From All Over The World

Attention, Lost Groovers everywhere:

Your assignment today is to gather together in one medium-sized concert facility, for one evening only, one dozen of the world’s most popular entertainers. Age, style, size, corporate affiliation and particularly musical pigeonhole is to be strictly of no concern whatsoever. Each act just has to have had a heck of a lot of their songs downloaded, perhaps maybe even sold, over the past calendar year or so.

Then, with a bare minimum of rehearsal or directorial guidelines of any sort – and an equally bare-boned budget to boot – a two-hour concert has to sequenced, scored, choreographed and executed upon a single stage utilizing all these chosen singers, dancers and accompanists, the entire proceedings recorded and video’d completely live, music and vocals, without re-takes, and the resultant miles of tape then edited, printed, promoted and distributed for public viewing into theatres.

Oh. And this all has to be completed within the period of a mere fourteen days, from show-date to release-date, by the way.

Finished laughing? Of course in a 21st century scheme of things such an endeavor would scarcely get past the imagining stage I agree, quickly dismissed out-of-hand (not to mention out-of-mind) as completely unfeasible; one legal, logistical – not to mention ego-tistical – nightmare of gargantuan proportions.

But, in that strange and distant galaxy known as The Sixties, where anything seemed possible, everything was tried at least once, and “no” was a word only uttered when speaking to people over thirty, undertakings of such grand socio-musical import were thought no more impractical than, say, making orange juice out of freeze-dried crystals then flying with them all the way to the moon and back.

What is hard to believe, however, is that one such concert event filmed inside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on the night of October 29, 1964 in front of a few hundred local high school students should not only survive to be released on DVD, but that its one hundred and twelve monochrome minutes remain as utterly entertaining, and downright engrossing, all these forty-five years later.

The TAMI Show: Collector’s Edition, now finally available from our friends over at Shout! Factory is, you see, simply so, so much more than merely Monterey Pop without the lysergic, Woodstock without the mudslides or, yes, Altamont minus pool cues and homicide victims. True, one could consider this film as “just” the single most frantically paced, ultra-high-decibel time capsule of an extraordinary era ever preserved on disc. Or even, as Quentin Tarantino most assuredly claims, “in the top three of all rock movies.”

I will go all that one further, however: The TAMI Show (as in Teenage Awards Music International, by the way) is absolutely essential viewing to anyone and everyone who consider themselves fans, followers, and/or students of popular music.

Period.

Allow me to elaborate. The dozen acts, co-hosts Jan and Dean sing whilst skateboarding across the opening credits, did indeed come “From All Over The World.” Not to mention everywhere across the musical map as well: Kicked off by “the guy who started it all” as Jan (no relation) Berry announces, Chuck Berry duck-walks us all the way from St. Louis to New York City, where the about-to-be- renovated Brill Building sound is sung most proudly and loudly by none other than Lesley Gore (whose proto-feminist lyrics and attitude herein should have all you brand new Runaways fans repositioning the birth of grrrl-rock once and for all).

The magnificent Motor City is then represented by Smokey Robinson – pay particular attention to his Miracles’ dance-steps during “Mickey’s Monkey” – along with superstars-in-waiting Marvin Gaye (who performs two songs soon to be recorded by a waiting-in-the-wings Rolling Stones) and The Supremes (poised to leave behind forever their branding as “those no-hit Supremes” with an historic string of global million-sellers). Meanwhile, England swings Santa Monica via Billy J. Kramer with his Dakotas plus Gerry and the Pacemakers (…four of impresario Brian Epstein’s other clients unfortunately occupied overseas at this point in time, putting finishing touches onto Beatles For Sale it seems).

Why, even what we now know and love as that runt of the musical litter, Garage Rock, is represented by none other than the aptly-named Barbarians and their, I kid you not, one-handed drummist Victor “Moulty” Moulton. Plus special note must here be made of The Beach Boys’ four-song set, propelled practically through the roof by their drummer Dennis, as this particular footage was removed from most every existing print of The TAMI Show soon after release and has only now been fully reinstated in all its harmony-drenched, sun-kissed, Surf City splendor.

And then! As impossible to pin down geographically – not to mention musically or even vocally – as he remained for the rest of his career comes the one, the only, the hardest- working James Brown.

Now it’s been said before, but I’ll just have to say it again (and again and again): His performance in The TAMI Show remains one of the most jaw-dropping, above-kinetic, gut-and-thigh-ripping performances ever executed. EVER. Anytime, any place, by any one. Everything you may have heard about this man and these particular eighteen minutes (e.g., “the single greatest rock ‘n’ roll performance ever captured on film”: Rick Rubin) is absolutely, one-thousand-per-cent true. Just look at it yourself if you don’t believe me …or everyone else who has ever seen it.

Somehow, those newly-rolling, original Stones – with Brian Jones and even Bill Wyman’s vocal mic present – arose to the task of following Butane James that fateful night, and their performance closed the event, and the film, with a mixture of pure, simply pimply beat ‘n’ soul which wins over even many of the pole-axed teens who’d just survived James Brown’s set.

Finally, cue the entire cast and assembled dancers (watch closely for a very young Teri Garr!) back onstage to frug a mighty big storm up around Jagger and Richard(s) and, scarcely two hours after it all began, the curtain drops.

