Friday, March 5, 2010

The T.A.M.I. Show

Classic Rock Movie

By David Luhrssen
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A few years later, the Rolling Stones would be called the world‚s greatest rock’n’roll band. But on the day in 1964 when a concert movie called The T.A.M.I. Show was shot, the Stones were upstaged by the act that preceded them. James Brown’s fervent Pentecostal soul, with his orchestrated peaks of ecstasy, was a hard act to follow. Curiously, Mick Jagger seemed to spontaneously emulate Brown in his own performance much like a schoolboy athlete mimicking the champion.

The T.A.M.I. Show (out March 23 on DVD) is among the greatest rock movies ever on the strength of its dynamic cinematic presentation, its staging and the talent and diversity of its performers. A concert that included everything from the surf pop of Jan and Dean to the garage rock of the Barbarians, the poised Leslie Gore to the cool rhythm of the Miracles, would seem incredible by the ‘70s as the rock and pop audience splintered into ever smaller fragments. But in 1964, it was just part of the fun of being young. The screaming audience in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was as integrated as the roster of talent on stage as blacks sat with whites, boys with girls.

Director Steve Binder, a graduate of the “Steve Allen Show,” used hand held cameras to capture a sense of carefree momentum under the opening credits and edited the relatively high definition television footage on the spot, transferring it to 35mm. The dozen musical acts shared the stage with a gang of go-go dancers on risers, adding to the the film's pervasive dynamism.

The T.A.M.I. Show Collector’s Edition DVD is the first time the entire movie has been released since its theatrical debut. According the essay in the accompanying booklet, James Brown, angry at being second billed to the Stones, was determined to put them in the shade. The world’s greatest rock’n’roll band was acutely aware of how well he succeeded.

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