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I give this a 10. It's absolutely brilliant from start to end. I was just sad... it ended. Dave congratulations man. I'm deeply touched by this. He gathered some of my favourite musicians and some of my best memories. It's about Sound City, about the Neve, about Rock, about making music with your soul, it's about the true essence of music, us, the humans, and them, the instruments and our interaction with both. It doesn't, in any way, like most are saying, defend analog over digital. The message is clear, make music with new technology, but do not let new technology make music for you. As I said, I'm truly touched by this. After watching I felt like: "God, I wish I could rehearse tonight to kick the ***t out of my guitar with my band." It's an inspirational documentary for us musicians. To have the chance to see this guys, together in a room, writing songs... I mean, McCartney and Grohl, and Reznor and Homme, among many others. This... This is something special. Truly special. I wish I could shake these guys hands, but I can't, so here are my words for them: Thank you very much for this. It blew me away.
I was a little skeptical going into this movie knowing that it was
produced and directed by Dave Grohl who isn't exactly known for making
movies. But BOY, is he passionate about MUSIC. I learned so much about
music's history... from the Beatles to Fleetwood Mac to Nirvana to the
current state of the industry. You will enjoy this movie if you are a
The movie is laid out like a typical documentary for the first 3/4 or so with interviews from many important figures who's music has impacted my life. Let me just say Neil Young is the man! The last bit of the movie involves Dave Grohl recording new songs with famous musicians and everything sounds really good. It was very interesting to see how songs can be created with some collaboration and they sure make it look like a ton of fun.
I was definitely moved by this movie...laughing at times and really feeling the passion that these musicians have for this industry. It totally rocks guys.
One of the greatest unsung treasures of the United States has to be
Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, which recorded dozens of
artists' hits beginning to 1969 and possessing the energy and following
to continue doing it in 2011. This is a surprising feature because of
the inherent primitiveness of the recording studio, as we're told,
which has a very "secondhand" look, completer with brown-shag carpeting
fit for a Volkswagen bus, cheap Velour couches, and other hand-me-down
items. Yet what it's arguably most famous for, besides being the home
of a dozen dozen records is housing an enormous custom-made soundboard
made by engineer Rupert Neve, which was purchased by Sound City owners
Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter for $76,000. We're told Gottfried's
house, at the time, cost only $38,000.
The film, made by Foo Fighters-founded Dave Grohl, begins with a wordless intro of Grohl setting up the recording studio, getting ready to play, before introducing us to the wealth of history, insight, facts, memories, and legends associated with Sound City. Every artist in the 1970's and 1980's came to record at Sound City, not just because of its simplicity, but because it was known to have a terrific design to it which purified vocals and made electrifying sound quality for its singers' records. Kansas, Slayer, REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham Nicks, Stevie Nicks, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Rick Springfield, Neil Young, Pat Benatar, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Barry Manilow, etc were all caught under the Sound City spell, and another huge quality for them that attracted the singers to the lure of the studio was the fact that Gottfried and Skeeter genuinely cared about the music they were putting out. They weren't in it for the power, they weren't in it for their health, they weren't in it for the glory of anything at all, and they sure weren't in it for the wealth.
The first half of the documentary involves the singers that made Sound City what it was. In-depth interviews with Stevie Nicks, recalling her days with Buckingham Nicks along with Lindsey Buckingham, and Rick Springfield smiling and remembering his fame for his anthem "Jessie's Girl," yet choking up remembering how he left Gottfried to pursue another manager. Of all the interviews, I loved Springfield's the most. Not only a cherishable music talent, Springfield is a collective and inspiring talker who is less about the narcissism and more about the deep and flavorful memories he has treasured for years.
The second half of the documentary concerns the depressing end of analog recording and the introduction of computers, synthesizes, and heavy machinery other than the soundboard that began to dominate the music business. We see how computers killed the traditional star of the music industry, when high-tech equipment moved from the level of desirable to easily obtainable, which gave many musicians popularity for work that was more than half adjusted thanks to technological advances. I can assume the issue back in the day for musicians who felt they had something to share with the world was they had the heart and drive, but they lacked the materials essential for recognition and success. Today, anyone can easily get the materials, but do they possess that heart and drive that makes them deserve to be heard? Of course, this discussion can easily transcend to the debate of whether the internet and computers was a good or bad invention. Personally, it was an amazing invention, one of the most important the human race has ever seen. The sad thing about it was it made many, many unique things very common. Writing? Whatever. You can easily build a blog from the ground up by using a popular website as your footing. Music? Whatever. There are sites like Band Camp to release your works. Good luck standing out.
But I digress. The third half focuses on several artists, including Paul McCartney, performing, practicing, and simply rocking-out at Sound City, embracing the loud, boldness of the music and the cutting riffs of the music through its impenetrable walls. This is what, I assume, some people came for. I certainly didn't, but I did anything but discourage it.
