‘Sound City’ hits high note with rockumentary

Over the last several months, I had heard a lot about the Sound City documentary Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl had produced. As much as I enjoy rock docs, my interest in this wasn’t sparked until a few days before its Blu-ray/DVD release when I had some time to read more about it. I knew I had to immediately see this movie.

Sound City Studios opened its doors as a recording studio in 1969 in Van Nuys, CA. Located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, the studio wasn’t very attractive to major artists right away. Many artists stayed in the Hills of Hollywood to record their records. But this studio had a crown jewel many artists couldn’t stray from as technology began to change the way we record and hear music: the Neve console.

After having a 20 year history with the studio, Grohl purchased the original Neve console from Sound City after it closed its doors for commercial use in May 2011. He decided to create a documentary about the historic music made using the legendary console. Despite the technological advances of today, the Neve console and reel to reel recording is still highly desired by many of the industry’s top artists which was a major draw to the dilapidated building in a rundown neighborhood.

Musicians also flocked to Sound City for its drum sound. It gained popularity in the 70s as the premier studio in Los Angeles. Housed in Studio A, everyone from Johnny Cash to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Rick Springfield to Nirvana to Rage Against the Machine to Metallica have spent time in the historic studio. Although relatively active before their time, probably the most famous album recorded there was Nirvana’s 1991 breakout Nevermind.

The first recording made using the Neve was Buckingham Nicks’s debut album with engineer Keith Olsen. Metallica is said to have had the last major session at the studio recording Death Magnetic with Rick Rubin in 2008. Rubin also recorded Kid Rock’s Born Free in 2009 and Josh Groban’s Illuminations in 2010 at Sound City.

Grohl relocated and reassembled the Neve console at his 606 Studios. He enlisted many artists like Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, Pat Smear, Krist Noveselic, Trent Reznor and more to join him in the studio to recreate the board’s famous sound. They spent their time writing and recording original music and released a soundtrack album to coincide with the documentary.

Tom Petty, Lars Ulrich, Rick Rubin, Frank Black, Lindsay Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Barry Manilow, Rupert Neve (he’s still alive), Rick Springfield, Butch Vig, Neil Young and many more make appearances discussing their time working at the famed studio. Grohl used rare archival footage showing artists in their element at Sound City.

Whether you’re a fan of any of the artists featured in the movie or a fan of rockumentaries, you’re sure to love this special inside look at one of the most famous recording studios in Los Angeles. Sound City is certain to go down as one of the most fascinating “rock docs” ever made!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Blu-ray | DVD

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.

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