I'm watching last night's Later With Jools Holland. Following my blog last week about Top Of The Pops and how badly TV and the music business need it, I'm looking at this show in the light of how well it represents and promotes popular music. It has been compared to the Old Grey Whistle Test which was, in the 70s and 80s, the grown-up companion programme to the youth-oriented TOTP, but does it compare? Let's look at tonight's Later line-up
Jools Holland - Our host is an amiable musician who everyone loves. He had his biggest pop hits three decades ago. An OGWT equivalent from 1977 would be having the show presented by Perry Como or Bing Crosby.
Manic Street Preachers - Hit band who started 20 years ago and had biggest hits 15 years ago. OGWT 77 equivalent might be The Shadows, Adam Faith or Billy Fury.
Dawn French - Bursts out of 250th episode birthday cake. Rose to fame 25 years ago, comedy peak 10 to 20 years ago. OGWT 77 equivalent would be Joyce Grenfell.
Mark Ronson - Band look very silly (one appears to be challenging Janet Street Porter) but would otherwise not have been out of place on OGWT
Herb Alpert - MOR act & label boss, heyday 42 years ago. OGWT 77 match Al Bowlly/ Eddie Cantor
Queen Amelie - Never heard of her, would go fine on OGWT 77, as would...
Finally Phil Collins sings Blame It On The Sun, a Stevie Wonder hit from 1972 - Where do I start? In Old Grey Whistle Test terms this is Al Jolson singing We'll Meet Again.
In short Jools Holland's Later is largely a history programme, with only a passing relevance to modern popular music. In 1970s terms it bears no resemblance to the Old Grey Whistle Test. OGWT only featured new music, with the main difference between it and TOTP being that acts had to have an album out, rather than just a single. Later adds the criterion that an act's career has to have been over for at least a generation.
It is much closer to another show that some very old people may recall from the 70s, the George Shearing show. Google it. Guy plays piano along with every act, average age 70. Remember where you heard it first.