Trying To Get The Kinks To "Do It Again"
The reunion of the original lineup of The Kinks — lead singer/guitarist Ray Davies, his brother and lead guitarist/vocalist Dave Davies, bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory — is something that fans have dreamed about since Quaife's 1969 departure.
That dream became an obsession and a quest for Boston Globe reporter Geoff Edgers, who set out a personal mission for himself to have the four men patch their differences and return to the stage. Do It Again, a documentary which had its Canadian premiere at Toronto's North By Northeast Film Festival on Wednesday afternoon and will appear at other festivals in the coming weeks and months, is Edgers' story.
Do It Again is named after a 1985 Kinks single and obviously has a larger meaning connected to Edgers' aim, which he tries to achieve by contacting not only the band members but their associates and prominent musicians and fans. We hear phone conversations with Quaife, Yoko Ono and actor John Cusack, but it's the folks who appear on-screen who are most interesting because they also play a part in Edgers' other goal: to have them perform Kinks songs with him during their interviews.
It's a somewhat egotistical concept — as is the film itself, I suppose. But if I was trying to relive my high school musician days and meeting heroes who share a passion for The Kinks, I'd probably do the same.
Not all of Edgers' subjects agree to his requests, most notably Paul Weller when asked to reprise The Jam's cover of "David Watts." He calls the idea "naff."
But we do get to see: Robyn Hitchcock talking about and playing "Waterloo Sunset" as Edgers accompanies him on banjo; Zooey Deschanel impressing with her knowledge of The Kinks catalogue and singing "David Watts;" Sting expressing his admiration and playing a bit of "You Really Got Me" and then singing along as Edgers plays "Set Me Free;" Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey pontificating and performing "Get Back In Line," with R.E.M. drummer Bill Rieflin joining in on percussion; and Dave Davies reflecting on his relationship with his older sibling before strumming and singing "Strangers."
It's quite poignant when Dave says that the only time Ray has been happy is in the first three years of his life before his little brother came along.
Edgers attends a Kinks convention in London, England where he spends time with members of the fan club and the Kastoff Kinks, a band comprised of many of the guys who played in later Kinks lineups from the '70s through the early '90s. Ray Davies even makes an appearance and sings "Days" with his old cronies, but declines interview requests — as he had every previous time he was asked by Edgers — and forbids the documentarian from filming his performance.
I've interviewed Ray Davies once, met him on two other occasions, and have seen him perform four times. I always found him to be engaging and friendly. But while I'll always admire his creative talents, the attitude and behaviour attributed to him in Do It Again has made him a slightly less well-respected man in my eyes.
Edgers' crusade inevitably results in failure and, after talking to Dave Davies, he comes to the conclusion that it wouldn't be healthy for the involved parties if The Kinks did reform. It's fun to follow him along for the ride, however, and Edgers' dedication to his cause deserved my applause.
On a somewhat related note, I also want to bring people's attention to another NXNE documentary that will be shown at 8:15 p.m. tonight (Thurs. June 17) at the Toronto headquarters of the National Film Board: the 50-minute The Watchmen, All Uncovered.
Watchmen drummer Sammy Kohn is a friend, and I look forward to seeing him at tonight's premiere of a film that revolves around a reunion show at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, another appearance at the MTS Centre in the members' former hometown of Winnipeg, and interviews with all of the guys in the band, interspersed with archival footage and photographs. You can watch a trailer for the film on The Watchmen's web site.