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Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set [DVD] [1977]

95 customer reviews

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  • Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set [DVD] [1977]
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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Nov. 2005
  • Run Time: 590 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ASALS8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,757 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

135 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Touring Mars VINE VOICE on 16 Feb. 2004
Format: DVD
4 DVD's packed with classic rock music history from the extensive archives of the BBC, 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' was (and still is) unsurpassed in its range of artists, and boasts a dazzling array of live performances by the best musicians the world has to offer. This boxset represents a significant saving over buying the whole set individually, although some of the content on Volumes 2 and 3 may be surplus to requirements, there is still plenty of quality throughout this extensive collection of material.
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.
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122 of 126 people found the following review helpful By knowledeayton on 16 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Old Grey Whistle Test began its 16-year televisual run in 1971, largely as a vehicle for assorted singer-songwriters and groups of hairy men with guitars. After Annie Nightingale replaced Bob Harris as presenter in 1978, the music of the prevailing post-punk/new wave era began to take centre stage, and during the 1980's Whistle Test then shifted its focus further towards 'chart' music.

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.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Driza on 30 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD
It's a concept that quite simply would not exist today-live band in studio with no audience no lighting, no stage show,just the band-but as an archive of how things were done so differently in terms of music and music programming,some of this is unmissable essential stuff.Take the Edgar winter clip for example.The brief was, turn up, plug in and the next ten minuites is yours-do what you will.So, he hung a huge keyboard around his neck, played that AND saxophone AND drums (even though he had a drummer)and created thejazz/rock/God alone knows monster that was "Frankenstein".Or Focus, who had hard rock and Finnish yodelling with seasonal wishes as a bonus.Every fan who watched marvelled at the prog rock madmen,everyone else who tuned in by default-parents mostly- stared in barely disguised bewilderment and asked what in the name of the Lord they were watching.It just wouldn't happen now in these days of corporate sponsored MTV rock, but then it was unique, a thing of beauty and occasional deliberate perversity,alienating and enthralling in equal measure. Live audiences,light shows even were added to the mix, but the sense of avant garde and risk taking continued.Highlights include magnificent performances of "Give my compliments to the chef" by the quite bonkers Sensational Alex Harvey band, Jesus and Mary Chain's "in the Hole" "Freebird (of course) and so many others. Top of the pile though, by a long long way-an absolutely incredible "Rosalita" by a young, hungry and not-quite-so -ego- bloated Bruce Springsteen and the E street band. What an unbelievably accomplished and fiery performance from a band on top of their -or anyone elses-game. I defy you not to be swept away by this.Read more ›
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