TV TIME: “Vinyl” Debuts on HBO on Sunday


By Thomas Dimopoulos

At 9pm on Sunday (February 14), HBO will launch its much-anticipated new series, “Vinyl.” The 10-part series – which takes place in the electrifying New York City rock ‘n’ roll scene of the ’70s – runs through April. The series is produced by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter (“The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire”), and Scorsese directs this weekend’s two-hour debut.

“Mick Jagger had an idea for this movie about New York in the mid-‘70s and the different musical scenes that were happening there,” said Will Hermes, during a recent gathering organized by the Yaddo arts colony at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs. Hermes, senior critic at Rolling Stone and author of “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music, Forever,” had just come off an interview with Mick Jagger and had been privy to a preview screening of the series’ premiere.

“It’s about a fictional record producer who might be based on some sort of mash-up of Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and some of these other record company guys, and Andrew Dice Clay plays this psychotic radio guy who’s just huffing cocaine in Plato’s Retreat or something,” Hermes said. The series stars Bobby Cannevale, Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Juno Temple and James Jagger (yes, Mick’s son).

Among the piles of cocaine, creative angst and flying bullets, the period piece features an assortment of groupies, bearded drag queens, glam rockers and actor portrayals of such scenemakers as David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Hilly Kristal, Lester Bangs and members of Andy Warhol’s factory crew. The exterior façade of Max’s Kansas City was recreated for a film shoot at 19th Street and Broadway, around the block from where the iconic club originally stood from 1965 to 1981.

“It certainly seems HBO and Martin Scorsese had money to work with, so they got licensing for so much great music. The preview episode that I saw had fake New York Dolls performing in a fake Mercer Arts Center, but I have to say, it was pretty good,” Hermes said. “I don’t know who these guys were, but between the way they fudged it with the camera work and whether it was even a real recording or not, it was pretty believable.”

An accompanying soundtrack released by Atlantic Records/Warner Bros. Records includes songs by Mott the Hoople (“All the Way from Memphis”), Edgar Winter (“Frankenstein”) and the New York Dolls – although fans of the influential band will be disappointed to learn the Dolls’ versions of the songs “Personality Crisis” and “Stranded in the Jungle” are not the originals, but rather recently re-recorded versions by lead singer David Johansen for the HBO release.

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