L.A.’s Sound City Studios produced some truly historic music (Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” Nirvana’s Nevermind) before it closed two years ago. Dave Grohl, the happiest man in rock and roll, bought the studio’s custom-built Neve analog mixing desk (“the Enterprise on steroids”) and decided to make a documentary of the place, then put a whole bunch of musicians together in a “super group” when doing so.
Rick Springfield’s “The Man That Never Was” rocks pretty freakin’ hard. Then there’s the growly Lee Ving punk parade of “Your Wife Is Calling,” and Grohl, Chris Goss, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk’s “Time Slowing Down,” with it’s slinky verses and tight harmony vocals, which all make for the best songs on this 11-track album.
Foo’s Grohl and Taylor Hawkins try to recreate some Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nick’s singing on “You Can’t Fix This,” but the song shoots wide and never finds a target. “Cut Me Some Slack” sees Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear backing none other then Paul McCartney at what might be his rockiest since “Helter Skelter.” Again, it’s not a great song, but the point of this rave-up was just to jam I think, which the boys certainly do. I really like Grohl’s playing on “A Trick With No Sleeve,” but again we get another lackluster tune.
“Mantra” ends the album, a surely minimalistic, almost too-cool-for-the-room Trent Reznor contribution, with its only interesting piece – its sliding bass. (Bowie does this kind of thing much better.)
Sorry to say Real To Reel is a mixed bag of OK tunes with too few good ones.