The Old Grey Whistle Test on DVD
Talk about blasts from the past!
The Old Grey Whistle Test is a British rock n roll TV show that ran for some
16 seasons from the early 1970s on. It brought the pop music stars (and
stars from other, related genres) to the British TV audience via live-in-studio
performances that, when looked at now, provide a fascinating time capsule of
the bands and their eras.
This three hour plus disc contains some 28 performances ranging from the sublime
to the ridiculous (and well let you judge which is which), all featuring
very good video and audio. Even if you dont like some of the performers,
youll probably like others.
The DVD is set up with introductions from six of the series key
presenters (read hosts) in both archive and new footage where
they treat us to their memories of the events. But its the artists youll
really want to see, and well list the performances for you below. As you
can see, they run the gamut of pop music of the era:
Alice Cooper: Under My Wheels
Elton John: Tiny Dancer
Curtis Mayfield: We Gotta Have Peace
Randy Newman: Political Science
Bill Withers: Aint No Sunshine
Rory Gallagher: Hands Off
The Wailers: Stir It Up
Roxy Music Do The Strand
The Edgar Winter Group: Frankenstein
Captain Beefheart: Upon the My o My
Little Feat: Rock n Roll Doctor
John Lennon: Stand By Me
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird
Emmylou Harris: Amarillo
Bonnie Raitt: Too Long at the Fair
Tom Waits: Tom Trauberts Blues
Talking Heads: Psycho Killer
XTC: Statue of Liberty
Blondie: (Im Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: American Girl
The Police: Cant Sand Losing You
Bruce Springsteen: Rosalita
Iggy Pop: Im Bored
The Specials: Message to You Rudi
The Damned: Smash It Up/I Just Cant Be Happy Today
The Ramones: Rock n Roll High School
U2: I Will Follow
REM: Moon River/Pretty Persuasion
Whew! Hows that for a nifty cross section of the era? Okay, theres
no Who, no Stones, no Kinks, no Zep, but what we appear to have for the most
part is bands early in their careers, before they became megastars (not that
all of them did!).
The performances are good, and its quite something to see these people
looking so young!
Audio and video quality is very good. It appears as if all the audio is mono,
but its recorded live in the studio and the overall audio quality is just
fine. Video is standard TV issue, so while it wont leap off the screen
at you its still as clean and crisp as youd expect from a digital
copy of television broadcasts - which means its fine as long as you arent
expecting anamorphic widescreen.
There is also a good selection of extras. First up is a running commentary
by creator/producer Mike Appleton, which accompanies the performances. Oh, and
we should mention that you can set the disc to play randomly as well, for an
interesting change of pace.
You can also access individual tracks, but its rather a pain: you have
to get into the extra material menu and then go to the individual artist and
from there you get biographical/career info and a link to the performance itself.
Its unduly unwieldy.
There are also interviews with such luminaries as John Lennon, Elton John,
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Bruce Springsteen, a picture gallery and an
enhanced viewing option that puts a guitar on screen periodically,
from which you can link to the aforementioned artists info page.
Its pretty neat stuff! Now, how about Ready, Steady, Go!?
The Old Grey Whistle Test, from BBC/Warner Home Video
190 min. full frame (4:3, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
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