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on 27 February 2005
I suppose this remains one of the highlights of the BBC's long association with quality live music programmes. This 2-disc first volume is by far the best of the OGWT DVD series. Disc 1 covers a lot of 70s acts, the second is ideal for those who loved punk rock and new wave. Highlights of disc 1 include Alice Cooper's "Under my Wheels", the Wailers (with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer) doing "Stir it Up", Roxy Music largely miming "Do the Strand" and the marvellous Capt Beefheart ("Upon the My O My"). True, Focus ARE terrible - guitarist Jan Akermann sounds like he's having a particularly off day - but Edgar Winter Group dish out some tight American prog-jazz-funk that's quite palatable, with Winter playing everything but the kitchen sink. Equally tight is the late, great Alex Harvey and his band, with "Give my Compliments to the Chef". He obviously knew how to work a room. The New York Dolls deliver some great pre-punk rock pantomime ("mock-rock" sniffs toothy presenter Bob Harris), Dr Feelgood reveal why they were one of the best pre-punk live attractions on the pub circuit ("Roxette") and you get the original Lynyrd Skynyrd line-up doing "Freebird". Disc 2 is the business as far as this reviewer's concerned. OK, so OGWT missed the Sex Pistols but they made up for it eventually. Before Radiohead's "Kid A" there was of course John Lydon's Public Image Limited, seen here doing a stonking "Careering" from the "Metal Box" LP. Buy it if only to see them in their prime. A young David Byrne fronts Talking Heads through "Psycho Killer", Blondie perform "Presence Dear", Iggy Pop rips his shirt off in the first 10 seconds of "Im Bored" to show off his scars and the Ramones show that the best songs dont have to go over 2 minutes. Elswhere there's Meatloaf in the studio ("paradise by the dashboard light"), Michael Stipe looking more like Michael Bolton leading REM through "Pretty Persuasion", and a young, shade-less Bono taking U2 through "I will Follow" from their first album. Look out for Ryuchi Sakamoto lending a helping hand to Japan as they deliver a stunning (but not very animated) "Ghosts" too.
What OGWT couldn't do, it seems, was to attract many of the big UK groups of the day to join them in the studio. So no Deep Purple, Stones, Led Zep, Pink Floyd from the 70s. And hence the famous animated sequences made to those artists' tunes (sadly, none included here). However, they could get them to agree to talk, so there's interviews here with Plant, Jagger, Springsteen and a glassy-eyed and very nervous Keith Richards. As other reviewers have commented, the menu is annoyingly difficult to navigate. That irritating theme tune pops up between each selection. Some of the presenters are clearly still fixated on the 70s and American roots-style music (one is particularly sniffy about early Roxy Music, who most would still judge today to have delivered two of the most original albums ever with their first two releases). Still, a highly watchable and enjoyable experience all round.
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on 18 September 2001
The Old Grey Whistle Test is a fond memory for me and for nearly everybody over the age of 30 or so I would imagine. For many years it was the only music programme on TV - apart from Top of the Pops - and certainly the only place where you could see bands who weren't in the charts. This double DVD has 45 performances from the programme, all the way from Alice Cooper to Simply Red, and it brings those memories just flooding back, even those groups that you didn't like at the time! And if you didn't watch any of it back then, then it's got to be a great history lesson as well, seeing a young Bob Marley before he grew his dreadlocks, Elton John when he was a boy, the divine Tim Buckley or the flouncy New York Dolls making Whispering Bob Harris come over a bit queasy!
It's packed with extras as well - there's interviews with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, Elton & a very stoned Keith Richards and all the presenters of the series share their memories as well. And once you get bored with that, you can just put the music on shuffle. Or you could listen to the commentary from producer Mike Appleton who reveals that the Whistle Test used to be made for £500 a show. There's tons of photos & trivia as well, along with animated menus (which are a bit annoying actually...). It's got to be the best music DVD in the shops.
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on 18 April 2010
I find these DVDs perfect for a long train train jouney. All are excellent. I wish the show could return. Some of the tracks, as you can see, date from the early seventies and you can appreciate how much techonolgy has moved on, but The video quality is still very good.

