Segarini – The Low Down on The Get Down and Roadies Loads In
I hated Vinyl.
The HBO thugs and drugs fantasy about the ’70s music industry, not the resurging delivery system for music and hipness. Didn’t much like Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, either. Dennis Leary chews about the same amount of scenery as the cast of Vinyl, but to equally stifled yawns and eye rolling. …and let’s not forget Empire…Dynasty for the Drake Nation, and if you don’t remember Dynasty, rest assured that this hiccup won’t be remembered either….
Amazing that these shows about the entertainment business go out of their way to not entertain….
So everybody in the Music Business is an Asshole….
I wrote an article about Vinyl back on February 16th, and am proud to say, I haven’t changed my view one iota since. You can read what I had to say HERE and save me the trouble of repeating myself. In a nutshell, I said it stunk…and after seeing the two new horses in this race, I can state further that it realllly stunk.
According to Vinyl, there is no one in the industry worth liking. Rock stars are vapid and just dominoes in the record industry game. Nothing can be said, it must be SCREAMED! No one makes a decision that sticks when they are sober. Cocaine is the ONLY important meal of the day. The accuracy of the timeline is only important to scholars. Vinyl thinks nothing of cramming events into the same year to suit the dramatic intensity of the story they are avoiding telling, citing as artistic license that, “we are not a documentary”. No shit…you aren’t even about the music industry.
You are about Thugs and Drugs. Fuck the music, gimme the money. Goodfellas without Joe Pesci or a decent story.
Cancelling this show was too benign…every hint of its existence should be deleted, and the dour, mercilessly unlikable characters should all die in an epilogue, and their bodies dumped in the trunk of a car and pushed off a cliff.
The Music Industry Isn’t All Unicorns and Rainbows Either….
Were there bad people in the Music Industry?
…but you can TELL they’re bad because you can compare them to the GOOD people in the Music Industry.
If there was a good person in the Music Industry in Vinyl. I did not see them. You are more apt to find a compassionate, intelligent, person at a Donald Trump rally.
The worst offense committed by Vinyl, was its lack of heart and humour. Simply put, it did not entertain. It threatened you with a baseball bat instead of engaging you with wit and humanity, a seedy, dark, basement full of lurid sneers and paranoid responses. An insider’s look at an outsiders wildest fantasies, and an elevation of the worst elements of a diverse and multi-faceted business without benefit of even the slightest hint that there is another side of the coin. Nolan’s addlebrained Batman in a leisure suit, acetate shirt, a gold coke spoon around his neck, and San Remo boots.
No line was left un-snorted.
No scenery was left un-chewed.
Empire is the currently uber-popular series based on the contemporary Music Industry as it pertains to the Drake Nation. Actual Urban Music superstars are climbing over each other to be a part of this soap opera, which seems to be a portrayal of the Hip Hop/Urban/Rap lock on radio and record sales as seen in the expansive music videos of this music, which are mostly scenes of expensive cars, mansions, hot young women in bikinis or club duds, shit-tons of Benjamin’s, and enough jewellery to start a Shopping Channel.
…and you do not have to look too hard to see lots of impossibly clean sports shoes and immense rear ends where you could park a bag of Big Macs and a glass of Crystal without fear of them falling to the floor.
Add to that the Kanye/Max Martin/Song Committees/Producers/stylists/Beats providers/ impact on fashion, slang, and cultural totems, and you have the kind of fairytale that fuels dreams of stardom just like American Idol did.
…and just as off-the mark as Vinyl, right down to the sleaze, murders, shouting, and drugs.
The arrogance of these shows know no bounds…and the marketing of the soundtracks of these two sadly marginally informed distractions seems to be the only reason they were put into play.
Is there an Empire Clothing Brand yet? I’m afraid to look.
The Get Down….
Read this first… Everything You Need to Know About The Get Down from Wikipedia.
Seriously, read the damn thing.
Doin’ It Right in the Wrong Part of Town….
This Netflix Original Series is the product of a hell of a lot of homework, (If you read the Wikipedia entry, linked, above, you will know what I’m talking about), and it really shows.
