This documentary isn’t terribly structured but it does offer some brilliant insight into the making of some of the best records of all time: Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, The Rolling Stones…and what do they all have in common? They were all produced and recorded in small town Muscle Shoals, Alabama. You may not know the studio, but you definitely know the music.
Everyone gives lively, reminiscent interviews, including Bono, who just loves to hear his own voice because in actual fact he never recorded there. But everyone who’s anyone has, and most showed up to praise the sound coming out of the south.
What struck me the most was that, without any effort, just born out of one musician’s respect for another, more was done for race relations on vinyl in those studios than anywhere else. Black and white musicians worked together to make a cohesive sound that both describe as “funky.” This was rural Alabama in the 1960s but what was happening out there couldn’t mess with what was happening in the studio. It was magic.