DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Steve Binder
Writing Credits:

Filmed just eight months after The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The T.A.M.I Show introduced rock n soul youth culture to America in the first concert movie of the rock era. One of the rarest and most sought-after performance films from its time, the 1964 concert event featured future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes and many other American and British Invasion hitmakers in their prime.

This legendary film has never been available on DVD and has not been seen in its entirety since it originally appeared in theaters in 1964. Mastered from a new High Definition transfer and UNCUT, this complete version features the Beach Boys performances that were removed following the films initial theatrical run. This is what music fans have been waiting for: the ultimate collectors edition of this long-unavailable landmark film.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
English Monaural
Not Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 168 min.
Price: $19.93
Release Date: 3/23/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director Steve Binder and Music Historian Don Waller
• Radio Spots
• Trailer with Optional Commentary
• Booklet
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The T.A.M.I. Show: Collector's Edition (1964)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 12, 2010)

Back in 1980, Sting sang “James Brown on The TAMI Show - same tape I’ve had for years". 30 years later, Der Stingle gets to retire that worn-out bootleg videocassette, as the legendary TAMI Show finally receives a home video release. (Despite its great reputation, the full TAMI never received legal, official distribution in any video format.)

What was the TAMI Show? “TAMI” stood for “Teenage Awards Music International”, but no one cares about the meaning behind the acronym; indeed, an alternate meaning also was bandied about in the day. Fans of a certain age view The TAMI Show as a conglomeration of some of music’s best acts from 1964.

Although envisioned as a yearly event, only one TAMI show occurred. Well, two actually, but both featured the same lineup of acts. The movie’s footage all comes from the second concert on October 29, 1964, and it features the following performers/songs:

Jan and Dean: “(Here They Come) From All Over the World”, “The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)”, “Sidewalk Surfin’”;

Chuck Berry: “Johnny B. Goode”, “Maybellene”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Nadine (Is It You?)”;

Gerry and the Pacemakers: “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”, “It’s Gonna Be Alright”, “How Do You Do It?”, “I Like It”;

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “That’s What Love Is Made Of”, “You’ve Really Got A Hold on Me”, “Mickey’s Monkey”;

Marvin Gaye: “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Pride and Joy”, “Can I Get a Witness”, “Hitch Hike”;

Lesley Gore: “Maybe I Know”, “You Don’t Own Me”, “You Didn’t Look Around”, “Hey Now”, “It’s My Party”, “Judy’s Time to Cry”;

The Beach Boys: “Surfin’ USA”, “I Get Around”, “Surfer Girl”, “Dance Dance Dance”;

Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas: “Little Children”, “Bad to Me”, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, “From a Window”;

The Supremes: “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes”, “Run, Run, Run”, “Baby Love”, “Where Did Our Love Go”;

The Barbarians: “Hey Little Bird”;

James Brown and the Flames: “Out of Sight”, “Prisoner of Love”, “Please Please Please”, “Night Train”;

The Rolling Stones: “Around and Around”, “Off the Hook”, “Time Is On My Side”, “It’s All Over Now”, “I’m All Right”.

All of the acts combine for a show-closing rendition of “Let’s Get Together”. Note that not all of the performances appear in the order indicated above; to simplify, I just listed each act’s songs all together rather than jump around a bunch.

Obviously, TAMI doesn’t offer a perfect representation of the 1964 pop charts; among others, it lacks a certain combo from Liverpool. (No, the Pacemakers don’t offer a quality replacement.) Nonetheless, TAMI provides a pretty nice snapshot, and it certainly delivers a diverse lineup.

And a roster that often qualifies for legendary status. As the disc’s booklet notes, seven of the 12 acts reside in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: the Stones, the Beach Boys, Brown, Berry, the Supremes, the Miracles and Gaye all earned induction years ago. None of the others seem likely to gain entry to the HOF without a ticket, but all maintain some level of continued resonance among pop fans; even obscurities like the Barbarians maintain points with “garage rock” buffs.

If you dig 1960s pop, you’ll have to find music to like here. TAMI touches so many bases that it has a little something for everyone. Personally, I don’t much care for surf music, so the Beach Boys and J&D leave me cold. Lesley Gore was mopey chick music before that became an official genre in the 1970s; possibly the movie’s biggest flaw comes from its inclusion of six Gore songs, which means she gets more tunes that anyone else. And I could live without Brit Invasion also-rans the Pacemakers and the Dakotas.

That said, some of the performances prove to be surprisingly engaging. Stuck in the unenviable spot after true legend Chuck Berry, the Pacemakers sounds better than expected. I wouldn’t say they rock, but I wouldn’t say they don’t, either; they show decent life and vivacity in their short set.

The Beach Boys also deliver an energetic show. In particular, drummer Dennis Wilson packs a real wallop; he almost comes across as a surfer Keith Moon. (Which might make sense, as Moon loved surf music and probably took some early cues from Wilson’s drumming.)

For its first 35 minutes or so, TAMI cranks at a good pace. From Berry to the Pacemakers to the Miracles to Gaye, it just zooms along like a runaway train. I’m not wild about the decision to put two Motown acts back to back, but the show later positions two surf groups in tandem, so I guess there was a method to the madness.

