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So you've suffered through all those lousy rock movies from the 1950's
through the beach party flicks of the 60's and you wonder, why couldn't
anybody make a good movie about rock and roll? Well, here it is. The idea
was straightforward--get rid of the clueless Hollywood producers and hire
someone like Phil Spector to do the job. Junk those silly screenplays and
actors from another generation and let the performers do what they do
best--perform their music.
The well-staged concert film features a wide variety of artists, all in fine form, performing in the exciting and fast-moving days between the Beatles' explosion onto the American scene and the full flowering of psychedelia. One highlight is Joan Baez stepping out of the folk music milieu and belting out a version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" with Spector on piano. A favorite of mine is the Lovin' Spoonful romping through a couple of their hits. And if you aren't sure why Ike and Tina Turner are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, watch them here.
The camera work and editing are surprisingly good considering the bulky equipment used back then and the scarcity of other rock concert films that had come before. This is a great nostalgic trip for those who remember those days For those who don't. it gives you an idea of what all the excitement was about.
"The Big T.N.T. Show" is an interesting time capsule for fans of the mid-60's music scene. The film is a live concert (shot on videotape, then transferred to film) featuring some of the top musical acts of the era. And what acts they are: Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez, Petula Clark, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Ronettes, The Byrds, Ike and Tina Turner, and Donovan. The film isn't perfect: Baez and Clark sing other artists hits that just aren't suited to their musical stylings, and Donovan's set is extremely slow moving, and brings the movie's tempo to a screeching halt (thankfully, those in charge of the concert bring out the Turner's after his set to wake the audience up). All in all, a great chance to see these acts in their prime.
"The Big TNT Show" will be screened Saturday, 9/19 at 7:30 pm in the
Packard Theater at the Library of Congress Packard Campus Audiovisual
Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA. The screening is free, but
reservations are advised. Call (540) 827-1079, x79994, or (202)
707-9994. This is the third film in a Rock and Roll series that also
includes "Ferry Cross the Mersey" on Friday, 9/18/09 at 7:30 pm, and
"Let the Good Times Roll" on Saturday, 9/19 at 2:00 pm. Also showing
with "Ferry Cross the Mersey" will be the short "Rhythm 'n' Greens"
featuring the Shadows. The theater is located at 19053 Mount Pony Road,
Culpeper, VA. More details:
Let me tell you, I flipped by this the other night on AMC and Ray Charles was on, so I thought I'd watch his song. I could NOT stop watching. You want to talk about eye candy, this is one for 60's music enthusiasts or just plain history buffs. I could have done without the dorky host and his band's musak covers of songs like "Satisfaction", but the crowd shots alone were worth watching. This was Lalapalooza before the Red Hot Chili Peppers were born! Where else would you be able to see Joan Baez, Bo Diddley, Petula Clark, The Byrds, and Roger Miller all in the same place. Are you kidding me!?! I'm having withdrawal... I need to see it again!!!!!
Amazing documentary capturing the pop music scene of the mid-1960s. Where
else can you see Joan Baez, The Ronettes, Bo Didley, Ray Charles, Ike &
Turner, The Lovin' Spoonful, Roger Miller, The Byrds, and on and on and on
on the same bill. Didley followed by Baez is a trip in itself, but then a
few acts later Baez comes back out backed by a full orchestra doing the
Spector-arranged "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (you'll see Phil
on keyboards). Then Ronnie comes out and does "Be My Baby" and "Shout"
some really hot moves. Spector produced and directed, which explains the
eclectic mix and incredible production values.
Too bad this isn't out on video.
I finally got to see this when it was on cable this month, and it
worth the wait! I admit, I was looking forward the most to the Ike
Tina Turner Revue, James Brown, and the Ronettes, but we watched
entire thing and we were not disappointed. James Brown (who, the
goes, was in some sort of stand-off with Mick Jagger about who
better dancer was...needless to say, he wipes the floor with Mick)
incredible. There were some acts that were slower-moving, such
Donovan, but I guess they figured the audience needed a breather.
Diddley is another of the highlights, especially with a trio
beautiful back-up singers/dancers...they are dressed in
Supremes-style evening gowns and big beehives, but manage to
completely bad-ass, and one of them even plays a bass while doing
little dance routine. The Ronettes are wonderful, doing
"Be My Baby" as the crowd of mods and teeny-boppers goes nuts.
