Muscle Shoals

Muscle Shoals ★★★★

Muscle Shoals is where all the good music comes from. That might seem like an exaggeration, and it certainly seems like a silly statement when you first lay eyes on the tiny studio situated in an Alabama swamp, but it's true. This is where Aretha got her soul, where Wilson Pickett learned to chill out, and where southern rock was invented. Check out the list of records made in Muscle Shoals and you'll come to the same conclusion that the film does: there must be something special in the water that brings out the best in the artists who work there. That something special might also be a mix of laid back southern charm and perfectionist drive that Rick Hall embodies. He's still the producer at FAME Studios and built one of the best house bands a studio has ever had. Despite being staffed mostly by white technicians and musicians, the studio developed one of the grooviest and funkiest sounds to ever be put to wax. Bands in search of authenticity could come to FAME Studios to get it injected straight into their hearts. The documentary does a good job of mixing in longer and shorter stories about the history that the studio was a part of, mostly told by both the artists and the behind-the-scenes technicians and house band players. At the end there's a giant list of of the groups that have passed through that small studio and it's just astounding. While it's not going to blow your socks off formally speaking, any music fan should find something to love here.