07 March 2010


Get the T.A.M.I. Show on DVD

Any musician or music geek worth his or her salt knows about The T.A.M.I. Show, a one-off 1964 TV special/theatrical movie. It capitalized on that year's Beatlemania with an astonishing evening of concert performances by hitmakers from the U.S. and the U.K. in Santa Monica near the end of October of that year:

The film is now available for purchase for the first time (yes, the first time in 46 years). Like The Beatles' Yellow Submarine, The T.A.M.I. Show has been mired in copyright and ownership disputes for decades—bootlegs have abounded, but even those lacked footage of The Beach Boys, who had their part removed after the initial theatrical release in '64.

The T.A.M.I. Show is best known for the explosive performance (and amazing hairdo) of James Brown, then nearing the peak of his powers as a singer, dancer, bandleader, and musical innovator. (He would basically invent funk the next year, with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.") If you were among those who thought The Beatles were strange and radical in 1964, then this footage of James Brown and the Famous Flames would have simply exploded your head.

But check out the rest of the lineup too: The Barbarians, Marvin Gaye, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean (who hosted), The Supremes, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Plus a few other acts you might have heard of: Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. All on one concert stage.

It's a shame the movie has been essentially underground since before I was born, but now it will be easy to find starting March 23. I made sure to pre-order a copy, and I'd like to thank Tim Bray for telling me it was showing on PBS tonight. I've been trying to see the whole thing since the 1980s.

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26 September 2007


It's back, baby!

The New Sound at Flickr.comWhen I was learning to play in a band, back in the mid- to late '80s, there was a 1960s revival going on. We even had an AM radio station in Vancouver that played almost nothing but sixties music, from the British Invasion to the weird one-hit wonders like the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird." So it's no surprise that I ended up even today playing in a faux-sixties cover act.

But despite Austin Powers, that revival did fade in favour of seventies and eighties revivals. And while there is no grunge revival yet that I can see, there does seem to be another small sixties revival underway. It's most obvious in TV commercials.

The new "Joe" clothing line has a full-on go-go dancing crowd shimmying to the Kinks' "Everybody's Going to Be Happy" (not a particularly well-known number of theirs). Similarly, Canadian retailer The Bay has a new "Boom" line of women's clothes and accessories, and the TV ad includes a Yardbirds-esque version of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." Even Mini Wheats cereal has gotten into the act, with moppy-haired psychedelic retro animations behind its catchy singing wheat square belting out groovy Scooby-era pop.

I don't know if it will become more widespread, but commercials often plant the seed for new musical discoveries by kids who buy music. My nine-year-old daughter (who admittedly already calls the Beatles her favourite band, and wants to meet Paul McCartney someday) discovered the Kinks through that Joe commercial. And of course there's the success of Amy Winehouse singing tunes that sound like Dusty Springfield.

If Apple adds an old track from "Nuggets" to an iPod commercial, you'll know the sixties are going mainstream again, baby!

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