So, just another night of music, mayhem, and undeniable magic out in L.A. during the fall of ’64, right? But what novice director Steve Binder and his crew captured, and what today is immaculately preserved upon The TAMI Show DVD, is busting-full of rich musical (I repeat: James Brown) and cinematic (Diana Ross’ eyes literally filling the screen during “Where Did Our Love Go”) moments which have been oft-shot by everyone from Pennebaker to Scorcese since, but never truly duplicated. For what TAMI managed to mount and maintain all those years ago irrefutably remains the highest of bars for concert events, and films thereof, to reach even today.

It may, sorrowfully, have taken nearly half a century to make it into our homes, but this film has not returned anew one single frame, nor scream, too soon.

Trust me:

You have never seen, nor heard, ANYTHING quite like this before…..

 

Gary’s Buddy

TEN REASONS WHY
BUDDY HOLLY
STILL MATTERS

1. THE CHIRPING CRICKETS
Buddy Holly, alongside rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, bassist Joe B. Mauldin, and drummist-extraordinaire Jerry Allison, formed the immaculately suited, fully self-contained singing/songwriting template upon which some of the greatest pop-rock bands since, from those Beatles most obviously on down, were inextricably linked at the hip.

2. BUDDY’S BUDDY
When no less than that up-coming King of Western Bop Elvis Presley first blew into Lubbock, Texas on tour in 1955, homeboy Buddy Holly was not only right there in the front row cheering him on, but afterwards appointed himself the Hillbilly Cat’s exclusive host, guide and confidant for the ensuing sixteen hours. Duly inspired, Buddy immediately revamped his burgeoning Crickets from an alt.-bluegrass combo into Lubbock’s very own Elvis, Scotty and Bill …so successfully so, in fact, that several months later, when Elvis triumphantly returned to town, Buddy Holly had graduated from mere tour guide status to that of official on-stage opening act.

3. LEARNING THE GAME
After somehow failing to impress the usually infallible Owen Bradley with “That’ll Be The Day” at a 1956 demo session (“the worst song I ever heard” was his verdict), Buddy determinedly drove one thousand miles from Nashville to the Clovis, New Mexico studios of Norman Petty, where over the next eighteen months they turned a simple two-track facility into an audio workshop/lab from which came not only the look and attitude, but the very sounds of the 1960’s to come. Despite his so obviously prescient George Martin ways though, Petty must be docked serious points for screwing Buddy royally over songwriting credits, royalties, and even concert proceeds until the Holly estate could eventually be forever wrenched from his Machiavellian claws.

4. LISTEN TO ME
It may have lasted only twenty-five days, but when Buddy and his Crickets toured the United Kingdom in the spring of 1958, those watching closely and taking serious notes for future use were, amongst thousands of others, John Lennon and Paul McCartney (whose first-ever recording was a near note-perfect “That’ll Be The Day” shortly afterwards), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (the former already proud owner of the Chirping Crickets album), Graham Nash and Allan Clarke (who soon grew their two-man Everlys act into the full, named-in-guess-who’s-honor Hollies), and pioneering British record producer Joe Meek …who subsequently became so obsessed over Holly that he not only killed his landlady, but himself on the eighth anniversary of Buddy’s own tragic demise.

5. NOT FADE AWAY
It did indeed take a Buddy Holly composition to first put The Rolling Stones securely into the American hit parade with, at the very height of Beatlemania, Lennon/McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” unceremoniously relegated to the single’s B-side! And speaking of whom…

6. WORDS OF LOVE
Buddy wrote the best song on the Beatles VI album; and, come to think of it, maybe even on Beatles For Sale.

7. FOOL’S PARADISE
Buddy’s wealth of songs have proven so adaptable, durable and downright sturdy as to withstand covers from the likes of Rush (who also debuted on seven-inch vinyl with “Not Fade Away” I kid you not), the Grateful Dead, The Knack and even Linda Ronstadt. Not to mention “It’s So Easy“ (-Off oven cleaner) and “Oh Boy” becoming “Oh, Buick!” television jingles at the behest of Holly’s supposedly sympathetic post-Petty publishing magnate Sir Paul McC. Quite highly recommended nevertheless is the 1977 McCartney-produced Holly Days, um, tribute album by then-Wing Denny Laine.

8. MAYBE BABY
Years before he was to become the serial tragic clown of television reality programming, that perennially short-pant-legged dust storm known as Gary Busey deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his title role in 1978’s Buddy Holly Story. Now while its script may have taken inexcusable Hollywood shortcuts in recounting our hero’s life and music, at least Gary, alongside co-stars Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith, became pretty damn garage-worthy Crickets all over the film’s soundtrack, performing as close to live whenever possible before the unforgiving cameras.

9. CRYING, WAITING, HOPING
Weeks before his last-ever tour, a newly married Holly sang several song sketches into a tape recorder in his Greenwich Village apartment for what turned out to be posterity. Having already hinted at still non-categorizable sounds-to-come with tracks like “Everyday” and “Well… All Right,” Buddy’s last recordings leap even further into the unknown with covers of Ray Charles (!), Bing Crosby (!!), plus Holly’s own final compositions. Exquisite guitar-and-voice-only recordings, they are far more than simply “unplugged.” They are sublime, heartbreaking, and totally unique. As with most things Holly.

10. STANDING IN THE DOORWAY
"And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him. And he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don't know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way."
— Bob Dylan, 1998 Grammy Awards acceptance speech for Album of the Year Time Out Of Mind.