The Greatest Album Of All Time Revealed…

On BBC4 Next Tuesday 5th February

Danny Baker will reveal the greatest album ever on BBC4 Next Tuesday 5th February

Danny Baker’s Great Album Showdown is looking to identify the Finest Album of All Time. Starting on 5th February and continuing over three episodes on BBC4 Danny and his team of experts will decide which were the best Rock, Pop and R&B albums ever made.

This sounds to me like a Thoroughly Good Idea. I was wondering when someone was going to sort that out for me…

Mind you, I can think of no-one better than Danny Baker to chair this debate and it’s great to distract him from football for an hour or two and get him on to the subject of music. Danny Baker was formerly a writer with The NME back when being a writer at The NME was almost as glamorous as being in one of the bands they wrote about. Given they tended to write about bands like Sham 69, that’s rather damning him with faint praise, of course. Danny will be joined by Stephen Street – producer of The Smiths, Blur and Kaiser Chiefs plus Kate Mossman, music writer from The Guardian, to discuss the best Rock record in the first show.

The Great Album Showdown Team...

The Great Album Showdown Team…

The biggest flaw I can find thus far is that they are also asking Jeremy Clarkson to contribute some ideas. Not that I have any objection to Mr Clarkson per se. Were the debate around which was the finest Ferrari of all time, or perhaps whether an old sports jacket should be worn with jeans (not with that haircut, I would suggest), then Clarkson’s your man. If I wanted to hear a pithy and slightly scathing review of the latest Ford Tippex perhaps spoken in a voice that ACCENTUATES CERTAIN WORDS then I’d ask for Jezza every time. I’d certainly call upon the great man if I wanted someone to make some slightly rude remarks about a third world country and their hygiene / cuisine / manufacturing capabilities / propensity to take naps during the day instead of working. However, I can’t help feeling that Clarkson’s appointment on a music panel can only lead to Genesis’ Selling England By The Pound, The Doobie Brothers, and Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan getting rather more airtime than they perhaps deserve…

The elephant in the room, of course, is that four people are going to struggle to solve one of Life’s Great Mysteries Once And For All in just an hour. It takes me longer than that sometimes to find a pair of matching socks. It might take much of that time just deciding whether The Beatles are Rock or Pop (I’m going for Pop).

But well done to them for trying.

Leaving aside the sheer lunacy of weighing up whether Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is a greater record than either Black Sabbath’s Paranoid or Bruce WillisThe Return of Bruno, I do like the fact that the album is being celebrated. Whilst others consume downloads like footballers consume page 3 girls like butterflies flit between flowers sampling from each, I prefer to spend a little time with each artist. It seems unfair to just pop in for a quick cup of tea and then disappear off. I like to stay for a chat and a slice of battenburg. I know everyone else is watching YouTube downloading individual tracks or thrilling to the delights of pressing the shuffle button on their iPod so that a track by Lana Del Ray pops up alongside Voivod.

But I still believe the album is the best way to get a sense of what a band or singer is all about. A single can be great, but is sometimes more prone to being unrepresentative of an artist. (Not always: In the case of Jedward you don’t need to hear more than a few notes of a single to know they are irredeemably terrible).

Albums also help when you look back at older music. When you see a Picasso and know it’s, say, from his Blue Period you can contextualise what was happening in the world at the time and what the artist was going through. Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks is his break-up album. Low is from David Bowie’s Berlin period. New Kids On The Block’s entire back catalogue is from their utter garbage period. These were all lasting statements of where the artist was at that point in time. It carried weight.

But whilst we wait for the show to air, perhaps the readership of Every Record Tells A Story can reach a verdict on The Greatest Rock Record of All Time?

Here’s a poll: if you want to have your say I have come up with half a dozen suggestions – why not vote for your favourite – and let’s see what conclusion we reach…?

Perhaps I’ll email Danny Baker with our conclusion and see what he has to say…

Danny Baker’s Great Album Showdown is broadcast at 9pm Tuesday 5th February.



