Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 11/15/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
PERCY Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman.
Wilson Pickett’s Land of 1000 Dances.
Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You).
You might assume those classic songs, still playing in heavy rotation on rock ’n’ roll oldies stations, were originally generated in Motown.
You would be wrong. They were actually recorded in a little Alabama town in one of two nondescript music studios.
If you care about soul, rock ’n’ roll and southern rock, Freddy Camalier’s documentary Muscle Shoals is essential viewing, offering fascinating background to how this podunk town became a centre of the pop music universe in the ’60s and ’70s. Much of the credit is placed with legendary producer Rick Hall, a man who had as many personal demons as the most troubled rock star.
Bear in mind, the musicians who initially formed the famed rhythm section of Hall’s FAME Studios were all white guys — dubbed the Swampers — recording with some of the most important black recording artists of the day in the most racially charged days of the civil right movement... in Alabama.
The stories come fast and frequent, including Aretha Franklin’s dramacharged recording session (essentially jump-starting her stalled career in 1967), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards recalling the Rolling Stones’ laying the tracks for Wild Horses and Brown Sugar and Percy Sledge’s amazing career jump from hospital orderly to soul star on the strength of his When a Man Loves a Woman.
Racial tensions occurred, but members of The Swampers recall, hilariously, that hanging out with black artists in the ’60s wasn’t as dangerous as hanging with hippies (i.e. The Allman Brothers Band) in the ’70s.
The story is not without its own internal drama, which includes the schism that occurred when a rival, The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, challenged Hall’s FAME Studio for dominance.
Hall, at 80, still bristles at the perceived treachery of the former colleagues who became competitors.
For music lovers, the conflict yielded still more great tunes.
The movie suggests that Muscle Shoals’ distance from the big music production centres in New York and L.A., coupled with its idyllic riverside setting and a perfectionist music producer, were the main ingredients of pop music legend.
Winnipeg musicians should take note.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 D3
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg acknowledged as classic by Criterion
Horrors of Hollywood
Zellweger is aging — how dare she!
Latest teen horror flick will leave you bored
Lupita Nyong'o seeks Va. slave-trade preservation
Maddin's 'My Winnipeg' gets Criterion treatment
'You have reached Bill Murray; at the tone, pitch your movie'
Local filmmaker gives life to footage
Björk's human nature shines through multimedia overload
Bill Murray’s reliable grumpiness gives sharp edge to sentimental premise
Everybody was gun-fu fighting, and Keanu was fast as lightning
Pot activist documentary will harsh your mellow
Shailene Woodley on 'White Bird' nudity
New on DVD
Keanu Reeves knows his way around a fight scene, whether he's using a sword or a shotgun
Keanu Reeves on milestones and 'John Wick'
Q&A: Poitras on capturing history in a hotel room
Simmons connects with character in 'Whiplash'
Review: 'John Wick' delivers non-stop action
Review: A twist on the man-child romp in 'Laggies'
Actress Daniele Watts charged with lewd conduct
Police contacted actress before she was found dead
'Birdman' director flies through fear
Paul Gross among Screenie honourees
Cost of making 'Hobbit' movies up to $745 million
'Fury' defeats 'Gone Girl' in box-office battle
Sale of Joan Fontaine's house to aid animal group
Juliette Binoche on '1,000 Times Good Night'
'Fury' blasts 'Gone Girl' from top of box office
Thicke celebrates his divorce
Keanu kills as John Wick