Sound City tells the story of the legendary LA record studio Sound City Studios and the back story behind some of the greatest rock albums ever made. Review after the jump.
What started out at Dave Grohl’s ode to the greatest mixing board ever made, turns into a musical odyssey through four decades of music from analogue to the Pro Tools digital era. Sound City Studios is a former music studio which somehow had magic in its walls and managed to be the place where some of the best albums ever made were produced. Fleetwood Mac, Nevermind, Rage Against the Machine, Double Vision, Unchained and Queens of the Stone Age are just a few of the amazing records produced there.
Grohl chronicles the studio’s history from the early rock n rock years, to financial hardship, the 90s grunge/rock period, and finally the studios closure due to financial difficulties. This studio was nothing to look at – in fact it was pretty much a dump. But there was something special about the place that allowed artists to create amazing music together. In Sound City we hear from some musicians about what it was like to make these career-defining albums here. The film gives music lovers a fascinating look into the process behind some of rock’s most iconic albums. For a Nirvana fan, hearing about the making of Nevermind from the surviving band members and seeing video clips from the studio sessions was something really special.
The film is about more than just the studio, it’s also about the end of the analogue era. In the same way film has almost completely transferred to digital, so has music recording. Pre digital, tape had always been the way to go. But with the 80s came synthesisers and then came pro cut and then came the 90s and computer/digital age. Much like the transition from film to digital, the transition from analogue (tape) to digital has also had its ups and downs. Many in the industry lament the death of tape and claim that music recorded by digital means lacks the feeling that it was made by people, and not by machines. On the flip side, there are also early adapters like Trent Reznor, who use digital tools alongside traditional instruments; using them as companions, not replacements.
Grohl and writer Mark Monroe do a great job at weaving the story of the LA music institution that was Sound City in with the changes in the music recording industry. The film is packed full of big names in music and their stories about making some of the greatest rock records ever made, and yet it is quite an intimate film. Stories and memories are shared, and history is revisited. This is truly a documentary for lovers of rock music – it has heart, incredible music and some real fan boy/girl moments. Watching the surviving members of Nirvana become incredibly nervous as they play with Sir Paul McCartney was certainly something to behold.
By Sam McCosh
Sound City is out now on DVD/Blu-ray
Director: David Grohl
Writer(s): Mark Monroe
Starring: Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Mick Fleetwood, David Grohl
Runtime: 108 minutes