Whispering Bob has been trawling the archives
The Old Grey Whistle Test was an enormously influential BBC2 television music show that ran between 1971 and 1987 and is probably best remembered for the years it was presented by Bob Harris in the early to mid seventies. As the famous series approaches its 40th birthday, Bob has compiled a double CD collection of tracks (out June 7th) with the Whistle Test vibe.
When the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ was first broadcast in September 1971, the world was a very different place. Digital technology was a distant fantasy. CD’s were eleven years away. You bought your music on vinyl.
In 1971, there were no downloads, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no internet. Video technology was in its infancy. In those days, multi-channel television meant BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV. That was it. Two music shows dominated our screens throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s. One was ‘Top of the Pops’, with a format based on the singles chart. The other was ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’, designed to reflect the massively growing album market. You had to have released an L. P. to appear on ‘Whistle Test’. That was the deal. There was nothing else even remotely like it on British TV.
‘Whistle Test’ was uniquely eclectic, featuring big stadium bands and brand new acts, across a range of styles. From Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield, to Freddie King, Steely Dan, Emmylou Harris and Elton John, the programme delivered the best of its time and premiered artists who went on to sell millions.
The format was amazing, with live performances, concert footage, archive, interviews and filmed reports...every week, forty two weeks of the year, for the best part of sixteen years. The impact of the programme was huge...in a way that is less possible in this multi-format age. ‘Whistle Test’ became the focus for a whole generation of serious music lovers, because it was all about the music.
The legacy is incredible and this collection is the first of a series, highlighting some of the tracks and performances that created the ‘Whistle Test’ ethos. Analogue heaven for the digital age. - Bob Harris.
1. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
2. Bad Company - Can’t Get Enough
3. Fleetwood Mac - Don’t Stop
4. James Taylor - You’ve Got A Friend
5. Linda Ronstadt - Its So Easy
6. Rickie Lee Jones - Chuck E’s In Love
7. John Martyn - May You Never
8. Randy Newman - Mama Told Me Not To Come
9. Judee Sill - Jesus Was A Crossmaker
10. Bonnie Raitt - I’m Blowin’ Away
11. J.D. Souther - Black Rose
12. Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
13. Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London
14. Joe Walsh - Life’s Been Good
15. Santana - Sambi Pa Ti
16. The Cars- Best Friend’s Girl
17. Television - Marquee Moon
18. Patti Smith - Because The Night- Live On OGWT
19. Mott The Hoople - All The Young Dudes
1. Doobie Brothers - Long Train Runnin’
2. Free - All Right Now
3. Eric Clapton - Behind The Mask
4. Van Morrison- Moondance
5. Bread - The Guitar Man
6. Crazy Horse - I Don’t Want To Talk About It
7. Edgar Winter Group - Free Ride
8. Richard Thompson & Linda Thompson- A Heart Needs A Home
9. The Faces - Ooh La La
10. Robert Plant- Big Log
11. Rory Gallagher - Bought & Sold
12. Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat- Live On OGWT
13. Carly Simon & James Taylor- Mockingbird
14. Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris- Love Hurts
15. Curved Air - Back Street Luv
16. Todd Rundgren - I Saw The Light
17. Tom Waits - Tom Trauberts Blues
18. Yes - Wondrous Stories
19. Area Code 615 (Theme From OGWT)