Of course the new HBO-series Vinyl would premiere on Valentine’s Day. The Mick Jagger- and Martin Scorsese-produced 10-part series is basically a love letter to the ’70s rock and roll that both men were familiar with back in the day. Remember, well before Leonardo DiCaprio became his guy, Scorsese shot The Last Waltz, a 1978 concert documentary about The Band. And Mick Jagger is, well, Mick Jagger. Writer Terence Winter, who did Wolf of Wall Street, is also a producer.
Vinyl opens in familiar Scorsese territory: a gritty alley in New York in 1973, and in some way it picks up on popular culture where another period piece, Mad Men, left off. But instead of tortured Don Draper (remember when Don couldn’t even listen to that Beatles record?), we have Richie Finestra (played by Bobby Cannavale), a record label executive around the same age as Don, making a shady cocaine deal from the comfort of his Mercedes. After getting high, Finestra is interrupted by a pack of glam rock kids headed to a New York Dolls show. He follows them, and despite being noticeably older than the crowd, is reinvigorated by the band before him.
As the show unfolds, we learn that Richie was on the cusp of selling his once-mighty record label to German investors. The deal would have netted him and his business partners millions, but after one unexpected, violent night with the despicable Buck Rogers (Andrew Dice Clay as a menacing radio station owner, apparently those guys once had power?), Richie is set on a path to reclaim his rock and roll lifestyle—bad habits and all.
New York and its music pulse throughout this episode, as do memorable send-ups of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, their mythical manager Peter Grant, glam rockers the New York Dolls, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, as well as the nascent hip-hop scene appearing literally on the streets of the city.
For all the sex, drugs and camp, it’s the “vinyl” that pushes this series forward. The Telegraph wrote: “The thing that helped define the period was the vinyl record, with its hiss, crackle and incredibly rich sound.” An apt show in light of how many people are listening to records again.
I confess, I actually grew up in a house with records—my dad and sisters listened to them all the time. And now I have a brand-new turntable that is constantly spinning. Now is a good time to ask FASHION‘s editors what their essential ’70s records are.