What’s it about?
Vinyl charts record executive Richie Finestra’s exploits as he tries to navigate his record label through the evolving music scene and genres of the 1970s.
Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Paul Ben-Victor, P. J. Byrne, Max Casella, Ato Essandoh, Juno Temple, Annie Parisse, James Jagger
An Introduction to Vinyl
Beginning in 1973, Vinyl is set in the vibrant melting pot of talent, creativity and edginess known as New York City. After the placid hippy scene and culture of the sixties, a new and exciting scene is currently in full swing.
Loud, rebellious and androgenous, Glam Rock is currently the order of the day and is coming from both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously. Spearheaded by the sexually ambiguous David Bowie, the flamboyant Marc Bolan’s T. Rex, and sleazy proto-punk peacocks, the New York Dolls, Glam is hedonistic, escapist fun. It’s also going to burn itself out pretty soon.
Richie Finestra (Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale) is at a cross-roads. He is president of record label, American Century Records, a company that while not exactly failing, has seen better days. Something’s missing, and Richie’s not happy with the way things are going.
Sometimes it seems to Richie that he’s the only one there that actually cares about music; his fellow execs often seem solely concerned with money and perks. Now things have come to a head, with an impending sale of American Century to a bigger label, the conservative German Polygram.
One night, Richie finds himself at an explosive New York Dolls gig and has a coke-fuelled revelation – the future isn’t written! The music scene is vibrant, fast-moving and continually evolving regardless of the money-men – sure, it’s Glam right now, but it could equally be something else next week. What if a record label could get ahead of the curve? Maybe it’s kind of a shame American Century Records is being sold tomorrow!
Vinyl could be described as a sort of Mad Men for the music industry, with both shows setting a high bar in terms of quality and care in their respective historical settings. Vinyl is character-led and, while you don’t need to know anything about pop music history to enjoy the show, fans of all genres will enjoy the many incidental references, portrayals and nods to musicians of note peppered throughout proceedings.
Vinyl is the brainchild of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and director Martin Scorsese, along with writers Rich Cohen and Terence Winter. Jagger’s love, knowledge and first-hand experience of the ’70s music scene is palpable and Scorsese expertly sets the scene by directing the first episode (as he did with another mighty HBO show, Boardwalk Empire).
Set in the early 1970s, a fascinating and under-represented time of shifting ideas in popular music and youth culture, Vinyl offers fascinating glimpses of what’s to come. After Glam, the significant and influential genres of Punk, Disco, and Hip Hop will have their turns, all born from the non-mainstream.
Many heroes of the time are represented by brilliantly cast doppelgangers, featuring luminaries such as Alice Cooper, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Andy Warhol and Lou Reed, as well as future legends such as DJ Kool Herc and Joey Ramone.
The integral story primarily follows Richie Finestra’s journey alongside his wife, former model and member of Warhol’s inner circle, Devon (Olivia Wilde), plus long-time business compatriot Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano). Richie’s tried playing it safe, but he has a nagging itch that needs to be scratched. Every decision he makes has the potential to greatly affect other people’s lives, and if he goes down, he’s taking them all with him – whether he means to or not.
Vinyl had all the makings of a classic show right from the first episode, but was sadly not to progress beyond one season. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable, often anarchic and regularly fascinating music-fuelled ride worth jumping on board.
Check out the Season 1 Trailer here: