Is there a better rock star working today than Dave Grohl? I’m not saying he’s the best song writer, musician or singer out there. I like the Foo Fighters enough to sing along whenever they come on the wireless, but I’ve never bought an album or bothered to see them live. But I do think Grohl is an amazing rock star and wonder if there’s anyone better at that in 2014. He seems to love everything about his life and lives it the way I imagine most of us think we would if given the chance.
Including doing things like buying a part of a legendary recording studio and making a documentary about it. If anyone else made this movie, I’d assume it was self indulgent wankery of the highest order. But when I see Dave Grohl’s name next to the director credit, I can’t help getting excited about Sound City
and the genuine enthusiasm I know he’ll bring.
So excited in fact, that while I’ve had a copy for over a year, I’ve avoided watching it until now. There’s something about Sound City that made me assume seeing it for the first time would be kind of amazing, and once I’d seen it, that amazing feeling would be impossible to recreate.
Sound City the documentary is Dave Grohl’s love letter to Sound City the legendary recording studio. And the claim of legendary is no cheap hyperbole. This is the studio where hit, multi-million dollar albums were recorded for bands and performers like Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns n’ Roses, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and, of course, the place where Grohl himself recorded the drums for Nirvana’s world changer, Nevermind.
Following the story of the studio’s birth, to the recording of some of the massive albums made there, Sound City soon focuses on something more specific than just the studio as a whole, it focuses on one, specific piece of equipment, the mixing board installed in the studio in the 70s. Grohl makes the board the main character of Sound City, giving it life and personality.
This is also a tribute to the warmth of analogue recording. In an age when anyone can make a better than OK sounding record with a laptop in their bedroom, Sound City is determined to keep analogue alive and make sure people know there’s something organic and real about analogue that can’t be replicated digitally.
When the story being told includes the making of so many amazing albums by so many amazing bands, obviously the soundtrack of a documentary like this is gonna be killer. But hearing so many great songs in such a short period of time still had more of an impact than I ever expected.
And all of that’s just the first hour of Sound City. Then you get half an hour of Grohl hanging out with his famous musician friends, recording on the mythological mixing board, which is now in his own studio. See what I mean, no one takes advantage of the rock star life better than Dave Grohl.
Directed By – David Grohl
Written By – Mark Monroe