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reading tiger

I watched the first, two-hour episode of Vinyl yesterday as part of my "professional development" reflex, i.e. it's a show about the music industry and I am once again a professional music writer so maybe I should check it out. As I told G. yesterday, when something isn't quite clicking with me, I tend to start to pick it apart (whereas he, like most reasonable people, tends to tune out entirely). So here are some of my initial impressions, in no particular order:

1. Of course there was a scene set in Plato's Retreat. It's as inevitable as the tides. Gratuitous T&A justified by historical "realism." Yawn.

2. Why did we need to see the Mercedes emblem on the hood of our main character's car twice? Because the producers thought we were too dumb to pick up on it (and its meaning -- look! He's come so far! He's so out of place!) the first time? Or something else more ambitious but only half-realized? Or just plain sloppy?

3. I ask in part b/c the first hour in particular was padded with extraneous stuff until it practically burst at the seams. Voice-over in the first hour that disappeared in the second. Extended fantasy musical bits -- ambitious but unnecessary. Flashbacks a go go. Etc.

4. It felt clumsy around race. At least it was clumsy in slightly different ways than usual when dealing with this era, and tbh it was always going to be a hard subject to tackle well considering this is the era when rock turned whiter than white (among other things), but I was still disappointed. It also completely buys into the authenticity=blues/inauthenticity=dance-pop paradigm that is a crock of heavily aged BS by now.

5. It completely ripped off the "the snap of the snare drum at the beginning of 'Rock Around the Clock' was the beginning of rock'n'roll" from the first chapter of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

6. It has the usual problem of the peripheral characters being way more interesting than the ensconced-in-his-midlife-crisis rich white (Italian) main-character dude, Bobby Cannavale's excellent performance notwithstanding.

7. At least they undercut the complete cliche of the square entering the music club and having an epiphany by (spoiler I guess) having the club literally collapse around him at the climax. Bonus points for making it a historical reference so that nobody could complain about realism or lack thereof. This is a different strategy than the Plato's Republic moment, btw, which is also always justified with "but it really existed so it's OK!" Yeah, but all you ever do is use it as backdrop, not plot.

8. It takes way too long for the plot to work back to where we opened the show, at which point that opening gets way more interesting. (No-spoiler: it's not just some middle-aged guy nervous about going to a show with the kiddies thanks to too many years and too much blow.)

9. The whole thing was two hours long. It was a feature movie, except with less coherence. I expect better.

10. I did in fact exclaim "holy shit, David Bowie really did have sex with Mick Jagger!" when I saw the countenance of Jagger's son faking sleep upon the pillow the morning after: he's got his dad's lips and his other dad's eyes. Neither's charisma, though. Too bad.


No real comment on this (apart from it not being a show I was likely to watch anyway!), but in your 'professional development' thing, have you come across Freaky Trigger, particularly the 'Popular' thread?


This is a project where someone has been listening to and writing a criticism of each UK number one since the first (Al Martino - Here is my Heart - 14th November 1952). It's a long-running project - started in 2003! - and still ongoing (latest entry is the number one for 25th August 2001), but it's fairly erudite (frequently more so than I can follow...) and the comments section is extremely civilised, as these things go.

The first entry is here http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/page/98/, though obviously the page numbering will change as more entries are added.

Anyway, thought this might be of interest...
This is completely up my alley! I am going to be spending some major quality time at this site, I can already tell.
Cool! The rate it gets updated can be very variable (sometimes there are several updates a week, other times there can be two or three weeks with no new entries), but there's a lot of previous entries to archive binge!

Also, I think that at least one of the regular respondees compares the UK chart with what's happening in the US charts at the same time, which I suspect will be of interest...