Attention, music fans and pop culture connoisseurs everywhere:
Your assignment today is to gather together in one medium-sized concert facility, for one evening only, one dozen of the world’s most popular entertainers. Age, style, size, corporate affiliation and particularly musical pigeonhole is to be strictly of no concern whatsoever. Each act just has to have had a heck of a lot of their songs downloaded, perhaps maybe even sold, over the past calendar year or so.
Then, with a bare minimum of rehearsal or directorial guidelines of any sort – and an equally bare-boned budget to boot – a two-hour concert has to sequenced, scored, choreographed and executed upon a single stage utilizing all these chosen singers, dancers and accompanists, the entire proceedings recorded and video’d completely live, music and vocals, without re-takes, and the resultant miles of tape then edited, printed, promoted and distributed for public viewing into theatres.
Oh. And this all has to be completed within the period of a mere fourteen days, from show-date to release-date, by the way.
Finished laughing? Of course in a 21st century scheme of things such an endeavor would scarcely get past the imagining stage I agree, quickly dismissed out-of-hand (not to mention out-of-mind) as completely unfeasible; one legal, logistical – not to mention egotistical – nightmare of gargantuan proportions.
But, in that strange and distant galaxy known as The Sixties, where anything seemed possible, everything was tried at least once, and “no” was a word only uttered when speaking to people over thirty, undertakings of such grand socio-musical import were thought no more impractical than, say, making orange juice out of freeze-dried crystals then flying with them all the way to the moon and back.
What is hard to believe, however, is that one such concert event filmed inside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on the night of October 29, 1964 in front of a few hundred local high school students should not only survive to be released on DVD, but that its one hundred and twelve monochrome minutes remain as utterly entertaining, and downright engrossing, all these forty-five years later.
The TAMI Show: Collector’s Edition, now finally available from our friends over at Shout! Factory is, you see, simply so, so much more than merely Monterey Pop without the lysergic, Woodstock without the mudslides or, yes, Altamont minus pool cues and homicide victims. True, one could consider this film as “just” the single most frantically paced, ultra-high-decibel time capsule of an extraordinary era ever preserved on disc.
Or even, as Quentin Tarantino most assuredly claims, “in the top three of all rock movies.”
I will go all that one further, however: The TAMI Show (as in Teenage Awards Music International, by the way) is absolutely essential viewing to anyone and everyone who consider themselves fans, followers, and/or students of popular music.
For what novice director Steve Binder and his crew captured, and what today is immaculately preserved upon The TAMI Show DVD, is busting-full of rich musical (James Brown, just for starters!) and cinematic (Diana Ross’ eyes literally filling the screen during an utterly Supreme “Where Did Our Love Go”) moments which have been oft-shot by everyone from Pennebaker to Scorcese since, but never truly duplicated.
Yes, it may, sorrowfully, have taken nearly half a century to make it into our homes, but this film has not returned anew one single frame, nor scream, too soon.
Trust me, Little Steven is right:
You have never seen, nor heard, ANYTHING quite like this before...