It does no real work in the song, that “a-ha” – it’s an afterthought, another little hooky Easter Egg from a band committed to packing as much as they could into their tracks. No fault of ABBA’s, honestly, that for British listeners of a certain age and background (mine) it dominates the song now, that tiny bridging sigh cueing up a Norfolk bellow in the head – “Knowing me, knowing you – AH-HAAAAA!”.
Steve Coogan and Armando Ianucci’s selection of this mini-moment for Alan Partridge’s signature phrase was a stroke of cruel inspiration – too easy to take the Abigail’s Party route and make the monstrous (later tragic) Partridge a fan of, say, Manhattan Transfer: even that would have suggested a curiosity quite beyond Alan P’s galumphing populism. But it was also curiously ill-timed: Knowing Me Knowing You (the radio and TV show) started just before ABBA’s return to critical respectability. The sudden inescapable Partridgeness of this song made it a ghost at the new ABBA feast, a reminder that a corner of the fanbase would always be patterned sweaters and light ent.
The bad end of mundane, in other words, but mundane is what ABBA do so well: “Knowing Me Knowing You” is the first of their great wintry epics of boring grown-up heartbreak and the acceptance of heartbreak, trying to cadge a bit of hope out of a hopeless situation, balancing between the numbed verses and the wonderful cascades of backing harmonies from the guys on the chorus. It’s Frida’s star turn – though her first verse performance is a little wobbly – but Agnetha nearly steals it with her spectral whispers. The keyboards hit the grandeur they’re aiming for; the guitar solo doesn’t, but even in its forever-sabotaged state “Knowing Me Knowing You” has cohesion and power.