Categories: Rock Music

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

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  2. I couldn’t possibly choose my favourite album of all time. There are so many to choose from. I can’t even decide who my favourite band is. It all depends what mood I’m in at any given time. Sometimes I’ll put on a record (Yes, a record) or CD and think wow this is a masterpiece, why don’t I listen to this more often. I’m with you on the playing of an entire album back to back. There was a programme on radio four yesterday (31st Jan) about the art of sequencing, on this very subject (It’s probably up on BBCiplayer as I write).

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  3. That was funny but I can’t vote just like that on a favorite album. I know “Dark side of the moon” is a master work but I like “Wish you were here” better….So I can’t in good conscious click a selection on the vote tab thingy that you were nice enough to put up for us. And as you said…It is about time “someone sorted it out”, so I am glad that process is underway and can’t wait to see the results

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  4. oh, this sounds like a Thoroughly BAD Idea to me. even though the very purpose of my blog is to detail the greatest albums of all time, i’ve purposely avoided putting them in order of greatness. the reason is if you do that, EVERYONE will disagree with you. i would much rather start a unilateral conversation than start a knife fight.

    still, though, i’m curious what it will be…

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    • Whilst I agree it is an impossible question – what is your opinion? Perhaps you could choose the best albums given a certain situation: Best break up album, best Sunday morning album, best going out and getting drunk album etc…

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      • well, i’ll give it a shot.

        Best Breakup Album: Disintegration – The Cure
        Best Sunday Morning Album: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
        Best Getting Drunk Album: Casualties of Retail – Enter the Haggis
        Best Inspirational Album: Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
        Best Cup of Hot Chocolate With a Good Book Album: Illinois – Sufjan Stevens
        Best Happily Breaking Stuff Album: Raw Power – The Stooges
        Best Angrily Breaking Stuff Album: The Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
        Best I-Want-To-Die Album: Closer – Joy Division
        Best Headbanging Album: Master of Puppets – Metallica
        Best Dungeons & Dragons Album: The Blue Album – Weezer
        Best Catch-All Album: Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins

        that was a fairly cathartic experience, so thanks! šŸ™‚

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      • You are very welcome! Great list!
        Glad you mentioned Raw Power – working on a post about that record right now…

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  5. I voted for DSOTM above. It’s probably my favourite PF album, but not my favourite album. Yes, it is a difficult question, and the answer might change with time. However, these have been at the top of my list for a long time: Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick, Songs from the Wood and Stand Up. Note, however, that all of Tull’s stuff is good and their worst is better than the best by most other artists. Rush: Moving Pictures. The Beatles: Revolver.

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  6. Wow, what a challenge! As others have said, impossible task, and my choice would also vary with time and mood. I think the greatest album needs to not just be a collection of stellar songs, but all the songs must work together as cohesive whole–be greater than the sum of its parts. A great album takes you somewhere and gives you that feeling of catharsis when the needle lifts off that last groove. But narrow it down to just one? Never.

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  7. in the absence of Dr Alimantado’s Best Dressed Chicken In Town (what an album!!), it’s Led Zep for me.

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  8. I notice in the background of the presenters pic there seems to be Blackout by the Scorpions. Now It’s a good album and everything, but I don’t think I’ll be walking into a bookies and putting any money on that one featuring too highly.

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  9. I have trouble choosing an album to listen to for the day, when I’m on the Tube for god’s sake – I’d be useless at choosing the best ever! However on your poll I went for Steely Dan – it was always an album that made me think “I might just be able to dance if I like this!” – alas I can’t – but I never blamed that on Donald! Even more alas, the results come up after I click on it to reveal I’m the only one to vote for it thus far! And just to put my chances of selecting the popular choice into further perspective – I listened to Hotel California last week!

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  10. I’m usually more of a fan of the Top Ten style of thing, but good on them for trying to narrow it down to one greatest album of all time. Have to agree, though, I often have a difficult time just deciding what to listen to on the way to work.

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  11. if I am standing on a dancefloor at 4am listening to some belting techno….I am unlikely to remember just how much joy Joni Mitchell’s Hejira has given me over the years.
    I’ve never been into the all time fave thing…..:)
    Horses for courses…..

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