For all its merits of recognizing artists' contributions to modern music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by rule, honors musicians for work they created at least a quarter-century earlier.
Thus, you have creaky 50- or 60-year-olds performing the music of their youth at the induction ceremonies, leaving a lot of us to wonder what it would have been like to see the honorees in their prime.
With the first-ever DVD release of the T.A.M.I. Show: Collector's Edition, we now get that chance.
The historic concert film, shot on October 28 and 29, 1964 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is a veritable Rock and Roll Hall of Fame time capsule. It stars The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and the godfather of rock 'n' roll himself, Mr. Chuck Berry. All of them in their performing prime.
Even the acts who didn't wind up in the RRHoF, like those mentioned above, are no slouches: Gerry and the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Barbarians, and Jan and Dean, who also serve as comedic emcees.
Hell, even the house band that backs some of the performers was stacked with future recording stars Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.
The T.A.M.I. -- Teenage Awards Music International -- Show captures nearly two hours of fantastic early rock 'n' roll, all highlighted by some nifty directing by Steve Binder, who captures the exciting atmosphere both on stage and in the audience. While some elements of the production, such as the stage set, fashions, go-go dancers and, especially, the fact that it was shot in black-and-white date-stamp the film to its era, most of the music is absolutely timeless.
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The Motown acts are polished and pitch perfect, especially The Supremes who rattle off a trio of No. 1 singles. The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean sound great on their surf rock hits and Chuck Berry is the perfectly appropriate choice to kick off the show as he influenced all who follow.
Still, without question, James Brown steals the show. The extensive DVD liner notes allude to the fact that the Hardest Working Man in Show Business was none too pleased to have the upstart Rolling Stones close the show after him, but whether that is the reason for it or not, Brown's performance is pure dynamite. His jittery-legged dance moves and complete command of his band and the stage are mesmerizing.
Naturally, the pre-"Satisfaction" set by the Stones pales in comparison just as their pasty English faces do next to Brown's visage. Interestingly, you can see Mick Jagger literally and liberally adopting some of Brown's stage moves in his own performance. It's a fascinating glimpse of the future showman he would become as both he and his band matured.
The T.A.M.I. Show: Collector's Edition DVD marks the first official home video release of the film in any format. Wrangling over rights issues prevented it from being seen in its entirety since it originally screened in Los Angeles theaters the month after it was filmed. Almost 46 years later is much better than never and the DVD is available now. See a trailer here.