Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music by Carla Jean WhitleyAn estimated four hundred gold records have been recorded in the Muscle Shoals area. Many of those are thanks to Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, dubbed the Swampers. Some of the greatest names in rock, R&B and blues laid tracks in the original, iconic concrete-block building--the likes of Cher, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones and the Black Keys. The National Register of Historic Places now recognizes that building, where Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded the original version of Free Bird and the Rolling Stones wrote Brown Sugar and Wild Horses. By combing through decades of articles and music reviews related to Muscle Shoals Sound, music writer Carla Jean Whitley reconstructs the fascinating history of how the Alabama studio created a sound that reverberates across generations.
50 Years of FAME and the Muscle Shoals Sound
To the casual observer, Muscle Shoals is just a quiet Alabama town, surrounded by verdant countryside and bordered by the vast Tennessee River. Men and birds alike fish in the river, as the sun beats down on the swampland where alligators wait. Legend told of a woman who lived in the river and sang songs that protected her people.
Carla Jean Whitley
10 Of The Most Popular Muscle Shoals Records From FAME Studios
The group closed the Jackson Highway studio in , moving the operation to Alabama Avenue. This group completed a major restoration and the location reopened on January 9, The concrete block building at Jackson Highway in Sheffield was built around and was previously a coffin show room. Cher's sixth album was titled Jackson Highway and this became the informal name for the studio in The studio at this location closed in , and the recording facility was moved to new premises at Alabama Avenue. The Jackson Highway building had been partly restored and open for tours in when the documentary Muscle Shoals raised public interest in a major restoration of the studio. In June , the owner sold the property to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation, without the historic recording equipment.
Courtesy Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Of course, many other amazing tunes have been cut in the Shoals. In search of that soulful sound now synonymous with Muscle Shoals. Blues-rockers The Black Keys recorded their Grammy-winning, platinum-selling "Brothers" album there. Just last year Birmingham band and Rolling Stones tour openers St. It's a challenge to distill Muscle Shoals' years-plus musical legacy down to a playlist. Ten songs would necessitate sticking entirely to vintage classics.
Back in a tumultuous time in American history, a tiny Southern recording studio became a bastion of harmony. The studio first opened above a drug store and a pawn shop in its titular Southern town. Thanks to its success, the studio was able to take the proceeds and move from Florence to a former tobacco warehouse in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Here are the 10 most popular albums ever cut there, according to the Discogs community. Pickett was on fire in those days; The Sound of Wilson Pickett is one of three albums he issued in Pickett would record some of his biggest hits in that converted warehouse, including his classic reading of Funky Broadway , featured on this disc. Buy it on Discogs An obvious worshipper of Sam Cooke who never quite forged his own path, Arthur Conley still delivered some fine Southern soul despite being far from a household name.
About Expand submenu About Collapse submenu About. Your cart. Close Cart. This studio was unique because it was the only recording studio owned and operated by the session musicians at the time. The four musicians were equal partners in the endeavor - not only as studio musicians but also booking sessions, paying the bills, and handling all aspects of a running business. Wexler was a key part of the start of MSS by loaning the musicians money to get equipment while continuing to bring clients from Atlantic Records. The album cover features a photo of the building, with the title of the album superimposed over the facade, which inspired the now iconic Jackson Highway sign.