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... more » 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« less
It's welcomed, but they're still being stingy.....
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 01/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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". An appearance by Tim Buckley (performing the lovely "Dolphins") will be revelatory for younger viewers when they glean the spooky parallels in physical appearance and vocal expression with his son Jeff. Punk, New Wave and mid 80's pop are covered as well, from the Adverts to Pre-Fab Sprout. A worthwhile disc (albeit frustrating) for serious music collectors."
Brian J. Greene | Durham, NC | 06/07/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Digging the past through the Old Grey Whistle Test
Laura Ann | Westbury, NY | 02/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have read other reviews expressing unhappiness with this second edition on the Old Grey Whistle Test and i must disagree completely. Of course we all wish our favorites could be inlcuded but there is so much great stuff on both of these DVDS that i would urge everyone who appreciates music from all decades to purchase them.
I found myself seeking out and finding the albums by artists that i never had truly listened to before, like Head Hands and Feet and Tim Buckley, both of whose performances are stellar. The Jim Croce and New York Dolls clips are wonderful and if you mocked the 1980's you will find yourself pulling out your old Stlye Council and Aztec Camera records after watching their clips. Prefab Sprout were a great band. OK, so i still want to see the Runaways "School Days" on the next volume 3, but this collection is well worth having and i for one am addicted to this series."
Whistle Test Rocks!
Richard S. Harrison | Austin, TX | 03/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another in what will hopefully be many volumes of this excellent music series from the UK. This show is the British version of Austin City Limits, with pop bands, and the some hard rock bands too (Montrose!). Most of the performances in this volume are live, although there might be some lip-sync occasionally. The over-the-top performance of Meatloaf singing "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" is worth the price of the DVD alone. The first volume of this series is better, but volume two rocks too!"
What a shame!
Daniel Barron | Philadelphia, PA USA | 01/30/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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.