'Do It Again,' a fan documentary on the Kinks, screens at Cinefamily tonight
“Dan is a fan and he lives for our music. It’s the only thing that gets him by. He’s watched us grow and he’s seen all our shows. He’s seen us low and he’s seen us high.”
When Ray Davies wrote those lyrics in 1978 for the song “A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy,” he might as well have been singing about Geoff Edgers, who right around that time was just starting a life-long obsession with the Kinks.
Although the Kinks -- fronted by the battling brothers Ray and Dave Davies -- have long stopped playing, Edgers’ devotion to the British Invasion rockers has grown more intense with the passing of time. When he turned 40, the Boston Globe rock critic decided that he hadn’t “done anything important or special” with his life, but that he could change that if he could reunite the band.
“It was a twisted midlife crisis where instead of having an affair or getting a sports car, you try to reunite perhaps the most dysfunctional rock band in history,” he said. While he was ultimately unsuccessful, he filmed his efforts and has made the charming documentary “Do It Again,” which was directed by Robert Patton-Spruill and is debuting tonight as part of the Don't Knock the Rock festival at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.
Dysfunctional is putting it mildly. While the underappreciated Kinks had their share of hits (“You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Lola”), the constant feuds between Ray, the band’s primary songwriter, and Dave, his younger brother and lead guitarist, along with bad luck and their own mistakes, kept the band from achieving the commercial success it deserved.
So, Edgers set off on his mission. Along the way, he talks with some of the musicians influenced by the Kinks, including Sting, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Buck of REM and Robyn Hitchcock. Edgers gets to do his own version of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp and play Kinks songs with several of his interviewees. Not all are game, though. Paul Weller, whose late 1970s mod band the Jam had success covering the Kinks classic “David Watts,” pretty much tells Edgers to stick it.
Some question Edgers’ dream of making a documentary about reuniting the band. Shel Talmy, who produced several of the Kinks' early hits, tells him he “can’t imagine any new slant that wouldn’t bore the pants off the demographic group that actually knows who they are.”
But try he must. When Ray Davies indicates early on that he is not game for any of this, Edgers continues but broadens his focus beyond the band to his own state of mind in pursuing this reunion. After all, he’s a newspaper journalist entering middle age. If that is not cause for self-examination, I’m not sure what is.
While Edgers never gets Ray to sit and chat, he does land Dave, who provides a lot of insight into his older brother and the band.
Ray, Dave says, was happy from age zero to three, before his younger brother was born. Dave explains the dynamics between the two siblings this way: “You couldn’t have two tigers in the room.”
Although Edgers ultimately fails, Kinks fans are used to failure. Even Dave Davies cracked, “We always had a way of messing things up.” As for Edgers, he shouldn’t feel too bad. While Ray and Dave weren’t willing to bury the hatchet for his cameras, he did get to play with Sting, Dave Davies and Deschanel. That’s almost worth the $150,000 he spent making the movie.
-- Joe Flint
'Do It Again' screens at 8 tonight as part of the Don't Knock the Rock festival at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Tickets are $10.
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