[PASSNOTES] ‘MUSCLE SHOALS’, A LITTLE TOWN WITH A WHOLE LOTTA SOUL

By on November 17th, 2013

Muscle Shoals (2013)

Muscle Shoals (2013) Dir. Greg Camalier – In cinemas 15th November

Who’s in it? Rick Hall, Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards

What’s it about? ‘The incredible true story of a small town with a big sound’, Muscle Shoals is a documentary about the Alabama backwater which produced some of music’s greatest collaborations and hits like I’ll Take You There, Brown Sugar and When a Man Loves a Woman. Reminiscing with the likes of Aretha Franklin and other living legends about the little town with a lot of soul – which was, according to Keith Richards, “Rock n’ Roll Heaven” – the film tracks the career of legendary producer Rick Hall, responsible for creating what became known as the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ by founding FAME Studios in the late 1950s, bringing white and black musicians together in Civil Rights era America.

Memorable Moments? Evoking the funky spirit of the place and its people, in one scene Hall recounts how Paul Simon insisted on having “those same black players who played on I’ll take you there” in Alabama (who were actually white) as his session musicians, to which Al Bell at Stax records replied, “That can happen but these guys are mighty pale”.

Look Who’s Talking: ‘Warm, enjoyable, smooth and lightweight, this celebratory documentary is a gentle tribute to a remarkable man and his work.’ –Ashley Clark, Film4

Like that? Try This: The Universally acclaimed Marley (2012) – Kevin McDonald’s probing and provocative meditation on one of music’s most enduring voices – appreciates the music of Bob Marley and its impact on the generation he spoke for. With ‘electrifying concert footage and fascinating insights’ (Rotten Tomatoes) rediscovering the spirit of a man of near mythical proportions, Marley is a must for music fans and for anyone who enjoys a good biopic.

Trivia Pursuit: Muscle Shoals gets its name from the Tennessee River (dubbed by its Native American locals the “Singing River”) which runs through the town and apparently used to gather shoals of Mussels in its shallows.

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