Various Artists: Sound City – Real to Reel

Posted April 2, 2013 by in



2/ 5


Genre: Rock
Producer: Butch Vig
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 55:31
Release Date: 12 March 2013
Spin This: "The Man That Never Was," "Mantra"


All-stars coming together on new compositions


The new songs hardly celebrates the hit-making formula of Sound City

Grohl’s soundtrack to Sound City documentary gathers up the stars, but it’s no Nevermind

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Grohl’s soundtrack to Sound City documentary gathers up the stars, but it’s no Nevermind

Add movie director to Dave Grohl’s list of assignments. The ever busy Foo Fighter, who’s since moved on to the next frontier of Making the Band, jumped on a golden opportunity to profile the legacy of the now-closed Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California in a moving documentary that’s won the favor of SXSW registrants. Sound City, which sported the custom-made Neve 8028 console, was best known for its heavy display of classic rock album memorabilia which ranged from Fleetwood Mac 1975’s self-titled LP to Foreigner’s Double Vision. Having Nirvana’s Nevermind associated with the studio raised the awareness for relatively younger bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Tonic and Weezer to follow in their footsteps. Grohl supervises the bulk of the documentary’s soundtrack, which actually isn’t a rehash of the studio’s well-known productions. Using newly-constructed tracks, Butch Vig and a stellar list of rock royalty take it upon themselves to give Sound City a fitting salute using the studio’s golden console which now sits in Grohl’s basement. The disc hardly mentions the assembly of the guests as the Sound City Players, a careful moniker Grohl envisioned for the special celebration, but the ensemble puts big names like Rick Springfield, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen on the front of the songs, while Grohl rocks it out on drums. The songs themselves –each penned by at least three or four contributors – are mostly rough-draft jams, anxiously seeking that fine tuning from some keen label executive. They even get loud and sonically explorative (“Heaven and All”), which puts spirit over body. Nicks brings her Mac-ness to “You Can’t Fix It,” but the song’s devil-toting lyrics prove to be less interesting than the music that embodies it. On “Cut Me Some Slack,” McCartney shouts “Mama” across a slab of Nirvana-esque guitar riffing, using some of the testosterone left from the 12-12-12 Nirvana reunion (and yes, Nirvana surviving members Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear also show up for the occasion). But it’s actually Springfield’s youthful display on the Foo Fighting, Green Day-whipped “The Man That Never Was” that turns out the album’s grandest achievement. The eight-minute half-soulful, half-explosive rocker “Mantra” is another decent attraction, and teams Grohl up with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Nine Inch Nails’s Trent Renzor. Hurting the disc from reaching some majestic grandeur is its withdrawal from radio-ready rock and clingy melodies. And while rocking out and experimenting for the fun of it surely livens up the party (Prime example: “Your Wife Is Calling”), the bulk of Sound City suffers from a lack of strong song development. As a companion to the film, it’s still a pleasant surprise to hear rock legends still displaying such greatness, even if the selections themselves hardly reach memorable status.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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