British Television has always done a good job of showcasing music with variety programs. The Old Grey Whistle Test is probably the best of these and over its 16 year run featured some of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll. We are treated to 28 live performances by huge bands like U2, REM, The Police, Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen as well as riveting performances by the likes of The Dammed, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop. This is a great disc for any rock and roll fan especially if you grew up in th…s era.
These are live performances so the audio is good and bad. We have a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that has been cleaned up very nicely. Even the bad recordings sound acceptable and they also manage to make good use of the surround channels with some ambience. The only area that is lacking in terms of the sound is bass as there is very little no matter what band is performing.
With video dating back to 1971 the quality is somewhat grainy and soft. They have done a good job of cleaning up the image as best as possible, there is no film grit or debris and also no noticeable edge enhancement. The transfer is a 1.33:1 fullscreen layout and considering the source material is acceptable.
For extras we have interviews with John Lennon, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Robert Plant and a very young Bruce Springsteen. There are also an artist’s gallery featuring profiles and pictures of many other acts that appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test. Lastly we have a commentary with the original producer Mike Appleton and the ability to watch the performances in random order as opposed to chronologically. Overall not an abundance of extras but a solid package none the less.
For anyone that grew up listening to the bands on this disc it is a great opportunity to get a look at a lot of these artists very early on in their careers. Add in a solid package of extras and good video and audio and this is a great disk well worth the look. Just don’t ask me where the heck they came up with the name.
Special Features List
- 28 performances
- Interview with John Lennon, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Bruce Springsteen
- Commentary by producer Mike Appleton