Judge Clark Douglas is switchin' to another channel.
"Hey Judy? Who's Judy? I don't know."
I have pretty much zero familiarity with The Kings. Yes, I've heard the song "The Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide" before, but that aside, I know very little about the Canadian rockers. Apparently they're attempting to make some sort of comeback, which was supposedly the subject of this documentary called The Kings: Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder. Surely fans of the band will be intrigued (it's not like there's an abundance of documentaries about The Kings out there), but is this rock-doc worth checking out for the average rock n' roll fan?
The answer is simple: only if you're really, really desperate to know every single piece of trivia about about the song "The Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide." I knew nothing about the band before I saw this documentary, and I knew almost nothing about the band after watching this documentary. There's almost nothing on how the band formed, little conversation about the quick rise and fall of The Kings, not much about the different directions all the band members were taking over the course of the past couple of decades. The documentary is merely a dissection of the one popular song The Kings managed to churn out. Nothing more, nothing less.
Has there ever been such obsessive attention paid to the formation of a song? I mean, "A Day in the Life" doesn't get this kind of attention. For 43 minutes, every single aspect of the tune is examined tediously. An interviewer probes all of the original band members with a checklist of questions. "What about the first line? What does that mean?" "Well, it means this." "Really? That's so interesting. What about that second line? What does that mean?" You get the idea. The real kicker is that almost everyone typically responds with something like, "Ah, I don't know what it means. I don't know how I came up with that chord, I just kind of came up with it, you know?" It's about as rewarding as dissecting Jell-O.
The documentary may be something of a wash, but fortunately the disc supplements a solid 70 minutes of music videos. The packaging repeatedly touts the virtues of the "incredible" brand-new music video for "The Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide," which is actually incredibly disappointing. The video merely switches between an old stage performance and a new stage performance of the tune. That's it. 14 other tunes are included here: "Clean Shot," "Because of You," "Don't Let Me Know," "It's Up to You," "If We Don't Belong Together," "Lesson to Learn," "The Longest Story Ever Told," "Your Old Boyfriends," "Parting of the Ways," "To Be in Love," "My Habit," "Bad Side of Town," "Cosmic Groove," and "Switchin' to Glide/Partyitis." Personally, I didn't think too much of these rather generic rock tunes, but they undeniably add some considerable value to the package for fans.
Alas, poor technical qualities prove to be the final nail in the coffin of The Kings: Anatomy of One-Hit Wonder. Everything here looks absolutely wretched. The transfer on the documentary and the music videos is miserable, with just about every imaginable problem cropping up at some point. Scratches and flecks? Check. Color bleeding? Check. Black crush? Check. Lots of grain? Check. Footage that looks like it was taken from a digital camera filiming another digital camera filming a Youtube video? Check. Non-anamorphic widescreen music videos? Check. Speaking of which, the main documentary is presented in full frame, but the aspect ratio varies wildly from video to video. The stereo sound is quite terrible, too, which is particularly bad considering that this disc relies so heavily on music. The audio is distorted, the dialogue is garbled, and the live music just sounds poorly recorded.
I wish The Kings the best in their attempt at finding fame once again, but I simply can't recommend this documentary under any circumstances. It's complete rubbish.
[Editor's Note: Shortly after posting, we were contacted by John Picard, founding member of The Kings, who felt Clark's review was "the most unprofessional hatchet job I've seen in a long time." In such cases, we offer filmmakers an opportunity to rebutt the review in their own words. Here then is John's unedited rebuttal.]
As the producer/director of this dvd, I am always interested in reading what people think of it. And I understand that you have to take the good with the bad. However, the reviewer in this case has got so much wrong I felt I should say something. First he repeatedly calls our song "THE Beat Goes On," when it is "THIS Beat Goes On." That subtle difference is addressed in the documentary as a creative decision. He also quotes the people in the movie incorrectly, I always thought quotes were supposed to be accurate. He also describes the video I made for "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide" like this: "The video merely switches from an old stage performance and a new stage performance of the tune." In the edit of this video we had over 40 sources spanning over 20 years and we used most of them. This was a huge undertaking and took over 140 hours to cut together. We have had hundreds of compliments on this video and 170,000 plays on youtube. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am not saying my documentary is the greatest ever, but there is no way that it is "complete rubbish." This review, however, is.—John Picard
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Studio: Dizzy Records
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