Film review: Muscle Shoals (PG)

Greg 'Freddy' Camalier, 111mins

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The Independent Culture

Greg "Freddy" Camalier's fascinating doc tells the story of the Alabama recording studios where white musicians, most of whom looked like geography teachers, recorded classic blues, soul and R&B for artists ranging from Percy Sledge to Aretha Franklin and Jimmy Cliff. The Rolling Stones turned up there, too.

Camalier makes an excellent job of combining talking-head interviews with music, anecdotes and folklore. Presiding over the FAME studio is the stern, stubborn proprietor Rick Hall, driven to set up the business after tragedy in his own life.

Many of the interviewees speculate that the location, close to the Tennessee River, had some strange magic in it. There are references to the civil rights era and to the hippy vibe.

Locals expressed disbelief when Duane Allman turned up at the studio – and then watched, amazed, as he persuaded Wilson Pickett to record the Beatles' "Hey Jude".

 There are feuds and break-ups in the story, but there is also an astonishing musical legacy.