Saturday, March 1, 2014


Here's two classic live rock 'n' roll flicks that, if you haven't seen them, you really ought to check out. They used to make the rounds as a double feature at art movie houses, so they may be old news to some of you. Regardless, they're worth watching. The first one is a classic, The T.A.M.I. Show, filmed over the course of two days at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1964, with a bill that's hard to beat in any era. Hosted by Jan and Dean, the line up includes Chuck Berry, James Brown, the Stones, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, the Barbarians, Lesley Gore, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakota, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. For the performers without their own backing bands, the music was provided by members of the Wrecking Crew, notably Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. The music was arranged and produced by Jack Nitsche, who had his finger seemingly in every pie back then. Even the opening is worth watching, with Jan and Dean skateboarding across what looks like the Sunset Strip, while the Brits are being bused in, James Brown primps, and the Barbarian's Moulty gets fawned over by a group of adoring females. Apparently that hook of his does more than hold a drum stick. (I know. That's bad.)

The other film, The Big TNT Show, came out in 1965. Whoever was behind it was obviously trying to copy the format, but made a few questionable choices. The line-up includes Bo Diddley Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Byrds. Okay, that's a good start, right? Now keep in mind the formula they're trying to copy. Now, tell my why, in a show that aims to be hip, for teenagers, would you include the Modern Folk Quartet? How about Roger Miller? No offense to Mr. Dang Me, but that's parent music. Probably the most bizarre inclusion is the "special appearance" of David McCallum, riding high from his role as Illya Kuryakin in The Man From U.N.C.L.E,, conducting the orchestra in an instrumental version of "Satisfaction". Check the audience. The girls are going apeshit, like girls of that era were want to do, while the guys share my sentiment, almost every guy shown with a silent "WTF?" look on their face. Taken together, even the non-musical moments of both of these films make for a prime slice of mid-sixties American teenage anthropology. Or at least screaming girl-thropology.

A note about these videos: they're full length. You know what that means. They're sure to disappear after someone complains. You snooze, you lose. I haven't seen every minute of both of them, but of what I've seen, my favorite moment in The T.A.M.I. Show is the Barbarians, doing their only song, "Hey Little Girl" (at 1:14:34). Wait for the latter half, Moulty goes ballistic. My favorite moment of The Big TNT Show, keeping in mind that I am a red blooded American male, is the Bo Diddley part, particularly the Duchess. Those moves, while playing guitar, in that dress, with that, wait for it, Ronettes type hair style is just too much. Enough to buckle the knees. Which, of course, makes me no better than a screaming mid-sixties teenage girl.


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