Rocking Out: The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)

My rental of The T.A.M.I. (Teenage Awards Music International) Show is a testament to whatever cybermagic controls Netflix’s suggestions. After rating hundreds, possibly thousands of movies, it’s gotten really good at recommended things I want to see and this concert footage from 1964 with performances by The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Chuck Berry, James Brown and the Flames, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones and plenty of others was a lot of fun. For a better explanation of the whole thing, please jump over to TrailersFromHell and listen to John Landis’ explanation of the show, which he actually attended.

Surf rockers Jan and Dean act as hosts, introducing most of the acts. The bands and groups play on a set with frenetic go-go dancers and a live, screaming audience cheering the bands on. It kicks off with Chuck Berry and Garry And The Pacemakers trading off songs. I’m not sure why they decided to do this as it’s not something that goes on throughout the rest of the performances. There are some cool moments with the talent coming together, like a bunch of them getting behind Lesley Gore (I didn’t recognize her name, but she sings “You Don’t Own Me” and “It’s My Party”) and clapping and then at the very end coming out to dance during the Stones’ last song. The Stones had it pretty rough playing after a crazy-good James Brown set, but I think they did pretty good, and I’m not really a Stones fan.

Here’s one of James Brown’s performances, pretty great, right? He and the Flames gave , by far, the best performance of the film. Like I said, the Stones did well and I really liked Gore’s performance (her material seemed really progressive for the time). I also dug the performances by the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean as I’m a big fan of surf music. For some reason I always have a picture of Jan & Dean being older, but they’re just two dudes having a good time, riding skateboards while singing. Good stuff. Bands that I had never heard of like The Barbarians and Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas were all right as were the pre-Diana Ross Supremes. The major let down of the show had to be Smokey Robinson And The Miracles. Smokey’s voice was super-sharp and sounded pretty painful at times.

I highly recommend checking out The T.A.M.I. Show if you’re a fan of the early days of rock and roll and R&B. For the most part the performances are really solid, with more good than bad. Plus, it’s fun to see the good old days when it didn’t take flouncy vampires and werewolves to get people screaming their faces off (I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about anything as every single person in that auditorium was about seeing those groups). Oh, also, I recommend the flick if you’re a fan of ladies wearing early 60s style and dancing their asses off. The dancers in this thing–which apparently include Teri Garr and Toni Basil–might not look the coolest to modern audiences, but you’ve got to appreciate their enthusiasm and there’s no doubt that there’s some cute ladies shaking their thangs. Well worth the watch all the way around!

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