Dave Grohl and Various Artists “Sound City: Reel to Reel”

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Sound City was a recording studio located in Los Angeles. It was where many classic albums were recorded, from artists like Neil YoungElton JohnDio,Rage Against The Machine (you get the point, the list goes on). In May of 2011, it closed its doors for good.Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl; whom himself recorded a timeless classic in that studio, Nirvana’sNevermind album, took it upon himself to purchase some items from the studio, including their analog mixing console, analog being something that Dave has expressed a great love for when recording music. After the purchase Dave spent the next year or so directing a documentary on the studios history, interviewing many of the artists, producers and other people in the music business that have at some point worked there.

Along with the film came a soundtrack of eleven all original songs, all feature different artists, some well known names, some studio musicians. The name of the soundtrack is Sound City: Reel to Reel. The soundtrack does feature Grohl on every track, playing some sort of instrument, being drums or guitar, depending on who the track featured. The album is a great mix of a good amount of styles.

 

Now, something I don’t quite enjoy doing is reviewing an album simply track by track, but because of all of the guest musicians on the album, it is the only possible way to review this album.

 

The album starts off with Heaven and All, a track featuring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club membersRobert Levon Been and Peter Hayes. The song itself has a great groove, and features a bit of the modern day roadhouse rock feel that BRMC are known for, but with a bit of a different alternative edge.

 

Time Slowing Down features Rage Against The Machine members Tim Commerford on bass and Brad Wilk on drums as well as album producer and sometimes vocalist Chris Goss singing. The song (predictably) has a strong Foo Fighters feel to it, but it is a completely original and terrific track. It is a slow paced song, slightly gloomy and at 6:00 it is the second longest track off of the album, but it is definitely well written.

 

The album continues a somewhat gloomy feel in to the next song, You Can’t Fix This. It features Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and multi-instrumentalist Rami Jaffee and a singer who deserves no introduction, Stevie Nicks. The song has a bit of a classic rock feel to it, and is very dark. Stevie clearly doesn’t have the voice that she used to have, but that doesn’t take away from how effective her voice is in the song. However, at this point in the album you would want a slightly more upbeat song, so it is curious why this song was placed where it was on the album.

 

Finally, a faster paced, more in your face track, The Man That Never Was. The backing band in this song is essentially all Foo Fighters members excluding guitarist Chris Shiflett and features the one and onlyRick Springfield on vocals. It is unclear if Springfield is playing guitar on the track, but it starts off with a guitar riff that sounds like something he would come up with. The track sounds like the type of fun pop-rock songs that Rick has made a career playing, only heavier. This song is surprisingly accessible to people outside the Rock Springfield fan base. I would compare it accordingly: Rick Springfield attempting to play a punk song.

The next song continues on the aggressive punk-like fun rock direction. Your Wife Is Calling features vocalist Lee Ving and multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes, and well as Foo Fighter members Taylor Hawkins and Pat Smear. The song is really nothing more than a fast heavy paced aggressive song, with little inspiration towards the writing but definitely with good feel. It has the sound of Foo Fighters song when the band records one of their faster songs like White Limo, but with a very different style of vocals, one more suited to the punk-rock style.

 

From Can To Can’t goes back to the slow dark sound, this time hitting a depressing note, but when you take in to consideration that Corey Taylor is the singer, you tend to not be surprised. Corey is known in both of his bands, Stone Sour and Slipknot to sing either slow dark songs or really heavy metal songs, the latter being a style that no one would expect from the album. Along for the ride in this song is Kyussbassist Scott Reeder and to anyone’s surprise, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson playing completely out of his element, and man does he do a great job. This track is among the best on the album, definitely the best of the slower songs. Musically it is the heaviest song on the album due to the amount of distortion used in the guitars.

 

Centipede brings back Chris Goss and Alain Johanssen, this time with Queens of the Stone Age main man Josh Homme. This song is simply an acoustic song, one of which that fits Homme’s style of singing, with well written lyrics, but it is about three minutes in that the song finally catches its listener, ending on an electric note, with a nice Foo Fighters/Queens of the Stone Age style alternative sound.

