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The Old Grey Whistle Test - Vol. 3 DVD

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Playing all 31 tracks on The Old Grey Whistle Test Volume 3 will make some viewers believe the producers are now beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel; others will think that finally they're getting around to the good stuff. Given that the series somehow managed to take an enormous range of music on board while at the same time seeming entirely consistent (surely the secret of its success), there's evidence for both points of view. The case for the prosecution might cite Janis Ian (her melancholic self-obsession now seems indulgent to the point of prissiness), Al Stewart ("Year of the Cat" is simply a dreary song) or Orange Juice (did they ever really mean anything much to anyone?). The case for the defence, however, is pretty strong overall, with highlights such as Bowie doing "Oh You Pretty Things", Johnny Winter covering "Jumping Jack Flash" as if he was its rightful owner, and Kings BB and Freddie bringing it all back home with two excellent performances. There's something for everyone along the way. Proggers get Discipline-era King Crimson, which saw Adrian Belew saving the band from disappearing up its own fundament; folkies get an unplugged Fairport Convention; punks get John Cooper Clarke and the Jam; somebody or other gets the Bangles. However, if there's one track that justifies the existence of this disc all by itself, it has to be "In a Hole" from the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose glorious nihilism made the Pistols seem like a folk group. On the DVD: The Old Grey Whistle Test Volume 3 DVD is presented in old-telly 4:3 ratio and offers numerous extras, including contributor profiles and links, a commentary and an artists' gallery. --Roger Thomas

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