Dave Grohl’s Love Letter to the Sound City Recording Studio
Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters, has produced and directed an excellent documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio, Sound City.
The film, the music, the whole project is a labour of love for Dave Grohl. He loves the history of the studio, the music that was recorded there, the equipment that was used and the musicians, technicians and producers who were involved.
That love shines through, in what is a must see documentary for any and all lovers of rock music.
For the uninitiated, Sound City was a recording studio that achieved fame in the 1970′s after being used to record numerous great albums and tracks. Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded their eponymous album there. Mick Fleetwood stumbled across them there, when he was staking out studios, which led to the formation of the most successful incarnation of Fleetwood Mac and the recording of the Grammy Award winning Rumours, which sold over 45 million copies.
Other famous albums recorded at Sound City in the 70′s include Elton John‘s Caribou, The Grateful Dead‘s Terrapin Station, Nils Lofgren‘s first album, REO Speedwagon‘s humorously named You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish, Cheap Trick‘s Heaven Tonight and Foreigner‘s Double Vision.
At the end of the decade Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, practically took up residence at Sound City, recording four albums there between 1979 and 1996.
Rick Springfield recorded his most successful music at Sound City and was managed by the studios owners, Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter.
Numerous other successful bands recorded there, in fact it is believed that at one stage 7 or 8 out of 10 records played on rock radio were recorded at Sound City.
But let’s jump to 1991 when a young band from Seattle, called Nirvana, recorded their first album at Sound City and Dave Grohl‘s love affair with the place began.
At the heart of the Sound City‘s success was the purported best drum sound around and the high tech, analogue Neve 24 track recording console.
The documentary includes a ‘simple’ layman’s explanation of the equipment and set up of the studio’s Neve console, while Mr Grohl provides some amusing grimaces and subtitles.
Archive footage and anecdotes of the glory days of Sound City are provided by the musicians who recorded there and the staff that worked there. These contributions include lots of footage from Lyndsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, John Fogerty, Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, Trent Reznor, Rick Rubin, Rick Springfield, Butch Vig, Lee Ving, Neil Young and many more.
The advent of digital technology and eventually Pro Tools meant that much of the music heard on the radio these days is recorded on someone’s laptop, according to prolific record producer Rick Rubin. This led to the demise of Sound City studio.
As a result Dave Grohl bought the famed Neve console and had it moved to his own studio. The next part of the film details the recording of some of the songs that Grohl has recorded with the new set up and with some of the musicians who had previously recorded at Sound City.
Stevie Nicks produces some of her spooky awesomeness, Rick Springfield rocks of out with the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney lays down some dirty guitar work with the star struck surviving members of Nirvana.
Our narrative description can not hope to achieve the level of love of music and the subject matter achieved in this film and if you have not seen it already, I highly recommend that you see it as soon as you get a chance… then buy the soundtrack album.
The quality of fun and interest in this documentary continues all the way through the closing credits, so don’t leave early.
By Max Power
You can also purchase the film, sound track and individual recordings from the links below.