a short site about The Divine Comedy

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Absent Friends Demos

Recorded: 2001-2003

There have been quite a lot of different periods in the making of the Absent Friends album since The Divine Comedy suffered a few line-up changes between 2001 and 2004.

The primitive demos

We are not really sure about when the first songs of Absent Friends were demoed. These demos are primitive in the sense they were done mainly on computer, had may be extremely different to the album version. One of these must be the original demo of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ of which Neil Hannon said it was just a ‘crazy techno tune – euro-techno smash’ he did on his computer. [1]
In 2003 a demo recording of ‘The Wreck Of The Beautiful’ went leaked and the management stated it was probably a stolen demo back from 2001. Those who heard it can say of much the song has changed since. Then we can guess that back in 2001 Neil had already some songs in mind for a new album and may have passed them to other people. The released demo of ‘Sticks & Stones’ is also a primitive demo, but we don’t really know when it was recorded, perhaps a few years later.

When the band split in 2001, the NME stated that the band had already begun rehearsal at the time for the recording of an album in February 2002 but those plans had to fall apart. [2] Therefore it’s likely that band demos were also recorded in 2001.

The rehearsal demos

With a new line-up at the end of 2002 composed of Neil Hannon, Ivor Talbot, Rob Farrer and Simon Little as a new recruit, the band started to play half a dozen new songs at their concerts. It must be at this time they recorded some of the demo B-sides as the demo of ‘Come Home Billy Bird’, the acoustic version of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ or the unfinished ‘Absolute Power’. These sessions seems to be the last contribution of Ivor Talbot to The Divine Comedy.

The final demos

Before going to the studio and booking an orchestra, Neil Hannon had, of course, already finalized and simulated the songs. And while with the final demo of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ he had quite an idea of what was going to happen in the studio, seeing for the first time Joby Talbot’s orchestration was ‘a good good feeling’ [3]. It must be this demo that was released on the To Die A Virgin single, since it sounds really closer to the final version.

[1] Phoenix FM, 28/04/2010
[2] NME 31/10/2001
[3] Eclectik, France Inter, 25/10/2004