James Brown lives, but records stores are the living dead (and not for long)

The T.A.M.I. Show Collector's Edition Today is a day I've been waiting for for a very long time. The legendary T.A.M.I. (Teenage Awards Music International) Show was finally released on DVD. It has never been released in any format but a crappy bootleg prior to today and I had only seen it once before, about 25 years ago, on a television broadcast quite by accident. I can still remember the fun of watching it for the first time as prime footage of Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and the Beach Boys went by and I thought to myself "where and when was this concert?"
And then the moment happened. Jan and Dean, the hosts of the show, introduce James Brown. The next twenty moments left me ecstatic and floored at the same time. James Brown's performance at the T.A.M.I. show was probably the most amazing concert footage I'd ever seen and the only other thing I've seen since that comes remotely close is the footage of him from the Olympia Theater in France that shows up occasionally on Youtube. But there was never any footage to be found from the T.A.M.I. show. Never. Nowhere. I recently read that even Michael Jackson was desperate to get a copy and couldn't get one. But today I have a copy at home, and even though the concert contains the Stones (with Brian Jones, no less), the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Jan and Dean and Leslie Gore, including a final number of "Let's Get Together" featuring all of them onstage at the same time, it's really all about James Brown. If you are at all interested in rock, pop, soul or funk this film is simply a must-see and if you don't want to plunk down the cash just on my word, put it at the top of your Netflix queue.

There have recently been numerous articles (here, here, here, and here to link just a few) about the impending release of the film, including an article in the Sunday New York Times and USA Today. For pop music addicts or aficionados, this is a big deal. I looked on Amazon and thought about pre-ordering it at $11.99, and moved it to the top of my Netflix queue, where it's been in the "saved" list for years now. But I didn't return the latest disc of "Breaking Bad" from this past weekend yet, so it would be days until it showed up. I really just couldn't wait. Not for twelve bucks. In fact, I couldn't even wait for Amazon to ship it to me, so after work I went to my local independent record store, Rasputin's, and asked if they had it in stock.The young clerk had obviously never heard of it before. Couldn't spell it, had no idea what section it was in, but after I told him how to spell it he said there are 5 copies on the fourth floor, for $22.99 each. The list price is $19.99. This is supposed to be the "cool" record store, though they can't hold a candle to Amoeba Records (which isn't in my neighborhood). I turned around and walked out. There's a Borders three blocks away and so I went up the street and up to the music/dvd floor and asked the young clerk if they had the T.A.M.I Show dvd. Another incomprehensible look from a young music store employee whose face looked like I had just asked her in which aisle can one find the mayonnaise. I told her the video featured the Rolling Stones and James Brown. She located one copy among the Stones videos. $19.99. I asked her if there was any discount available, as I have a "rewards" account at the store. No, but I could speak with a "Service Manager" about that, and she paged one for me.
A woman closer to my age appeared and I told her I'd like to buy the disc, but really, for a full 35% more I thought that was asking a lot of the average consumer. She said they don't match prices. I replied I'm not asking you to match it, but can you do better than the list price, since every week I get a coupon in my email saying 40% off for this or that? She said she could take 25% off, but Amazon had much lower overhead and they didn't have to pay employees like her. Then she looked at the cover of the dvd and asked me what it was. I replied it's a concert from 1964. She said, "Really? And all of these people are in it?"
"Yep," I say, "and it's really good. Watch it sometime." I had her ring up the discount, which put it at $14.99, and wondered exactly what was the added value for which I paid for that extra three dollars. Except for the fact that it was right there, right then. Lucky me, the loyal, local consumer.
Leaving the store, thinking about how the local Tower had closed (which saddened me) and pondering the huge gaping vacancy that was the Virgin Megastore at Stockton and Market (good riddance and goodbye), across the street from the always-packed Apple store, I realized record stores are toast. Done. Over. When I was young there was no place I would rather go to than the local used record store, and on weekends I used to make the rounds to a few in an afternoon, killing hours (and spending money). Nowadays I don't buy that much music anymore, and I think I'm actually pretty easy to please, the fact that I'm a total music snob being besides the fact- just point me to what I want and don't gouge me- it ain't askin' for much, right? And maybe train the employees a bit, you know, for example at least make them familiar with an item that has recently been written up in at least two major newspapers? But I guess I expect too much. I do expect however, that within three years neither of these stores will be in business. Sad.

But get the video!  Having watched the James Brown segment 5 or 6 times tonight, I can honestly say it's even better than I remember it. And the Stones weren't too bad either. I'll probably have more to say about it shortly.