The T.A.M.I. Show meets The Big T.N.T. Show

Great ‘60s concert films out on Blu-ray

Nov. 30, 2016
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Five years and a pop culture epoch before Woodstock, The T.A.M.I. Show was an extravaganza of rock and soul performers—without the mud, bad acid and inflated expectations of a new world dawning. The T.A.M.I. Show was staged as a concert documentary film, shot in a Hollywood auditorium and featured rock and roll originators (Chuck Berry) California surfers (Jan and Dean, Beach Boys) as well as British invaders (Gerry and The Pacemakers). T.A.M.I. encompassed pop (Leslie Gore), garage rock (The Barbarians) and R&B (Marvin Gaye, Smoky Robinson). And it climaxed with one of the most incredible encounters in pop music history—James Brown’s tear-the-house-down performance followed by The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger looked nervous coming after Brown and did his best to emulate the showman’s moves.

The T.A.M.I. Show has long been available but a new two-disc Blu-ray set couples it with the sequel. The Big T.N.T. Show was a 1965 concert movie whose opening credits conveyed the heady sense of fun and freedom of mid-‘60s rock. “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” star David McCallum served as MC. With sex appeal rivaling that of any Beatle at the time, McCallum strolled into the hall accompanied by a sinister crew (in dark glasses and fezzes) and greeted by shrieking applause from the girls in the audience.

The music, however, was the main attraction. And if the organizers couldn’t manage to bring back James Brown or the Stones for another round, they grouped together a roster representing a wide musical (and cultural) spectrum in short sets of two to four songs. The sonic smorgasbord ranged from Donovan sitting in the round on acoustic guitar to Ike and Tina Turner bringing down the walls from sheer dynamism. The choreographed angst of The Ronettes was matched with the shoegazing melancholy of The Byrds; the professional poise of Petula Clark coexisted with the unabashed jubilation of The Lovin’ Spoonful. Country music received a nod courtesy the hopelessly square-looking Roger Miller; soul music took charge under smirking Ray Charles and his Orchestra.

The T.N.T. performers largely stayed within expectations, Only Joan Baez, of all people, ventured beyond her comfort zone for a beautiful performance of “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”—just her voice and Phil Spector on piano.


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