Seeking out the

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Muscle Shoals

Directed by Greg 'Freddy' Camalier
Produced by Greg 'Freddy' Camalier and Stephen Badger
With: Gregg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Cliff, Aretha Franklin, Donna Godchaux, Rick Hall, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Mick Jagger, Jaimoe, Jimmy Johnson, Alicia Keys, Ed King, Spooner Oldham, Dan Penn, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Candi Staton, John Paul White, Steve Winwood, and Jerry Wexler
Cinematography: Anthony Arendt
Editing: Richard Lowe
Runtime: 111 min
Release Date: 25 October 2013
Color: Color

Riding in on the buzz of 20 Feet From Stardom, Muscle Shoals is another entertaining documentary about under-appreciated backing musicians who literally “made” many of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs we know and love. Where 20 Feet From Stardom tells the stories of predominantly black and predominantly female backup vocalists, Muscle Shoals focuses on the primarily (and surprisingly) white studio musicians who all emanated from a tiny, muddy area in rural Alabama and collectively created some of the most soulful sounds and funky rhythms. At the center of the film is Rick Hall, the man who assembled all these musicians at a small studio he built himself. Having a central figure in the film helps make it a bit more grounded than 20 Feet, and director Greg 'Freddy' Camalier assembles an even more impressive lineup of great interviews. The film is chock full of fascinating behind-the-music anecdotes; actually a few too many anecdotes, as it turns out. Muscle Shoals is as rambling and uneven as the Tennessee River, which many in the film say gives the area its magical musical quality. And while Camalier doesn't pollute his film with staged, up-close-and-personal segments where the audience “hangs out” with the film’s subjects, he does indulge in many staged montages of his subjects walking in slow-motion, standing in fields and barns, and playing music. No matter. The stories behind all the great music make any filmmaking flaws as irrelevant as they are in 20 Feet From Stardom.