Music comedy Vinyl doesn’t exactly play like a classic record, it’s more like an ‘in-between’ album that has a few decent moments, but also a lot of filler.
Sara Sugarman’a film is (loosely) based on the true story of Mike Peters, lead singer of The Alarm, who wrote a song that he thought was a hit, but he knew that it wouldn’t get the air play in the youth centred music business. Peters decided to market the song at the debut track from a younger, hipper band – even going so far as to show a video with stand-ins. Peters’ ruse worked and the song hit 28 in the UK singles charts.
Vinyl uses this central premise as the starting point, as we catch The Weapons of Happiness attempting a comeback 20 years after an acrimonious split. They record Free Rock n’ Roll, a track they believe will resurrect their long dormant career – but no one will go near the track from a group of washed-up has-beens. Which leads them to creating their own rock n’ roll swindle.
Vinyl is an energetic romp, but it plays like a cover version of a two minute pop song – it’s short, light and has very little depth. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table and it has the feel of something that you’ve heard played better before. Phil Daniels is decent as the ego-centric lead singer of The Weapons Of Happiness, but you get the feeling that he could do this in his sleep – it’s like he’s playing himself. Keith Allen offers some good support as the jealous bassist who almost scuppers the band’s plan. While the rest of the cast range from decent to amateurish.
Sugarman’s film is lacking visually. It comes across as rushed, like it was filmed on the run, betraying its low budget. They may have attempting to imitate the home-made quality of the Weapons Of Happiness’ comeback single, but it just doesn’t gel. It doesn’t feel like cinema.
Vinyl may attempt to mimic Spinal Tap and turn its ironic gaze onto the music industry, but it fails to dial things all the way up to eleven.
Vinyl comes with some good extras which cover the film’s production and Mike Peters’ real-life rock n’ roll swindle. For once it appears that the truth is more interesting than fiction.