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Muscle Shoals: The Greatest Recording Studio in the World

Documentary about Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music, with Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger and many more.

Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals in Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the 'Singing River', as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time.

At its heart is Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming poverty and tragedy, Hall brought black and white together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals's magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today.

1 hour, 50 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Ray Smith

    Singing River

  • Wilson Pickett

    Land of a Thousand Dances

  • Ray Smith

    Leslie Guitar String Blowing

  • Rick Hall

    Rick Hall's Mandolin

  • Clarence Carter

    Slip Away

  • Jimmy Hughes

    Steal Away

  • Herbert Boland

    30167 Tribal Drums

  • Ray Smith

    Organ No Lap 3

  • Ray Smith

    Rick Raised By Father

  • Ray Smith

    Never Loved A Man 3 Mix 1

  • Ray Smith

    Rick Accident

  • Boz Scaggs

    Somebody Loan Me a Dime

  • Ray Smith

    End of Loan

  • Arthur Alexander

    You Better Move On

  • The Rolling Stones

    You Better Move On

  • Spooner's Crowd

    Two In The Morning

  • The Staple Singers

    I'll Take You There

  • Spooner Oldham

    Spooner's Melancholy

  • Ray Smith

    Percy Intro

  • Percy Sledge

    When A Man Loves A Woman

  • Ray Smith

    Race 1B

  • Clarence George Carter and George Henry Jackson

    Snatching It Back

  • Wilson Pickett

    Funky Broadway

  • Wilson Pickett

    Land of a Thousand Dances

  • Wilson Pickett

    Mustang Sally

  • Ray Smith

    Front Porch Dobro

  • Aretha Franklin

    One Step Ahead

  • Ray Smith

    Never Loved A Man T Mix

  • Ray Smith

    Trem GT

  • Aretha Franklin

    I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)

  • Ray Smith

    Organ and Lap 3

  • Ray Smith

    Chain Gang Slide

  • Aretha Franklin

    Respect

  • Etta James

    Tell Mama

  • Ray Smith

    Patches 2

  • Dr. Eric Kirkman

    St Louis Blues

  • Ray Smith

    Front Porch Dobro

  • Ray Smith

    Helen Keller

  • Etta James

    I'd Rather Go Blind

  • Ray Smith

    Organ and Lap

  • Ray Smith

    Rick Mirror Shot 1

  • Candi Staton

    I Ain't Easy To Love

  • King Curtis

    The Weight

  • Taj Mahal

    Statesboro Blues

  • Wilson Pickett

    Hey Jude

  • The Allman Brothers Band

    Statesboro Blues

  • Spooner Oldham

    Spooner Time

  • Ray Smith

    Swampers Up The Stairs

  • Otis Rush

    You Reap What you Sow

  • Ray Smith

    Swampers Waiting

  • The Rolling Stones

    You Gotta Move

  • The Rolling Stones

    Wild Horses

  • The Rolling Stones

    Brown Sugar

  • The Fame Gang

    Grits and Gravy

  • Candi Staton

    I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than A Yong Man's Fool.)

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Free Bird

  • Ray Smith

    Patches 3rd Pass

  • Clarence Carter

    Patches

  • Spooner Oldham

    Spooner Muscle Shoals

  • Jimmy Cliff

    Sitting in Limbo

  • Traffic

    (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired

  • Bob Seger

    Mainstreet

  • Paul Simon

    Kodachrome

  • Ray Smith

    Organ No Lap 3

  • Ray Smith

    Organ and Lap 2

  • Ray Smith

    Organ and Lap 4

  • Alicia Keys

    Pressing On

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Sweet Home Alabama

Muscle Shoals director Greg 'Freddy' Camalier answers the Storyville Q&A

Muscle Shoals director Greg 'Freddy' Camalier answers the Storyville Q&A

What is more important, story or character?

Character

 

What made you first want to explore the subject?

Serendipitously arriving in the town of Muscle Shoals, AL late one night.

 

How long did it take to get the film off the ground?

14 months

 

What were you most surprised to learn in the course of production?

The magnitude and variety of music that came from Muscle Shoals.

 

What have been the differences in reception to the film in countries it has now

travelled to?

How different countries expressed enthusiasm.

 

Which documentary has most inspired you?

The Kid Stays in the Picture

 

Favourite Website/blog?

Wikipedia

 

Person you’d most like to interview (living or dead?)

Jerry Garcia

 

Best piece of filmmaking advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your instincts.

 

Best piece of filmmaking equipment you can’t live without?

Small HD monitors

 

If money was no object, what is your dream documentary subject?

The lack of oversight from the U.S. FDA and the unregulated toxins being

pumped into our society.

 

Favourite film of all time?

Impossible to answer, but if I had to choose it would be The Big Lebowski.

 

Most difficult access?

Stars

 

Best recent read?

Nick Dutton’s Elliot Cooper's Work Here is Done

Credits

Role Contributor
Director Greg 'Freddy' Camalier
Series Editor Nick Fraser

Broadcasts