Spector's voice will give anyone with a soul chills in that song,
she really looked like she was having fun, though she did write
in her autobiography that Phil Spector yelled at her afterwards
improvising and not doing the song exactly the way he had
her to in rehearsal, proving that Phil Spector is brilliant as
music goes, but not that wonderful of a person. Speaking of
Phil Spector may not exactly be the poster child for sanity, but
sure knew what he was doing when he put this concert
together. Speaking as a dancer who specializes in 60's dance moves,
can honestly say that the go-go dancers (who are shown in footage
the beginning, and grand finale of the film) are the most
I've ever seen, and trust me, I've seen a lot of footage from
The highlight of the movie has to be the Ike and Tina Turner segment, and that is saying a lot, considering some of the mind-blowing performances that come before it. They do a great medley and include full-length versions of "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine" among others. Even Ike appears to be having the time of his life--I don't think I've ever seen him actually smile on-stage before, but he can't keep the grin off of his face when he happily and smoothly duets with Tina. He might not be a stellar human being, but he definitely deserves credit for his musical talent and ability to entertain. Other than the very minor complaint of Tina's usually perfect fashion sense deserting her for maybe the only time in her life (she has a cute outfit but a bizarre leather 'hat' that looks like a long, deflated Jiffy-Pop Bag), the performance is flawless, and they blow the roof off of the place. Watch for the moment when she goes into the audience to involve them in the show during a slower number-she picks out a young mod guy to sing to, and his eyes are as big as saucers. When she sings, "tell me...do you wanna be my man?" he can't even answer coherently when she hold the mike up to him. The choreography and dance moves are so show-stopping and high energy (even for them) that no-one could follow them-- Spector was smart in saving them for last. The Ikettes and Tina are obviously having so much fun that their feet barely seem to touch the ground, and during the big finish "Tell the Truth", Tina moves so fast that she is literally a blur! You can see why Mick Jagger asked her to teach him how to dance. I keep meaning to re-watch the entire movie, but when I rewind, I can't make it past Ike and Tina's segment-never get tired of seeing them shake a tailfeather! I defy anyone to sit still while watching the last 15 minutes of this film.
Since this is almost impossible to find, don't miss it the next time they decide to run it on television! I only give it nine out of ten stars because it isn't in color. I hadn't been born at the time this was filmed, but watching it, I felt like I was in the audience.
If, like myself, you're a nostalgic middle-ager who wants to remember what
the best in mid-60's pop was like for a couple hours, or, if you're under
forty or so and want to know why it was so great, Phil Spector's "Big T.N.T.
Show" is the one to watch.
Taped in concert at the Hollywood Palace and hosted by then-TV teen idol David McCallum ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E."), this show is so crammed with highlights it's hard to know where to begin. There's Ray Charles rockin' the house with the ultimate "Wha'd I Say," dynamite extended sets from the Byrds and Roger Miller; Donovan at his most pseudo-psychodelic (Check out the all-but-incomprehensible intro he gives to Joan Baez), Petula Clark taking us downtown, Baez singing "There But for Fortune" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," the latter with Phil Spector at the piano, Bo Diddley knockin' 'em out as only he could. The mind reels.
But this is a film better seen than described. Unfortunately, it's unavailable on video, so catch it the next time it's on AMC. You'll be glad you did. This film, along with "Woodstock" and "The T.A.M.I. Show," form the great film trilogy of 1960's pop/rock.
Great performances to remind us that even Donovan, and Petula Clark, could send teenagers into hysterical screaming frenzies with their music. Nice sharp black-and-white photography by Larry Peerce. (And check out the knee-high white socks worn by Tina Turner's backup singers!)
Here, we see a multi-faceted view of the movement: FROM >an immature 'rock and roll' era TO the far more developed >ROCK era... Remembering that we are witnessing the infancy of what we would ultimatly call 'classic rock' we >can almost feel the labor-pains of a transitiion in progress... The performers were as diverse as the fans >that would come to worship them and each had a notion of >the world as it existed in that time... All-in-all, a snap >shot of the U. S. A. in the mid 60's.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A motley assortment of music acts encompassing various genres such as
folk, pop, and R&B perform live in concert at a Hollywood club in 1966.
Ray Charles gets things off to a rip-roaring start with a spirited
performance of "What'd I Say." Petula Clark impresses with a lovely and
classy rendition of her big hit "Downtown." Bo Diddley lays down some
thunderous earth-shaking beats as well as busts a few funky dance
moves. The Lovin' Spoonful are quite charming with their one two punch
of "Do You Believe in Magic?" -- the group hilariously flubs the intro
to this song! -- and "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice." Joan Baez holds
her own with a solid set; her inspired cover of "You've Lost That
Lovin' Feeling" stands out as a highlight (and, yep, that's none other
than Phil Spector on piano). The Ronettes are a ball of infectious
happy fire as they bring the house down with "Be My Baby" and a
particularly dynamic version of "Shout."
The Byrds score a bull's eye with their three songs, with "Mr. Tanbourine Man" proving to be the best and most memorable of the bunch. Country singer/songwriter Roger Miller makes an amiable impression as he performs a pleasing medley of "Dang Me," "Engine Engine #9," "King of the Road," and "England Swings." Things go a tad off track and get a bit too sober for comfort with Donovan's performance of four folk tunes, which to be charitable are pleasant enough. Fortunately, Ike and Tina Turner end the festivities on a rousing note with their ferociously thrilling closing act. Director Larry Peerce maintains a quick pace and astutely captures the vibrancy and excitement of the event. David McCallum makes for an acceptable host. Bob Boatman's sharp black and white cinematography provides a neat crisp look. The go-go dancers strut and shake their stuff with spirited abandon. A real blast from the past.
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