In 2001 David Brent strummed out the acoustic power-rock classic ‘Freelove Freeway’ on the training day episode of The Office. Suddenly he wasn’t the only one to believe his rightful place on this earth was at the peak of the music world, rather than heading up a regional branch of a paper merchant. We also learned that Ricky Gervais’ greatest creation (beyond Karl Pilkington) used to play in a band, Foregone Conclusion. Sadly, though, we never got to hear them in full flow and decide whether they deserved to have achieved more than playing on the ‘same bill as Texas once’.
But all this could change. Gervais has revealed that he has been made “ridiculous offers” to realise Brent’s dream and release a full album, in character. It has to be done. Here are ten reasons why.
Brent’s recent YouTube guitar tuition videos have highlighted that although he may harbour delusions of musical grandeur, his basic abilities are pretty solid. He holds his guitar with a natural ease, like a proud father supporting a baby, or perhaps the head part of an enormous fancy dress bird costume on Red Nose Day. Gervais, meanwhile, is good enough to have been in a proper, signed-to-a-label-and-everything band, Seona Dancing, in the ‘80s. Although they never got to play with Texas.
Name one song out this year that’s as stone-cold singable as this. Lyrics-wise, it’s probably the kind of brilliant overdose of earnestness Johnny Borrell strived for, but fell short of, on his new solo album. I’m not one of the 594 people who bought that so I can’t confirm, mind.
One of the aspects that makes Brent such a rounded, believable person is his fierce love of music, adding depth to the character. As such, when he gets to perform delicate compositions such as ‘Goodnight My Sweet Princess’, his ode to Princess Diana, the funniest moments are born. Of course, having office Team Leader Gareth Keenan close his eyes and let his mind drift away, lost in the beauty of the moment, helps.
What makes Brent’s back catalogue so funny is that it’s always delivered completely straight from a character convinced of his greatness, desperately attempting to convince those around him of his credentials. Unlike the album output of other comedy kingpins of Gervais’ generation, say perhaps Harry Hill, this album will not feature quirky compositions about chicken nuggets.
David Brent used his redundancy pay to launch his own record label, Juxtaposition Records, releasing a version of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’. Juxtaposition Records was a poorly-funded independent project, but with the marketing spend of a major label behind it this song could finally see the light of day.
Brent doesn’t just belt out acoustic pop-rock and ballads. His recent stab at white reggae is enough to have UB40 focussing on the day job.
Not many people can coax David Bowie into making appearances in the media (and we’ve been trying long enough). But in 2006 he not only convinced the singer to make a cameo in Extras, but to perform a song, ‘Chubby Little Loser’. It’s ripe for re-recording, and although most of the NME staff might disagree with me, I’m, convinced it’d be better than half the stuff on ‘The Next Day’.
When it comes to chubby, middle-aged, guitar-toting, power-rock-centric musicians-who-aren’t-really-musicians, the best we’ve got on our festival stages these days is Tenacious bloody D. Just imagine Brent doing a secret gig at the Park Stage at Glasto, and kids sprinting away from Muse at the Pyramid Stage quicker than a sales rep in a mid-range saloon car bombing down the M42 fast lane.
Although maybe not Rod Stewart’s.