Gaye delivers the expected smooth, charming performance, and even throws out some nifty dance moves at the end of “Hitch Hike”. Robinson’s semi-manic turn offers a minor revelation, though. Vocally, he’s been better; particularly during “Mickey’s Monkey”, Smokey hits more than a few bum notes. However, he works the stage and almost comes across like a mini-James Brown. The Miracles have long been one of my less favorite Motown acts, and I always thought of Smokey as buttoned-down, so his wildness here comes as a pleasant surprise; even with some iffy singing, the performance burns up the floor.

Speaking of dancing, the kids recruited to cut a rug behind/alongside the musicians tend to be pretty out of control. They flail and jerk like they’re under the influence of Satan. In particular, one male dancer – most obvious during “Can I Get a Witness” – looks like a total goof. I do like the babes in bikinis, though, and we even get to see a young Teri Garr at times. (I first noticed her in the background during “Hitch Hike”.)

TAMI hits a lull when Gore appears. She gets a relatively long set, and her brand of whiny chick pop ensures that the show immediately loses momentum. (Gore’s set does include a surreal moment, as many of the show’s male performers are forced to stand in the background during “It’s My Party”. Why? I have no idea, but some of them – especially Robinson – don’t look too happy to be there.) Jan and Dean don’t do much to revive the concert after Gore’s snoozefest, but the Beach Boys – powered by Dennis Wilson – manage to bring back the pulse.

Which then immediately fails during a dull set by the Dakotas. At least the Supremes manage to deliver a few minutes of Motown pop goodness after the forgettable Dakotas. Unlike Gaye and Robinson, the Supremes were never very good live performers; even with their much-imitated choreography, they display little stage presence. Still, it’s hard to beat classics like the ones on display here, and I’m glad they threw in the underappreciated “Lovelight”.

With that we hit a brief and raucous turn from the Barbarians, along with copious shots of drummer Moulty, a dude with a hook instead of a left hand! I was surprised the movie revealed this to us; I’d have thought they’d have avoided it. Moulty wasn’t a great drummer, but if banging the skins with only one good hand isn’t rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t know what is.

As one might infer from the Police quote at this review’s start, James Brown’s set remains the movie’s most legendary. Seen more than 35 years later, it remains a pretty awesome display of musical prowess – and stagecraft. Brown makes it clear from moment one that he owns the stage, and he puts on a display of showmanship that continues to influence performers today.

It’s hard to imagine a stage gimmick quite as absurd as Brown’s cape routine – or one as damned delightful. Brown would probably milk it too much over the decades, but it really works here; every time JB throws off that cape and hits the ground, it’s like a bolt of energy. And Brown’s dancing still dazzles. This is a stellar little set.

Apparently the Stones didn’t want to follow Brown but the producer insisted. This has led many to believe that the Stones put on a lackluster performance, but the evidence here disagrees. No, they don’t live up to Brown’s greatness, but heck, who could?

The 1964 Stones weren’t really The Stones yet, a fact demonstrated by the total absence of original material. With “Satisfaction” still months in the future – and their generally accepted “golden era” a good four years away - they play a handful of covers, and they do so well. The opening salvo of “Round and Round” rocks nicely, and the other songs are pretty good as well.

The Stones simply suffer in comparison to the act that precedes them. I’m about 1000 times fonder of the Stones than I am of Brown, but I can’t deny that he puts on the better performance here. Still, the Stones are more than competent, and really quite good. I believe that if they’d played before Brown, this set would enjoy a much better reputation.

TAMI ends on a bizarre note with a performance of “Let’s Get Together”. At first it appears the Stones are playing the song – and it sounds a lot like “It’s All Right” – but it soon becomes clear that the house band handles it. (Jagger sings a repeated refrain of the title for a while, and at the start, Brian and Keith pretend to play, but they quickly abandon the ruse; Charlie does a little fake drumming later, though, and it kind of looks like Bill mimes the bass, too.)

The tune is pretty meandering, and it exists solely as an excuse to bring all the performers onto the stage for the grand finale. Other than Jagger, none of the acts do anything other than dance and run around the stage. Apparently this segment occurred because the show’s producer wanted to prove that all the performers were actually in the auditorium at the same time; otherwise it might’ve looked like the movie was cobbled together from gigs on a mix of dates.

That makes sense, but “Let’s Get Together” still ends TAMI on a messy note. Well, at least we get to see more of the show’s hottest bikini girl; it looks like JB tries to make some moves on her, too.

With so many acts on display, virtually no one will be totally happy with The TAMI Show from start to finish. Nonetheless, it offers a high-quality roster of performers, and most of them handle their time quite well. This becomes a great snapshot of popular music circa 1964.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio D+/ Bonus B-

The TAMI Show appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the DVD’s booklet describes the presentation as its “original widescreen format”, some fans have cast that into doubt. Shot on a high-def (for the era) video format called “Electronovision”, presumably the material had a native 1.33:1 framing that was cropped for theatrical exhibition.

