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The Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. 2

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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(Jan 17, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Legendary live music show from the UK recorded from 1971 - 1987. Long list of major artists have performed on this program over the years. Cover, disc and insert in mint condition. Region 1 (USA & CANADA)

From the great to the near great to the not-so-great, from legends to obscurities, it's all here on The Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. 2, an entertaining compilation of pop music performances from England's seminal live music TV program (well, mostly live--in some instances, the musicians are clearly miming to pre-recorded instrumental tracks). The show aired from 1971 to 1987, and the thirty complete songs occupying this lengthy (about 150 minutes) disc cover virtually every style that was in vogue during that period, along with some that weren't. When Whistle Test (so named for the notion that if a certain grey-haired doorman whistles your tune, then it's a hit) started, singer-songwriters were much in vogue, and that brigade is well represented by already-were or soon-would-be stars (Loggins & Messina, Jim Croce), others who never hit it quite that big (Joan Armatrading, Suzanne Vega), and still others whose legends have since eclipsed what they actually accomplished at the time (cf. Tim Buckley, whose "Dolphins" from '74 is a highlight). Glam rock was popular as well, so we get Roxy Music and the New York Dolls (the riotous "Jet Boy"), who bridged the gap to punk; the latter is represented by bands little known in the States, like the Adverts and the Undertones. The dubious virtues of New Wave are represented by the likes of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Siouxsie and the Banshees, hard rock by Montrose (featuring a very youthful Sammy Hagar), and classic rock by the Who, Argent, and Meatloaf (whose "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," featuring singer Karla DeVito, is a sweaty, salacious, over-the-top delight). Add to that the pop-cum-soul of the Average White Band, Hall & Oates, Simply Red, and the Style Council, and you've got something for pretty much everyone. Brief artist profiles and some amusing audio commentary by a Whistle Test presenter (i.e., host) and "archivist" are among the extras. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Tracks: Warming Up the Band (Heads, Hands & Feet), Ladytron (Roxy Music), House on Pooh Corner (Loggins & Messina), Relay (The Who), The Kiss (Judee Sill), God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You (Argent), Put It Where You Want It (Average White Band), Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce), Jet Boy (New York Dolls), Dolphins (Tim Buckley), Bad Motor Scooter (Montrose), Disney Girls (Bruce Johnston), Goin' Back (Nils Lofgren), She's Gone (Daryl Hall and John Oates), Love and Affection (Joan Armatrading), Bored Teenagers (The Adverts), Because the Night (Patti Smith Group), Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meat Loaf), Metal Postcard (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Jimmy Jimmy (The Undertones), Stop and Tickle (Squeeze), Dancing (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), Walk Out to Winter (Aztec Camera), Hyperactive (Thomas Dolby), Walls Come Tumbling Down (Style Council), Marlene on the Wall (Suzanne Vega), Skiffle Jam (Andy Kershaw, John Walters, Ro Newton, John Peel), Holding Back the Years (Simply Red), When Love Breaks Down (Prefab Sprout), Dirty Old Town (Pogues)
  • Random-play option
  • Contributor profiles
  • Artists gallery
  • Enhanced performance option
  • Commentary from presenters Mark Ellen and David Hepworth
  • Old Grey Squirrel Test animation

Product Details

  • Actors: Bob Harris, Kevin Ayers, Roger Daltrey, Roddy Frame, Jools Holland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CBG5Q0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,456 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This second volume of performance clips from the BBC's historically significant "Old Grey Whistle Test" series continues to goad and tease music geeks. When you research the (amazing!) contents of the THREE volumes already available in the UK, this latest domestic offering, like Vol 1, seems a tad timid and eager to "play it safe" (I can appreciate an "eclectic" mix, but Hall & Oates, Loggins & Messina, Jim Croce and Simply Red are better suited for the ubiquitous "Soft Hits" FM station in your market). There are a few more questionable choices-I love the Who, but why offer a clip of one of the world's greatest LIVE acts LIP SYNCHING thier worst single ever, "The Relay"? Although I am an avid Anglophile, even I could have done without Heads Hands & Feet (erm...who?!) or the in-jokey "skiffle" jam (would it have hurt to include the odd Alex Harvey, Gary Moore or Roy Harper clip that is available on the UK disks instead?) On the plus side, there are enough genuine "live" performances to balance things out. The most dynamic clip belongs to Montrose, really ripping it up with "Bad Motor Scooter". Another highlight-spunky pixie Carla DeVito makes such a sexy splash during an exhaustingly epic rendition of "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" that you'll barely notice that her boss Meat Loaf hits a lot of bad notes due to some obviously over taxed pipes. The NY Dolls are hilariously energetic, even though the deliciously sloppy "Jet Boy" is lip-synched (they were mostly about stage presence anyway). You'll also have a chuckle when you see the Average White Band's Hamish Stuart, sporting the biggest 'fro ever grown by a Scotsman. Some nice moments on the introspective side as well, particularly from Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, delivering a breathtaking "Disney Girls".Read more ›
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By manthra on August 24, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Watched OGWT as a teen in the UK, thrilled to be able to see it in the US as an adult. Some performances better than others, but since it was almost always live (little or no lip synch) and their sound equipment was crude even by the standard of the day, that can all be forgiven.
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Format: DVD
I haven't bought either of these volumes yet, but what a shame the Beeb doesn't put out complete shows. Do I want to buy a disk where I don't care for maybe 1/3 of the content? No! For example, I have a DVD of Rory Gallagher on OGWT whose set is presented in its entirety and it blows me away.

THAT'S how this material should be released!
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Format: DVD
The BBC have chosen to treat OGWT as if it's run was one long homogeneous series and the selection of music a history of the show. It wasn't. It was obvious at the time and interviews from Vol 1 really confirm that it was really 2 shows... The Bob Harris era, which featured eclectic art rock in a tiny studio characterized by high quality and occasionally impenetrable musicianship and the Anne Nightingale era characterized by whatever pseudo counter culture image the major labels were promoting that year.

In keeping with the fact that the BBC, when it caught on, ditched the former in favour of the latter - a lot of the real gems have turned up missing from these collections.

That said, they're still pretty good and have a few magnificent performances on them. In keeping with the OGWT philosophy this is mostly about the music. The chats before each are vaguely interesting but can be skipped once you've heard them once. Scene breaks separate the music from the chats in a way which music lovers love and video producers hate. Kudos.

Back to the real content. There is some good music, some disappointments, a couple of nice surprises and a couple of real gems here.

Patti Smith was disappointing, singing Because the Night like she'd been moking cigars constantly for the last 3 hours and was afraid to breathe for fear of her lungs collapsing.

Head Hands and Feet were a nice surprise with a neat bluesey opening number I'd never heard before.

Thomas Dolby provided a great performance of Hyperactive. I liked the song but never realised how richly complex it was before seeing it performed.
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Format: DVD
There is a huge dropoff in quality from Vol 1. of the Whistle Test clips to this package, simply because there is a huge dropoff in the quality of the artists between the two volumes. Sorry, but Loggins and Messina, Average White Band, Jim Croce, Hall & Oates, Thomas Dolby and Simply Red just don't match up to Bill Withers, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, XTC, Iggy Pop and the Specials. The commentary from the show's hosts and the various musicians is still enjoyable and enlightening, as on the first collection, and this whole volume is almost made worthwhile simply for the stunning clip of the sublime Judee Sill sitting at the piano and painfully/beautifully singing her majestic ballad. And Jools Holland is a lot of laughs, both when talking about the Squeeze clip that is included and in the clip itself. So there's some nice moments here, but I really don't want to own anything that includes Loggins and Messina on it.
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