With ABBA back together writing infectious killer tunes and the city I live in total lockdown thanks an infectious killer virus, what better time to look back on the greatest musical moments involving the group’s biggest fan, Alan Partridge.
Alan Partridge sings the ’60s hit ‘Melting Pot, a song which on the surface appears to be about racial equality, but which Wikipedia notes has “assimilationist undertones”.
The song’s lyrics have dated so badly, in 2019 it was ruled too racist to play on British radio. Overreaction? Well, even Alan had second thoughts – asking his friend Michael if it was racist. Michael told him it wasn’t, because ******** is not just a nationality, but a type of food.
This song was actually a massive hit where I live in the late 1980s – not because we’re that far behind the cultural eight-ball, but because it was covered by local band When the Cat’s Away, which surely must be one of the few ensembles described on Wikipedia as a “supergroup and covers band”.
No video for this one. It’s a quote from his autobiography, I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan.
And here it is.
“I’d spend hours in HMVs, Virgin Megastores and second-hand record shops staffed by greasy-haired 40-year-olds dressed as 20-year-olds, listening to contemporary music of every genre – Britrock, heavy maiden, gang rap, breakbeat. And I came to a startling but unshakeable conclusion: no genuinely good music has been created since 1988.”
Based on the next entry, it would appear he hasn’t even tried to listen to anything created since the Cold War ended…
This single scene from I’m Alan Partridge has two of my favourite Alan quotes in it. First, he gives his thoughts on the Fab Four – and how they’re not as good as Paul McCartney’s ’70s group Wings, who are “the band the Beatles could have been”.
Quizzed on his favourite Beatles albums he says… just watch the clip. It’s priceless.
Same clip as above. Alan asks a young man who his favourite singers are, one of them turns out to be Kurt Cobain.
On learning Cobain killed himself, Alan dispenses some priceless advice – for which we’re forever in debt.
In case anyone doubted Alan’s dedication to Wings, here he is getting amped up for a night on
Irish coffee tea Fanta by listening to the band’s classic hit ‘Jet’.
It doesn’t go well.
Alan plays some air bass to Gary Numan’s early ’80s synth-funk oddball ‘Music for Chamelons’, digging bassist Pino Palladino’s grooves.
Best part is halfway through the solo he lets two tax investigators into his trailer, whilst still ‘holding’ the fretless bass before pretending to take it off when they’re not looking.
Numan – no doubt one of the strangest musicians to have ever made it as a pop star – might at first seem a curious choice for Alan. But it’s really a stroke of genius on the part of Steve Coogan and his writers.
Numan, for a big part of his career, was seen as washed up and past his prime, just like Alan. Unlike Alan, Numan eventually had a renaissance – artistically, if not commercially – and is now considered one of the forefathers of synth and industrial music, and counts artists like Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) amongst his fans.
But Numan was also an outspoken supporter of right-wing witch Margaret Thatcher in her prime. He later admitted it was a huge mistake, and no longer votes Conservative. Alan, having given up on music in 1988, probably didn’t get the memo.
‘ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST’
This one’s from Alan’s most recent series, This Time with Alan Partridge.
I couldn’t find the entire scene on YouTube, it’s worth watching the show to see it in context. But for now, here is – completely without context – Alan ditching the cliched CPR song ‘Staying Alive’ for something he likes a bit better.
THE ABBA MEDLEY
I have probably watched this YouTube video more than any other (aside from my daughter’s favourites, like ‘Baby Shark’, which don’t really count, right?)
It’s from Alan’s first show, Knowing Me, Knowing You, which aired in the mid-1990s.
I can’t watch it again right now – every time I do, I end up in tears… and now I’ve just discovered he gave Kate Bush the same treatment. And Queen. And did a duet with Elton John. I think I’m about to go down a rabbit hole…
IF YOU’RE A GARY NUMAN FAN, I COVER SOME OF HIS TUNES – CHECK OUT ANECDATA ON SPOTIFY.