A vibrant and vital tribute to a piece of recording and rock history that could have been lost to the ether, and Grohl packages the story of this little studio with a detailed celebration of the craft and skill necessary to this kind of recording, all with a killer soundtrack (which should go without saying).
A totally engaging documentary into why Sound City was so successful and why all of your favorite records were made there and sounded so good. Totally recommend this movie to all music fans, particularly from the 90's, out there.
For a movie that's essentially about a piece of hardware-the legendary Neve mixing console, an imposing slab of knobs and meters - this geeked-out documentary beats with more heart than could be imagined.
Grohl's appreciation for the inhabitants of this dingy demimonde, from the artists to the secretaries at the front desk, makes Sound City an infectious and sincere Valentine to a rapidly disappearing art form.
We’re given fairly straightforward talking-head accounts complemented with an increasing amount of archival material as the narrative progresses further towards the present, all coated in a VH1-suited slickness that belies the reported funk of the studio itself. Fortunately, that slickness is in service of tales from some substantial musicians.
Today's music industry is widely considered to be a jumbled mess of confusion regarding quality vs. craftsmanship of the music, deciphered and taken in by (most) consumers who haven't the ability to tell the difference. In truth, a non-musician would be hard pressed to pick up on the subtleties of classic analogue production over contemporary digital recreation while being inundated with the gospel of technology convincing them otherwise that; "it's really the same thing, only easier". Well, Dave Grohol, lead singer of "The Foo Fighters" and director of "Sound City" would convince you otherwise. How? For starters, what's the difference between a robot of astute perfection and flawlessness and a flawed human with a burning soul? Since the inception of "pro tools", artists have been allotted a standard of mediocrity, later to be corrected by technology of the next level. This is true, and is not to say that tech in general hasn't made our lives easier. However, in order to the get to the core of Grohl's thesis, we don't necessarily need to ump into a deloreon, phone booth or sled and rewind ourselves to the good ol days of analogue tech and tape reels. Just reach into your vinyl and listen for yourself. Do you hear it? That's the sound of perfection, which is what makes vinyl as pure as it is. You see, before the age of digital correction and over correction, a musician had to stand up to the standards of flawlessness honing in their craft and developing great respect with their simian connection to their instrument. with regards to the recording. This is what Grohl was hoping to address in his new documentary "Sound City", and I am pleased to say that he has pulled it off well.
The documentary is a sentimental ode to the machine that acted as the HUB of Sound City's success, and has become something of legend among the inner circles of both classic and contemporary rock 'n roll.; the Neve Console. It's also a love letter to the days of pure, smoky and rough analogue recording; that which has transcended Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" and Nirvana's "Nevermind" into classic album status.
For the true audiophile, the doc never misses a beat. Observing the technical ferociousness of the Neve, by lending credence to the genius behind those who had mastered the console and helped give birth to their respective masterpieces. For others, it's a story of the awakening and subsequent death of an engineering Juggernaut empire, unto which became the unfortunate victim of digital technology.
The documentary never skips a beat, and even rewards the viewer with a seminal reunion of rock music's royalty few of whom have been waiting in the wings of a music snob's dream. Stevie Nicks recording with Pat Smear of the Germs, or the impromptu reunion of Nirvana's line-up with a legendary Beatle and Wings frontman Paul McCartney is enough to send any music junky into orbit, and beyond, By the way, if you ever wondered what Nirvana would've sounded like with Paul McCartney jamming with them on his cigar-box guitar and screaming improvised lyrics? Look no further. The film fires on all cylinders, and subtly infuses the very element it claims has been lost in the record industry for nearly decades humanism. Grohl does an exceptional job at conveying the birth of music magic, with little to no modern technology, and at the whim of a simple analogue recorder, human chemistry, magic and imagination. As far as cons are concerned, it would've been nice to see a great litany of performers at the films climax, recording with the mythical Neve console at Grohl's home. However, a nitpicky complaint at best.
I can not recommend this film more. For an audiophile, you may find yourself rewinding in various stages as you'll feel the need to take in every bit of information that has been said. For others, there is a certain spiritual catharsis attached to watching Nirvana improvise a song from a few bars of notes, and turn it into a piece of rock and roll history with Sir Paul Mcartney singing the vocals and playing with a damm classic cigar box guitar.
**PERFECT SCORE 10/10 Do yourself a favor and put aside 100 minutes of your life to watch this extraordinary film.