This Vinyl article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor
When watching something that depicts one of the greatest musical decades ever you have to go in slightly open minded. You may or may not be satisfied with what you see or you may not agree with everything which can lead to a pretty bad experience. With Vinyl, the new music centred drama from Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger, the hype that has lead up to the screening premier was something that could have easily killed it. A project that has both Scorcese and Jagger attached should be completely spot on in both content and subject. And it most certainly is. There are moments of indecision in the actual editing of some scenes, such as the sporadic slow motion that can break into, but generally it hits all of the right notes.
Firstly, the characters we’re introduced to are both interesting and informative. They’re informative in the sense of you truly understand each aspect of the industry, from the big business executives, the A&R people through to the radio owners. You also see exactly how cut throat it is/was, and how much relied upon personal or physical relationships. You can also understand the reason the “good old days” are missed by the industry, with extravagant parties, obscene amounts of drug taking and endless cash reserves, it’d be hard not to miss. Recently Richard Hell criticised the show for the portrayal of the drug taking, which in some aspects you may agree with him, it can seem almost a parody, but on the same point it works so well. It gives you a better understanding of just how these people functioned in such a dog-eat-dog world.
Of course, a show so well centred around the workings of the music industry should have a killer soundtrack. From the original compositions to the standards that are occasionally and openly mocked (Looking at you, Slade), the exciting discovery in the 70’s of punk and other sub-genres, contains a track that appeals to everyone. There are even nods to the blues and mo-town with various flashbacks and representations, though occasionally these can be a bit extreme, such as “Bo Diddley” performing in silhouette next to a pool. It was understood but not strictly necessary.
The use of Led Zeppelin is a good mainstream angle to approach the wider audience and is very clever. The only downside is the representation of Robert Plant not being as strong as it could have been. Along with the “performance”, it came across as mildly satirical in it’s execution. The on-screen bands are certainly going to be strong going forward through the series. The main protagonist band ‘Nasty Bits’, a punk band that channel the Dead Boys and Sex Pistols in one raw, heroin filled package. The lead singer, Kip Stevens, is played by James Jagger, Mick’s son, and this isn’t merely a way for him to get a head start via his last name, he genuinely has a good approach to the character and builds a persona that is believable.
As the series progresses we will be gifted with development of all of the characters backgrounds and motives, which was especially tantalised with through the relationship between protagonist Richie Finestra and Lester Grimes. The darkness of it all is what makes it stand out. It portrays the seediness and desperation that 70’s era New York fell into without turning it into a family affair. This is definitely a promising start to what could be the perfect show for music fans and drama enthusiasts.