SOUND CITY

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. And people love the strangest things. Dogs, cats, flowers, their first car. But is it possible to love a piece of audio equipment. The answer we discover in SOUND CITY is yes. Former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl loves an audio board. More importantly, he loves the music it produced over a period of about 30 years. The board was the featured piece at the Sound City recording studios in Van Nuys. A custom designed monster that the owners paid about $76,000 for in the early 1970’s. That board and the studio created a specific sound that was heard on albums recorded by artists as diverse as Neil Young, Barry Manilow, Rick Springfield, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Pat Benatar and maybe most famously, Fleetwood Mac (Rumours was recorded there). But SOUND CITY is more than just a history lesson. It’s a celebration of that music and the people who made it possible. It’s also an indictment of the technology that forced the studio to shut its doors in 2011. Grohl’s love for this Neve Board was so deep, he couldn’t let it be scrapped. So he bought it. More on that in a moment. This is Grohl’s first shot at directing. In an interview he revealed he thought the project would result in about a 10 minute short. Instead when he began calling people associated with the studio, they all said they would love to be a part of it. Also because of their love for the dumpy studio located in a Van Nuys industrial park. So his small project turned into an 105 minute movie. Sure it’s got some “flab” in it, but Grohl’s love for his subject makes it all worth while. The documentary is more than a simple ode to a bygone era. Grohl moved that board to his own studio, set it up and recorded a CD of new music featuring among others, Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney. The last quarter of the movie tells that story, of how even though technology killed SOUND CITY, it’s memory doesn’t have to be relegated to the used CD bins at Amoeba Music. Those are memories worth preserving and that is the point of this fabulous documentary. — Alan Yudman

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