Always late to the party, I thought HBO’s new series, “Vinyl” was premiering Sunday night. I missed that by a week. But thanks to “On Demand”, we were able to watch three full hours of this new series created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter.
I swear to God, when I saw this print ad for Vinyl, I thought this was Anthony Bourdain. Actually, if Bobby Cannavale wasn’t available, Bourdain would have rocked the role as Richie Finestra. Bourdain was a bad, bad boy back then!
We all know who Jagger and Scorsese are. And for those who are wondering who Cohen and Winter are—well, Cohen is a writer and he is also a contributing editor to both Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines. Winter created the great “Boardwalk Empire” series on HBO.
..and you know what? These two should have known better! They could have made “Vinyl” a lot more realistic!
When I saw the ads and trailers for Vinyl, I was so excited. I could not wait to revisit the early 1970’s—especially through the music I loved and continue to love and listen to. CCR. Led Zeppelin. Hendrix (RIP) Crosby, Stills and Nash, with and without Young—just to name a few. The 1970’s covered it all from classic rock to funk to disco. A musical mélange if you will!
Creedence. The greatest American rock group of all time…
Led Zeppelin. My apologies to the rest of the group, but Robert Plant’s hair deserves a photo of it’s own. If only my hair could fall like that naturally….life is sooooooo unfair–or rather unhair!!
With or without Neil Young, CSN was another great rock group.
Yeah. Even though he passed away in 1970, how come there was no Hendrix in the soundtrack? His music was still popular in the 1970’s. I feel your love Jimi. I feel your love.
I was in high school in 1973. I lived in New York. Long Island to be exact, but it was just a one-hour ride into The City, via the Long Island Rail Road, making it very convenient to attend rock concerts. Ahhhh. The Felt Forum and memories of The Kinks! The early Seventies!
I’m hoping The Kink’s ORIGINAL music makes it into HBO’s Vinyl. Two points that the band even got a mention!
Hold on. I can feel myself going off topic here. Back to Vinyl. I was eagerly anticipating this series because the music scene from that era is one that I can relate to. Besides that, with Martin Scorsese directing and Mick Jagger as one of the creators, Vinyl has to be a precise and authentic look back into musical past.
Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale, center) and his merry “band” of record company misfits!
Bobby Cannavale plays the lead of Richie Finestra. This is even more greatness.
Or is it?
I thought that the music would be in the front and the drama would be in the background. Instead the emphasis is on the drama with the music in the background. It’s a bit of a disappointment to me. Now I’m no TV or film critic—and I can only give my personal opinion on this series and we’re only into the second week. But my early thoughts are this:
Martin Scorsese all too often reaches into the darkest possible area and goes over the top with the drug thing. Quite honestly, I’m hoping that this series lightens up a bit. Vinyl is taking things a bit too seriously. Yes. We all know cocaine is a very, very bad drug. But not every snort is taken in a maniacal manner. The scene where Richie Finestra rips the rear view mirror off this car to do a line or three was a bit overly dramatic.
I don’t think many people would rip their rear view mirror out of an expensive Mercedes to do blow. He could have just bent down and used the seat!
Scorsese could’ve taken a lesson from Woody Allen. It’s more realistic.
A more realistic look at New York life in the 1970’s. And a sense of humor!
I love Bobby Cannavale. As an actor, he’s got a great face. He’s got a great gravelly voice and he’s just really good! But enough with the overly-exaggerated strung out, torn between-good-and-bad, I-need-a-hit, emoting. I honestly think Cannavale’s acting skills are undermined by his way too dramatic facial expressions.
This scene killed me. I can’t spoil but it was just not believable. Bobby is doing a great job emoting–isn’t he? His face says it all!
The period clothing. OK. I get that the Seventies didn’t exactly give us the best fashion looks. But when I saw Ray Romano, Max Casella and P.J. Byrne in their get ups, I started to laugh. It was almost like looking at an SNL skit. At least the clothing choices for Cannavale were more realistic.
I started to laugh when I saw the mutton chops. I started to puke when I saw the shit brown suit. Ugh.
..but I think the absolute worst was the shoes pictured above. Perhaps I was too much of a prepster in my Weejuns, but I don’t remember any man except pimps wearing shoes that bad. And I know how pimps dressed. I lived in NYC in the 1970’s!
The story. Richie Finestra owns a record company. American Century Records. The company is in the shitter and Richie, along with his partners is in the middle of selling the company to a group of Germans who own Polygram records. The Germans are straight outta “Inglourious Basterds”. Did I see a vision of Christoph Waltz?
Richie has a pretty wife, played by Olivia Wilde, who’s actually good in the role of Devon. She used to be one of Andy Warhol’s muses. She used to be wild. She’s tamed down. Devon drives with a pretend Karen Carpenter in her car. They have a nice home in Greenwich, Connecticut as well as an apartment in New York City.
Pretend Karen Carpenter. Aimee Mann provides the voice. Why couldn’t a REAL Karen Carpenter recording been used? (My thoughts have nothing to do with Mann–I like Mann a lot–but really?)
Olivia Wilde proves her chops in Vinyl. She’s pretty darn good as Devon Finestra!
