First and foremost, I want to apologize for not posting this review of the iconic documentary “Muscle Shoals” sooner. I saw this past Tuesday night and posting only now on Friday.
Why the apology? Well it is no longer playing at the great The Showroom theatre in Asbury Park and a Moviefone.com search revealed the closest location is Silver Springs, MD (a darn long way from Red Bank, NJ). Yes you can watch down the road on your computer, Netflix, On Demand etc., but was just special on the big screen.
I was at the Showroom a few days before seeing “Parkland” and the theatre setting invites comfortable pre-movie conversation with other movie goers. I asked if anybody had seen either of the other 2 films being shown at The Showroom. I clear movie junkie said stop your life and race to go see “Muscle Shoals”…and I did.
For a long time, I was really into the music of the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. In fact, for a while, I was a manager of a national record store chain store. I knew my music pretty good….or so I thought. I had never heard of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
This was a ridiculously well done film capturing the real life musical magic of this under the radar music mecca for a who’s who list of musics’ greats.
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Inside the walls
of the FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound studios, any semblance of racism is invisible and the brotherly love for music abounded and the course of music history was altered.
Founded and located in the Deep South where abject racial hatred abounded, the area was the hub, influence, genesis of many of the most famous pieces of music ever.
The movie tells the magic of the water (Tennessee River) and the hills and people that somehow brings out the best of soulful music in this town of 8,000 residents.
The music tied in with actual live footage from that era of stuff of legends artists like Percy Sledge, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and more led the initial wave of Soul superstar creating their best stuff. Then more mainstream folk like Traffic, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more came thru Muscle Shoals. They came for soulful musical inspiration & ridiculous local musical talent (Led by the Swamper”) in a down home setting.
A virtually who’s who of recording artist either launched, rediscovered, elevated or supported their musical careers in muscle shoals. Way under the radar, this documentary spoke to the history of my musical life.
I was starving, tired and had to go to the bathroom, yet was totally rivoted watching the this historical parade of singers, songwriters, musicians, bands of the world come to Muscle shoals and explode.
The iconic list of musical recordings made in Muscle Shoals tied in with the fascinating Helen Keller tie it, made you think this was a Disney Movie. You just couldn’t believe it was true…and it was.
RUN to see this film….it will stop you in your tracks and you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. The great Skynard song “Sweet Home Alabama” says, “Muscle Shoals has the Swampers”. Never knew what that meant…now I do big time.