In 1994, Welsh rock band The Alarm managed to fool the music industry with a single called `45rpm`. Instead of promoting it themselves they released it under the name of a fictitious group called The Poppyfields and engaged a young band lip synced to the track purporting to be the performers. It was only after the single entered the top 30 that the truth was revealed proving of course that ageism is rife in the youth orientated music business. Sara Silverman’s film Vinyl is inspired by this event and uses Alarm singer Mike Peters’ home town of Rhyl. The results are fun but fall short of fulfilling the potential of the idea.
The fortysomething members of Rhyl based pop punk band Weapons of Happiness have a chance encounter with each other twenty years after splitting acrimoniously. A drunken jam session produces a catchy new song called `Free Rock and Roll` but record companies, promoters and radio stations are not interested. So the quarter decide to recruit some teenagers to front the now renamed group Single Shots but when the single starts to attract considerable attention it develops a momentum of its own. What there is of the filim- which only last 82 minutes including credits- is a huge dollop of fun, interspersed with some punky music and including a number of interesting characters.

Phil Daniels’ cocky persona suits his role as Johnny Jones who takes on the mantle of managing the kids only to discover one of them might be his offspring! Keith Allen is surprisingly restrained as the group’s bass player while of the younger musicians Jamie Blackley fills the role of the charismatic frontman to a tee. Most of the cast – outside five established names- are all Rhyl based performers which all adds to the authenticity of the proceedings. A recurring policeman is played by the town’s chief of police!

"How are we gonna get this thing home?"
Silverman has a strong eye for the minutiae of rock and roll mythologizing peppering the film with some cool moments as well as drawing strong performances from all concerned. As the scenario develops your allegiance starts to shift this way and that while there is a tremendous sense of spirit. The sparky relationship between the older and younger musicians is well played and the cornerstone song is incredibly catchy which also helps.

There’s really a tv series worth of places this could have gone but the narrative rushes to a hurried ending, failing to engage with anything deeper. Even the way the scam is perpetrated lacks attention to detail. The plot also tends to side line some of the players and there isn’t enough light and shade to the latter parts. You might call this the epitome of rock and roll but the result leaves Vinyl enjoyable but a distance from greatness.
Kids these days can hypnotise you to buy their music

No comments:

Post a Comment