in their copies. On the other hand, the EMI prints for other countries would feature the protection system.
The Copy Controlled was a system preventing CD-ROM drive to detect and read the audio tracks, and also featured a CD-ROM track with a player to stream the album in a very lossy format… 2004 was the golden age for this system that gradually came on more and more EMI releases in 2002-2003; but the system would be dropped soon after. At the end of the day, it didn’t save EMI anyway.

The Copy Controlled edition

The Copy Controlled version of Absent Friends is the version that was distributed in France by Labels, Germany by Capitol, in the rest of Europe and also in Australia, Canada, South America, Taiwan, India, and even more… and also United Kingdom, later, when the original copies went out of print!
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It’s quite easy to spot a Copy Controlled version: the back cover has a long white rectangular frame with the Copy Controlled logo, with information in different languages. The frame also features on the right the serial number (which is also to be found on the copyright note just above and in the bar code at the top), and the French price code. Because of the frame, the positioning of all elements above is a bit different in comparison to the UK version.
The background print, which is the picture of the sofa, is slightly brighter than the UK print, or the limited edition.
The spine also features the serial number in addition to the title.
The inlay also got a Copy Controlled logo at the right so it can be spot through the transparent box when closed. The middle of the inlay features a note, which was present on all EMI’s albums at the time, about their concern over piracy, and advertising their new platform Music from EMI.

Image The booklet is almost identical to the UK release, but the serial number, printed on the bottom-left corner on the last page, makes it being a different one nonetheless. The cropping of the pages may show less detail at the bottom than some of the UK prints. But these differences perhaps have nothing to do with a difference of design between the two prints, and may just be a random difference during the manufacturing process.
The CD itself looks also similar. But at the bottom the Parlophone logo was replaced by the Copy Controlled logo, warning that you may not be able to play it properly! The Parlophone logo has actually been moved at the top. On the other side, near the centre of the label, we can read IFPI L047 and EMI UDEN ABSENT 01 @ 2 like on the Copy Controlled promo CD.

In some countries, like Italy, the album may come with an anti-piracy sticker. That is also the case on the Indian distribution which has a ‘The Indian EMI Music Industry’ sticker.



In Taiwan the same version of the album was distributed with an obi strip. It is not to be confused with the Japanese release. The obi’s design is less original than the Japanese edition though. It features a red EMI logo.
The shrink-wrap can be an EMI shrink-wrap. It features a Copy Controlled sticker on front, and a bigger one at the back with technical requirements information.
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Indonesian cassette


While the Absent Friends album was not released in any analogue support in UK or Europe, an exception was made for Indonesia where a cassette version was manufactured. This version was edited by EMI over there, and supposed to be sold only locally, hence the mention “Hanya Untuk Dijual Di Indonesia” (only for sale in Indonesia) on the front cover. It’s originality of being a rare cassette version of the CD-only release has made it over the recent years quite an instagramable item.
The sleeve was redesigned to fit as a folded cassette insert, and includes inside only 2 of the photos from the original booklet (the ones used for the maxi singles). However, on the other side it features the complete lyrics and credits of the album. The design have certainly be made from the original photography since the cover picture shows more details at the top and the bottom, the second one more at the top but less at the bottom, and the third one more at the top. Of course all photos have been cut on both left end right though.
The spine being larger than a CD spine, it has the title like on the cover on two lines. At the top there is a red EMI logo with catalogue number ‘E00412’ and at the bottom a Parlophone logo with the serial number: 7243 5 96280 4 2. Strangely, this time it does not contains the catalogue number…
The left-end part of the inlay to be shown at the back of the case contains the tracklisting, and the mention in English: “Manufactured, marketed and distributed by EMI Music Indonesia. Sale outside Indonesia may infringe applicable copyright laws”.
In addition to the bar code there is also another copyright note; and a couple of logo: a red EMI logo and a ‘Stop Pembajakan’ logo (stop piracy).
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The tape comes within an EMI cassette, with screws. The side letter is both engraved and printed. The print is over a dark background which has a particular shape. The album title is not particularly designed, and there is the mention ‘see inlay for details’. On the left an EMI logo, on the right the serial number, and at the bottom the copyright.

The box has an Indonesian seal stamp ‘LUNAS PPN KASET ASING’ on its top, with the following details:
NPWP/TH: 01.071.919.

Promo CD

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Image For countries where the distribution/promotion was not handled by a specific label (Parlophone in UK, Labels in France, Capitol in Germany…), a generic CD-R was issued. It comes within a PVC sleeve with a folded white insert. The version pictured here has a sticker from EMI Colombia where the album may have been promoted! But it’s likely that similar discs were made for other countries.
On the insert are printed the album titles and tracklisting, like on the UK CD-R, but the bottom featured only a Parlophone logo, and no reference to any watermark system is made. Probably because these discs were issued at a point the album was no longer to be ‘confidential’. The disc is a CD-R, with a similar design to the UK CD-R, and is white like some of them, and it does not have any of all the watermarking information. There is just the mention ‘promo use only – not for resale’.