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"Oh God, I could do better than that..."
September 9, 2009 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Bored kid on a Friday night in 1974 in the States? The Midnight Special. Bored kid on a Friday night in the UK? The Old Grey Whistle Test! Wha… huh? On a shoestring budget of just £500 an episode, for 16 years the BBC2s OGWT played host to live performances* from some of the most influential musicians of the time at their artistic peaks. Like who? Well, there's…

…just to name a few. [Inspired by philip-random's great post]

* - Incredibly good live performances.
posted by Civil_Disobedient (56 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
Excellent, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:25 PM on September 9, 2009


First off, fabulous set of links. Thank you so much.

Second, I love you for using the phrase "artistic peak" and "Supertramp" in the same sentence.

And I love me some Supertramp.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2009


The Arctic Monkeys (2005). [Not really.]
posted by progosk at 4:40 PM on September 9, 2009


The Talking Heads footage, in larger resolution, better audio and without the obnoxious spam overlaying the top of the video.
posted by ardgedee at 4:41 PM on September 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awesome multilink youtubage.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on September 9, 2009


Cool!
posted by nola at 4:43 PM on September 9, 2009


Supertramp

Whoah, I just almost burst into tears. I don't think I've listened to Supertramp since... since 1978 when I first heard XTC and The Clash.

Thanks for the sudden time travel, CD.
posted by jokeefe at 4:49 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks, you might enjoy Judee Sill's performance.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:55 PM on September 9, 2009


Thanks for the post, that Talking Heads footage is wonderful. I also love how the Ramones are on for 6:05 and they play three songs.
posted by marxchivist at 4:58 PM on September 9, 2009


i don't know about the old grey whistle test or at least i didn't, before this post, but i used to l-o-v-e the midnight special along with don kirschner's rock concert. my 'major metropolitan area' was 45 minutes & 2 states away--and for those of us born & raised in small, small small towns, there was the added obstacle of 'we don't know any of those people in that city'--those television shows comprised a good deal of my 'concert-going' experience. had there been such a thing as cable in those days, and one sufficient enough to pull in ogwt, i'm sure i would have watched that faithfully, too. concert television was HUGE for people like me (did i mention that i grew up in a small town?). this was real excitement in the days before the internet.
posted by msconduct at 4:58 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Niiice.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:02 PM on September 9, 2009


Just watched Lynyrd Skynyrd on OGW a couple of weeks ago. Was amazing to see how good the guitar really was and how Ronnie Van Zant was so high he could barely stand but still could sing.
posted by white_devil at 5:05 PM on September 9, 2009


How nice, The Jam. [3 songs in 6:51!]
posted by marxchivist at 5:07 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


*keeps clicking, keeps watching* Amazing being reminded that U2 were once just a bunch of spotty boys, how Stipe was angelically beautiful (ah, back in the day when he was official androgynous, hahaha) and that Morrissey had an amazing ability to keep singing whilst dancing under a flower barrage.
posted by jokeefe at 5:14 PM on September 9, 2009


Oh yeah, I know CD didn't link to the REM performance, so here it is (from 1984).
posted by jokeefe at 5:18 PM on September 9, 2009


Yeah, total nostalgia wallow, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I cannot really have seen those Midnight Special clips for the first time, like, 35 years ago.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:21 PM on September 9, 2009


Are these really live "live" performances? The Police one seems actually recorded live, but some of the others seem more like they're faking it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:22 PM on September 9, 2009


Three wasted Stones discussing Love You Live on Old Grey Whistle Test.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2009


This PiL performance is amazing... the direction he took after the Pistols still blows me away.
posted by Huck500 at 5:42 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are these really live "live" performances?

Yes, really live. The one exception from that list is Supertramp: I believe they played live over some backing tracks. One of the things I love most about the OGWT shows is that the performances are spot-on.

I didn't put the R.E.M. one on there because half of it is Stipe masturbating to Moon River, which would have required a NSFW tag. On the other hand, this performance from 1982 is awesome (though not an OGWT performance).

Slightly closer-to-home, here's a live performance of Joy Division from the Peel Sessions featured on the BBC program Something Else in 1979.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:45 PM on September 9, 2009


Bowie doing Queen Bitch is just incredible.
posted by ericost at 5:53 PM on September 9, 2009


Two of my favourite Old Grey Whistle Test performances are this and this. Stunning.

France aaaaannnnnnnnd Spain!
posted by fire&wings at 5:54 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark proving that British POP will always be as strange as it needs to be.
posted by philip-random at 6:00 PM on September 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Smiths
That was Morrisseytastic.

Also, Roxy Music. (performance begins at 1:22)
posted by Monsters at 6:03 PM on September 9, 2009


misconduct, love that Black Sabbath stuff in your Don Kirschner link. First time I've ever seen them do Killing Yourself To Live.
posted by philip-random at 6:27 PM on September 9, 2009


Of course, it's a short line from The Old Grey Whistle Test to The Tube... and from there to The Word. And there to hell.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on September 9, 2009


Great post. You only missed a few:

Judas Priest
Dreamer Deceiver [1975, during long-haired hippie phase (!)]
Rocka Rolla [1975]

Thin Lizzy
Don't Believe A Word [?]

