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Sheer 70s nostalgia, coupled with some so-so 80s material
on 3 October 2004
Pop is the music of the rebel. But it's also the music of the non-rebel, and with the OGWT, from the heart of the BBC establishment, non-rebellious, thinking-person's pop reached its zenith. Of course, punk knocked it all down in 1977, and with the help of Saturday Night Fever disco, pop suddenly became physical again. The OGWT never really recovered, and once Bob Harris had gone, competition from C4's 'The Tube' etc meant its days were numbered.
Which was a great pity, as all three OGWT compilation DVDs illustrate. The OGWT was a superb, must-see programme scheduled late on Tuesday evenings. You had to watch every show, firstly because there was no other TV programme showcasing 'album' music, and secondly because the Radio Times never told you who would be appearing.
In the early 1970s I was at a boarding school, and our house was rationed to a TV maximum of three hours per week. Which programmes we watched were decided by the prefects (which brought them much undeserved popularity), and it says much about the quality of OGWT that this programme was always chosen.
These DVDs have something of the feel of the TV programmes, except that they don't contain any interview material nor any of the wonderful animations chosen to accompany some tracks. (I never cease to be surprised at the number of occasions when I discuss OGWT with friends and they mention the 'Skiers' video chosen for Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells'.) The introductions are, by and large, marvellous, if only to see how the artists look 30 years on. Perhaps Bill Nelson has weathered the years better than most, only a little pudgier of face. Particularly good is Roger Daltrey, whose interviews are spread across this and DVD three. Not for the first time do we hear an artist lamenting the arrival of CD, and with its poorer sonic quality and its destruction of the art of album cover design.
The musical highlights, for me, are most of the 70s stuff, particularly The Who, Joan Armatrading, Bruce Johnston, AWB, and Roxy Music. The DVD will probably bring few new converts to the programme, but it's a treasure trove for those of us who were there at the time.