Birthplace of Muscle
Shoals sound mines vault and readies reissues.
By Blurt Staff
Muscle Shoals is an unassuming town, the least likely town
one would expect to be the birthplace of some of the most iconic soul hits of
the 1960’s and 70’s. Artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Duane Allman,
Etta James, Wilson Pickett, and Little Richard mined real artistic gold in the
town. Muscle Shoals was known for a
plucky group of session musicians known as the Swampers, who pioneered “that
Muscle Shoals sound” under the direction of Rick Hall and FAME Recording
Studios. More recently, BLURT hero Jason
Isbell has been at work recording his second solo album there.
(For a detailed history of Fame, go HERE.)
FAME Records is the sister company and music distribution
wing of the famous FAME Recording Studios, and in its hey-day released music by
soul legends Candi Staton, Dan Penn, Clarence Carter, and Arthur Conley. Shuttered in 1976, the label has announced its
own resuscitation thanks to a new arrangement with EMI Distribution Co.
The first release from the reinvigorated label will be ‘The Best of Jimmy Hughes,’ an eighteen
-track collection, due out October, 28, 2008. Hughes’ signature hit, 1964’s “Steal
Away,” was the first song recorded at FAME’s Avalon Avenue studios, and the first
release on the original FAME label.
Though he retired from recording in the mid- ‘70s, Hughes still lives
near Muscle Shoals and sings in church most Sundays. Album extras include an
essay by renowned record producer Rick Hall, and a roundtable discussion with
Hughes and Hall, and several legendary Muscle Shoals musicians – Norbert
Putnam, Spooner Oldham, Jerry Carrigan, Peanut Montgomery and David Briggs –
which fans can access as a bonus mp3 when they purchase the album.
Rodney Hall, vice-president of FAME Records and son of Rick
Hall, said, “It’s been nearly fifty years since my father built FAME
Studios, and the music made here is more influential now than ever. Our mission with FAME Records is to keep the
legacy of this essential American music alive, and show the world that Muscle
Shoals still thrives as a music mecca today.”
More releases are to be expected as FAME Records mines the
vaults and pulls out dusts off many more southern-soul gems.