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on October 4, 2013
As of today, we can't buy this DVD - it did play in our local arthouse movie theater and our cable TV system is showing it now, for an extra few dollars. I grew up in Alabama and was bitten by the R & B bug at age 8. I've loved it, lived it, played it all my life (I'm now a 65-yr-old caucasian lady). Yes, people in our little town thought my brother and I were crazy, so much did we love this music. I'm thankful that this film was made, and it must have been years in the making, because here you see Wilson Pickett and Jerry Wexler, both of whom have been dead for several years now.

I never knew the story was so rough. Never knew that Rick Hall had such a rough life. We picked up bits and pieces about Muscle Shoals as we grew up -- it became like a magic, mystical place in our minds. It would be wonderful if the whole cut of each song could be played, but that would make the movie way too long. The photography is beautiful, the remarks made by Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Jerry Wexler, Keith Richard and Mick Jagger, and more, make you slowly realize that Muscle Shoals was almost a miracle. The first hit, the wonderful "You Better Move On" by Arthur Alexander - followed by the Rolling Stones playing and singing the same song, makes you gasp. Tears flowed, I don't mind saying. Just put aside whatever you may think about Alabama, and see this movie.
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on October 13, 2013
Our tradition is to watch documentaries about music and the music industry. I've seen many and enjoyed them all...and I'm just your regular person that enjoys music. By far this is my favorite. Brings back lots of great music always does. I didn't realize this small town, the Swampers and Rick Hall had such a massive impact on music. This movie was so educational (I just learned what "muscle shoals has got the swampers" meant in the hit Sweet Home Alabama...and I've been listening to Lynryd Skynryd for YEARS). So touching...I didn't want the movie to end. And a little sad...I can't think of anything like this today--session musicians...the magically creative musical process...the diversity. I can't wait until this comes out on video to own. I just ordered the various soundtracks. Visiting the Tennessee river is now on my bucket list.
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on September 29, 2013
As a musician I have spent a fair amount of time exploring the roots of our heritage... This movie taught me how much I really do not know... An excellent documentary for anyone searching out where the real sound comes from... Great clips and history... A wonderful documentary by any measurement
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on October 15, 2013
I love watching historic accounts of notable subject matter from the past. For some reason I'm just drawn into documentaries, narratives and key figure interviews from people that were first hand witnesses to key events in the history of mankind. Muscle Shoals fits into this category wonderfully. It is an amazing account of the history of a significant recording studio that played a huge part in the development and production of American Music culture.

I would have willingly given a rating of 5-Stars for this gem of a production, but I'm selfish. I wanted more and did not want it to end. The cinematography was beautiful. The stories that were told made me feel like I was there. The still photographs from the past were like looking through an old family album eliciting both joyful and sad memories from the past. One of my favorite things about Muscle Shoals was hearing first hand stories from the artists that were there. Wilson Picket and Keith Richards made me laugh out loud. The recounting of Aretha Franklin's first session at the studio and the build up to the first song she recorded there, had me totally mesmerized. The description of Etta James' persona, her strong will and the explosive talent she possessed were wonderfully described. Then of course there were the Swampers an unlikely group of caucasian country boys that grooved on more popular recordings than you could even imagine. Who knew?

I would definitely recommend a viewing or the purchase of this wonderful production to anyone who enjoys history, music or just the triumph of the human spirit through daunting challenges. Muscle Shoals is more than just a history lesson, it is a story of artistically gifted people discovering who they are and what they were created to do. It is a story of striving for excellence in an imperfect world and sharing the successes and disappointments that make up the journey of our lives.

I had always wanted be a session musician, like the guys in the Swampers. My own successes and disappointments led me in different directions. Muscle Shoals gave me a glimpse into a world that has always held a special place in my heart, which is music recording and performance.

Watch this and be surprisingly drawn into Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Sweet Home Alabama!
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on October 2, 2013
This documentary has several layers. It tells of one man's struggles and his response to life's difficulties. It tells about one small town's unique influence on music. It mixes in some American history as the story is told. I lived in this area and was only vaguely aware of how this area was shaping the music industry.

The beauty of North Alabama is shown through the shots of the nature that we are blessed to enjoy here.
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on October 7, 2013
If you care about the history of rock and classic soul, this is a must watch - but even if that isn't a particular interest for you, it's very entertaining. There is a character study here that goes well beyond what I expected.
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on October 1, 2013
My husband and I have already watched this movie three times in a twenty four hour span! We Love it and are SO proud to live in The Shoals!
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on September 27, 2013
Learned so much about the southern influence on Rock that I never knew. Allman Bros, Lynyrd Skynyrd a given but long before that there was Muscle Shoals.
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on February 8, 2014
"Muscle Shoals" tells the fascinating story of Rick Hall and the Fame Studios is Muscle Shoals, Alabama. This is one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" stories about a recording studio featuring mostly white musicians recorded some of the best R&B records of the 1960s. It features interviews with a seemingly endless number of singers and other artists who worked at the studio. These include Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, and Wilson Pickett. The film also highlights the many tragedies and disappointments in Rick Hall's life as well as his triumphs. In addition to Muscle Shoals' impact on R&B, it also shows the city's role in the development of Southern Rock in the 1970s. The film is an excellent companion piece to another music documentary that came out in 2013, "20 Feet from Stardom."

Highly recommended for music fans.
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on March 15, 2014
If you have any interest at all in the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, or the history of '60s-'70s music in general, you should certainly check this out. It's one of the few ways to see and hear a lot of the people who were involved in the Muscle Shoals recording scene, through interviews and some great old photos. The movie is beautifuly shot and captures the feel of the river and the area.

The film is not perfect. There is way too much space spent on boomer rock figures like Bono and the Stones telling us why we should like Muscle Shoals music, and a general rock-centricity to the allotment of time, where the Staple Singers' run of great Muscle Shoals albums is never discussed, while the passing connection with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Duane Allman gets lots of attention.

Personally, I wish this film had been more like STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN or TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, which spend most of their time bring the viewer closer to great musicians and their experience, and capturing their stories and memories. Ironically, MUSCLE SHOALS does this best when dealing with Rick Hall, who was an important engineer and organizer of talent on the Muscle Shoals scene, but not really a key musician or writer. The filmmakers seem to have been attracted by the dramatic possibilities of Hall's biography, without considering whether he was really the central creative force in the scene that the film makes him out to be.

Bottom line: Buy this, if you've got any curiosity at all about the Muscle Shoals scene. It's good that someone caught that scene, even imperfectly, before it disappeared.
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