Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Strange Sun Pop for Cali Kids

The T.A.M.I. Show kicks off with a collage of teenagers living a sun-pop California lifestyle before launching into a captivating 1964 rock show recently restored to video.

Chuck Berry is the first performer before Gerry and the Pacemakers join him mid-song on stage to segue from his version of "Maybelline" into their own version. It's unbelievable how animalistic the fans were for rock, as the constant teen-girl screaming drowns out some of the songs, but not Gerry's strange facial expressions or Chuck's St. Louis cool.

The Beach Boys in their candy-striped shirts, with Brian Wilson on bass and Mike Love on vocals, is legendary. "Surfer Girl" is one of the most beautiful pop songs (and great to sing to your babies as a lullabye) and watching rather than just hearing them perform it is a pleasure.

Billy of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas leads some catchy songs that sound like British Invasion meets Elvis. And he's strange to watch, acting more like a politician, with all his winks, waves, and perfect hair and suit.

"Baby Love" by The Supremes features some particularly weird and basic moves by the backup dancers. But the dancers are a pop-culture early-60s lesson through much of this film.

James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Lesley Gore and others are loads of fun, but the main stage goes to The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards actually runs out onto the stage and then plays with exciting and peppy-cool enthusiasm. Their six songs plus the four Beach Boys tunes makes this a must-view for rock fans.

****1/2 out of ***** stars

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