Tom Waits
Tom Traubert's Blues [1977]
Burma Shave [1979]

The Pogues
Streams Of Whiskey [?]
Sally MacLennane [1985]
Dirty Old Town [1986]

Roxy Music
Ladytron [1972]
Do The Strand [1973]

The New York Dolls
Jet Boy [1973]

Patti Smith
Horses -> Hey Joe [1976]
Because The Night [1978]

Lou Reed
Waiting For My Man [1984]

Blondie
Detroit 442 [1979]
Atomic [1979]

John Lennon
Stand By Me [1975]

Bruce Springsteen
Rosalita [1979]
Born In The USA [1984]

Steppenwolf
Born To Be Wild [1972 - GIANT BELT & SHINY BLACK SATURN SHIRT VERSION]

The Damned
Smash It Up [1979]
I Just Can't Be Happy Today [1979]

The Specials
Message To You Rude Boy [1979]

The Ramones
Don't Come Close [1978]
She's The One [1978]
Go Mental [1978]
Rock N Roll High School [1980]
Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio? [1980]
Chasing The Night [1985]
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker [?]

Buzzcocks
Nothing Left At All [1978]
Sixteen Again [1978]
posted by koeselitz at 7:05 PM on September 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


arg html

John Lennon
Stand By Me [1975]
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 PM on September 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gang of Four

I just saw this vid prior to this post... I'd never seen any live footage of this band that I have loved since I bought their greatest hits (a brief history of the 20th century) on cassette from a bargain bin in... 1994 or so.
posted by nutate at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]



Are these really live "live" performances?

Yes, really live. The one exception from that list is Supertramp


Queen Bitch is almost certainly mimed as well.
posted by anazgnos at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2009


As the Youtube comments note, the Steppenwolf Born To Be Wild is probably mimed too, or rather a 'karaoke' version with vocals only.
posted by koeselitz at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2009


ooh ooh ooh

can't miss the Netherlands' answer to the Talking Heads!

Gruppo Sportivo
Rock N Roll [1978]
Money [1978]
Girls Never Know [1978]
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 PM on September 9, 2009


Siouxsie and the Banshees:

Cities in Dust

Land's End

Melt (w/ R. Smith)
posted by gimli at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is cascading my memories.
posted by telstar at 7:49 PM on September 9, 2009


A bit of the goth:

Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust
The Sisters of Mercy - Marian
posted by googly at 8:10 PM on September 9, 2009


My favorite Whistle Test performance: Be Bop Deluxe. This is one of those rare performances when everything comes together and somehow, the engineer captures it with great clarity.

Then there was that show in 1979 when the Tubeway Army performed Are Friends Electric? and Down in the Park.

And also too: Tim Buckley.
posted by grounded at 8:16 PM on September 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awesome post and comments. I love you guys--you can lobby my energy policy any day.
posted by maxwelton at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2009


Meh. The Old Grey Whistle Test was OK, but it was no So It Goes.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2009


Are these really live "live" performances?

Yes, really live. The one exception from that list is Supertramp

Queen Bitch is almost certainly mimed as well.


And more ... I found this New York Dolls cut is definitely not entirely in touch with itself ...

and yet this seems to be fine.

Curiouser + Curiouser
posted by philip-random at 9:18 PM on September 9, 2009


And a younger, more handsome Clive James.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:20 PM on September 9, 2009


And let's not forget Pebble Mill at One.
posted by grounded at 9:38 PM on September 9, 2009


You forgot my favourites...

Bonnie Raitt - Been Too Long At The Fair

Edgar Winter Group - Frankenstein

Horslips - Dearg Doom

As Italia 90 veterans/Seán Ó Riada fans will know, the riffs in Dearg Doom are a direct lift from a 300 year old Irish harp song. It's from a concept album about the Táin. And they can pronounce Táin right. Take that, Decemberists!
posted by kersplunk at 10:49 PM on September 9, 2009


Wow. I'd never heard of old grey whistle test, but this is all kinds of awesome.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:25 AM on September 10, 2009


Here in Australia they had Sounds and After Dark.
posted by tellurian at 12:33 AM on September 10, 2009


Todd Rundgren, wearing the infamous Man-Eating Peacock outfit...
posted by bink at 2:06 AM on September 10, 2009


This is the first time I've seen some of these in color. Thanks for posting them.
posted by tommasz at 5:29 AM on September 10, 2009


This is all making me wish I was cooler when I was younger.
posted by oddman at 6:29 AM on September 10, 2009


Great post. And great title.
posted by MinPin at 1:25 PM on September 10, 2009


The Queen Bitch outtake is worth a look.

And it's not mimed.
posted by grounded at 1:58 PM on September 10, 2009


I remember Leo Sayer giving me a wtf moment when I first saw him on OGWT.
posted by tellurian at 5:05 PM on September 10, 2009


Captain Beefheart's Upon The My Oh My is one of my favourite Old Grey Whistle Test performances (you might want to skip the first minute and half or so of chatter)

They also did This is the day on there, which I don't like that much, really.
posted by dng at 4:50 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


dng: (you might want to skip the first minute and half or so of chatter)

psst... check this out: you can cue youtube vids by adding a time to the end of the URL in the form #t=1m30slike so.

posted by koeselitz at 10:49 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Excellent, cheers
posted by dng at 12:08 PM on September 11, 2009


John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett - Really Free
ohn Otway and Wild Willy Barrett - Cheryl`s Going Home 3:46 is my greatest 'Test moment ever.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:31 PM on September 14, 2009


Can't believe I've only just seen this thread...

A few more...

Teardrop Explodes - Reward
The Undertones - Jimmy Jimmy
Dr Feelgood - Roxette
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:54 PM on September 14, 2009



The Queen Bitch outtake is worth a look.

And it's not mimed.


Actually, it makes it quite clear that only the vocal is live, while he and the band are miming to the track. He just starts moving his hand around the neck randomly after the first line, though the acoustic guitar is still hear loud & clear.
posted by anazgnos at 11:16 PM on September 16, 2009


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