REVIEW

 

VARIOUS
BBC Documentaries [Joefish 1DVD PAL purelivegigs 42208] 

Three documentaries are compiled with nothing more in common than their broadcaster - unless you know of any reason why Hawkwind, George Clinton and a nostalgic look back at TV's Old Grey Whistle Test were born to be together? The sheer excellence of all three notwithstanding, of course.

Whistle Test first. Seen through the eyes of various hosts and viewers, it doesn't really serve up too many surprises. Featured clips are largely the same as those that have already made it out on the OGWT DVD collections, or were aired during the BBC's recent Whistle Test Years series, and peoples' memories of the show are exactly as you would expect them to be, particularly once the show took that stellar leap out of the comfort of the Whispering Bob years, and into the punk and post punk milieu that ultimately saw it lose its way and become a pale shadow of Top Of The Pops - as opposed to its heavily bearded corollary. But there is something oddly comforting about that theme music, those titles, those hosts, while the show also reminds us of a day when you could catch more decent music in 40 minutes of Whistle Test than you'd find in a day of MTV.

The Clinton doc, meanwhile, tracks the Funkadelic Parliament Muthaship through several careers worth of convolutions and confusions, and more dynamite funk than you could shake a groove thang at. With both fresh and archive interview material, and a host of seldom seen musical clips to drool over, it's a package you will certainly want to watch again and again.

As is the Hawkwind documentary - the highlight not only of this disc, but of the BBC's broadcast output this year. Filmed with the involvement of almost every significant member of the band bar Dave Brock (who was apparently too busy warring with Nik Turner to participate), it is again a career long journey, but the emphasis of the show falls naturally on the early years - that is, the period through to 1973, when Hawkwind really were the most fun you could have with your spacesuit on, and every new record was less an aural experience than it was a brand new hallucinogen. 

The live footage is astounding (why has no-one yet released it in its own right?), the interviews are entertaining, and the only downside would be the recurring presence of journalist Nick Kent, who seems so concerned about remaining "cool" and "detached" that you want to put the kettle on every time he appears on screen. He was never renowned as a Hawkwind fan at the time - why he was recruited to this documentary is an absolute mystery. But he is the only disappointment; Hawkwind themselves look and sound as great as you remember them, and when you add the visual extravaganzas of Clinton to the brew, plus the unabashed pleasure of Whistle Test, you have three hours of pure TV heaven to look forward to. - Dave Thompson

Click here for more reviews by Dave Thompson.




For more... email mybigo@bigozine.com with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."


 
August 3, 2007