Vinyl, Ep. 1.08: Vinyl Gets Back to Basics with “E.A.B.”

Vinyl, Season 1, Episode 8: “E.A.B.”
Written by Riccardo DiLoreto & Michael Mitnick
Directed by Jon S. Baird
Airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO

So far, a fairly reliable indicator of the strength of a Vinyl episode is how much humor it has. That’s not to say that the show needs to veer toward broad humor to be worthwhile, but the best episodes have had a lightness that makes them infectious. It gets boring after having to wallow in Richie’s problems week after week. Episode 8, “E.A.B.”, recaptures the balance between the darkness of Richie’s demons and the pure fun of rock music in the ’70s.

The episode gets off to a strong start as Richie, Zach, and Skip visit a loan officer that Zach knew from high school (Michael Kostroff, the slimy lawyer for Avon Barksdale in The Wire). Zach butters him up with a story about tuba shenanigans from high school marching band, but when it comes to the actual loan business, the officer denies their application. The funniest episodes of Vinyl also tend to have the best camera work and music editing. The slow motion as the group enters the bank, scored to “Here Comes the Sun,” perfectly captures their hopes and optimism. When the conversation goes south, an easy-listening version of the Midnight Cowboy score starts to play. It’s a sad and haunting melody, but the kitschy cover version makes the whole affair seem appropriately drab.

Later, Richie goes into the studio to watch the Nasty Bits record a half-baked “sea shanty.” The band is in a rut, out of inspiration and trying to craft something they think the label will like. Enter Lester. So far the show has underused Lester almost as much as its female characters. After a compelling introduction to his tortured history with Richie, the show has mostly turned him into set dressing. . .

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