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Film / T.A.M.I. Show

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T.A.M.I. Show, aka The T.A.M.I. Show, is a 1964 concert film directed by Steve Binder.

The title notwithstanding, there were actually two shows, held on subsequent nights (October 2829, 1964) at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The best clips from each concert were edited together into a single film that was released by American International Pictures on December 29, 1964.

Both the concerts and the film were intended to showcase some of the best of the rock and R&B music that had taken American youth culture by storm. The idea was to combine some top U.S. acts with a few of the British groups that were then flooding into the American pop scene via the first wave of The British Invasion. The concert's lineup, which combines flash-in-the pan 1964 acts with all-time greats, features (in order of appearance) Chuck Berry, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean (who acted as emcees), The Beach Boys, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Supremes, The Barbarians, James Brown and the Flames, and The Rolling Stones. Members of the famed L.A. studio ensemble The Wrecking Crew served as the house band for the shows.

Probably best remembered for capturing a particularly dynamic performance from James Brown, the film is also notable for being one of the last times Brian Wilson performed with The Beach Boys prior to his nervous breakdown and subsequent retirement from touring just a couple of months later.

Director Steve Binder later earned himself a bit of Hollywood infamy as the director of the Star Wars Holiday Special. A 20-year-old Teri Garr can be seen as one of the go-go dancers on the stage; she's next-to-last in a line of dancers that passes in front of Marvin Gaye during his set, and later is shown wearing a sweater with circles on it as she dances behind the Supremes.

Another filmed concert, The Big T.N.T. Show, was staged at the Moulin Rogue club in Hollywood and released a year later. That show features (in order) Ray Charles, Petula Clark, The Lovin' Spoonful, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez, Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Roger Miller, The Byrds, Donovan, and Ike and Tina Turner, as well as an orchestra conducted by David McCallum. A young Frank Zappa can briefly be glimpsed in the audience. Footage from both films was later edited into a 1984 VHS release, That Was Rock, while T.A.M.I. Show received a DVD release in 2010 and both films were issued on a Blu-ray in 2016.


Tropes:

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Dennis Wilson broke a drumstick during The Beach Boys' performance of "I Get Around".
  • Artistic License Geography: The lyrics to the opening theme song make reference to "The Rolling Stones from Liverpool". Though another of the featured groups, Gerry and the Pacemakers, hailed from that city, as did Billy J. Kramer—not to mention that other well-known band that didn't play this show—the Stones themselves were Londoners.
  • Cool Old Lady: "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" is, after all, about an old lady who drives like a maniac, challenges young men to drag races, and wins. ("She's the terror of Colorado Boulevard.")
  • Concert Film: A pretty strong lineup of some of the biggest acts of 1964. Although feature-length concert films date at least as far back as 1948 and Concert Magic (starring classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin), and there had been examples in other genres like 1960's Jazz on a Summer's Day, this was the first significant rock concert film.
  • Cool Board: Jan and Dean's song "Sidewalk Surfin'" is about zipping down the sidewalk on a skateboard. Dean pulls a skateboard out of a guitar case and wheels around the stage for a little bit.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Starts with a song over the opening credits, "(Here They Come) From All Over the World", sung by Jan and Dean, which basically explains that there's a big concert coming with acts from all over the world. It even mentions some of the songs that the acts in the show will sing.
    "Chuck Berry's comin' in from St. Lou/He's gonna sing 'Maybelline' and 'Memphis' too."note 
  • Fanservice Extra: Throughout the concert there are a series of go-go dancers boogieing on the stage and on a platform behind the stage. Many of the female dancers are scantily clad in hot pants, tight dresses, sweaters, or bikinis—one particularly curvaceous woman in a bikini can be seen bouncing behind Chuck Berry during his first song.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The T.A.M.I. of the title was variously stated by the concert promoters to mean "Teenage Awards Music International" and "Teen Age Music International".
  • Grand Finale: All of the featured acts as well as all of the go-go dancers come onstage for the last song, "Let's Get Together" by The Rolling Stones. Director Binder neglected to inform the Stones about this, which is why Mick Jagger is visibly surprised when the stage starts flooding with people.
  • In the Style of: If "Bad to Me" by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas sounds like a lost B-side by The Beatles, that's because it is; Lennon and McCartney wrote the song and made a demo before eventually giving it away.
  • Large Ham: James Brown, everybody; they didn't call him "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" for nothing. He dances on one foot. He does splits. His performance of "Please Please Please" included a little bit of stage business in which Brown pretends to drop to a knee while singing "don't leave me", only for one of his band members to pat Brown on the back and drape a towel over his shoulders. Reportedly The Rolling Stones were terrified at having to follow Brown and close the show; Keith Richards later called it the biggest mistake of their career.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: The title! The producers clearly came up with the catchy acronym "T.A.M.I." and then struggled to find a title to match it, which is why it was sometimes referred to as Teenaged Awards Music International" and "Teen Age Music International".
  • Re-Cut: Due to a dispute over rights, The Beach Boys' set was cut from the film after the original theatrical release and remained missing for decades. The film was not released for home video with The Beach Boys included until 2010.
  • Sequel: The Big T.N.T. Show.
  • Shout-Out: The film has been referenced in pop culture since its release.
    • The Police song "When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" contains a reference to "James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show ".
    • Tami Show was the name of a Chicago-based pop band in the late 1980s.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Many sources render the title as The T.A.M.I. Show, but posters for the film, as well as the DVD release 46 years later, go with T.A.M.I. Show. It doesn't help that the opening credit says "Teenage Command Performance".
  • Three Cameras: The film was advertised as using a process called "Electronovision". It consisted of shooting the performances on videotape with regular TV cameras, then converting the videotape to film. While the tape-to-film conversion was basically the old kinescope process, the resolution used (819 lines at 25 fps) gave enough resolution for an acceptable big-screen enlargement. Due to videotape editing being very rudimentary at the time, the film was done as if it was a live TV production.


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