"Give a little whistle"
by Chris Groom

I would like to add my congratulations to the Old Grey Whistle Test which, had it continued, would have reached its theoretical 30th birthday this year. The Test was the best - and probably the only - music programme of its day that covered anything other than what was going on in the singles charts. It was first broadcast on 21st September 1971 and the debut show featured live performances from America and Lesley Duncan, plus an interview with Tom Paxton. 

For many years, the rumour was that most of the footage had been lost forever, as BBC policy was to re-use tapes and that much of this classic music programme had either been taped over or simply thrown in the wastebin.
However, with the anniversary comes a new book by 'Whispering' Bob Harris, a TV re-run of clips from the archive and a 40 track DVD. People often forget that the first series was hosted by Melody Maker journalist Richard Williams - our Bob didn't start whispering until series two, a year later. Record Collector magazine have joined in the celebrations by publishing a list of all the acts who appeared live during the seventies; not only is this a fascinating read, but the surprisingly good news is that most of the shows still appear to be in the vaults at the Beeb.

The Record Collector article shows that Lindisfarne first appeared as early as the fourth programme, 12th October 1971 along with Wishbone Ash and if the early clips that occasionally turn up on VH1 and TOTP2 are from that Whistle Test session, they performed FOTT and MMOTC. Their next appearance wasn't until 26th March 1974, when the MKII line-up are listed as being the only live band in the studio. The list
doesn't mention all the interviews or the album tracks that were played over those weird and wacky film clips; I know that Alan was interviewed on the Test mid '73 about his solo work (the photo shows him talking to producer Mike Appleton on the set) and I'm almost certain that I remember a studio performance of 'One More Bottle of Wine', but this isn't confirmed on the list either.

Jack the Lad appeared on 28th October 1975 alongside blues guitarist Freddie King and I can recall them playing in their Toon shirts and dancing across the stage with miners lamp helmets and pit shovels! Rab Noakes made his Whistle Test appearance on 30th May 1975 on a programme with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
According to the RC article all three of these studio performances are still gathering dust in their archive - and there may be more - so let's hope they can be compiled onto another Lindisfarne video at some point in the future.

Hope everyone enjoyed the tour,
Until the next time,
        Chris Groom