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Storyville: Muscle Shoals - The Greatest Recording Studio in the World

Storyville: Muscle Shoals - The Greatest Recording Studio in the World



A wonderful corrective to the usual Hollywood portrayal of small-town life in the Deep South, this somewhat uneven but often truly uplifting documentary tells the story of the local, racially integrated music scene in the "small town with the big sound".

The name of Muscle Shoals, Alabama may be unfamiliar to the uninitiated, even though it's the place where the Rolling Stones recorded Brown Sugar in the late 1960s. That legendary song is just one of many recorded over the last 50 years at FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, near the banks of the Tennessee. Soul giants Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge all laid down classic tracks there, usually with funky house band the Swampers, an unassuming bunch of musicians who shocked the industry when it was revealed they were, in fact, all white.

The real star of the show, though, is moustachioed Muscle Shoals impresario Rick Hall, whose love of music enabled him to escape a childhood of poverty and tragedy, and who could easily have been the inspiration for the hit song Patches, made famous by Clarence Carter.


A look inside the legendary music hub, located alongside the Tennessee River, an unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant artists. Under the spiritual influence of the `Singing River,' as Native Americans called it, the studio's output has helped to create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. At its heart is Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming poverty and tragedy, he brought black and white musicians together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. Contributors include Greg Allman, Bono and Clarence Carter.