Old Grey Whistlin’

7 Feb

Started digging around YouTube’s Old Grey Whistle Test 70’s TV archives a while ago. And what did I find? Well . . . lotsa double-knit slacks, that’s fr sure. The following are, unequivocally, some of the best that were offered up to this fair island by ol’ ’Whispering’ Bob Harris, the kreepy homoerotic host back then:


1. RORY GALLAGHER – ”Walk on Hot Coals” [Ireland] – I don’t care if you hate blues rock, this ginger lad fucking LOVED it, and boy, did he make it sound exciting. My old boss used to play the hell outta RORY in our record store, which led me to become a convert to his 70’s live stuff (there’s a buttload of it out there). Plus: RORY was second only to FREE’s Paul Kossoff in the Facial-Expressions-That-Make-You-Rock-That-Much-Harder competition. Lessons start in one click; go to it.


2. BUDGIE – ”Who Do You Want For Your Love” [Wales] – Yeah the singer did kinda look like a roll-playing gaming nerd I once knew and sound like Geddy Lee’s twin bro, but so what? Here, mellow groove morphs into hot rockin’ like a churning volcano getting ready to blow. I especially dig the part where the gtrist sings those do-do-do’s along with the riff he’s playing. Yeah! What I’d give to see a bunch of someones DOING IT this righteously in modern-day London.


3. SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BAND – ”Next” [Scotland] – Anybody who thinks Glasgow’s only given us BELLE & SEBASTIAN (BS for short) oughta listen up. How over-the-top can one man be? Clearly, this is where pretenders like Jim Foetus & Nick Fucking Cave stole their psycho-personas from. The band – including mime-gtrist Zal Cleminson! – usually chose to pummel yr scrawny ass with REALLY BIG BEATS; but here, they’re trying out a new concept – restraint! Which, of course, just gives our man Alex ”Vambo” Harvey more room to lose it in a dozen different, neat-o ways. So you could actually say ”wet head of my first case of gonorrhea” on British TV in ’72, huh? Fucking hell.


4. RONNIE LANE – ”Anniversary” [England, East London Muster Corp.] – Never really listened closely to this guy or his FACES much, before now, since his proximity to ROD always freaked me out. But it’s true he’s got a great voice and an even better wardrobe – the archetype from which all things NIKKI SUDDEN once flowed. Ronnie’s positively beaming here. Watching this makes me happy/giddy, not unlike that first minute after snorting a line of really fine, powder cocaine (but only ever that first minute, cause everything after that is CLAWING MISERY). You know, just . . . yeeeeah.


5. DR. FEELGOOD – ”Roxette” [England, Canvey Island Rear Guard Div.] – 1st-generation Pub Rock monsters on display for you to try and swallow. Yeah gtrist Wilko Johnson’s chicken walk is weird, but weirder still is singer Lee Brilleaux’s 1000-yard stare . . . man, that sure gets under my skin. Though I admit there are some 50 yr. old dudes in the British Working Men’s Club at the top of our street that STILL dress and glare like this.

6. CURTIS MAYFIELD – ”We Got To Have Peace” [US, Union] – You can try to knock Curtis, but in the end, he was BLACK MAGIC of a transcendental kind. Love Is The Law, Love Under Curtis.


7. JERRY LEE LEWIS – ”Chantilly Lace & Whole Lotta Shakin’” [US, Confederate] – Just the best clip ever. That finger swivel thing he does during “Whole Lotta Shakin'” is particularly offensive/sexy, in equal amounts. And WHAT HAIR! If I was a straight woman, this is the kinda man I’d want.

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13 Responses to “Old Grey Whistlin’”

  1. Dave Lang February 9, 2008 at 12:20 am #

    Wow, that Dr. Feelggod clip is a killer! Never thought “pub rock” could be that vicious. There’s a great 2DVD pack you can buy which is essentially “The Best” of the Old Grey Whistle Test, which also has some KILLER live clips of Robert Wyatt, Tim Buckley, New York Dolls (unbelievably good), PiL and various other goodies. Even the clip of a very young REM – when they were quite a fine, Byrdsy, garage-rock college outfit – strangely impressed me. One drawback: Bob Harris. What a revolting creep of a man! How on earth did HE ever get the job??

  2. mrowster February 9, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    There’s also a neat one of Kevin Ayers & The Whole World (w/ Lol Coxhill) doing “May I?” that I like alot, even though the aforementioned Belle & Sebastian probably wet their pants over it too.

  3. Less Lee February 9, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    Alright, you drew me in.

    “Next” is a Jacques Brel song which I’ve only ever heard the Scott Walker cover of, but this version is really twisted!

  4. Less Lee February 9, 2008 at 10:08 pm #

    Also, I knew there had to be another connection between Harvey and JGT: Jim does a cover of “Faith Healer.”

    Just found the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQoM9O0c-h8

  5. mrowster February 9, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    I’ve heard that Foetus cover before – though Alex does it better. He was a particularly big hit in Australia, Alex was. They got a real taste for the hot n nasty down under.

  6. Less Lee February 9, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    Had to post again: Damn, that Jerry Lee Lewis clip is HOT.

  7. Less Lee February 9, 2008 at 10:18 pm #

    Haha, funny you mention “hot and nasty” because I’ve thought Jim Thirlwell sounded an awful lot like Jim Dandy ever since I heard Black Oak Arksansas.

  8. mrowster February 9, 2008 at 10:25 pm #

    Exactly! Jim T. as the po-mo son of Jim Dandy!

  9. mark February 11, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    Rory reminds me of Watt, what with the killer flannel look. Imagine them two jammin’!

  10. mrowster February 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    Haha – yeah I thought about that too, but consciously tried to keep SST outta this post. I guess that plan failed!

  11. mark February 11, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    Doh! Sorry. Won’t let it happen again!

  12. Less Lee February 11, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    HAHA, SST “Bartelled” their way in, as usual.

  13. Dave Nicholls May 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    SAHB, one of the best bands of the 1970’s ! Alex as mad as a box of frogs of course but there is a definite lack of Alex’s brand of eccentricity these days.

    Never dispose of your vinyl, its part of your history.

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