As an almost obsessive reader of album liner notes (remember them?) I was aware of something called the “Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section”, and of course I was aware of the reference to Muscle Shoals in “Sweet Home Alabama”. I may have even pulled out an atlas at one point (remember them?) and looked up the actual location of Muscle Shoals but that was about as far as it went for many years. Then one day while idly flipping through channels I stumbled upon the documentary “Muscle Shoals”. I was immediately riveted, and searched the PVR listings to find out whether I could see the whole thing. Fortunately, I could. I loved it so much that I had to own it, and have since procured a copy (thank you, Amazon).
I found the documentary absolutely fascinating, and I suspect that anyone who enjoys rock music would agree. I had no idea of the amount and variety of music that had come out of those little studios in an out-of-the-way corner of Alabama. Since I needed material for the radio show I hit upon the idea of the “virtual field trip” – from time to time we would do a feature on a particular place like this. I had started to pull together material about the Abbey Road studios, and about the Sound City studios in Los Angeles among others. Alas, it wasn’t to be since the radio station went off the air before we could do more.
So what is left is the archive of our one and only virtual field trip to Muscle Shoals Alabama. You will hear stories of bellhops and hospital orderlies that became singing stars, the only artist to ever be covered by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, the kick-start of the career of the Queen of Soul, the birth of Southern rock ‘n roll and of some of the most skilled musicians to ever work in the field. Of course because it was Richard and I doing “Song of the Day” there were the usual digressions on random topics such as Richard’s dancing ability, other uses for medicine bottles, unusual businesses in Kingston Jamaica, and how we would fare in a foot race against Bob Seger (hint: quite badly).
Enjoy the episodes, and seek out the documentary if you can. It is well worth your time.
(And here is a link to the documentary: Muscle Shoals