Sound City is a documentary, that I dare say, needed to be made. It depicts a more primitive era in the music industry, when things were more wholesome and less barbaric. When social stunts and outrage attires were secondary stories, with the music being performed at the foreground. If we're losing our moral compass anywhere in the world, it's in the mainstream pop/rap music, where artists like Beyonce, Chief Keef, Ke$ha, and Nicki Minaj can recite their frothy, commercialized music that lacks soul and heart. It becomes a depressing reality when you hear the terrific anthems from yesteryear in this documentary (such as "Landslide" or "Time for Me to Fly") and begin to wish for songs like those again, you question, have we really advanced as much as we thought in some areas?
Directed by: Dave Grohl.
First up: how freaking cool is Dave Grohl? Nirvana, Drummer, Foo
Fighters, Guitarist, Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D (the devil!),
music lover......and....now director!?!...make that Excellent Director.
This documentary is actually kinda/sorta two doc's in one. The first half takes a wonderful walk through a wide array of music and artists that recorded at the Sound City studios. Dave & Nirvana recorded "Nevermind" there. The storyline is woven around an amazing mixing board which Dave purchased from the now closed studio and had installed in his own. This leads to the second part which follows Dave and a diverse array of artists playing music in his studio through the mixing board.
This movie is made with a pure love, respect, and enthusiasm for music....all music..over the last 40 years. Everything works so well together: the artists, the stories, the love of analog recording, and, of course, the music. If you're like me, you'll watch this and immediately follow it by digging out old records/cds that you haven't listened to for a while. Its excellent.
Regarding distribution: the movie premiered last month at Sundance and is now available for purchase and electronic download.
Peace .n. "We are the Music Makers and We are the Dreamers of Dreams". -Willy Wonka
Everyone gave applause at the end of this documentary. It actually has
relevance to anyone who enjoys popular music. However, musicians who
see this movie will find a special message imparted to them.
During the 1970s, there was Disco. At this time, music became more repetitive, even boring to some listeners. The soul was being manufactured. Then another assault on soul or the "human element" began with the computer processing of tunes. What then makes that special element that says to the ears; "This music is created by humans with a heart!" This movie attempts to answer such a question. And it answers it through the many examples of artists who called this special recording studio "home". You will be surprised by the top names and albums that were recorded in this studio.
I saw this movie in San Francisco at a small theater; but the audience was packed. I felt that I had a more realistic grasp of the music industry and its unvarnished history as a result of seeing this film. I left with a good feeling; and, I would recommend this movie to others. There is no outrageous behavior that would offend very sensitive or religious people.
The quality of this movie sometimes approaches a "home movie" given that they are using real historical footage and personal pictures from the past; but it never seems scattered. It's always entertaining. There is a message to be told; and a history to be seen. It has been edited well. It was enjoyable to hear real confessions of top people in the industry on film. Another film of this same type or category, a combination "home movie with pro editing," would be "MAGIC TRIP" with Ken Kesey. IN THIS PARTICULAR CATEGORY of "historical home movie documentary" I gave it a "10". This movie has the stars, the unique history, and a beating heart.
I got my monies worth.
Sound City is a documentary about the famed recording studio in Van Nuys, California, which was the origin of records by Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Rick Springfield and Tom Petty among many others. Rock musician Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, sets out to tell the story of a recording studio in his first film. The studio became famous for a single piece of recording equipment a 1970s era sound board that became a "hope diamond" for musicians. Sound City is a musical time machine that allows film and music enthusiasts to travel back through time to when music was recorded with raw, pure imperfections that led to many remarkable careers. It made me want to throw out my iPad and computer, and start typing on a type writer while rocking out to the Sound City soundtrack.
Sound City was a recording studio in Van Nuys, California which began to make its' mark with Fleetwood Mac in 1972. Stevie Nicks made an album with Lindsay Buckingham which tanked and by chance, they joined up with Mick Fleetwood and made their first hit record, which put the studio on the map. Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, is the producer and director, and he keeps it very interesting, with interviews ranging from Rick Rubin and Tom Petty to Trent Reznor and Rick Springfield, among many others. The music is excellent, including off the cuff sessions with Reznor and a rollicking jam with Paul McCartney playing guitar and belting out a new tune which reminded me of Helter Skelter from the Beatles White album. If you love rock and roll, you will especially appreciate Sound City.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SOUND CITY, the just released documentary project (a record is coming
as well) from -former Nirvana and currently Foo Fighter/Crooked
Vulture- Dave Grohl and about the Los Angeles music studio of the same
name, is in essence, and for more than one reason, a testimony of the
well-known "battle" between digital and analog, the traditional and the
new technologies, and the current state of both the film and music
It's an interesting case; let's see, the way the documentary is being distributed is proof of what we already knew: every day is getting harder and harder for an independent project to reach the movie theaters of its origin country (not to mention the rest of the world), no matter if it has such people as Paul McCartney involved. To Dave Grohl and company's fortune, the new technologies make possible that since last Friday (February 1) anyone, with Internet and $13 bucks, can watch it online or download it (the film, by the way, was showed back in January at the Sundance festival).