The BBC has done good job releasing these but its just a teaser. I hope they can release the entire series so we can enjoy full set lists. How good would that be?

Track Listing for this release:

DVD 1

1. Alice Cooper 'Under My Wheels' 1971
2. Elton John 'Tiny Dancer' 1971
3. Curtis Mayfield 'We Gotta Have Peace' 1972
4. Randy Newman 'Political Science' 1972
5. Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' 1972
6. Bill Withers 'Ain't No Sunshine' 1972
7. Focus 'Sylvia/Hocus Pocus' 1972
8. Rory Gallagher 'Hands Off' 1973
9. John Martyn 'May You Never' 1973
10. The Wailers 'Stir It Up' 1973
11. Roxy Music 'Do The Strand' 1973
12. The Edgar Winter Group 'Frankenstein' 1973
13. New York Dolls 'Jet Boy' 1973
14. Tim Buckley 'Dolphins' 1974
15. Captain Beefheart 'Upon The My O My' 1974
16. Little Feat 'Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' 1975
17. Dr Feelgood 'Roxette' 1975
18. John Lennon 'Stand By Me' 1975
19. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band 'Give My Compliments to the Chef' 1975
20. Lynyrd Skynyrd 'Freebird' 1975
21. Emmylou Harris 'Amarillo' 1976
22. Bonnie Raitt 'Too Long at the Fair' 1976
23. Tom Waits 'Tom Traubert's Blues' 1977
24. Otway & Barrett 'Really Free' 1977

Interviews:
Elton John and Bernie Taupin with Richard williams
Mick Jagger with Richard williams
Kieth Richards with Bob Harris
Robert Plant with Bob Harris
John Lennon with Bob Harris

DVD 2

1. Talking Heads 'Psycho Killer' 1978
2. XTC 'Statue of Liberty' 1978
3. Blondie '(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear' 1978
4. Val Doonican & Charlie McCoy 'Stone Fox Chase' 1978
5. Meatloaf 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light'1978
6. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 'American Girl' 1978
7. The Police 'Can't Stand Losing You' 1978
8. Bruce Springsteen 'Rosalita' 1979
9. Iggy Pop 'I'm Bored' 1979
10. Tubeway Army 'Are Friends Electric?' 1979
11. The Specials 'Message To You Rudi' 1979
12. The Damned 'Smash It Up/I Just Can't Be Happy Today' 1979
13. The Ramones 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' 1980
14. PIL 'Careering' 1980
15. The Teardrop Explodes 'Reward' 1980
16. U2 'I Will Follow' 1981
17. Nine Below Zero 'Stone Fox Chase' 1981
18. Japan 'Ghosts' 1982
19. Robert Wyatt 'Shipbuilding' 1983
20. REM 'Moon River' and 'Pretty Persuasion' 1984
21. Simply Red 'Holding Back The Years' 1985.

