Inside HBO’s VINYL Premiere

Posted in: Music Reviews
on February 17, 2016

“It’s fast and dirty, and hits you right over the head.”

That’s rock and roll for you, courtesy of VINYL’s lead Richie Finestra, the American Century Records executive played by Bobby Cannavale. HBO’s new series, VINYL, directed and produced by Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger, goes into the tumultuous rock and roll scene of the ‘70s in New York City. Inspired by real events, venues and bands, the show follows Finestra and the politics within the industry.

Finestra is looking for new bands to sign despite the fact the record label is not doing well and will be bought out by a media conglomerate. He hires Jamie Vine, played by Juno Temple, who finds new bands and acts as the drug plug. Vine finds the Nasty Bits with loud frontman Kip, played by Jagger’s son, James. 

Finestra does some band hunting on his own, desperately wanting to sign Led Zeppelin. Lead singer Robert Plant and his notorious manager, Peter Grant, have some differing opinions on royalties than the label, leading to a fight right before the band performs at Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, Finestra is fighting with radio icon Buck Rogers because he refuses to play Donny Osmond’s new album and eventually hires thug Joe Corso to kill him and dispose of the body.

The pilot then concludes with Finestra being floored (literally) by the famous New York Dolls performance at Mercer Arts Center, where the building actually collapsed. Finestra survived the collapse, making him realize he must bring American Century back to the top.

VINYL is nothing short of a jumbled, crazy, wild mess, which is what makes it so great. The references to real bands, events and people is extremely meticulous. Music aficionados who know all the references will enjoy the vivid look into the ’70s with their favorite stars coming back to life like Plant and the New York Dolls. From radio payola, corporate conglomerate and the plain old dirty nature of rock and roll, VINYL will keep audiences watching and begging for one more song.

Catch VINYL every Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.