On October 25 I wrote about the electrifying trailer that got me excited for HBO’s new show about the music industry in 1970s New York City. Vinyl, which centers around record executive Richie Finestra and his financially unstable record label American Century, gets going fast and never stops. In the first hour of the first episode (which could be its own mini movie as it clocks in at two hours) we meet Finestra, members of his staff, his wife, and a few musicians including some guy named Robert Plant. It is made clear from the first few minutes that everyone in the business does drugs or has access to drugs and Richie, who no doubt has an ear for talent, is becoming more and more unhinged as he begins losing artists as a result of his greed and the greed of his colleagues.
Created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter, the ten-episode series moves at lightning speed and is backed by one hell of a soundtrack that includes an eclectic group of songs that covers genres from the blues to punk. The music is so superb that I immediately purchased most of the soundtrack on iTunes – even the song “Rotten Apple” by fictional punk band Nasty Bits– made the cut. Why do I like the song so much? Maybe because the lead singer is Jagger’s incredibly talented son James who looks just like him but sounds like he should be fronting the Sex Pistols.
If you’re a music fan, someone who used to be part of the music industry, or simply interested in music history, this show is not to be missed. Although there is way too much emphasis on drugs (it was the 70s, we get it) and on a conflicted central male character trying to save himself by destroying himself, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Finestra and his world make for extremely captivating television so the fact that HBO has already renewed Vinyl for a second season is not surprising. In the meantime, we have 10 episodes of music (I mean television) to watch and I’m looking forward to every single one.
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