HBO’s “Vinyl” Worth Watching For The Music Alone

vinylFinally there’s something exciting happening on Sunday nights again. The HBO series Vinyl is without a doubt a must-watch series for any Rock fan. Forget about plot and character, this 10-part series promises a unique and fascinating take on Rock history, while delivering perhaps the best Rock soundtrack in the history of moving pictures.

This shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider that Vinyl has been a pet project of Mick Jagger’s for over ten years. As one of the executive producers, Mick is really putting his cred on the line with this one. Not only does the story, the dialogue and the set design need to ring true, but the music really needed to knock it out of the park. Jagger reportedly budgeted over six figures for the rights to the various tracks in each episode. Turns out it was money well spent.

Vinyl’s storyline begins in 1973. The action centers on the life of Richie Finestra, chief executive of the embattled fictional record label American Century Records. Through flashbacks, we see Finestra getting his start in the industry acting as an agent for an obscure rhythm and blues performer in the early 1960s. So right off the bat, there is a dramatic excuse for music from the late fifties up to 1973 on the soundtrack.

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And with Martin Scorsese as another executive producer and director of the first episode, you know that the musical selections will be coming fast and furious. Sometimes a song will play for just a few seconds to support the action, and then disappear. Half the fun of watching the show is playing “name that tune”.

I heard some fantastic spins that I haven’t heard in a long time — New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis”, Humble Pie’s “Black Coffee”, Foghat’s “I Just Wanna Make Love To You”, Norman ‘Hurricane’ Smith’s “Oh Babe, What Would You Say”, James Brown’s “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose” – man, there must have been at least 40 different song fragments scattered throughout the episode.

HBO wisely recognized that Jagger’s music curation had real value, so they are releasing a soundtrack CD for each of the ten episodes, check out the track listing for Episode 1.

But here’s what’s truly amazing about the show’s musical selections – it’s not just limited to music produced within the timeline of the story. Jagger and his associates have selected some contemporary tracks that also fit the vibe of the storyline. So the swampy gritty program theme is by the previously obscure alt-country artist Sturgill Simpson, and man, it burns hot. Same goes for a band called Kaleo, who I never heard of before either.

The range of the music selections on this show is dope. Actually, Vinyl’s entire perspective on Rock music history is unique and amazing, and worthy of a lot more discussion in the days ahead. Set your PVR’s accordingly.



4 comments to “HBO’s “Vinyl” Worth Watching For The Music Alone”
  1. I flipped the channels past it the other night and there was a drug-fueled orgy going on. So a pretty typical HBO show in other words haha

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