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Muscle Shoals, Alabama -- What You Need To Know


Muscle Shoals is the red dot.


Muscle Shoals is the largest city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is located along the Tennessee River in the northern part of the state and, as of the 2010 census, the population of Muscle Shoals was 13,146. The estimated population in 2019 was 14,575.


But the most important fact about Muscle Shoals is music.


The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section is a group of American studio musicians based in Muscle Shoals. One of the most prominent American studio house bands from the 1960s to the 1980s, these musicians, individually or as a group have been associated with more than 500 recordings, including 75 gold and platinum hits. They were masters at creating a southern combination of R&B, soul and country music known as the "Muscle Shoals sound" to back up black artists, who were often in disbelief to learn that the studio musicians were white. Over the years from 1962 to 1969, there were two successive groups under the name "Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" and the common factor in the two was an association with Rick Hall at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.


The original group hired by Hall in the early 1960s was Norbert Putnam, David Briggs, and Jerry Carrigan who created hit records that brought recognition and stature to this unknown and out-of-the-way studio. This group was lured to Nashville studios for independent careers. The replacement musicians were Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood and Jimmy Johnson; initially called "the Second FAME Gang" but widely known by the nickname "The Swampers". The Swampers subsequently recorded, produced, or engineered classic hits by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leon Russell, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger and The Staple Singers. The Swampers were the subject of the 2013 documentary film Muscle Shoals, winner of the 2013 Boulder International Film Festival Grand Prize. They were mentioned by name in the lyrics of "Sweet Home Alabama"(1974) by Lynyrd Skynyrd and appear on the cover of Cher's 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway .


Here's the movie:




The 20 best songs ever recorded in Muscle Shoals


It happened more than once: A rock-star comes to Muscle Shoals looking to tap into the chicken-fried sounds of records made there, expecting to work with black session musicians, only to find out the dudes who played on their favorite Staple Singers and Wilson Pickett hits were unglamorous Caucasians. Such is the Shoals' country-funk mystique. And deceptively simple sonic sorcery. The 2013 documentary film "Muscle Shoals" cast a bright light on the North Alabama area's rich recording legacy, particularly from the mid-60s to late-70s. Why were so many people able to make great records there? Besides access to ace session players like Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and sharp producers like Rick Hall, the area was virtually distraction free, particularly compared to New York or Los Angeles. Fewer hangers-on, groupies, nightclubs and dealers equaled a greater focus on making music. Picking the 20 best songs ever recorded in the Muscle Shoals area, at now-iconic studios such as Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound, is a daunting task. There's been so much amazing music made there. But here goes.



20. "Loves Me Like a Rock" Paul Simon

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios Released: 1973 Songwriter: Paul Simon Producer:  Paul Simon, Phil Ramone, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section

19. "Sweet Soul Music" Arthur Conley

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1967 Songwriter: Arthur Conley, Otis Redding (based on Sam Cooke's "Yeah Man") Producer: Otis Redding


18. "You Better Move On" Arthur Alexander

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1961 Songwriter: Arthur Alexander Producer: Rick Hall


17. "Land of 1000 Dances" Wilson Pickett

Recorded at: Fame Studios   Released: 1966 Songwriter: Chris Kenner Producer: Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall


16. "Old Time Rock and Roll" Bob Seger

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Released: 1978 Songwriter: George Jackson, Thomas Jones Producer:  Bob Seger, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section


15. "I'd Rather Go Blind" Etta James

Recorded at: Fames Studios Released: 1968 Songwriter: Etta James, Ellington Jordan, Billy Foster Producer: Rick Hall


14. "I'm Your Puppet" James and Bobby Purify

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1966 Songwriter: Spooner Oldham. Dan Penn Producer:  Dan Penn


13. "Snatching It Back" Clarence Carter

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1969 Songwriter: Clarence Carter, George Jackson Producer: Rick Hall


12. "Sitting in Limbo" Jimmy Cliff

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Released: 1971 Songwriter: Jimmy Cliff, Guilly Bright Producer: Guilly Bright


11. "Hey Jude" Wilson Pickett

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1968 Songwriter: John Lennon, Paul McCartney Producer:  Rick Hall, Tom Dowd


10. "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" Aretha Franklin

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1967 Songwriter: Chips Moman, Dan Penn Producer: Jerry Wexler


9. "Respect Yourself" The Staple Singers

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios Released: 1971 Songwriter: Luther Ingram, Mack Rice Producer:  Al Bell


8. "Wild Horses" The Rolling Stones

"Wild Horses" The Rolling Stones Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Released: 1971 Songwriter: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards Producer:  Jimmy Miller


7. "Slip Away" Clarence Carter

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1968 Songwriter:  Marcus Daniel. Wilbur Terrell, William Armstrong Producer: Rick Hall


6. "Tell Mama" Etta James

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1967 Songwriter: Clarence Carter, Marcus Daniel and Wilbur Terrell Producer: Rick Hall


5. "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" Aretha Franklin

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1967 Songwriter: Ronnie Shannon Producer: Jerry Wexler


4. "I'll Take You There" Staple Singers

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios Released: 1972 Songwriter: Al Bell Producer: Al Bell


3. "Mustang Sally" Wilson Pickett

Recorded at: Fame Studios Released: 1966 Songwriter: Mack Rice Producer: Jerry Wexler


2. "When a Man Loves a Woman" Percy Sledge

Recorded at: Norala Studios Released: 1966 Songwriter: Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright Producer: Marlin Greene, Quin Ivy


1. "Brown Sugar" The Rolling Stones

Recorded at: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios Released: 1971 Songwriter: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards Producer: Jimmy Miller



Here are 20 more Muscle Shoals essentials


"How Can I Put Out The Flame (When You Keep the Fire Burning)" -- Candi Staton


"Patches" -- Clarence Carter


"Funky Broadway" -- Wilson Pickett


"Tighten Up" -- Black Keys


"Loan Me a Dime" -- Boz Scaggs


"The First Cut Is the Deepest" -- Rod Stewart


"You Left the Water Running" -- Otis Redding


"Gotta Serve Somebody" -- Bob Dylan


"Mainstreet" -- Bob Seger


"It Hurts So Good" -- Millie Jackson


"Hold On To What You've Got" -- Joe Tex


"Somebody Have Mercy" -- Lou Rawls


"Kodachrome" -- Paul Simon


"As Long As I Got You" -- Laura Lee


"I Can't Let You Break My Heart" -- Bettye Swann


"One Bad Apple" -- The Osmonds


"Just a Little Bit" -- Etta James


"Everybody" -- Tommy Roe


"Steal Away" -- Jimmy Hughes


"You Gotta Move" -- Rolling Stones


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Welcome to my webpage.  I'm on a journey across the USA to visit all 22 Paris' - and points in between.  I'll be sharing thoughts, photos and videos along the way - as I search for answers to questions that bother me so.

 

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