Muscle ShoalsIn 1961, fledgling songwriter/producer Rick Hall (who died earlier this year) established Fame, a recording studio in the tiny Alabama postage-stamp town of Muscle Shoals.

In the highly segregated state of Alabama, Hall hired an all-white group of Southern musicians, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, to back the many black artists he would record. Blending the earthiness of blues, R&B and Southern funk with strains of gospel and country, Hall and these extraordinary musicians crafted the ‘Muscle Shoals sound’ on more than 500 recordings, including 75 gold and platinum hits for artists too numerous to list in this review.

On this release, contemporary musicians including Alison Krauss, Steven Tyler, Alan Jackson and Keb’ Mo’ interpret songs originally associated with the Muscle Shoals sound recorded by The Staple Singers, The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, Etta James and others.

Muscle Shoals: Small Town Big Sound is out now via Sony.

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