Sound City (Review)

If you watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday you probably saw this:

What you might not have seen yet is this:

Sound City: Reel to Real took home Grammys  for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Rock Song, with “Cut Me Some Slack”. The collaborations are enough to make the soundtrack great as a stand alone, but I’d also recommend checking out the documentary Sound City.

Released in February 2013 and directed by Dave Grohl, the documentary tells the story of Sound City Studios. The name might not sound familiar but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog, Nirvana’s Never Mind and Weezer’s Pinkerton probably do. All were recorded at Sound City.


Sound City is part documentary, part memorial.

It starts with the studio’s founding in 1969 and works it way through several decades of music up until the studio’s closing in 2011. Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Rick Springfield are just a few of the musicians who talk about their time at Sound City. But instead of stopping at a retrospective of who’s who in the music industry, the documentary also tells the stories of the people working behind the glass: the producers, receptionists, studio managers and owners.

The film closes out by showing the making of Real to Reel, which was recorded on the same custom analog Neve console used at Sound City for all of those many years. It now resides in Grohl’s personal studio where Sound City almuni gathered to record all new songs.

Sound City  presents a layered narrative about the artists, the staff of the studio and the music industry as a whole.  The stories of the individuals are woven into the fabric of  Sound City’s history just as Sound City’s story has been woven into the history of music. Sound City’s story parallels an industry struggling to maintain itself  during its transition to the digital world and provides a rallying point for a movement of artists trying to preserve the days when cutting tape didn’t involve the click of a mouse.

Although the actual studio has gone away, the documentary and soundtrack are proof that Sound City never really died and neither will good music.


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