ALBUM REVIEW: “Real to Reel” by Sound City


First things first: this is essentially a Foo Fighters album by another name.

There is nothing wrong with this.

This record is also the soundtrack to one of the greatest music documentaries ever made.  If you’re yet to see the SoundCity movie it really is that good, and it’s essential viewing for any self-respecting recording musician.

Although unintended, the reason that SoundCity winds up sounding mostly like the Foo Fighters is that Dave Grohl has his own particular style of writing and producing music.  He’s brought Butch Vig on board, who of course produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ at SoundCity, and more recently Foo Fighters’ latest album ‘Wasting Light’.  The core backing band is made up mostly of Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Pat Smear.  This all gives the album the familiar Foo’s stylistic sheen.

What stands Sound City apart from every other album Foo Fighters have made is that almost every song is a collaboration with guest musicians.  The list of guest stars is extensive and incredible.  Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Rick Springfield, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, Lee Ving, Rick Nielsen and Krist Novoselic just to name a few.  The effect of having so many other performers is that sonically the record sounds like a slightly less cohesive Foo’s album.

The highlights of this record are easily the Stevie Nicks fronted ‘You Can’t Fix This’ (her voice breaks my heart), Slipknot crooner Corey Taylor’s ‘From Can To Can’t’, and that collaboration from Paul McCartney and the living members of Nirvana, ‘Cut Me Some Slack’.

The quality of the other compositions varies slightly, depending on which singers contribute lyrically.  While Lee Ving’s ‘Your Wife Is Calling’ is a blast of good fun, the lyrics are bordering on inane.  Take it at face value for what it is: a bunch of musicians in a room just having a good time.  If you approach the record this way then it’s an enjoyable ride.  Those expecting anything else will be sadly disappointed.

Now put everything I’ve just said aside, sit back and listen to Dave Grohl follow his muse and breathe fresh life into the old Neve 8028 recording console salvaged from SoundCity.

And if you haven’t seen the documentary yet, then do it.

7 magnetic tape reels out of 10

By: Clint Morrow


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