Mar 20 2010

DVD Debut: The T.A.M.I. Show

The original rock and roll concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show has been unavailable in any form approaching complete since its original theatrical release… until now. Shout! Factory presents The T.A.M.I. Show: Collector’s Edition. Hosted by Jan and Dean and featuring Chuck Berry,  Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, the Supremes, James Brown and the Fabulous Flames and the Rolling Stones (among others), it’s a whose who of 1964 rock, soul and pop acts performing to a live audience of Los Angeles teenagers. Director Steve Binder (who went on to produced the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special) shot it on video for close circuit showings and then transferred it to film and edited it into a tight presentation for theaters, distributed by AIP, the kings of teensploitation and drive-in movies.

The Rolling Stones: Time was indeed on their side

Go-go dancers in bikinis, short shorts and halter tops shake and shimmy on scaffolding (Teri Garr is rumored to be one of them, but I couldn’t pick her out) while the acts run through their greatest hits, opening with Chuck Berry and Gerry and Pacemakers trading off songs (those smiling British lads are mere pretenders next to the effortless guitar magic of Berry). Smokey Robinson is smooth, Marvin Gaye pours on the soul and The Beach Boys are such nice, clean-cut lads for boys who sing about surfing and cars (drummer Dennis Wilson is the only sign of life in their tightly controlled performance, shaking his head like he’s holding himself back from really exploding on the drums). It all builds to the explosive R&B energy of James Brown, who pours out sweat while working every number like it’s the last, and finally The Rolling Stones, probably the only act on hand who could follow the hardest working man in showbiz. This is Brian Jones-era young Stones, not yet seasoned into the bad boys of rock. Even Keith Richards looks (relatively) harmless and unravaged by drugs. And yes, Mick’s snakey legwork and slithery moves can’t match the exhilaration of Brown’s showmanship, but he’s got a different vibe, not yet surly but sassy and silky and confident beyond his years. Just under that pretty face is attitude and sexual energy just waiting to spring forth on America’s impressionable youth.

The filmmaking is basic but true to the performances: there are no distractions from the show. Except maybe for the corny Jan and Dean intros, and even they have a kitschy charm to them. Hard to believe that the biggest set was given to Leslie Gore—all of the other acts pour onstage to back her up on her finale—but as John Landis points out, she was the biggest star at the time. Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas (who are as carefully restrained as the Pacemakers) and one song by The Barbarians (sadly not their signature hit) fill out the line-up. If you pay attention, you can see brief glimpses of the house band (hidden behind the scaffolding) backing up the solo acts. The stage may look like a supersized American Bandstand, but there is no recorded backing to any of these acts. They are live, baby.

This is the home video debut of the landmark concert film (which was added to the Library Congress’s National Film Registry in 2006). Early video versions were a hybrid collection of select acts chopped up and mixed together with clips from The Big T.N.T. Show (1966), a follow-up concert film with a mix of pop, rock, R&B and folk acts. Even TV prints and revival screenings have been incomplete since the Beach Boys had their sequence removed from all versions after the initial theatrical run. This is the first official release of the complete show since its theatrical debut and it’s been nicely restored, with cleaned up video and audio, and presented in the widescreen format of the original theatrical prints. The disc features commentary by director Steve Binder and Don Waller, radio spots, the original trailer (with optional commentary by John Landis, who was actually in the audience for the show – “There I am!”) and a 20-page booklet with essays and photos. The show kicks off on DVD on Tuesday, March 23.

James Brown pleads: Please, please, please!

For the record, here’s the set list (as presented in the film):

Jan And Dean
(Over credits): (Here They Come) From All Over The World
Chuck Berry
Johnny B. Goode
Maybellene
Gerry And The Pacemakers
Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
It’s Gonna Be Alright
Chuck Berry
Sweet Little Sixteen
Gerry And The Pacemakers
How Do You Do It?
Chuck Berry
Nadine
Gerry And The Pacemakers
Like It
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
That’s What Love Is Made Of
You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me
Mickey’s Monkey
Marvin Gaye
Stubborn Kind Of Fellow
Pride And Joy
Can I Get A Witness
Hitch Hike
Lesley Gore
Maybe I Know
You Don’t Own Me
You Didn’t Look Around
Hey Now
It’s My Party
Judy’s Turn To Cry
Jan & Dean
The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)
Sidewalk Surfin
The Beach Boys
Surfin’ U.S.A.
I Get Around
Surfer Girl
Dance, Dance, Dance
Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas
Little Children
Bad To Me
I’ll Keep You Satisfied
From A Window
The Supremes
When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes
Run, Run, Run
Baby Love
Where Did Our Love Go
The Barbarians
Hey Little Bird
James Brown and The Flames
Out Of Sight
Prisoner Of Love
Please, Please, Please
Night Train
The Rolling Stones
Around And Around
Off The Hook
Time Is On My Side
It’s All Over Now
I’m Alright

Filmed at the Santa Monica Civic Center October 29, 1964

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