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Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set [DVD] 
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All three volumes of highlights and performances from some of the best bands of the 1970s and 1980s on the seminal British music series. Presenters such as Bob Harris, Annie Nightingale and Andy Kershaw introduce acts such as Roxy Music, The Who, The Adverts, Aztec Camera, Style Council, Suzanne Vega, David Bowie, The Jam, Simple Minds, and Edwyn Collins, amongst many others. As well as classic performances, the Old Grey Whistle Test featured in-depth interviews with major stars such as John Lennon, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and Mick Jagger.
For better and for worse, The Old Grey Whistle Test was probably the most resolutely serious music programme ever broadcast on television. During its 16-year run it showcased only the most earnest exponents of whichever musical style was currently popular, and given that the programme's heyday coincided with the early 70s, some of the footage included here will provide mirth as exquisite as only unintentional comedy can. However, the good stuff is very good, both in terms of performance (Tom Petty snarling "American Girl" and a pre-irony U2 whooping up "I Will Follow", for example) and historical interest (notably a shockingly youthful Elton John crooning "Tiny Dancer"). --Andrew Mueller
In some ways Volume 2 is more interesting, as it covers the show's enjoyably uncomfortable period of transition from beard-rock to punk/new wave. Hence, the music ranges from performers such as Loggins and Messina (the frightful "The House at Pooh Corner"), the Who, Judee Sill, Argent (doing "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You", which all Bill and Ted fans probably think is a Kiss original) and Roy Harper to the Adverts, the Undertones (not playing "Teenage Kicks", sadly), Patti Smith and Siouxie and the Banshees. There's also some arty stuff that doesn't really fit into either camp, including Kevin Ayers and Roxy Music at their uncommercially weirdest. This is an enjoyable and diverse collection of music from a fairly fraught period in the history of more-or-less popular music, so it's good to be reminded just how much good stuff was actually happening amid the melée.
There's something for everyone on Volume 3. Highlights include Bowie doing "Oh You Pretty Things", Johnny Winter covering "Jumping Jack Flash" as if he was its rightful owner and Kings BB and Freddie bringing it all back home with two excellent performances. Along the way, proggers get Discipline-era King Crimson, which saw Adrian Belew saving the band from disappearing up its own fundament; folkies get an unplugged Fairport Convention; punks get John Cooper Clarke and the Jam; somebody or other gets the Bangles. However, if there's one track that justifies the existence of this disc all by itself, it has to be "In a Hole" from the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose glorious nihilism made the Pistols seem like a folk group. --Roger Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Volume 1, (a double DVD set), contains some 5 hours of material, including Elton John, John Lennon, Tom Petty and Bob Marley in the studio, and a rare live performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing their magnum opus, 'Free Bird'. Any self-respecting aficionado of 1970's rock music would consider ownership of these 2 discs as utterly essential.
Volume 2 is slightly less essential, albeit still an intriguing selection of performances, but this time more from the late 70's, early 80's (moving into the punk ear) with artists such as The Who, Roy Harper, The Adverts, The Undertones, Patti Smith and Siouxie and the Banshees. Volume 2 is considerably more concise than 1, at under 2 hours worth of material.
The new Volume 3, however, has more material, at about 3 hours long. Performances from David Bowie (with 'Oh You Pretty Things' from 1972), Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild', Al Stewart, BB King, The Jam ('A Bomb In Wardour Street'), King Crimson and, more recently, The Jesus & Mary Chain. There is also interviews with Bob Harris, Roger Daltrey, Roddy Frame, Rick Wakeman, Nick Lowe, Edwyn Collins, Jools Holland and Bob Geldof.Read more ›
This box set brings together the three previously-released DVD volumes into one complete collection. The first volume was itself released on two discs; disc one concentrates on the period from 1971-78 and disc two on 1978-87. The remaining two volumes were single disc affairs that each covered Whistle Test's entire lifespan. If, like me, you were born in the 1970's or earlier, there's a fair chance you'll remember the programme to some degree, and if you're a fan of music from across the Whistle Test era, then there's an even greater chance you'll find a wealth of material here that's of interest to you.
Of the aforementioned singer-songwriters, the late, great John Martyn (twice) and a very sweaty Bill Withers are standouts, while Dr Feelgood's appearance from '75 hints at the seismic musical shift that was soon to follow. The new era is ushered in by the likes of Talking Heads and Siouxsie And The Banshees, peaking with a performance from PiL which is so astonishing it practically defies description. Tubeway Army's arty electropop and The Specials' ska provide a segway of sorts to the more commercially-orientated Whistle Test of the 1980's, though The Jesus And Mary Chain's incendiary In A Hole from '85 proves that the programme continued to dip its toes into more alternative and outré waters on occasion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Old Gray Whistle Test was a variety show. I watched it a lot in the 1970s, and a little in the 1980s. These DVDs consequently only have about 15% of what I like. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Vladimir Vostok
Great to watch after a night in the pub. Ahhhh those were the days.Published 3 months ago by English Johnny
Some interesting stuff, some of it not what I would have chosen given the breadth and variety of artists on the programme. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dorothy Parker
all i wanted was the music with just a note of the name of the band,name of the song and the year,what i got [between every track] is some stupid git [and sorry bob that includes... Read morePublished 6 months ago by lingoreb
Treat yourself to a bit of classic retro and have a night in.Published 7 months ago by Antony Barnett
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