Monday, February 22, 2016
Vinyl Is Bad
I won't pretend to be a television or film critic, so I will keep this very basic. I hate the new HBO series "Vinyl." I hated the second episode less, but the two hour Scorsese pilot was garbage.
I tossed out some reasons elsewhere and was swiftly berated by one person who all-capped me with a "YOU WEREN'T THERE!" Well, I was kind of there, maybe not in the A&R room of Warner Brothers, or in the Mercer Arts Center when the building collapsed on the New York Dolls, but then, no one was, as the building did not collapse on the Dolls. But I did see Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden in 1975. I even played Max's Kansas City, though long after anyone cared. My point really isn't about my credentials. I never worked on the docks, but I loved "On The Waterfront." That's my point.
The two-hour pilot felt like "Casino" without the card tables. It had all the gratuituous Scorsese tricks and grotesque violence that stopped being exciting after "Good Fellas," only this time, the music and references felt forced, even hokey at times. I guess this is how Marty sees things. (I wonder if there is a Director's Cut of "Kundun," with a Buddhist being garrotted to the tune of "I Ain't Superstitious.")
I'm also not enjoying the part fact/part fiction approach. You've got actors playing the members of Led Zeppelin, Ian Hart as fat Peter Grant, but fake Led Zeppelin music. Obviously, Jimmy Page did not sign off. I mentioned the Mercer Arts Center collapse already. And then there are the Nasty Bits who might very well be Richard Hell's pre-Voidoids band, but certainly didn't exist as the Nasty Bits. And speaking of not exisiting, what about Lester Grimes? Most likely a composite of every R&B artist who got the shaft. All of this with true-ish references to Donny Osmond, Abba, Velvet Underground and of course, England Dan & John Ford Coley. What a mess.
And speaking of Richard Hell, his review of the first episode really nailed it with this paragraph:
"You come to the series looking for music and what do you get? Bulky Italian-American peacocks so crazed by craving for coke that one of them tears the rear-view mirror off his luxury car for a surface to snort from; or two of them excitedly bashing in the head of a vulgar ally before wrapping his corpse in a table cloth and driving it in a car trunk to a dump spot; a prolonged extreme close-up of a fizzingly dynamic cigarette lighter flame against darkness; nonstop soundtrack of rock and roll, soul, funk, blues, punk, and disco pop music. It’s all routine Scorsese shtick, but cheaper."
I'll stick with it for a bit longer, but "Vinyl" has been woefully unpleasant so far. I am neither enthralled nor entertained. When I am not bored, I am repulsed.