It seems that Richie is on the wagon. In the premiere during flashbacks (there’s a lot of them—and not LSD flashbacks either) Richie and his partners are on a private jet and his partners are blowing coke and getting three young women to blow them. Richie thoughtfully declines and moves to another seat on the plane. First sign of his druggie struggle.
Ritchie also tries to make nicey-nice with a radio personality who threatens to boycott Richie’s musical artists. Andrew Dice Clay plays radio personality Frank “Buck” Rogers. Clay is amazing because I didn’t even realize it was him until I researched the cast! Anyway, Finestra’s involvement with Rogers leads to a very bad event. I will not spoil but I’ll just say Andrew Dice Clay is great!
I had no idea this was Andrew Dice Clay. He is amazing in this role as a slimy radio personality!
Are you following?
After this very bad event occurs, Finestra goes off the wagon. He drinks. And acts crazed. He does cocaine and becomes even more crazed. We get it already.
He goes on a bender downtown New York and catches (a make believe version of) David Johansen and The New York Dolls at a club that just happens to collapse. AND Finestra, in another dramatic scene, picks himself up from the rubble of a building that just fell on top of him and we see him limping, in the dark, from this dusty rubble.
A freakin’ BUILDING just fell on top of him. Is Finestra a superhero?
He has an epiphany after hearing The (faux) NY Dolls and being buried in the rubble.
This is a photo of David Johansen and the REAL NY Dolls. The ones in Vinyl were pretend. Sucks that Johansen is prettier than I am.
We also see, in flashback, how Finestra started in the business. He makes a Faustian bargain with a rather unsavory mob character for $150,000. In the meantime, Finestra fucks over the one musician he manages.
There’s a lot going on here—and I’m only into the second episode. It’s almost like a stew that has too many spices and flavors and nothing blends smoothly. The story is just—well, it’s just choppy! Nothing seems to flow in the right direction.
There is also a certain amount of cheesiness in Vinyl too. Mostly the emphasis on 1970’s fashion trends and NOT using the music of the original artist’s heard throughout the soundtrack.
I’m pissed at both the use of cover versions of songs AND the actual lack of music in this series.
Julian Casablancas covers Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground’s “Run, Run, Run”. He does very good job but it’s a cover version. Why couldn’t they dub Reed’s real voice?
Casablancas did the best “pretend” job in Vinyl. Still–I don’t know why Scorsese couldn’t mixed in videos of the REAL Reed.
Don’t even get me started with the portrayal of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin! Surely it could have been done in a better way. Just who IS this Zebedee Row who was supposed to be Robert Plant? Ouch! I’m feeling very badly that the man of the heavenly locks was portrayed with such bad hair!
Yeah, Baby Baby Baby–this looks nothing like Robert Plant. Plant had better hair.
The REAL Robert Plant used a deep conditioner on those pretty locks. Maybe Jagger was jealous and miscast my Robert!
If I heard one more reference to Donny Osmond, I would have started to emote like Richie Finestra. I love mature Donny but I would hardly call him a serious rock star of the 1970’s. Bubblegum Pop star? Yes. Rock star? No.
I love me some Donny, but back in the early 1970’s I would hardly call him a rock star!
A cover of “Slippin’ Into Darkness” at Richie’s birthday party? What? You couldn’t get the original War version?
In case you ARE watching Vinyl, here’s the REAL version!
The Seventies was a time when music was going through so many changes. R&B was slowly morphing into Hip Hop. Classic Rock was being shoved into a corner by Disco. The frontrunners of Punk Rock were crawling like cockroaches out of the woodwork.
Actually, James Jagger is pretty convincing as the leader of a pre-punk group “The Nasty Bits”
James Jagger is actually very good as the leader of “The Nasty Bits”. He should be considering who is daddy is!
In the real 1970’S we had awfully sweet, horrific and saccharine shit like Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight”.
Ugh. I think the real reason I may detest this song is because it reminds me of an old boyfriend!
James Taylor was hitting his stride.
1972. Carolina in My Mind
The Temptations went from songs like “My Girl” to the funkified “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”
Like the awful Bread song, I’m singing to Martin, Mick, Rich and Terrance “Baby I’m A Want You” to focus more on the music and give me more of the music and NOT cover versions of the 1970’s and focus less on the slippin’ into darkness of Richie Finestra’s demons. Make it about the entire industry.
Where were all the original versions of songs???????????????????????? Why were most of them cover versions? This is an issue that is really getting on my last nerve!
And add a little humor—Spinal Tap is a great film to watch to find your inner sense of the music industry’s funny stuff!
This is Spinal Tap had a humorous history. Maybe Vinyl should look for it’s happy place!
What I like the most, though, is that Vinyl gives a realistic look at New York City before the greed of real estate developers took over. I miss the grittiness of that New York. Rents were affordable and people were more real than they are now.
New York was better when THESE working girls roamed the streets…
…and when people who drove old cars like the ones above lived in NY! I had an old gray Dodge Dart that smelled like fish when the windshield wipers were turned on!
I’ll be watching the next episodes in hopes that it gets better because Vinyl has all the components of greatness but it is falling short. I really want to love this series!
Thoughts? Anyone else watching?
And because I’m BEGGING the creators of “Vinyl” to be more realistic–I’ve got Bread (No! NOT the kind you eat–you KNOW I’m off carbs!). “Baby I’ma Want You” (Which BTW I cannot STAND this song!