Interview from NPR / Dave Grohl: The legendary Sound City soundboard story

sound_city-2Mildly obsessed.  That’s my self-diagnosis regarding Dave Grohl’s new Sound City documentary.  I think the idea of a ratty rock studio and a magical sound board is highly addictive.  Team it with a tour, promoting the premiere of the movie with a band called The Sound City Players – essentially the Foo Fighters, with rotating cast of Rick Springfield, John Fogerty, Rick Nielsen and Stevie Nicks.  I’m hooked. Cool, fun, loud little clips on YouTube.  Check them out.  And here’s a story from NPR about the legendary sound board in the Sound City control room. The board (that Grohl believes has soulful and magical powers) that recorded Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours,  and Nirvana’s Nevermind, for goodness sake.  Grohl now owns it, moving it from the original home to his house.

It wasn’t much to look at: a nondescript building in the San Fernando Valley with hideous brown shag carpeting on the walls. But from the 1970s on, the Sound City recording studio turned out a ridiculous amount of great music: classic recordings by Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and many others.

Dave Grohl and his bandmates in Nirvana were practically unknown in 1991 when they pulled up to Sound City in a rusted white van. But the album that came out of that session, Nevermind, turned rock music on its head.

In his new documentary and accompanying soundtrack, Sound City: Real to Reel, the Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters founder pays homage to that studio — and its distinctive soundboard.


VIDEO: Rick Springfield with Dave Grohl and Sound City Players

Highlight of the music weekend: Dave Grohl’s new movie Sound City debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and he had a concert featuring Rick Springfield, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks and more…but it sounds like Springfield stole the show… (VIDEO BELOW)

from Movieline review: Rick Springfield’s set resonated even more with Sundancers judging from how violently their dancing and jumping shook the club’s floor.  It was an extended moment of pure rock bliss in which all the labels that get applied to music in terms of what’s cool (Foo Fighters) and what’s not (Rick Springfield) fell away and infectious, enduring pop music was celebrated for its essence. Grohl introduced the former General Hospital actor as “the one, the only, fucking Rick Springfield,” and the band played together on a number of the former pop star’s 1980s radio hits, “I’ve Done Everything For You,” “Love Is Alright Tonite” and “Jessie’s Girl.” And watching the beatific look on punk pioneer-turned-Foo-Fighter Pat Smear’s face as he played along to these Top 40 hits was indisputable proof that a good song is a good song.

As Grohl said archly between songs: “You’ve cracked the code, Rick Springfield. You’ve figured out how to write the perfect song. Goddamn you.”

Meanwhile, Springfield rose to the occasion of playing with one of the most balls-out rock bands in show business. In Sound City, he reveals somewhat sheepishly that Pat Benatar’s husband Neil Giraldo was pulled into the recording studio to lay down the famous guitar riff to “Jessie’s Girl” because the song’s producer didn’t think Springfield’s playing was up to snuff.”  But that humiliation was very much in the past at Friday’s concert. Onstage at Park City Live, Springfield behaved like a bona fide guitar god as he traded licks with Grohl.

FROM ROLLING STONE: The supergroup grew out of Grohl’s Sound City documentary, which goes inside the fabled Van Nuys recording studio where Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Metallica and Nirvana recorded some of their most acclaimed albums.


Album Review – Rick Springfield – “Songs for the End of the World”

Rick Springfield released one of the greatest power pop records ever.  No, it’s not his new album Songs for the End of the World, though there are echoes worth hearing.

With his 1981 album Working Class Dog, and the song  “Jessie’s Girl”, he found the formula to make one of rock’s best-ever power pop records, right up there with the stuff of Cheap Trick, The Romantics, Matttew Sweet and The Cars.  The guitars, the sugary background vocals and three-minute pop/rock songs about girls and boys and more girls made the album a surprise hit record.

He would never match that sound or vibe again.

He’s given his new album a “take-a-dip-from-past” wash of his previous records, splashing guitar-driven, hook-laden, layered background vocals on the  pop/rock.  While not a truly great record, it is his best since returning to recording a little more than ten years ago. Continue reading “Album Review – Rick Springfield – “Songs for the End of the World””

Concert Review: Rick Springfield at the Indiana State Fair

Rick Springfield - photo by Nora Spitznogle

Near the end of Rick Springfield’s free concert at the Indiana State Fair in the early evening 90+ degree heat Thursday night, the soon-to-be 61 year-old singer waded into the track seats, while singing his 1983 hit “Human Touch”. He walked – on the chairs – through the audience, from one end to the other. Then he went up into the grandstand, making his way to the upper section, slapping hands and hanging onto shoulders to keep his balance.

