Movie Review: Muscle Shoals

I’m in a documentary groove right now. This is one type of film I can’t seem to get my family to enjoy. It’s too bad because there are some great documentaries out there. This is one of them.

Muscle Shoals is a little town on the Tennessee River in the northwest corner of Alabama. Back in the ’60s when the rest of the state was going thru racial turmoil, this little city by the river was making music that changed the world.

Rick Hall got together a bunch of white, country boys to be a band. He found a local black orderly singing in the hospital. The man singing was Percy Sledge, the band became known as The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as The Swampers. The funk and groove that these boys laid down became the stuff of legend.

Wilson Picket called his label and said – “Get me those black boys to play on my record.” His label told him – prepared to be disappointed. It’s a bunch of country white boys in Alabama. He came down anyway and so did everyone else. Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Bobby Gentry, Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon – the list goes on and is utterly amazing.

The film tells us the unvarnished story of the rise and fall of both Rick Hall and the studio. And the music.

The music of the film is incredible. So is the cinematography. Notice all the cool places and chairs they use to tell the story. It’s subtle but great story telling.

Great film and even better music.


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