Thursday, September 11, 2014
Four White Guys Walk Into A Barn In Alabama...
It took some time, but I finally got around to watching "Muscle Shoals," the documentary about the small Alabama town that was the home and heart of producer Rick Hall, a studio called "Fame," a house band called the "Swampers," featuring Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, David Hood and Roger Hawkins, and some of the greatest music we will ever feast our ears on.
Some of the greasiest soul and funk came from "four white guys who look like they all worked in a supermarket."
The film was entertaining, though Rick Hall's story plays out like that Monty Python sketch, the one where the crew one-ups each other with stories about who had it worse.
"I had to walk 100 miles to school everyday with only one shoe." "You had a shoe?"
Hall's particularly gruesome retelling of his younger brother's fate, was just one of a half dozen, ham-handed personal recollections that made me squirm and made the otherwise terrific film about all involved, a bit clumsy.
There were many great stories from Percy Sledge, Keith Richards, Gregg Allman, Jerry Wexler and Aretha Franklin and I strongly suggest sitting down with this film. It's a wonderful musical history lesson.
One of my favorite moments was Jimmy Johnson recalling Duane Allman's session with Wilson Pickett. Of all the soul classics recorded in Muscle Shoals, Pickett's version of "Hey Jude" was never a favorite. I don't dislike it. I just don't love it. Or I didn't until last night, after watching the "Swampers" talk about the session, Duane's guitar fills, the groove-change and what Jimmy Johnson calls unequivocally, "the birth of southern rock."