Which makes it sound like TAMI was intended to be framed roughly 1.78:1, but an awful lot of adherents seem to think it should be 1.33:1, so I don’t know the truth. I can say that the framing usually looked fine, as I saw few instances in which things looked “off” or truncated. That said, the image did appear a bit tight at times, particularly in close-ups; these can seem to be awfully close.

However, I also noticed shots that I thought would’ve look pretty ridiculous with extra info at the top and/or bottom, as the film included plenty of bits that showed very good framing. Given that TAMI was cobbled together quickly and in a somewhat “seat of the pants” manner, I wouldn’t take the examples of awkward framing to prove that the film should be 1.33:1, but I also wouldn’t want to use anything else to prove it should be 1.78:1. Maybe someone out there will have more conclusive information, but right now, it remains a mystery to me.

As for the quality of the picture, I need to approach it in two ways. I’m positive that long-suffering fans will feel absolutely delighted with the presentation. After decades of 12th generation VHS dubs, the DVD will look crystal clear and dazzling.

However, that doesn’t mean that TAMI offered visuals that could be called “crystal clear and dazzling” in an objective manner. Restricted by the limitations of the “Electronovision” source footage and the lack of archival preservation, TAMI was a bit of a mess, but it was a bit of a mess that one should’ve expected; this wasn’t a movie that was ever going to present objectively strong visuals.

Sharpness varied but was usually acceptable. The movie went with quite a few close-ups and two-shots, and those tended to offer pretty positive delineation; they never became razor sharp, but they were fine. Wider shots lost points and became fuzzier, but even those were never really bad; they just didn’t have a lot of definition.

Jagged edges were a minor concern, but shimmering became an occasional distraction. James Brown’s vest became the primary offender, and some other examples occurred as well. O issues with edge enhancement seemed apparent, though.

Source flaws turned into the presentation’s biggest distraction. Throughout the film, I noticed a mix of specks, marks, blotches, thin lines and other defects. These varied in intensity but accompanied most of the movie.

Blacks looked decent to good. Those elements weren’t great, but they had acceptable density. Shadows weren’t much of a factor during this stage presentation, but when apparent, they appeared fine. The generally iffy nature of the visuals meant I wasn’t comfortable with a picture grade above a “C-“, but my subjective side felt more pleased with the results.

Somewhat similar thoughts greeted the film’s monaural soundtrack, though I admit I had higher expectations for the audio, so its failings became more of a disappointment. Expect a lot of distortion here, much of which stemmed from audience sound. I got the impression that the combination of screams and music simply overwhelmed the show’s primitive recording methods, so when the girls went bonkers – which was often – the audio appeared screechy and shrill.

During rare moments of audience quiet, though, the track worked a little better. Fidelity was never especially good, and elements still tended to crackle. Nonetheless, the music appeared cleaner and better defined when it didn’t have to compete with screams.

Taking a “glass is half full” approach, I’d bet that TAMI never sounded better than it did here, and I’d also assume that the audio will be another revelation for those long-suffering fans. In the mix’s defense, it never became truly unlistenable; it just was rather rough around the edges. I try to be objective when I issue letter grades, so I gave the audio of TAMI a “D+”, but I still thought it was perfectly acceptable given the age and origins of the material.

We find a mix of extras here. We open with an audio commentary from director Steve Binder and music historian Don Waller. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of the project’s origins and development, technical areas and legal concerns, the musicians and other performers, and the creation of the film itself.

Binder dominates the discussion and gives us a fine overview of all things TAMI. He digs into a wide array of subjects related to the concerts and the film, so expect to learn a lot about all the relevant areas. Waller also contributes notes about the music and other subjects, but this remains Binder’s baby, and he delivers a solid examination of the appropriate topics.

Some TAMI-related promotional materials appear. In addition to four radio spots, we find the film’s theatrical trailer. We can view this on its own or with commentary from filmmaker John Landis. Why Landis? Because he attended the show as a kid, and he throws out some fun memories. Granted, he gets some facts wrong; he remembers Tammi Terrell and Stevie Wonder as part of the show, and he misidentifies Smokey Robinson as Marvin Gaye. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to hear a few “you are there” thoughts from an unlikely party.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Dick Cavett: Rock Icons, Paul Simon and Friends and I Got the Feelin’: James Brown in the ‘60s.

Finally, the set includes a 20-page booklet. It presents photos, ads, memorabilia, a track list, and a good essay from Waller. It offers a nice summary of the production.

One of the most legendary rock movies ever made, The TAMI Show finally receives an official home video release. Does it deserve its fame? I’d say yes, as it packs an often excellent roster of rock/soul/pop greats into its 113 minutes.

As for the DVD, it looks and sounds pretty bad in an objective sense. However, sometimes my grading doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s a minor miracle that TAMI exists on DVD at all, and I think it looks/sounds fine when viewed in a historical context. It also throws in a few nice extras highlighted by an informative audio commentary. The TAMI Show belongs in the collection of any self-respecting rock fan.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6956 Stars Number of Votes: 23
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main