While this move, and an extended version of his 1982 hit “Don’t Talk to Strangers” that concluded with four girls, ranging in ages from 4 to 17, singing the chorus – evokes more than a whiff of rock and roll cheese when done at a normal 21-and-over concert, it worked perfectly for the free outdoor show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The mix of 40 and 50-something moms and cougars, plus kids, teens and guys who wrongly won’t admit going, mixed into an engaged, tuned-in crowd. It doesn’t hurt that Springfield is a relaxed and seasoned musical road dog, having been on stage for more than 40 years.

Many in attendance had seemingly seen a Springfield show before (the Hoosier Lottery lady who came out 15 minutes before the show asked, and more than 50 percent of the hands went into the air), but even those who only know the radio songs were rewarded with the hits – and just couple misses.

Dressed in a black and white checkered button-up shirt, black jeans and Chuck Taylor’s, Springfield was aided by a band that recreated the sound of the records on many of Rick’s later-career songs, though struggled on a couple of his more power-poppy Working Class Dog hits.

Continue reading “Concert Review: Rick Springfield at the Indiana State Fair”

Rock and Roll into April – Rock Hall on Fuse, The Elms, The Hold Steady, Album Releases

Hey. How’s it goin? Here’s some stuff you might want to know:

100x115fuseThe 24th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be broadcast live on FUSE Television Network Saturday night. The performer inductees are: Jeff Beck, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Metallica, Run-D.M.C. and Bobby Womack. Wanda Jackson gets in through the Early Influence category. The Sidemen Category inductees are two of Elvis’ early bandmates, Bill Black and DJ Fontana, plus Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham, who played on, among many other songs, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge and “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett .

elmsguitarThe Elms Wrap Up Recording
I got sucked into the oddity and thrilling surprises of Seymour, Indiana’s The Elms. They streamed two different cams (one in the the control room with the biig mixing board, and one in the actual recording studio) and spent about three weeks, mostly Monday to Friday with an occasional weekend evening tossed in. They laid down basic trakcs, overdubbed guitar solos, saved some some killer Owen Thomas double-tracked lead vocals and even rolled in a Hammond B3 on the final weekend to lay down steamy, soulful keyboard chords. We should give them credit; nobody threw a whiskey bottle through the control room window, and there were no fistfights (that I saw). Instead, they are going to have a sweet and nasty little album to release in a few months. It was recorded in Nashville, and Owen, Chris, Thom and Nate have tracked what sounds like a fine batch of heartland rock-infused, completely modern tunes. Will be interesting to see what the final pressing sounds like, but was guilty fun to watch develop. And from the recording session wrap, they loaded up and played SXSW.
Read the play-by-play via Thom’s blog here

Best Show of the Year?
We’ll see. It’s The Hold Steady at Jake’s in Bloomington on Saturday night. They are on a major roll, and the college town gets the show. Lucky kids. Worth the drive from Indy.

ryanadamsThrough the greatness that is the web, l have located a bootleg file of Ryan Adams & The Cardinals’  “last performance”. He announced on January 14th that he was done (only for now, me thinks) with music. You see, he just got married to Mandy Moore. He’s known to change his ond quickly, so we’ll see how long he can stay away from the microphones. Anyway, we have below what could be his last show, from March 20 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.
Download zip file of show here

Steve Forbert (best known for 1979’s “Romeo’s Tune”) has a new one this week, “The Place and the Time”.

→ The Felice Brothers are one of the hot bands in roots rock., and have a new album “Yonder Is The Clock” out on April 7th. Lovely gravel with the sweetness of a great band playing old instruments….they are headed on tour and come as close as Louisville, at Headliners on April 24.
Here’s a new tune:
Download “Chicken Run” | Hear “Penn Station” and “The Big Surprise”

Bob Mould releases his new solo album “Life And Times” on April 7th.

Booker T. meets the Drive-By Truckers, and new album comes out of it….
“Potato Hole,” Booker’s new album, comes out April 21. I think this thing will be way cool, thanks to layers of guitar from the Truckers and old buddy Neil Young, who plays on nine tracks. Like classic Booker T. & the MG’s albums, “Potato Hole” is instrumentals, including covers Tom Waits’ “Get Behind the Mule” and OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” Booker performs with the Truckers at three of this summer’s major concerts: Coachella, Bonnaroo and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
read more

Bob Dylan releases his 46th album on April 28th called “Together Through Life”.
download “Beyond Here Lies Nothing”

The Smithereens celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Who’s Tommy by cashing in, uh, creating their own version of the rock opera. “The Smithereens Play Tommy” will hit stores and the Internet on May 5.

