Off Topic Messages

Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:17 pm

I've been enjoying this series. Some of the selections aren't that obvious, and there has (generally) been a tolerance to the debates meaning that the same titles don't get pushed repeatedly.

However, during last night's episode (2), I felt Elvis got a particularly bad rap. David Hepworth was discussing The Beatles, how they evolved as songwriters, and how they turned the album into an art form. He chose "A Hard Day's Night" as one of his favourite albums, and I would agree that this self penned set of songs really did raise the bar in terms of the 'all killer - no filler' album, rather than a set that was built around a couple of hit singles.

What I didn't appreciate is that he justified his choice by saying that if you bought and Elvis Presley album, you got two good tracks and the rest were 'potboilers', and nobody challenged this remark. I appreciate that Elvis will always be known as a singles artist, and that by the time of the release of "A Hard Days Night" the standard of his soundtrack releases was really starting to slip.

However, it would be fair to say that Elvis had issued at least 4 bona fide classic albums prior to the release of "A Hard Days Night". Namely: LPM1254, "Elvis Golden Records", "Elvis Golden Records Vol.2" and "Elvis Is Back". I'm sure many of us could also make a case for "Elvis" (1956) "Loving You" and "King Creole". All of which featured considerably more than two good tracks.

Also, whilst I would accept that a hits collection may be discounted from some lists as the music is compiled from various sessions, T-Rex's Greatest Hits was given 'classic' status on the same programme. Again, no arguments from me on that one, but where Elvis is concerned, I can't help but feel that sometimes there is an agenda.

Re: Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:37 pm

Who else was on the panel? How he can state that when we are talking about the albums you mention demonstrates either an 'agenda' or a clear lack of knowledge. 'Elvis Is Back' ...'two good tracks and the rest were 'potboilers', please.

Re: Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:13 pm

I'm not quite sure when people will understand that a greatest hits album is generally not regarded as a "great album". Quite why T-Rex's would get a mention, I'm not sure, but that still doesn't change the point. Elvis very rarely went into the studio to record "an album", and neither did his albums have anything remotely approaching cohesion - even Golden Records. There is little to link the songs other than the fact that they were golden records. There is not even a single "sound" that resonates through the album - it switches from Hound Dog to Loving You - what's the link? There is no link. Yes, it caught on. And yes, the album cover (and that of vol 2) has become well-known, but that doesn't make it a great album. It's simply 14 great singles. And there is a difference.

Other than the religious albums and the live albums, there are only a handful which could be considered "great" when the measured up against the criteria used by critics (and many discerning listeners). I would suggest:

Elvis Presley
Elvis Is Back
From Elvis In Memphis
Elvis Country
That's The Way It Is

I was tempted to add Elvis' Christmas album, but even that is a mish-mash of christmas and gospel music (4 tracks of which were previously released).

Re: Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:29 pm

Peter:

I agree on the greatest hits albums, and I made reference to this in my original post, but as the criteria for this programme appears to include hits albums by other artists, then why should Elvis be any different? I didn't mention the gospel albums as they were discussing pop albums last night , and therefore they don't fit the criteria.

Del:

To clarify no specific Elvis albums were mentioned at all. David Hepworth made his comment and nobody challenged it. I named a number of Elvis albums issued prior to "A Hard Days Night" to make the point that whilst Elvis isn't considered an 'albums artist' he still made some classic titles. Of course there are other Presley albums released post "A Hard Days Night" that would also fit this criteria.

Last night's guests were Boy George, David Hepworth and Grace Dent. If you are in the UK you can watch via BBC iplayer. A different set of guests are discussing R&B tonight. Hopefully this will be R&B as in rhythm and blues, as what is referred to as R&B today is a different genre.

Re: Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:53 am

I've just watched the first half of the first show and I must say that I'm generally disappointed.

I had high hopes for this programme but they were dashed when Baker was discussing the LP as a vehicle for "attitude" and "rebellion" accompanied by Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", which was of course a single not featured on a regular album.

I'll watch the rest when I find the time but I'm not expecting too much, which is a shame because I expected much more of this series.

Re: Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown (BBC4)

Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:01 am

George Smith wrote:I've just watched the first half of the first show and I must say that I'm generally disappointed.

I had high hopes for this programme but they were dashed when Baker was discussing the LP as a vehicle for "attitude" and "rebellion" accompanied by Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", which was of course a single not featured on a regular album.

I'll watch the rest when I find the time but I'm not expecting too much, which is a shame because I expected much more of this series.


The more you watch, the more haphazard it becomes. The second programme, had a number of clips from artists that you wouldn't consider 'album' acts, and some of these were not really discussed by the panel either. It seemed to me that the real criteria, even though they were supposed to be discussing classic pop albums, was for the acts to write and record their own material, or at least the panel on the night saw it that way.

I've just watched the third part which had a rhythm and blues theme, but leaned mainly towards soul and funk. Mica Paris recognised and acknowledged the influence of gospel music on the original R&B singers, but Danny Baker didn't seem keen to expand on this.

There isn't really enough time in a one hour slot for four people to choose their top three albums in a particular genre, give reasons for this, and then try to cover the history of the genre as a whole with a series of brief video clips.