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Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown is a bit of a misnomer, isn't it? On the first show he had Jeremy Clarkson as a guest — surely there must have been some kind of potential for a showdown, at least some rigorous ribbing about Clarkson's prog-rock leanings. At one point Kate Mossman (never heard of her; she seems very nice) apologetically ceded the floor for the interrupting Clarkson. I would have liked her to tell him: "Just for once shut the fuck up, you gibbering arsehole."
The second show on pop didn't create a showdown either, though Boy George did twice say "I don't agree..." But I suppose David Hepworth and Baker are of similar mind, so there weren't going to be fisticuffs.
Still, the first two shows were fairly entertaining. I've yet to see the third episode on R&B.
On the production notes on the BBC website I see the thing is being produced by one Helen Terry. I wonder if that is Boy George's erstwhile backing singer.
I've so far seen the first and third of these - will check out the 'pop' edition if it's available on iPlayer. A fairly pointless exercise, but, as you say, quite entertaining for all that (though I've no idea how Clarkson gets invited onto so many of these things).
And it is indeed the same Helen Terry as was backing singer for Culture Club - she became exec producer of the BRITs for some time during the past decade, certainly while it was a BBC show. (I noted that the credits also included a 'Jon Lord', though I suspect it isn't that one.)
Baker loves his prog doesn't he? Especially King Crimson. He also seems to have become increasingly dismissive of the old 'this is why punk had to happen' argument over the years, even if he was himself an enthusiastic champion of it back in the day.
The 3rd one (I haven't yet seen e1&2) was interesting because of the enthusiasm of those involved, but really wooly on what R&B was.
Trevor Nelson bizarrely declared it didn't include dance music. Baker decided it was killed by Disco, then the panel all enthusiastically burbled about Chic...
They were really talking up the American Soul genre that grew out of Gospel roots, and declaring the high points as the mature, more political albums in the 70s (I'd agree), and not the white guitar based R&B bands, or the more modern use of the term.
Worth a look for the VT footage voiced over by Baker, though.
The set included a table shaped like a giant vinyl disc and there were album sleeves scattered neatly behind some people who looked like they were about to talk very, very seriously about R&B.
it had the feel of one of those heavy Sunday morning religious discussions. Maybe they should've called it Fulchrum or at least have had someone serious-looking on , not yer man with the rubber face out of The Office.
I just had to switch over at that point.
I'd also barely heard of Kate Mossman, but her knowledge of early seventies rock and prog was pretty impressive. And I'd rather have heard her opinions on the subject than Clarkson's, for sure...
It all seemed so overblown and preposterously self-important.
I wanted to hear that Trevor bloke say 'look, I'm a human, why doesn't anyone ask me about how my mother's doing, or
how my kids are settling in at school? All you cunts ever want to talk to me about is music. Music this, music fucking that - it's really not that important , is it? In fact it's quite fucking boring at times especially when four people are sitting around a giant album talking completely out of their arses while trying to look serious. In fact fuck this, I'm off'
I make it a point to be outraged, DG., well, mildly bewildered anyway.
I like your suggested format better.
I enjoyed it, although could have done without Clarkson. Loved hearing George and Mica Paris warmly enthuse about other people's music. Usually we only hear artists asked about their own work, or their lives, or we get those annoying talking head soundbites (where they've had the artist there for something else, and thrown a question at them for use later in a compilation show).
Only caught the "R'n'B" show. I think the show might have legs, perhaps not just as a Baker vehicle though.
The main problem for me was how broad the remit is, highlighted last night by Trevor Nelson's jarring inclusion of (to his credit) The Low End Theory as one of his favourites. A whole show could be dedicated to watching four heads talking about their preferred A Tribe Called Quest Albums (the first three anyway), or at least Hip Hop/Rap in general, although that again would be probably far too broad for my liking.
Another thing, in the VT they included Public Enemy. I've seen this with Rock folk & Rock Record shops in the past too, shops that don't stock Hip Hop/Rap or anything what might be called urban will include PE and stick it in R'n'B right next to all the standard versions of R'n'B rather than a Rap/Hip Hop section all of it's own. It's like PE represent the only acceptable kind of logical progression from the old stuff to the new (up until the late 80's anyway) without hardly a nod to any other Hip Hop. Like a box ticking exercise to show they down with the hipness and anything else is just not as worthy. Lip service.
I once remember saying of either the Lemmy or Dave Lee Roth autobiography (possibly both) that they were pointless as they were written as if you were just listening to them talking in a bar. I thought this was ludicrous as that is exactly what I want from a book about either fellow. Why diffuse it through a filter of journalism or literature devices?
Similarly, listening to Danny Baker enthuse about records for 3 hours is a great thing. The special guests and set aren't really more than window dressing. I could listen to Baker in the pub taking about music. I do really fancy Kate Mossman though.
I think Baker's revisionist view of 1970-76 is an over-reaction to the Year Zero posturing that he rightly condemns in punk. It's also a London-centric view of punk because it overlooks the value it had in, say, Manchester, in producing Buzzcocks, Fall, etc. His singling out of Sham 69 as his one exception to the rule just seems willfully perverse.
I don't disagree that Bowie, Roxy, Bolan, early 70s Rod Stewart, early 70s Elton, etc, were just as crucial as punk (who would disagree?) but I think to prefer the early 70s to the late 70s is just twisting the history to suit a clear bias. They are at least equal whilst also containing an equal amount of dross (at least the punk dross was only in two minute segments, not 20)
I think it was good that this programme was even on. Might not have agreed with everything, but would rather listen to Clarkson talking (truly) enthusiastically about Supertramp, than Tulisa Cantdoblowjobs talking scripted cliched shite to someone who just sang half a song!
I am intrigued who Tulisa Cantdoblowjobs is and how she came by that moniker.
Anyway, one very good point that was made in the second show was that the range of musical styles in pop that emerged between Woodstock and punk -- a period of only seven years -- was an astoundingly dense progression. I'd extend that time period, which was set to make a point about punk, to the early 1980s, to accommodate the emergence of new wave, new romantics and rap.
Even the 1980s and 1990s produced new musical forms - house, grunge, Britpop -- even though some were rather derivative.
But when last was there a truly popular new genre of pop music, one that actually changed something other than corporate bottomlines? Will there ever be a revolutionary genre of pop music?
For someone who isn't particularly enamoured with the Clash and the hyperbole that surrounds them, Clarkson waxing lyrical about them was hilarious
I don't think there can be a new genre because punk, new wave and rap pretty much exhausted the possibilities of taking something apart then reconstructing it. Moreover there are only so many notes, riffs, beats that can be popular as opposed to the art music forms of jazz and classical that can only ever have a narrow audience.
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