 

Johanssen is brought back a third time for A Trick With No Sleeve, this time as vocalist, with Homme back again playing guitar. Though a great song, the best way to describe it would be another alternative style song in lieu of that of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

 

A few months ago, Dave Grohl gave a hint of a(nother) one off Nirvana reunion, this time with none other than Paul McCartney on vocals. This reunion involved the surviving members (with bassist Krist Novoselicand Pat Smear who briefly played with the band towards the end of its tenure) and it was speculated on what songs they would play with Paul. Could we be hearing the great Paul McCartney sing such grunge classics such as In Bloom or Smells Like Teen Spirit? Or maybe even members of Nirvana playing such songs McCartney classics as Band on the Run or Maybe I’m Amazed? No. Instead they played one original song, titled Cut Me Some Slack, which is the next song on the album. This track is in every way a grunge song, with its slow heavily distorted “sludgy” guitars, with Paul singing is lungs off. This is a song that will grow on its listener, I recommend not doubting it if at first you don’t like it. It may not be the best track off of the album, but it is what it is, a grunge song sung by Paul McCartney…I mean that sounds awesome on its own.

On If I Were Me, we finally get to hear Dave Grohl do some singing. This song brings back Rami Jaffeeand features violinist Jessy Greene and session drummer Jim Keltner. As expected, the song soungs like a Foo Fighters song, however it is warming for any fan of the Foos to finally be hearing Grohl’s voice, even if the song is yet another slow track.

 

The album ends on a long note. Mantra, which features industrial rock legend Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and once again featuring Josh Homme, is simply a NIN song meeting a Foo Fighters song. This track also features Grohl on vocals and is the longest track, clocking in at 7:43. The song may appeal to NIN fans, but its long nature and, yes once again, dark and gloomy sound may lose some listeners not far in to the song.

 

All in all, the album is what it is, a mixture of talent getting together to make a series of songs to commemorate the falling of something they all have in common, the Sound City recording studio. The album would fare better if there were less slow tracks but there is no denying the sheer talent featured on all of the songs brought forward on this album.

 

ALBUM HIGHLIGHT

 

From Can to Can’t” – Since the album is filled with mostly slower songs, it wouldn’t make sense to not have one of them as the highlight. This is the strongest song on the album, mostly thanks to the absolute undeniable feeling that Corey Taylor puts behind every note that he sings. As mentioned previously, it bringsRick Nielson completely out of his element, but you would never know listening to how well he plays in this song. Its style is different from that of other slower songs on the album in that it doesn’t sound remotely like anything the Foo Fighters could ever record, but that is only more reason to choose it as a highlight to the album, seeing as how some listeners are likely hoping to not buy a Foo Fighters album, but rather a soundtrack.

 

FINAL RATING

7.5 (Out of 10)

 

Track List:

 

“Heaven and All” Robert Levon Been, Dave Grohl, Peter Hayes 5:27
“Time Slowing Down” Chris Goss, Tim Commerford, Grohl, Brad Wilk 5:58
“You Can’t Fix This” Stevie Nicks, Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee 5:56
“The Man That Never Was” Rick Springfield, Grohl, Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear 3:24
“Your Wife Is Calling” Lee Ving, Grohl, Hawkins, Alain Johannes, Smear 3:20
“From Can to Can’t” Corey Taylor, Grohl, Rick Nielsen, Scott Reeder 4:50
“Centipede” Josh Homme, Goss, Grohl, Johannes 5:10
“A Trick With No Sleeve” Johannes, Grohl, Homme 4:55
“Cut Me Some Slack” Paul McCartney, Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Smear 4:38
“If I Were Me” Grohl, Jessy Greene, Jaffee, Jim Keltner 4:10
“Mantra” Grohl, Homme, Trent Reznor 7:43
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