DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SOUND CITY (director: David Grohl; screenwriters: Mark Monroe/based on a story by David Grohl; cinematographer: Kenny Stoff; editor:  Paul Crowder; cast: Keith Olsen, Tom Skeeter, Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood; Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John Ramsay/James A. Rota/DavidGrohl; Variance Films; 2013)

"A sincere tribute to the tape-based dumpy Sound City."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A sincere tribute to the tape-based dumpy Sound City, in Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley, the no-frills studio home for many top rock groups in the 1970s, by first-time filmmaker and a drummer, guitarist and vocalist in groups like Nirvana and Foo Fighters, David Grohl. The rock documentary is filled with interviews from many recording engineers, producers, office staff, the amiable savvy business partner owners Tom Skeeter and Joe Gottfried, and the long list of rockers who recorded in the studio such as Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, Rick Springfield, Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash and Barry Manilow.

It's tech heavy and talky, as it tells its mildly interesting story of the unlikely success of the studio and how in the digital age of recording in the 1980s and 90s flattened out as a dinosaur, and how in recent times the vogue is to use something like the Pro-Tool on one's home laptop and record things alone. Skeeter and engineer turned producer Olsen credit the studio's early success to the unique sound of the Neve console they bought for $76,000 from genius inventor Rupert Neve.

Grohl tells that the 1975 Fleetwood Mac album brought the studio instant fame and the groups that followed suit included included Santana, The Grateful Dead, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and REO Speedwagon. We are also told that the unknown at the time Nirvana band recorded in their studio the landmark 1991 release, the Number 1 hit, Nevermind, and that brought the studio back from the dead.

The documentary goes on for too long as it waxes poetic and overloads on nostalgia about the uniqueness of the shithole studio, that was forced to concede that digital recordings are the more business efficient way to go and the studio went out of business. It ends with us learning that Grohl bought the famous Neve board and the pic closes with several new tunes played on it.

Naturally, the pic is more geared for rock fans than a general audience.

REVIEWED ON 12/17/2013       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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