CAPSULE: Melissa Kirkendall takes a look at the Rock and Roll explosion following the fame of the Beatles, 1964 to 1972. The unlikely scene of a lot of the action was Fort Worth, Texas, home of an entire culture of "garage bands." This was a pivotal change in American culture, and it was kids in their mid to upper teens. Kirkendall tells us the story of the Rock and Roll youth movement and those exciting eight years. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
I was around for but not into the 1960s Rock and Roll scene that followed the British Invasion with the popularity of the Beatles. The "Ed Sullivan Show" featured the Beatles on March 13, 1964, and overnight the style of long hair, English mannerisms, and bands with four or five musicians became the standard for teens all over the United States.
I did not participate but was the right age and I remember the revolution and what was really the invention of what we now call the "youth culture." Also this is about the phenomenon that swept the country but one of the centers of the excitement was, of all places, Fort Worth, Texas. Now normally Fort Worth is not even the cultural leader of the twin cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. But it did seem to be the center of garage bands--bands of kids in their early to mid-teens who formed groups and practiced typically in their garages because there parents would not allow the loud noise in the house. In this time Fort Worth became to Rock and Roll sort of what Roger Corman was to American cinema. It was a kind of proving ground for what was to come in Rock and Roll. Several teen Go-Go clubs opened in town, and if your group was booked for an A Go-Go, you were pretty much already a star.
TEEN A GO GO is Melissa Kirkendall's reminiscence of that exciting time. It tells the story of what happened but concentrates mostly on interviews with the musicians, the disk jockeys, executives, and fans. It moves back and forth between telling the story and interviews with participants. There are plenty of musicians still around. None of the Fort Worth crowd seems to have made more than negligible money from their music--that has gone to the corporations. But this was a wholesome creativity. Rock and Roll comes off as well adjusted compared to the rock that followed. In telling the story I do not believe there is ever an occasion in the film even to use the word "drug". Sex is never mentioned much more than to say the guys really liked to have girls screaming for them. (There are two murders mentioned in one story, but they do not appear to having anything to do with the music.) These are people who in those eight years from 1964 to 1972 had a fun and creative time as teenagers and then went on to do something else with their lives. Records were made of the teens, frequently with just one take of the song. Many of these records have become valuable collectors' items. Most of the music is unfamiliar (to me at least) though the premiere group, The Elites did have a song, "One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four" that did get national play.
Curiously there is no mention of the fact that there are very few girls in the bands. A girl band is discussed, but there are no bands of mixed gender, with the possible exception of bands with Go-Go girls who were pretty much just stage decoration.
Kirkendall co-produces, directs, and edits, each for the first time on a feature film. The technical work could use some work. There are occasional jumps in sound level between scenes. When music historian Joe Nick Patowski is interviewed his glasses distractingly reflect bright light and street scenes.
TEEN A GO GO is a reminder of a simpler and more innocent time when "Rock and Roll" was enough by itself and did not need to be "sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll." I rate the film a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1811328/
Mark R. Leeper email@example.com Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper