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By Brad Cook | May 31, 2010

Here’s a tip for all would-be documentary makers: don’t crib large chunks of narration from a readily-available online source. In the case of “You Really Got Me: The Story of the Kinks,” entire sections of narration are lifted verbatim from All Music Guide’s entry for the band. And that’s a shame, because The Kinks are a band ripe for an in-depth, exhaustive documentary. Their biggest British Invasion rivals, The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones, have obviously received plenty of attention over the past 40-plus years, but for a variety of reasons, The Kinks slipped while climbing the mountain.

Their biggest problem was the well-known fact that they were banned from the United States for four years after finishing their 1965 summer tour. Without The Kinks competing for the lucrative American audience, The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones, along with a host of lesser acts, grew in popularity. While The Who’s Pete Townshend and The Beatles’ powerful Lennon/McCartney/Harrison triumvirate were some of the best songwriters in rock ‘n’ roll history, The Kinks’ Ray Davies was certainly no slouch. If he and his brother Dave hadn’t always been ready to come to blows, even while onstage, perhaps history would have turned out differently.

Getting back to this documentary (Do I have to?), “You Really Got Me” has plenty of issues besides its plagiarism. The worst is that it digresses into long stretches of the band’s concert footage and music videos, with some songs playing for their entirety, while others are cut short for unknown reasons. Sure, it’s nice to see those performances, but the documentary’s flow would have been better served if they had been truncated, with the full versions moved into a supplemental features section. (There are no supplements on this disc.) That would have left more time for a hopefully non-plagiarized discussion of the band’s history.

Sandwiched between the concert clips and a few latter-era music videos are interview snippets from the band members. They look like they’re drawn from a variety of time periods; many of them, unfortunately, have an obnoxious hissing noise in the background. No one else is interviewed, which is a shame. When the band’s influence on 70s punk rock is discussed, for example, it would have been nice to hear from a few bands of that era. And where are the music journalists who could put perspective on the band’s place in history?

If you’re a Kinks fan, you’ll probably want to skip this documentary, unless you’re the completist type who must have everything related to the band. The concert footage, music videos, and interview snippets may also be worth the price of admission, if you buy this disc only for that and forget about the documentary itself.

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