Interview:
Bruce Sprinsteen with Bob Harris
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on 26 December 2001
I bought a region-free player just for this DVD to see XTC live circa 1978. It was well worth it. As a bonus, there are other rare early performances by a bleach-blonde Police, REM with long hair, a very eighties-looking U2, super-rare Julian Cope (w/ Teardrop Explodes), and a surreal perfomance by Bob Marley & The Wailers (with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer).
Highly recommended. I'd like to see the entire show of each of these artists. More, please.
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on 27 September 2001
Rich both in nostalgia and quality. This DVD is a hefty reminder of how proper Rock/pop music used to sound like before 'Boy Bands' and other manufactured insults to the ear became fashionable! I remember the OGWT with great affection. It would have been great to have also included Neil Young's 'Like a Hurricane' and the Eagles promo film for 'Desperado' both classic moments from The Old Grey. But you can't have every thing, but they did at least have the good sense to include 'Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird'. I live in hope of a second Disc in the near future were these Regretful omissions will find a place.But all in all, Despite these 2 missing classics, , a worthy purchase and with over 3hrs and 20mins of footage, great value to boot!.Buy it!. Colin Bell.
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on 21 November 2003
This is a great collection of live music. I watched the OGWT in the 70s and this dvd has the same feel of a show done on a shoestring with eveyone putting as much into each performance as possible. For fans of 70s rock music the dvd is worth the money if only for Lynyrd Skynyrd performing the 12 minute version of Freebird. This track is fantastic...
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on 19 September 2001
This DVD as all fans of the 70's will no doubt agree is essential viewing and more than that is a document of all that was good in music during the period. I have always enjoyed many of the groups that these two DVDs showcase and therefore I haven't hessitated in purchasing it. No qualms, no "ifs" or "buts" I invested my hard earned and bought it!. The bands featured merit the expenditure(many of them in their own rights), take for example the full length version of Lynurd Skynurds "Freebird", I remember watching this on the programme as a 10 year old and that performance alone converted me into a fan of this band, also there are splendid performances from "Little Feat",Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley & The Wailers and many of the late seventies Punk and Ska groups. The set is well packaged and with a running time of nearly 300 minutes including documentaries footage and extra matirial. What more do you want?, my only gripe is that David Bowie and other notables of the era ie, Genesis, The Pink Floyd and The Stones are not included but, who knows maybe they'll continue the series on - I hope so!.
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on 29 January 2002
I grew up with The Old Grey Whistle Test - many of the artists I still listen to to this day were people I first saw on OGWT when I was a kid - Waits, Beefheart, Springsteen and many more. I'm still a huge fan of "Whispering" Bob Harris...
So this marvellous two-disc set is very special to me. It contains hours of the best performances, the best interviews, and the reminiscences of the presenters.
Everything about this set is wonderful. Even if not all the music is to your taste (but most OGWT fans will no doubt love and remember most of it!) there's enough fascinating background to keep you going.
Very strongly recommended - up there with the director's cut of "Woodstock" as one of the most impressive music DVDs I own.
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on 21 September 2001
I got this DVD whilst off sick from work and so was able to watch it uninterrupted. It is very good, and will probably cost me some money in buying albums from some of the artists i was not particularly familiar with. My highlights are Captain Beefheart doing 'Upon the My - o my', the Specials, Otway and Barrett doing 'Really free' and Tim Buckley doing 'Dolphins'. It is a well put together package but comes with stickers over the bit of the labels that change Dolby to Mono. I remember some of these performances so it was nostalgic to see them again. I was struck by how prominent the front teeth of some of the presenters and artists were - I mean you expect Bob Harris but there are loads of them.
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on 21 September 2001
As an avid viewer of OGWT in the 70s I was looking forward to reliving some of those great moments. But to me this falls way short. The 2 disc set is spread way too thinly over the 16 years of OGWT. A lot of disc one is great, Focus, Lynryd Skynyrd (unfortunately it's not the Knebworth version of Freebird we all used to watch on the New Year OGWT special), Rory Gallagher, Little Feat, John Martyn but there are some stellar moments that should have been included. Where is Free, Frank Zappa's City of Tiny Lights, and why not include ZZ Top's Cheap Sunglasses (it was on the OGWT TV Special last night)and so many others that must be lying in the vaults? Disc two moves rapidly on from the the Bob Harris years and as a result runs out of steam after two or three tracks. The spirit of OGWT lived on until 1981 but after that it was cr*p! Let's face it OGWT became just another music programme and do we need Meatloaf, Tubeway Army, Simply Red...! please no!. So I'll be getting rid of my copy and taping the 30th anniversary TV programmes (if they are ever shown again)
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