Real To Reel is the soundtrack album to Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City. The documentary is about Sound City, a recording Studio in Los Angeles responsible for some of the great modern American rock classics – the likes of Rage Against The Machine’s self-titled, Kyuss’ And The Circus Leaves Town, 3 albums from Queens Of The Stone Age, Slipknot’s Iowa, Weezer’s Pinkerton, Tool’s Undertow…read enough? There’s also the matter of Nirvana’s Nevermind, and a stack of classics from the 70s and 80s that you’ll need to ask your Dad about. With such a rich history, it was sad for American music to see the studio close in 2011.
But Dave Grohl, being Dave Grohl, decided to not only direct a documentary about Sound City, but pull together musicians that have recorded at Sound City to record what is basically a tribute album to a studio. Dave Grohl features on all 11 tracks, each the product of a temporary supergroup. They’re all here – members from Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, Queens Of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Cheap Trick, Fear, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Rage Against The Machine, and don’t forget Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield and Paul McCartney.
Opening up with Robert & Peter from the almighty Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Heaven And All sounds just like anything you’d expect from these guys. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s a good indication of what to expect from this album. It’s largely hit and miss, with some of the big names seemingly phoning it in. The Man That Never Was sounds like the Foo Fighters 10 years ago, whereas Cut Me Some Slack is a perfect piece of rock and one of the album highlights. Similarly, album closer Mantra (Grohl, Homme, Reznor) is a fantastic piece of work from a trio of rock giants.
This is very much an album that will be embraced by Dave Grohl fans, but also fans of the players involved. It makes a great little party album and is a more than worthy companion piece to what must no doubt be a fascinating documentary film. Few on the planet could manage what Grohl has managed to pull off, but widely recognised as the nicest guy in rock, it’s unlikely anyone could say no to him. So much respect goes to him for getting it done. While the results vary, it’s still an outstanding collection of musicians on a single album, and that alone is to be applauded.