Morning. I was just wondering if you enjoyed the OGWT “first time live on TV” experience ? (sorry, it must seem the most mundane of questions). Regards, John.

Growing up, ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ was the music show of its day. Prior to that there was only really ‘Top Of The Pops’ which was for the most part heavily laden with the worst that British music had to offer, thus representing the record buying public of all generations. ‘Top Of The Pops’ was simply so painfully uncool (what young person was buying music by ‘The Wurzels’ or ‘Clive Dunn’?) and being on that show was a deep source of shame. However, it was also incredibly powerful in terms of generating public awareness and subsequently record sales and was therefore compulsory labour, despite all the shenanigans of switching supposedly re-recorded backing-tracks with original ones, a manoeuvre that kept many a BBC union rep well wined-and-dined as he would knowingly turn a blind eye in exchange for an otherwise unaffordable gourmet experience.

‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ on the other hand had more kudos. I remember being glued to the TV watching live performances by the bands of the seventies. They would often perform more than one song, as opposed to the quick turnaround we were used to seeing, and you got a sense of their musicianship as opposed to simply being ‘performers’. This show was influential in teaching me how to play drums. To finally be in that same studio performing live (although not broadcast live) gave you the sense that you’d reached a certain status beyond the disposable pop category and were perhaps being taken more seriously as musicians. Just a shame that kindly, whispering Bob had by then been replaced by bitchy, rasping Annie. A sign of the times when music journalism was about people asserting their unpleasant, acerbic personalities. Put Nightingale & Morely in a room and you could probably clear your blocked drains.

15 thoughts on “Morning. I was just wondering if you enjoyed the OGWT “first time live on TV” experience ? (sorry, it must seem the most mundane of questions). Regards, John.

  1. Beerling said he was doing Nightingale (ironic name) a favour giving her a R1 graveyard slot as there was no demand for female R1 DJs.

    Like

  2. Walking into the living room to see Japan play Swing and Polaroids was my ‘Rosebud’ moment on television. It was so amazing, unbelievable really. It remains my favourite piece of television along with Roxy performing ‘Do The Strand’ also on OGWT. You should not underestimate the importance of this incredible piece of footage.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember setting the video recorder for one of the ogwt perfomances and caught one “live” late on Saturday evening…happy days.

    Like

  4. Vividly remember the session, and how annoyed I was at useless Nightingale.
    Whispering Bob would – I am sure – have got you and loved you.
    Thanks Steve.

    Like

  5. Let’s not forget kindly old bob sneering at the New York Dolls tho. Misery guts. I did love Japan doing their thing. Pity there’s no live footage (that I’m aware of) from around the Quiet Life period.

    Like

  6. Bob Harris used to have a right bitchy nature when it suited him. On the other hand, Annie Nightingale always played underground club music on her show at a time when no one got it. Paul Morley, was at least, honest with himself and went in a studio and made some good records with ZTT mob. Who knows who did what on the records? But it’s better than finding negatives with other artists all day, and doing fack all about it!

    Like

  7. Slightly disappointed in SJ reply. TOTP was not so bad and served its purpose that included Japan’s music and visual, I’m sure the Japan boys didn’t get dressed up for nothing, had they thought this was not there route to fame they would not have attended, many other bands showed integrity and stuck what they believed in and was still successful.

    Like

    1. Think you miss the point. TOTP was a means to reach a wider audience and a requirement in those days as the BBC monopolised market exposure, however, kids over the age of about 15 tend to want to find their own way in music and fashion. TOTP was best suited to younger kids or the over twenties and beyond and only concerned itself with chart positions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t think I missed the point, I understand fully both concepts of TOTP & OGWT. To make a statement of “shame”, is a little unkind. All us grown ups still look up YouTube and take time over FB groups as such. There are great memories there of both shows. We enjoy the music and image of Japan and don’t look back in shame. They still had the choice.

        Like

        1. I speak from the perspective of someone taking part in the show, not as a viewer. If you feel the show represents something for you as a viewer then that’s your business. I wouldn’t want to take that away from you.

          Like

          1. Correct, the boys still had a choice to go onto a shameful show or not. Many bands choose not too.

            Like

            1. TOTP was one of many shameful compromises but I won’t list them. Is there a list somewhere of bands that refused to appear on it? Once the music video became well established most bands had a choice and would much prefer to present their work on their own terms, but I wonder about prior. And this isn’t about nostalgia for a pop show this is about how there was a lack of good music programs in those days and the inability to adapt from an outdated format which many bands were unhappy with.

              Like

  8. Hi Steve, I noticed you had headphones on during that performance and I think you used to wear them live on stage with Japan back in the day, was that for monitoring or did you have the drum machine patterns coming through them?

    Like

Comments are closed.