[For Vinyl “Whispered Secrets” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Whispered Secrets. Richie is embarrassed at a record producer’s banquet; a junior A&R rep courts Alice Cooper.
“Vinyl” continues to jump around in time and storyline with such disruptive bravado we can only assume it’s on purpose. This is seventies rock n’ roll, after all and told from a coke-fueled point of view. Were you expecting “Downton Abbey” when you heard Jagger and Scorsese were the team behind this show? We at Fetchland recommend you stop yer bitchin’ and just enjoy the roller coaster ride. There’s so much to love; the music, the costumes, the Cannavale, and the guest star turns are so much fun. For instance, this episode, “Whispered Secrets” brings the unfettered fun of seventies Alice Cooper back to life and it’s just as cool and wild as that sounds.
The episode opens on a banquet celebrating the lifetime achievement of Maury Gold. Richie kisses cheeks and shakes hands waltzing from table to table. The MC calls out everybody in the place including Richie and mocks how he almost sold American Century to Polygram but then pulled out and “saved them from themselves” slamming Richie’s business as well as his decision to keep it. Then Devon gets pissy because this is the first time she’s hearing that Richie didn’t sell the company and the sale was allegedly going to make their suburban life better. That’s what Richie kept telling her anyway. So, to spite him, and the deal they have not to drink or do drugs, she downs a glass of wine right in his face. Thing is Richie’s been coked out of his mind for days now and couldn’t care less. He goes to see Maury in the bathroom and tells him about the visit from the detective.
Richie wants to release a compilation album of all Lester’s old Blues recordings. There’s no surprise when Lester turns down Richie’s proposition but his reason is a shocker. Turns out Lester’s voice got destroyed over the years and he blames Richie. The next time we see Lester he’s emptying ashtrays next to a guy “Clive” who’s playing records with a funky sound. The old farts sitting nearby aren’t into it but Lester appreciates that Clive’s trying a new sound. We know that Disco, Punk and Funk were all invented within six months of each other in 1973 New York City, so this may just be the first bit of funk unfolding and Lester’s right there for it. He may have lost his voice but that ear for great sound remains intact. Later we see Lester at home playing guitar on the couch. His voice is whispery and meek, thus we hear for ourselves how Lester’s lost his gorgeous timbre.
Next we see Devon in a broken down empty old barn with an event planning group. They’re hosting a dinner benefit for the dance troupe from Russia that Devon promised to sponsor. It’s a project she’s used to try to keep her artistic side alive out here in the boondocks. Next there’s a flashback to Devon and Richie’s early days when they’re smooching near a Warhol silk screen of Devon and discussing how she can still try to have an artistic life even in Greenwich and with kids. Richie tells her to do the dance troupe thing and poo poos the idea of her joining hi at American Century. Then we’re back to the seventies and Devon’s asking Richie for $10K check to pay for the benefit but of course, belt-tightening Richie instead offers to have a band play at the barn. Desperate Devon then visits Warhol and while he takes another screen test of her she asks if he’ll sign the silkscreen for her. Andy asks her if she wants him to sign it so she can sell it. Devon explains then about the dance company and how she’s trying to build a space for them in the barn near where she lives. It brings her to tears. Warhol says he’s happy to sign it for her so they’ll buy it at the benefit and even offers to sign her dress, “They’ll buy that too” and all the while he’s got her gorgeous face on camera in close up. But when she brings the painting to the other benefit planners they flippantly say they need her to get another one, as if acquiring signed Warhol’s is just so easy breezy in 1973.
Back at the office Richie drinks vodka with a shaky hand and snorts lines to get his chill/thrill on. Then he cuts out the dead wood in their client list so they can make room for new exciting acts. They trim 70% of their roster and decide to put out a Christmas album because everybody buys them and it’s like printing money. Speaking of signing new acts, Alice Cooper’s at a recording studio when Clark, one of the young A&R guys, stops him to chat and tells Alice they’d love to have him at American Century. He can go solo and leave his band in the dust, Clark suggests. Clark and Cooper party together for a few bleary-eyed days while Alice gets Clark blind drunk until he’s wearing Alice’s boa constrictor, Eva Marie Snake, as the world’s scariest and tightest scarf while watching Alice golf as the sun rises. But in their last scene together onstage Alice Cooper stops rehearsal to mock Clark and put him in the guillotine. It turns out that Richie screwed Alice and his band in the past, leaving them stranded and waiting for a solid day. Thus, this was all just a scheme to terrify Clark, play out their grudge against Richie, and have a little fun in the meantime. So, no, Clark’s not going to sign Alice Cooper for American Century.
The Nasty Bitz rehearse in the restaurant basement again and they’ve taken Julian’s shitty advice to play The Kinks. Julian continues to debase Jamie when she tells the truth – that they sound like crap. Then it gets even worse for her when they’re all discovered and kicked out. Apparently, they were practicing in the place Jamie found and the woman who catches them calls the police. She describes them as “hoodlums with guns” and Jamie as a “blonde prostitute” which makes us think maybe this woman (played by the still stunning Lena Olin) is Jamie’s mother. Next we see The Nasty Bitz still playing The Kinks song but now for an audience while Richie watches and hates it. He gets mad and Jamie takes the blame even though it’s stupid, high Julian’s fault. Then Jamie instigates the band, screaming at them and throwing a beer bottle at their amp to get them to play their other stuff, the stuff Richie liked. So, they do and it’s mad crazy good. Everybody loves them. Richie tells Julian to buy the Bitz a round of beers and sign them.
Then Richie stuffs more coke in his face and mafia-affiliated ghosts of his past visit him at the office. Maury Gold with Galasso, the guy the homicide detective was asking after in the last episode, and Joe Corso. Gold and Galasso want to know what transpired with the detective and ensure Richie’s not a snitch even though it seems like he actually doesn’t know anything anyway. Richie convinces them and they leave after offering him a “loan” to help him with his current business transition. “Maury tells me you’re going through some tough times,” Galasso says but Richie insists that everything’s great. Joe Corso’s visit is a lot less smooth and subtle. He introduces Richie to a singer (that he’s fucking) and reminds Richie of their unique shared history, implying that Richie has to sign her or Joe’ll blackmail him.
Then, that same day, some kids discover Buck’s bludgeoned, bloated body in the projects wrapped in a flowery blanket. Richie goes home that night to find the Warhol gone from his bedroom wall. He sighs and pours some night-time cocaine into his drink, like ya do at the end of a long day. Then Corso calls Richie to notify him that the cops found Buck’s body. After he hangs up Richie listens to the tape Corso gave him and, unsurprisingly, we hear a weak and boring lady’s voice singing “Danny’s Song” not nearly as well as Anne Murray, who luckily takes it over for the end credits.
“Whispered Secrets” divulges a few secrets but it’s more about the internal grind that grudges bear upon us, sorta like secrets – but with more guts and less guilt. There’s the deeply embedded grudge between Lester and Richie, though in this case weighed down on Richie’s side by substantial guilt. Then Jamie’s got a weird, probably Mommy-related, secret situation in a restaurant basement. Devon’s secret sacrificial sale of her painting for the dance troupe feels like an “I’ll show you,” to Richie – a classic grudge move. While Julian’s willingness to blame Jamie for his screw up with The Nasty Bitz is the only true secret but it will cost him for certain down the line. Richie’s the one with the most secrets and they’re whoppers; Joe Corso and Maury Gold made certain to remind him of that.