Release Date: Mar 12, 2013
Record label: RCA
Dave Grohl's great new documentary, Sound City, tells the story of the "dumpy" L.A. recording studio where a stunning number of rock worthies – including Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine – made historic albums. It's also a burnt offering to the pretty much dead religion of pre-digital record-crafting – what Grohl calls "the human element" in rock.
Sound City Studios in LA was a pretty rustic place, dusty with the romance of the ’70s country rock classics and grunge-era benchmarks that were recorded in rooms which hadn’t had their lino changed since 1969 for fear of affecting the legendary sound. On its closure in 2011, Dave Grohl ripped out a chunk of Sound City’s history by buying up its famed custom-built Neve analogue mixing desk. Then he gave something back by making a fond-hearted documentary about the studio, Sound City: Real To Reel, and putting together a supergroup including himself, Josh Homme, Trent Reznor, Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Krist Novoselic, Rick Springfield and a shifting line-up of LA rock notaries.
Everybody who loves rock music loves Dave Grohl. So it’s easy to applaud him for simultaneously preserving rock history while galvanizing its icons and fans into boldly seizing the future. But while Sound City Studios was unforgettable, this glorified jam session is not. It’s uneven and top-heavy; Grohl and recurring guest Josh Homme should’ve just used it as the template for the next Queens of the Stone Age LP.
As far as the mainstream goes, Dave Grohl is pretty much rock's gatekeeper. One need only to see all of the friends he assembles for his Sound City documentary/album to see that, and it's not even the first time he's put on a star-studded show (lest we forget Probot, Them Crooked Vultures or that time he covered "London Calling" with everyone you ever liked ever). There are musicians that might get more critical acclaim.
In 1991, Nirvana rolled up at Sound City recording studio in Los Angeles. The tattered room, which had recorded everyone from Neil Young to Johnny Cash, wasn't what they had expected. However, the album they recorded there – Nevermind – became one of the most iconic of the 1990s. After Sound City closed down last year, Nirvana drummer turned Foo Fighter Dave Grohl bought the console and made a documentary, assembling a supergroup of peers to write the songs that feature here.
Sound City, Dave Grohl's love letter to the golden age of recording studios, plays very differently as an album than it does a documentary. On the screen, Grohl devotes a significant amount of time tracing the history of Sound City Studios, the legendary Los Angeles studio where such rock classics as Fleetwood Mac's Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes, Pat Benatar's Crimes of Passion, Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog, Foreigner's Double Vision, and Nirvana's Nevermind were recorded. Sound City closed in 2011, and Grohl not only wound up purchasing the studio's Neve mixing board, he made his film as a tribute to this golden age of rock and, then, decided to make an accompanying album of all-new songs using that board in his own home studio, finalizing his salute to the golden age of analog.
About halfway during the time that elapsed between Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the release of the first Foo Fighters album, Dave Grohl made his first public, post-Nirvana showing in the most unlikely of places: On "Saturday Night Live", manning Tom Petty’s drum kit for a couple of weed-scented folk-rock jams from Petty's Wild Flowers release. But if the surprise cameo provided little indication of Grohl’s imminent future as the guitar-slinging, camera-ready leader of one of the last arena-rock bands left standing, it was the harbinger of another role he would grow to relish over the next two decades: that of a dutiful gatekeeper of classic-rock tradition. Grohl’s essentially the middle-man who helps the geezers look cool to the kids: He’s got an open-door policy for Rock and Roll Hall of Famers to join him onstage anytime; he’s got enough charm and charisma to coax the most reclusive living member of Led Zeppelin out of semi-retirement; and he’s always on hand to help Grammy Awards producers mitigate the encroaching influence of EDM.
Sound City Studios camouflaged itself amidst a row of warehouses in the San Fernando Valley. For 42 years, it sat there almost hidden — important to the people who knew about its existence, irrelevant to those who didn’t. But appearance and reputation never mattered. The sound. That’s what ….
Dave Grohl and friends celebrate creativity and friendship on a mostly successful set. Mischa Pearlman 2013 As supergroups go, they don’t get much bigger than this. Put together by Dave Grohl, the cast of musicians for this album is not only comprised of his former Nirvana and current Foo Fighters bandmates, but also includes Stevie Nicks, Josh Homme, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Rick Springfield.
Dave Grohl put the Foo Fighters on hiatus to film a documentary on L.A.'s Sound City Studios, recording genesis of many a classic album, including Nirvana's Nevermind. It needs a soundtrack. Rather than a collection of famed tracks recorded across Sound City's history, Grohl instead records 11 new original tunes with a number of the studio's clients, ranging from Stevie Nicks ("You Can't Fix This") and Paul McCartney ("Cut Me Some Slack") to Fear's Lee Ving ("Your Wife Is Calling") and Ricks Nielsen ("From Can to Can't") and Springfield ("The Man That Never Was"), collaborating with Grohl and various combinations of Foo Fighters.