From the incredibly realized Bronx and Manhattan as they were in 1977 and later, to the depiction of the house parties, music, fashion, and styles of the day, to the honestly portrayed (yet cartoonish) characters, this series entertains as well as gets it’s period and history much more accurately than Scorsese and Jagger’s misstep on HBO. The real life characters are portrayed with authority and are informed by the actual people the actors are playing, and the events are real, rounded out by the fictional characters who represent us, the viewing audience, as witnesses to history.
Every episode is a thing of beauty…and those of you (and you are legion) who look down your noses at this genre, may gain not only some insight to the importance and significance of rap (which, BTW, stands for Rhythm And Poetry), but might even grow to LIKE some of the better examples of it on display here.
The wonderful thing about the writing, delivery, visual realization and arc of these episodes lies in the fact that there is humour, humanity, and joy, sprinkled amongst the hardcore difficulties of the times for people of colour and the poverty stricken in general. …of a New York brought to its knees by corruption, bankruptcy and racial strife. It breathes. It lives, and it displays both the joy and difficulty of growing up in this environment for the young leads, as well as the harsh reality for the adults of the time, who had to deal with the problems the kids tended to use as fuel to do whatever it took to become someone who could rise above the streets they feel trapped by.
The soundtrack is killer, the scenery, impossible, and, as cartoonish as some of the characters are, they still hold more weight and gravitas than anything Vinyl brought to the screen.
I love this series, have watched the first six episodes, and am awaiting the second half of the first season, which is being shot as we speak. If nothing else, you will come away from The Get Down, knowing more about this music than you ever have, a better understanding of its importance, and respect for its pioneers and their art.
It is a tragedy that the reality of this genre has been reduced to what you hear on Empire and the radio these days. It STILL has teeth in the right hands, but good luck hearing much of the good stuff on the radio or television. Go watch Straight Outta Compton to hear some more of the good stuff….
Two of the Greatest by One of the Greatest….
Okay. Compared to the excesses of Vinyl and Empire, and the nitty gritty of The Get Down, American cable network Showtime’s Roadies is a slick, Hollywoodization of that hard working, T-shirt wearing subculture known as roadies.
Again, this show takes some liberties (a few of my actual gear-slinging friends like it because the tone is right, but have a bit of pull-back concerning the nuts and bolts), but an actual portrayal of the insane amount of work involved in getting your beloved stars onto the stage for you to watch on your phones and putting out fires, would wear you out and you would wake up in the middle of Sunrise Semester with a pool of drool on your lapel.
This show is, like Empire, a soap opera set on tour buses, empty arenas, and dressing rooms that smell like jock straps and sweat socks.
It is no wonder that rock stars carry rugs, incense, and candles with them on the road.
These are endearing characters filled out by a cadre of fine actors and snappy dialogue, great back stories and well shot moments, that take you along for the ride and make you care about each and every one of the characters, even the band’s British beancounter, and the stalking groupie whose obsession with the band may seem over-the-top, but reals, kids. Out of all of these shows, I was familiar with the large cast by the end of the first episode, instead of having to get through 2 or 3 episodes before I knew who everyone was.
Cameron Crowe both writes and directs here, J J Abrams produces, and the beats ring true, the folklore (real and invented) is a kick, and as God as my witness, I have (in my gazillion years in this business) met the real life equivalent of every one of these people.
Shored up and abetted by real artists as opening acts for the fictitious band whose crew this is, and the sweet ‘Song of the Day’, the wonderful soundman (who is a woman) uses to run her first test of the system at every venue, being a real song by a real artist, this show brings an authenticity to it not unlike The Get Down, and draws you even further into the world Crowe has envisioned here.
Make no mistake. Roadies and The Get Down prove that it is possible to be entertained by the Music Industry beyond the reality of the music that informs our lives, and being able to sprawl out on the couch or lean back in the Laz-E-Boy and enjoy learning about it or experiencing it like this, can be a flat-out pleasure.
Yeah, it might not be dead-on-accurate, and sure, maybe your experiences may have been different in real life, but note for note, these entries do the do, and have given me a raft of well written characters I actually like and care about.
Go ahead and love Vinyl and/or Empire…but my eyes and ears are on The Get Down and Roadies, because, Baby…this shit SPEAKS to me.
Just keep 11 balloons and 11 eggs handy and be prepared to drive 100 miles, in case someone says the “C” word on your bus and your tour gets cursed….
Segarini’s regular columns appear here whenever someone buys a personalized bowling ball
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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.