“Life On The Road” is the debut album by Ricky Gervais as David Brent, the character he created and made famous as part of his ground-breaking, award-winning BBC2 comedy “The Office”. Released in conjunction with the original motion picture David Brent – Life on the Road.
The film is directed, written and starring Gervais and involves a documentary crew again, this time catching up with Brent fifteen years on from “The Office”. Brent is now a travelling salesman for Lavichem, a toilet products company, chasing his dream of rock stardom by self-financing a UK tour with his band, Foregone Conclusion. The album includes songs composed by Gervais especially for the film and songs already familiar to fans including Free Love Freeway, Paris Nights, Spaceman and Equality Street.
Produced by Gervais and Andy Burrows – who is a successful recording artist under his own name and formerly of Razorlight – was recorded and mixed at Air Edel Studios in London by Nick Taylor. “Even though obviously I’m trying to make them funny, it was really important that Brent’s songs were strong melodically” states Gervais. “They’re crucial to the film and I wanted them to stand up to repeated listens. Also, I didn’t want there to be anything half-hearted about them. If you listen to a classic “Comedy” band like Spinal Tap, what stands out is their absolute conviction in their songs, as preposterous as they may be. I tried to capture that feeling for this.”
All the songs carry the trademark “Brent” magic – the clumsy and offensive attempts at political correctness which always misfire, but there is a clever innocence about it, partly because Brent is so earnest with his intentions being taken seriously and because he has no self – awareness. For example, there are a couple of brilliantly funny lines in the song Please Don’t Make Fun Of The Disableds, a gentle piano-led ballad that includes Brent assuming a cringe-worthy heartfelt vocal when he sings: “whether mental in the head, or mental in the legs, doesn’t mean, their sorrow doesn’t show” and later on, “Hold their hand, (if they’ve got one) – understand”.
Lady Gypsy is the lead single from the album and is a folk ballad which tells the story of Brent first losing his virginity to a traveller. It’s a quaint song capturing first love, there’s even a few traditional “laay, la- la laaays” that add a whimsical air to the song as he recalls meeting his lover “by the lakeside, just south of Didcot”. Further on, the song reveals an exchange between the couple when Brent has to clarify it’s the heather she is selling and not the sex. It’s really funny and worth checking out the accompanying video below.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin recorded music for the soundtrack with Gervais and actually joins Brent on the track Electricity which does a brilliant job of capturing the “hands to the world” anthemic sound of Coldplay. It’s an affectionate, knowledgeable musical nod to the band. As Burrows sums up nicely “You have to have a real knowledge and love of rock music to be able to spoof it as well as Ricky. He’s an excellent songwriter and these are really good songs. They’re also hilarious. Combining the two is much, much harder than he makes it appear.”
Gervais and Burrows have obviously worked very hard at getting this right and have created an album which is warm, intentionally middle of the road and is full of catchy melodies with strong instrumentation. Although, Life On The Road is a comedy project, it has been done cleverly, with love and respect and is an enjoyable listen. It’s worth a repeated listen or two.