Elvis Costello’s newest album, “Secret, Profane & Sugarcane,” has him visiting an American roots music sound for the first time in about 20 years. “Sugarcane” will be released June 2 on Hear Music.


My ipod is on shuffle and here’s the first five songs that come up:
1. “Rumbleseat” – John Mellencamp
Quick little underrated rocker off of Scarecrow. And that’s the album, argue it if you want, that really is the roots-rock/alt-country/americana holy grail. Sure, talk about Gram Parsons and the rest if you like, but the combination of regionalized lyrics, slashing guitars, Kenny Aronoff snare smashes and chart success make this the album that influenced a whole generation of guitar-slinging, lyric-writing cowpunks.

2. “Help Me” – Johnny Cash
What a voice. And what words. “Oh Lord, help me walk another mile. Oh Lord, help me smile another smile” From his “American V: A Hundred Highways” record, this marked the end to his recording career, and was another great vocal recording effort from producer Rick Rubin. Just John’s by-then creaky voice and ruminations on dying. Heavy and brilliant and sad.

3. Sweet Caroline” – Supersuckers
From a bootleg from 2004, this outfit is a Seattle country punk rock band that has never really become as well-known as some less-talented counterparts. I saw them on a Farm Aid show (Lousiville, maybe?) and thought they were eerily similar to Jason and the Scorchers, but a little less accessible, if that could be possible. This cut is from an acoustic show, and is a fast shuffling take on the overdone Neil Diamond song. Thankfully, the audience isn’t heard yelling “bomp bomp bomp”, though I bet they did.
Here’s a video of “That is Rock and Roll” to give you a taste of the ‘suckers

4. ”Let Me Down Hard” (Live)” – John Eddie
From his “Who the Hell is John Eddie” record from about five years ago. That record is one of my ten favorite releases of the past decade. It’s is a slow burning love song to a girl who is about to dump his ass. He writes great hook-filled country-rock tunes, with enough pop sugar to make this record work as a great statement that a rocker at 40 can be viable, even if he is selling records to just his small collection of rabid fans. Was played on WTTS, so give them credit for having a clue. By the way, “Lowlife” from this record ended up on Kid Rock’s most recent records. And the song “Forty” is the hero of the album.

5. ”Itsalwayssomething” (live) – Rick Springfield
A 1999 catchy rocker taken here from a live greatest hits record. And here’s why you should like Rick Springfield: The “Working Class Dog” album from 1981 is a power pop classic. And who’s to say “no way”? If it’s you, then you aren’t listening to the music and just hammering the soap opera image. Listen again. Plus, us guys who went to a concert knew the chicks outnumbered the dudes by a 10-1 ratio. Nice. His output is hit-and-miss these days, but he is still capable of a catchy tune with every album.

MP3 4U- Favorite Bootleg of the Week:
Todd Snider – Viva Satellite Demos
Awesome. Freakin’ awesome. It was 1998 and Todd Snider released Viva Satellite, getting mildly ripped by critics for trying to sound like Tom Petty. I think they missed the pure Chuck Berry-ness of the music because the volume might have masked some of Todd’s lyrics, and all sounded a bit derivative. That’s what I think. And I also think those who couldn’t find the greatness were idiots for writing that (even it was just 2 or 3 reviews that I am remembering. Don’t stop me, I’m on a rant…) And there’s many who would say, and it would be damn difficult to argue, that his career has blossomed because of his non-stop solo tours since breaking up the band. But if I’m voting (and I am, and win 1-0), this is the Todd Snider I fell in love with and that is still best. More like stoned-not-drunk Replacements than just Petty, there’s 16 tracks on the bootleg I have linked to for you, and nearly every one of those 16 rock. Most feature Will Kimbrough’s ripping guitar work (check his “Americanitis” album for a recent whiff of his smokin’ brilliance) and most all sound like a band that has the amps up and the lights down. This is Todd and the Nervous Wrecks at their studio rockin’ best – though the would splinter after the tour for this album. I also think this demo version is better than the official release.
Thanks to for the MP3 blog post.
I’m sharing it… you need to take it. – get it here

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant- “I’m In The Mood”

Motown drummer Uriel Jones, whose hard-driving funk propelled classic tunes by the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, died in a Michigan hospital after suffering complications from a heart attack, a family member said. He was 74.