Then the curious thing is that many of us are using a computer to watch a documentary that precisely talks about how the digital destroyed what everyone involved in the film loved and, on the other hand, that tries to return to the roots of the analog by the creation of an album. Yes, SOUND CITY not only tell us the story of the studio but also of Grohl's musical project some years ago he bought Sound City's legendary console Neve, which was used to record classics by Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Dio and some others, and decided to use it for a brand-new record.
Some elements of SOUND CITY could be easily criticized, but in the end of the day it turns to be a must-see documentary for any rock n' roll fan, person who wants to be musician, or wants to learn more about production or basically anything related with this business. I'll begin with those questionable things, which really are few and all related to Grohl himself. Even that I really like this character, and at first sight dug his role as director, I ended thinking someone else should have made the decisions, simply to not let Grohl look like he was constantly paying homage to himself and to Nirvana.
The thing is that Nirvana and their quintessential record "Nevermind" are a vital part in Sound City's story (they basically saved the studio from going bankrupt), therefore was impossible not to pay special attention to this chapter. Also, and like I said, the documentary ends being a look at Grohl's most recent musical adventure; is just terrific and interesting to see such great musicians as McCartney and Josh Homme (from the Queens of the Stone Age) in their composition and recording process (in this case is basically the same as everything begins from improvisation sessions), but if you don't dig Dave you'll end tired of seeing him in the screen (maybe you were already tired thanks to his constant presence in the media).
At the same time, and personally, is always admirable when a real fan accomplishes a dream (and knows to spend his money in something worthy). Some time ago Quentin Tarantino bought the cinema he loved and said that "As long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm" maybe Grohl didn't buy Sound City (after its final debacle thanks to the rise of Pro Tools the studio closed its doors in 2011), but he sure is giving it new presence in the now digital world.
SOUND CITY is a professional documentary. Its structure may not be the best (with the second part it loses rhythm), but visually is highly attractive, and the use of photographs (with the covers of the albums) and music, as well as some details (like using subtitles to show what someone is thinking, ala Woody Allen in ANNIE HALL), are the positive aspects and indicate that when he wants, Grohl can tell a story in a pretty darn good way.
The story of Sound City is that of a studio that without any luxury, and lots of dirt, beer, a unique console and a great "drum sound", ended having the presence of real legends of the seventies, eighties, nineties and the past decade. Fleetwood Mac, and their relation with Buckingham Nicks (Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks), Rick Springfield and Tom Petty are the protagonists here.
The diverse interviews (we also have Neil Young, producer Rick Rubin and obviously the people who were in charge of the studio) bring us stories that are always entertaining; some bring memories about legendary encounters between Tom Petty, Carl Perkins and John Fogerty. The joy comes too from some footage; seeing, for instance, a young Petty at the studio, the clown from Slipknot with no makeup but with his distinctive style, RATM recording their classic tune "Killing in the Name", or Johnny Cash and his version of Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage". Needless to say, all of this is a real banquet for the rock n' roll fan!
*Watched it on 04 February, 2013
My low score does mean that I think that this is a bad documentary-- it just did not appeal to me. I assume that this may well be the reaction of the average person as well, as the film seems designed to appeal to musicians. If you are like me, and have almost no musical ability and a tin ear, then the nostalgia and giant jam session (the last third of the film) just won't be that wonderful. I am sure, though, that a lot of musical types would love to look back nostalgically to the good 'ol days before digital music and the heyday of Sound City Studio. As for me, I am less concerned about this--I just want some nice music to listen to and learn a bit of history. A film definitely for a select audience. If you are a plebeian, like me, try watching the similar but much more watchable film, "Muscle Shoals". In this one, you see a lot of great musicians and hear them sing but without all the technical stuff that just left me feeling bored.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first half of the movie is great. It documents a slummy old studio
that produced some of the greatest music ever, in part because of a
finely crafted analog audio mixer. Director Dave Grohl interviews some
big names, who have great stories from this little studio. This is what
the entire film should have been.
But maybe halfway through, everything changes. Suddenly Grohl goes from interviewer (often times on camera conducting the interviews) to the interviewee. He's the director, so is he interviewing himself? Usually in documentaries, the crew documents something without getting involved. Here, he's feeding himself soundbites for the movie he's making. Keanu Reeve's role in Side By Side, about digital filmmaking, is a good example of how it's supposed to be done. This just seems like as a filmmaker, he decided he's not getting what he needed, so he jumped in front of the camera to do it himself.
The last half hour forgets about Sound City and just becomes Grohl making a movie about himself looking good and recording music. He buys the soundboard from Sound City and starts his own studio, where he and his bandmates bring in big names and play with them (are you required to play with Grohl if you record at his studio?). One song cuts between Grohl rocking out on guitar, and Grohl behind the glass banging his head to what's being recorded. The song ends with him declaring, "That was f'ing awesome. That was so f'ing beautiful." He might as well write his own reviews for the film too.
This documentary starts out strong, but slowly rolls downhill into one big Dave Grohl self-congratulation. If you're interested in the history of Sound City and the evolution from analog to digital music recording, there is some good info in here. You just have to separate it from all the times Grohl is telling you how great he is.
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