Album Review: Old Grey Whistle Test

the o.g.w.t. live (rhino)

Third in the series of OGWT releases and a 3-disc bonanza! Discs 1 and 2 are made up of actual live performances from the show and the 3rd featuring tracks from the 40th anniversary BBC Radio 2 show in 2011, produced and presented by Bob Harris himself. All for only about £10 - something which we call 'A Steal' around here...

Even though the first two, previous, OGWT LPs did in fact contain predominately studio sessions rather than strictly live material (as appeared on the show), both did marvellously well and so now with a collection of the actual live performances ("as seen on TV!") arriving, fans of the classic show finally get what they were after - a major chunk of the live stuff. Bob Harris elucidates:

And so, in terms of a review what can be said? Well, with a roster of over 50 tracks to choose from, perhaps it makes sense to highlight just a handful. And what better to begin than the opening track, a tune that is almost everything that was the OGWT distilled into one 4-minute blast - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' American Girl from a 1978 show.

Perfect choice to open the album and as can be imagined, much of the first disc carries on in the same vein with a swathe of near-legendary performances from the giants of 70s Rock and Pop (see full tracklisting below)

From my own perspective however, it's the second disc that really cracks it for me. Despite 'Whispering' Bob (institution that he is) having left the show in '78, as practitioners of Punk and New Wave began to define what would become the sound of the 80s, the show went on and it's this era that holds the greatest part in my appreciation. Two more from YouTube:

But what of disc 3? The tracks on this were recorded in fact only last year for Radio 2 live sessions, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the OGWT so, for example, don't expect Phil Lynott to be behind the mic' on Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak. Even so - the artists appearing on here are quite frankly a stellar line-up, and if I'm being brutally honest - I had no idea many of them were still alive!

There's more than enough on the three discs overall to please even the most blinkered music fan when it comes down to it, and if I had to weigh in with one criticism it would simply be that a couple of my favourite performances are missing (Dr. Feelgood's Roxette, The Specials' A Message To You Rudy - both of which definitely fall under the 'classic' banner). But as a wise man once said - 'You can't always get what you want' .. Perhaps they are on the earlier LPs - Time to do a little research.

Conclusion: Buy this, it's a truly excellent record (in both senses).

Disc One: Vintage Live

  • 1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - American Girl
  • 2. Elton John - Tiny Dancer
  • 3. Daryl Hall & John Oates - She s Gone
  • 4. Van Morrison - Into The Mystic
  • 5. Gary US Bonds - This Little Girl
  • 6. Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge - Help Me Make It Through The Night
  • 7. Graham Nash - Another Sleep
  • 8. David Gates & Bread - Baby I m A Want You
  • 9. Suzanne Vega - Luka
  • 10. Lindisfarne - Meet Me On The Corner
  • 11. Tom Waits - Burma Shave
  • 12. Poco - Just You & Me
  • 13. Humble Pie - Black Coffee
  • 14. Brinsley Schwarz - Hooked On Love
  • 15. George Benson - Breezin'
  • 16. Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine

Disc Two: Vintage Live

  • 1. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
  • 2. Argent - God Gave Rock And Roll To Us
  • 3. The Doobie Brothers Rockin' Down The Highway
  • 4. Rory Gallagher - Bullfrog Blues
  • 5. Captain Beefheart - Upon The My O My
  • 6. Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Delilah
  • 7. The Waterboys - This Is The Sea
  • 8. The Ramones - Medley (Don't Come Close/She's The One/Go Mental)
  • 9. The Cult Love Removal Machine
  • 10. The Undertones Jimmy Jimmy
  • 11. Aztec Camera - Walk Out To Winter
  • 12. Tubeway Army - Are Friends Electric ?
  • 13. Television - Fox Hole
  • 14. Blondie - Heart Of Glass
  • 15. Nine below Zero - Stone Fox Chase (Theme From The OGWT)

Disc Three: 40th Anniversary

  • 1. Paul Weller - English Rose
  • 2. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
  • 3. Ian Anderson - Mother Goose
  • 4. Loudon Wainwright - Swimming Song
  • 5. Gordon Giltrap - Heartsong
  • 6. Gregg Allman - I Can t Be Satisfied
  • 7. Nil Lofgren - Long May You Run
  • 8. Julian Lennon - Stand By Me
  • 9. Joan Armatrading - Empty Highway
  • 10. Judy Tzuke - Stay With Me 'Till Dawn
  • 11. Kiki Dee - Running Up That Hill
  • 12. Nick Lowe - Sensitive Man
  • 13. Steve Harley - Friend For life
  • 14. Ralph McTell - Zimmerman Blues
  • 15. Thomas Dolby - I Scare Myself
  • 16. Chuck Prophet - Summertime Thing
  • 17. Gang Of Four - Not Great men
  • 18. Billy Bragg - A13
  • 19. John Otway - Cor Baby (That's Really Free)
  • 20. Yusaf/Cat Stevens - Trouble