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Album Review – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – The Original Movie Soundtrack

3 min read

After several radio and TV specials, fictional radio and TV presenter Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) now has his own movie. In Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Partridge finds himself in the middle of a siege after his radio station is taken over by a media conglomerate.

AlphaPapaThe soundtrack mixes the odd quote from the film, some convincing radio jingles and actual songs together, and therefore sounds like a proper radio broadcast. Thanks to the quotes and jingles, the songs somehow flow together when they wouldn’t otherwise.

The opening two songs, Philip Glass’ Koyaanisquatsi and the exotic classic Roxanne by The Police, are absolute downers, as if to reflect the hostage crisis that Partridge has found himself in.

Fortunately, the mood of the soundtrack lifts as it showcases most kinds of musical cheese, from the heavily synthesised 80s sounds of Cuddly Toy by Roachford to the saccharine 70s hits by Andy Fairweather Low (Wide Eyed And Legless), Sam Fonteyn (Pop Looks Bach) and Glen Campbell (Wichita Lineman).

Meanwhile, Swingin’ Low by 1960s English instrumental band The Outlaws and Bryan Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together keep things quirky.

English band Climax Blues Band keep things cool with their 1977 hit, Couldn’t Get it Right. Isn’t it ironic though that the very next song on the soundtrack is the karaoke/oldies radio classic Hard To Say I’m Sorry by Chicago (which forced Climax Chicago Blues Band to change its name)?

The soundtrack enters the EDM phase with Calvin Harris’ Bounce (featuring Kelis) and Jakob Liedholm’s Swede Love. However, they sound redundant as neither track is as danceable nor as iconic as Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, which screams the 1980s in all their glory.

The 1980s are further represented by Farnsey’s You’re The Voice, Andrew Gold’s Never Let Her Slip Away (featuring an uncredited Freddie Mercury on background vocals) and The Number One Song in Heaven by Sparks (which sounds like the prequel to Blondie’s Call Me). Yes, the latter two songs may have been recorded before 1980, but can easily pass off as songs of the 80s. They don’t sound too dated next to The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me (from 1981) and sound light years ahead of Hard To Say I’m Sorry (from 1982). What was it with the production of British pop music recordings sounding more ahead of time than American pop music recordings in the early 1980s?

The soundtrack takes on a serious but heavenly tone, with the devastatingly beautiful The White Light by Ilan Eshkeri and Gaudete by Steeleye Span. Just as things wind down, the most bombastic Bond theme ever (Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger) is juxtaposed against one of the more ‘safe’-sounding Bond themes (Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better). Galloping Home (The New Adventures of Black Beauty) by Denis King & the South Bank Orchestra is a camp and irreverent closer. There may be a spoiler from the selection of these tracks at the very end of the soundtrack: has Alan Partridge managed to become 007 and save the day before galloping home?

The Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa soundtrack is a eclectic and thus very British mix of the cheesy and the serious, the eccentric and the conventional, and the camp and the divine. But where’s the Britpop?